Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A fairy tale dissected

Fairy tales are very big in Waldorf Early Childhood Education. The reason is because they impart the archetypal qualities of the human being.

“In the art and fantasy of fairy tales lies a very deep wisdom which has power to awaken children from the sleep of ordinary life. Forces of healing are also hidden in each fairy tale. The most important effect of the fairy tale is that they stimulate the feeling that man is a being of development, of struggle, of metamorphosis, and that behind all the adverse forces of giants and dwarfs, witches and demons there lies the good world of the true genius of man.” ~ Frederick Hiebel

You can look online to find all different reasons why, but here is a dissection of "The Frog Prince" as told by our Early Childhood Workshop teacher, Stephen Spitalny.

Here is an overview of the story, you can find the whole unabridged version here. There is a princess, she is the youngest of the king's daughters and she is so beautiful that even the sun shines on her beauty every day. Every day this young princess plays with her golden ball by a well. One day, her ball drops in and she laments and cries looking for someone who will rescue the ball. She hears a voice saying, "Princess, I will rescue your golden ball." She looks and finds that it is an ugly frog that is the owner of the voice. She says, "Oh, it's you," clearly with disdain. He promises to get her ball on one condition. That she give him something in return. She says to him, "I will give you anything. My jewelry, my beautiful gown, even my crown." And he replies that he doesn't want any of those. He just wants her to cherish him. He wants to eat next to her in the palace, to share the food from her plate. She quickly agrees, thinking surely a stinky old frog would not follow up on any such thing.

He gets her ball and she quickly runs off. The frog tries to chase after her but she is too fast. He goes back to the well. The next day she is eating and there is a knock at the door and the frog is calling to her. Basically, her father asks who is at the door and the princess shamefully shares the story of the frog saving her ball after she made a promise. The king states that a princess should always keep her promise. She lets the frog in. He sits by her side, eats from her plate. Then announces that he is tired and they should go to bed. She brings him upstairs to her bedroom and he asks to sleep in her bed. That is too much for her and she throws him against the wall. Wherein, he transforms into a prince and announces that they two of them will wed in his kingdom. The next day, his trusty servant, Heinrich comes to pick them both up in a carriage.

Heinrich is described as having three rings around his heart as his heart was so sad at losing his master when he was turned into a frog. And now that his good master was released, these rings are breaking, releasing his heart.

Okay, now the breakdown. Each of these "characters" represents the soul nature inside every human being. Whereas some might perceive the beautiful princess as physically beautiful (Ahem, Disney much?), it actually represents the astral body (the consciousness body). The King represents the old school (old wisdom, perhaps conventional wisdom?). Yes, one should follow through on one's promises but one must also have boundaries. The frog asking to get in her bed pushes the princess's boundaries and she holds true to them and throws the frog against the wall, thereby releasing the prince - her "ego" - her highest nature (which is often unbeknownst to us) to be free and when the ego and the astral body join, then the human being is at harmony.

As Stephen Spitalny puts it in his blog:

What I think of as ‘true’ fairy or folk tales give information about the path of development an individual can take to create a balanced path in life, uniting soul and spirit and body, and learning to walk in harmony.

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