In preparation for the upcoming section of Intro to Writing Fairy Tales (it starts tomorrow! I’m so excited!), I’m re-reading The Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise von Franz, which is one of my all-time favorite books. In it, she uses today’s fairy tale to explain how fairy tales can function as Rosetta stones for the collective unconscious. And she does so in such an eloquent, expressive way that even a layperson like me can understand what she’s saying. YUM.
Today’s fairy tale is from the Bros. Grimm, and features an animal bride, a secret world hidden below your feet, and a jumping contest between a bunch of ladies. And, apparently, it’s secretly a tale of rejuvenating our relationship with intuition by embracing the mysterious and the subconscious in our daily lives. So fancy.
The Three Feathers
Once upon a time there was a king who had three sons, two of whom were clever and intelligent, but the third one did not talk very much, was simple minded, and the only name they gave him wasthe Simpleton.
When the king became old and weak, and thought that he was nearing his end, he did not know which of his sons should inherit the kingdom after him, so he said to them, “Go forth, and the one of you who brings me the finest carpet, he shall be king after my death.”
So there would be no dispute among them, he led them to the front of his castle, blew three feathers into the air, and said, “As they fly, so shall you go.”
The one feather flew to the east, the other to the west, and the third feather flew straight ahead, falling quickly to the ground after going only a short distance. The one brother went to the right, the other to the left, and they laughed at the Simpleton who had to stand there where the third feather had fallen.
The Simpleton sat down and was sad. Then he suddenly noticed that there was a trapdoor next to his feather. He lifted it up, found a stairway, and climbed down inside. He came to another door and knocked on it, upon which he heard someone calling out from within:
Maiden green and small,
Hopping toad’s puppy,
Hop to and fro,
Quickly see who is outside.
The door opened, and he saw a big, fat toad sitting there, surrounded by a large number of little toads. The fat toad asked what he wanted.
The Simpleton answered, “I would like the most beautiful and finest carpet.”