Friday, November 5, 2010

The Innocent in the Ancient Fairy Tales

Where to find Swamp Walking Woman

I have posted a video about The Innocent as seen in ancient fairy tales.

I say "ancient" because in more recent times the old stories were changed to reflect a different and usually lesser wisdom. For example, the Brothers Grimm altered older tales to make them scarier and more graphic with blood and dismemberment. Because they were writing in the context of a patriarchal, domination culture, the tales begin and end in slavery, which is to say that they make us afraid and give us no guidance. Disney, on the other hand, takes the fear completely out of the tales. Disney's fairy tales, rewritten for children, begin and end in innocence.

We could say that every life begins in innocence, however brief. Some of you can look back to the very day you realized your parents didn't have life figured out and were only hoping you would grow up and tell them what was going on. I know of one child who came to such a realization at the age of six, much too young. Even babies, sadly, can lose their innocence if poorly cared for. If you are lucky, you may keep that simply belief that life will work out as you plan right up until college or the first time you get fired from a job.

People can remain innocent well into adulthood, no matter what they may hear of the troubles of the world and of children starving in Biafra, as long as nothing too disappointing happens to them. They lead a charmed life. They feel chosen--and perhaps a bit puzzled why, but willing to have the good life while others do not. I remember feeling that way.

In the old tales, The Innocent was one who did not yet suspect the trials that lay ahead. Her only task is to fall, to lose that state of protection we call grace, and to suddenly be vulnerable to a world that is not as benevolent as she thought. In Swamp Walking Woman, the main character walks down a familiar path and sees her world change into a swamp. A polluted swamp--which is a metaphor for our world today, abused and misused and quite a mess, a hard place to live.

In my next blog I'll speak about the next stage of growth, The Orphan.

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