Little Red Riding Hood Revisited

Today I invite you for a closer look at a very popular country in the Fairy Tale Dimension, the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Its origins can be traced back to the 10th century. In Germany we grow up with Grimm´s version called Rotkäppchen, which means Little Red Cap. I start this article with this version because it includes all of the important aspects of the story. Then I take a short look at a few other fascinating versions before inviting you for our behind the scenes look at this fairy tale land.

 

Little Red Cap, the Grimm´s version of the fairy tale:

“Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her, but most of all her grandmother, who did not know what to give the child next. Once she gave her a little cap made of red velvet. Because it suited her so well, and she wanted to wear it all the time, she came to be known as Little Red Cap.
One day her mother said to her, “Come Little Red Cap. Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother. She is sick and weak, and they will do her well. Mind your manners and give her my greetings. Behave yourself on the way, and do not leave the path, or you might fall down and break the glass, and then there will be nothing for your grandmother. And when you enter her parlour, don’t forget to say ‘Good morning,’ and don’t peer into all the corners first.”
“I’ll do everything just right,” said Little Red Cap, shaking her mother’s hand.
The grandmother lived out in the woods, half an hour from the village. When Little Red Cap entered the woods a wolf came up to her. She did not know what a wicked animal he was, and was not afraid of him.
“Good day to you, Little Red Cap.”
“Thank you, wolf.”
“Where are you going so early, Little Red Cap?”
“To grandmother’s.”
“And what are you carrying under your apron?”
“Grandmother is sick and weak, and I am taking her some cake and wine. We baked yesterday, and they should be good for her and give her strength.”
“Little Red Cap, just where does your grandmother live?”
“Her house is good quarter hour from here in the woods, under the three large oak trees. There’s a hedge of hazel bushes there. You must know the place,” said Little Red Cap.
The wolf thought to himself, “Now that sweet young thing is a tasty bite for me. She will taste even better than the old woman. You must be sly, and you can catch them both.”
He walked along a little while with Little Red Cap, then he said, “Little Red Cap, just look at the beautiful flowers that are all around us. Why don’t you go and take a look? And I don’t believe you can hear how beautifully the birds are singing. You are walking along as though you were on your way to school. It is very beautiful in the woods.”
Little Red Cap opened her eyes and when she saw the sunbeams dancing to and fro through the trees and how the ground was covered with beautiful flowers, she thought, “If a take a fresh bouquet to grandmother, she will be very pleased. Anyway, it is still early, and I’ll be home on time.” And she ran off the path into the woods looking for flowers. Each time she picked one she thought that she could see an even more beautiful one a little way off, and she ran after it, going further and further into the woods. But the wolf ran straight to the grandmother’s house and knocked on the door.
“Who’s there?”
“Little Red Cap. I’m bringing you some cake and wine. Open the door.”
“Just press the latch,” called out the grandmother. “I’m too weak to get up.”
The wolf pressed the latch, and the door opened. He stepped inside, went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and ate her up. Then he put on her clothes, put her cap on his head, got into her bed, and pulled the curtains shut.
Little Red Cap had run after the flowers. After she had gathered so many that she could not carry any more, she remembered her grandmother, and then continued on her way to her house. She found, to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlour, and everything looked so strange that she thought, “Oh, my God, why am I so afraid? I usually like it at grandmother’s.”
She called out, “Good morning!” but received no answer.
Then she went to the bed and pulled back the curtains. Grandmother was lying there with her cap pulled down over her face and looking very strange.
“Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“All the better to hear you with.”
“Oh, grandmother, what big eyes you have!”
“All the better to see you with.”
“Oh, grandmother, what big hands you have!”
“All the better to grab you with!”
“Oh, grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!”
“All the better to eat you with!”
The wolf had scarcely finished speaking when he jumped from the bed with a single leap and ate up poor Little Red Cap. As soon as the wolf had satisfied his desires, he climbed back into bed, fell asleep, and began to snore very loudly.
A huntsman was just passing by. He thought, “The old woman is snoring so loudly. You had better see if something is wrong with her.”
He stepped into the parlour, and when he approached the bed, he saw the wolf lying there. “So here I find you, you old sinner,” he said. “I have been hunting for you a long time.”
He was about to aim his rifle when it occurred to him that the wolf might have eaten the grandmother, and that she still might be rescued. So instead of shooting, he took a pair of scissors and began to cut open the wolf’s belly. After a few cuts he saw the red cap shining through, and after a few more cuts the girl jumped out, crying, “Oh, I was so frightened! It was so dark inside the wolf’s body!”
And then the grandmother came out as well, alive but hardly able to breathe. Then Little Red Cap fetched some large stones. She filled the wolf’s body with them, and when he woke up and tried to run away, the stones were so heavy that he immediately fell down dead.
The three of them were happy. The huntsman skinned the wolf and went home with the pelt. The grandmother ate the cake and drank the wine that Little Red Cap had brought. And Little Red Cap thought, “As long as I live, I will never leave the path and run off into the woods by myself if mother tells me not to.”

Rotkäppchen cocoparisienne

Five other versions of this fairy tale

You can read the full versions here.

1. Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault

is probably the first literary version of the fairy tale (1697). Perrault´s story is the same as Grimm´s without the happy ending. There is no huntsman to save the ladies and thus the wolf is the only survivor.

Perrault adds a moral to the story however: “Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.“

2. In Little Red Hood (Eastern Germany and Poland)

the wolf leads the girl astray by pointing out beautiful flowers along the way, thus buying himself time to devour the grandmother and getting ready for Little Red Hood. After also devouring her he falls asleep and his loud snoring makes a hunter suspicious. The hunter almost shoots the wolf, before luckily deciding to cut the wolf open and thereby saving grandmother and grandchild. After this they fill the wolf´s belly with stones, who when he wakes up drops dead.

3. Little Red Hat (Italy and Austria)

is a pretty gross and sinister tale. An ogre eats both the grandmother and the girl: He, for example, uses the small intestine of the grandmother as a door opener. Yuck! The ogre is the sole survivor in this story.

4. The grandmother (France)

is another unsavoury tale. The girl, no hood of any colour is mentioned, meets a werewolf on her way to her grandmother. He arrives first, eats the old woman and leaves pieces of the grandma for the hungry girl to eat who does not realize what she is offered. In this tale the girl just manages to escape by herself.

5. The true history of Little Golden-Hood by Charles Marelle

Marelle´s story has a happy ending and a pretty cool grandmother. In this story the girl wears a golden and fire coloured cloak made by her grandma. This cloak turns out to have magic powers. The wolf finds grandma´s house empty because she is at the market selling herbs. He waits for the girl in her bed. When he tries to devour the girl he is burnt badly by the magic cloak. He runs out of the house screaming and right into the sack the old lady, who is just coming back. The grandmother closes the sack and throws it in the well so that the wolf drowns. The next day she feeds his remains to the dogs.

 

A behind the scenes look at this fairy tale country

The main protagonists of this fairy tale country are: The girl, the grandmother and the villain: A wolf, werewolf or an ogre. In some tales there is a hunter who is the saviour of the women and there is also the invisible mother who seems to be a single parent. In some versions other inhabitants like woodcutters and villagers are mentioned.

More players

There are many more people playing in this fairy tale country than you might think. There are about 150 villages and each village plays different versions of the story. Because the inhabitants sometimes work in groups of twos or threes there are more than 150 Red Riding Hoods, Grandmothers and Wolves. This is making this game of hide and seek much more interesting.

As you know inhabitants of fairy tale countries can change roles and vary their story as they please; and death, of course, is not final in the Fairy Tale Dimension.

riding hood böse TheHilaryClark

Little Red Riding Hoods

In most of the stories I have presented here the girls with the red hood are innocent and, frankly, pretty dumb. They do not blink when meeting a talking wolf and freely tell the villain how to find the grandmother´s house. They are also not suspicious of the unfamiliar form in the bed posing as grandma. Consequently they are rarely able to save themselves.

But in this fairy tale country there are other Little Red Riding Hoods whose stories have not reached us yet. In some the girls have cunning and sinister personalities:

Imagine Little Red Riding Hood as a vampire, for example, sucking her grandmother´s blood and making her sick and weak. The hunter and the wolf search a long time for the culprit and are not suspecting the innocent little girl. One day they stumble upon her in the act and put a wooden stake through her heart.

Or Little Red Riding Hood infects everybody with her vampirism and turns the wolf into a werewolf in the process and the three of them proceed to raid the village together.

Wolves

The villains in the fairy tale stories known to us die often. They are portrayed as sinister lying animals with ferocious appetites. My behind the scenes look discovers wolves that are partial to eating hunters rather than girls or are simply living a harmless life integrated in their village.

In the 150 villages you can see many more types of wolves. I personally enjoy the dandy wolves most. They love to dress elegantly, have impeccable manners, use knife and fork and would never dream of eating anything raw.

werwolf gatitamiaumiau
No Dandy Wolf!

Grandmothers

In the majority of the stories above the grandmothers are portrayed as being frail and sick. More interesting to me are the grandmothers who are agile and strong. They don´t let themselves be eaten easily and put up a decent fight. Some of them even know how to wield a sword.

 

This fairy tale country´s government

The government structure of this fairy tale country is unique. Every four years there is a big tournament where all the villagers meet and new stories are played and exchanged. At the end there is a referendum and the village with the most votes forms the next government. This is why this country has no capital: The leading village changes too often. The last winner hosts the tournament in which the next village is selected.

The village who won has to decide who out of its midst will become king and queen. This could be everybody: A woodcutter and a grandma, two wolves or a bigger group of individuals. If the village does not manage to establish a working government within a few months of the tournament the privilege of government goes to the village who made second place.

Yes, this has happened a few times and sometimes the ring bearer had to be called to bring order to the ensuing chaos.

I have met the current king and queen of this country. The current rulers are a Little Red Riding Hood with the name Sasha and a wolf named Beowulf. The wolf is one of the elegant ones, even sporting a monocle, and Little Red Riding hood is a plump woman who is a witch of great powers and consequently is quite dangerous. I love their great sense of humour.

Like Sasha the magicians in this fairy tale country are integrated in society. They incorporate all kinds of rolls. Part of the fun is that they hide their abilities.

 

I hope you enjoyed this excursion to a familiar fairy tale story and the behind the scenes look as much as I did. Which of the stories did you grow up with and which do you like best?

 

Links:

  • The history and background of Little Red Riding Hood is explained very well in this Wikipedia Article
  • A collection of more Little Red Riding Hood versions you can find here
  • Mari Ness offers a very thorough analysis of the fairy tale
pictures: pixabay

© Inge Schumacher

 

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Sweet Confection

I was inspired to tap into this fairy tale country by Seanan Mc Guire´s novella Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book of her Wayward Children Series. Mc Guire has a penchant for horror stories. In this series she describes a world where children who are unhappy find doors to other worlds and leave. Sometimes they stay there and sometimes they come back. When they are back all they want to do is leave again. Then the helpless parents send them to the Home for Wayward Children. There everybody understands what these children are going through.

What fascinates me most with this country Mc Guire aptly named Confection is that everything is edible and sweet. It is not the only fairy tale country that consists of edibles, but it is the only one that is exclusively made of sweets.

Beneath the sugar Sky

Fairy tales of abundance have a long history

The first stories featuring a Land of Plenty can be found in the Middle Ages, in the 1300s. Life was short and hard during these times. Famines were common and a lot of people starved. Naturally they were dreaming of a land of abundance!

In Germany there is a well-known fairy tale by Ludwig Bechstein called Schlaraffenland. The closest equivalent I could find in English for this is the Land of Plenty. Bechstein concentrates on describing this fairy tale country. I show you his historic Land of Plenty before I invite you for a behind the scenes look at Confection.

 

The Land of Plenty by Ludwig Bechstein

All you can eat

The Land of Plenty is reached by eating through a wall of rice pudding. The houses are thatched with pancakes and doors and walls are made of gingerbread. The fences around the houses consist of sausages and the wells are full of sweet wines. Freshly baked bread and cakes grow on trees ready for picking.

Fish swim fried and ready to eat on top of the water. When you call out to them they hop right into your hand. Fried Geese, doves and turkeys fly in the air and even straight into your mouth. Pigs walk around with a knife in their backs, so that everybody who wants to can cut off a juicy slice. Cheeses of all sizes are lying on the ground like stones and rocks. The rain consists of honey, snow is sugar and hail is a mix of lump sugar, figs, raisins and almonds.

Clothes and jewellery

In the forests the most beautiful clothes grow on trees: Skirts, jackets and trousers in all colours of the rainbow. Shrubs supply silk and velvet finery. Junipers carry golden jewellery and the berries on the bushes are pearls. Other plants furnish footwear and hats.

Everything you could possibly need is provided for in this country. Even money grows on trees. I don´t understand why you need money when you have everything that you could possibly want though.

People

When you are old you can bathe in the fountain of youth for a few days and climb out young and agile again.

People who like to work and do good deeds are expelled from the Land of Plenty. The dumb and bigheaded ones are noblemen. The ones who only sleep, eat, drink and dance are earls. The most lazy and useless person of all is the king of this country.

Schlaraffenland

Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted this land of abundance in 1567. It shows obese people sleeping on the ground while their food is walking around them.

The painting does not show happy people but depicts the sinful side of abundance: Sloth and gluttony, two of the seven deadly sins. I guess the reason for this negative presentation of the Land of Plenty is that in medieval times the church and gentry were dependent on hard working and obedient serfs and craftsmen. They needed the people to stay in their assigned places and obey the rules. There was no place for any kind of freedom or any form of idleness.

 

A behind the scenes look on Confection

How Confection was put together

The residents of Confection tell the following story about the way their country was built or rather baked:

Once Confection was an empty world. There was only light, air and an oven. The first great baker came here by accident and found the oven. Since she was hungry she baked all the bread she could eat. This means that there must have been some ingredients, too.

When she was not hungry any more she baked herself a bed, a house and a garden. Then she left. Her daughter was the next baker. She did not care very much for bread but she loved cookies. She added a layer of cookies to the bread that formed the garden and the house. She also baked paths and started to create mountains. When she had baked all she wanted, she left also.

The next baker was fond of cakes and fondant. He added many ornaments and details to the growing landscape. Another baker loved brownies. When he left, plants had started to grow on the rich brown soil.

After this there were bakers who specialised in sugar and syrup. They added bright colours to the growing country of Confection. Others experimented with marshmallows and jellybeans.

The great bakers came and went. Each baker added ideas of his own and layer upon layer of baked goods made the country bigger and more complete. Speaking in sweet terms: This country is like a jawbreaker or a gobstopper: It is a sweet made of many layers.

 

What Confection looks like

The blue jelly sky is dotted with clouds made of candyfloss. After a sweet rain slushy rainbows decorate it.

The landscape is diverse. Mountainous regions alternate with farms and wild forests. There are rivers, brooks, lakes and an ocean. Everything is edible or drinkable and, of course, sweet.

Mountains can have different compositions: Big rock candy mountains exist besides ones that consist of treacle tart and meringue or Graham crackers and shortbread. In the forests a lot of pyramid cake is used and many trees have gingerbread and fudge trunks. Spun sugar leaves on the trees surround clusters of gummy fruit and jellybeans. Cake pops grow there and you can pick them when you wander along. The grass looks like it has been piped from a frosting bag.

Juice and lemonade are flowing in the streams. The ocean is filled with fizzing strawberry soda. A big variety of bright jellyfish live in them. The beaches consist of brown sugar and cake crumbs.

There are no seasons; the climate is temperate all year round. But Confection also possesses a region with snow and ice. The baker responsible for this came perhaps from an Italian ice cream dynasty. The mountains there are covered with ice cream and sherbet of many flavours and colours. People ski down the mountains on liquorice skis or slide on toffee slides. For additional refreshments there are milk shake lakes and popsicles.

 

Why is this country illogical?

The most powerful person in this fairy tale country is the great baker. She is the main creator and she is responsible for the evolution. She is the local equivalent of the magicians in the other fairy tale countries. As you might have guessed, her magic works by baking.

When 20 different people bake the same cake using the same recipe and exactly the same ingredients each cake will taste different – even in our dimension. There must be a hidden ingredient: The personality of each baker.

Hundreds or even thousands of bakers created Confection. With their baking they also infused their personal energies into the country. These energies don´t always get along easily with each other. There is friction and this accounts for the turbulences and the illogicality of this country. For example, why don´t the ice cream mountains melt in the warmth?

 

A nurturing place

Confection is a nurturing place and it takes care of its inhabitants. They never have to go hungry and the baker takes care of maintenance. The natives are adapted perfectly to this country. They can even breathe the sea-soda when diving in the ocean. Eating a lot of sugar does not render them obese or hurt their teeth. They don´t get ill because of malnutrition.

The baked goods in this country never get stale or mouldy. Dairy products never turn sour. Sugar and chocolate do not melt in the sun. Obviously they don´t have to concern themselves with bacteria or fungi. This makes me a bit envious.

The world rearranges itself so that every place you want to go is within a day´s walk from where you are regardless how fast you travel.

cake-yoyolang

Farms

Most people live in the countryside on farms. The farmhouses and barns are made of gingerbread. Their windows are of the same toffee as the wings of the bees. Beehives are set up around the fields. Everything the great baker needs is produced on the farms: Flour, sugar, honey, eggs and milk. Since there are no seasons the crops can be harvested all year round. Everything smells heavenly of honey, sugar and vanilla.

 

Animals

Insects look very different from what we are accustomed to. Fat striped bees and butterscotch candies fly around. Flies are black jellybeans with legs of thinly twisted liquorice strands. Cows give milk in different flavours: Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

Hens lay eggs in all kinds of colours and flavours, ranging from dark chocolate eggs to hard sugar eggs. Somehow there are always enough normal eggs for baking.

But birds are not the only creatures laying eggs; rabbits and hares do too. Perhaps the absurd idea of Easter bunnies laying eggs comes from this fairy tale land or is it the other way round?

 

Relations to neighbouring countries

Confection is not isolated in the fairy tale dimension. It has connections to its neighbours, but there are some difficulties: It turns out that animals cannot survive very long outside of Confection because they need the specific energy of their home to thrive. When the neighbours tried to breed cattle and chickens imported from Confection, because they wanted to have their own supply of flavoured milk and chocolate eggs, the animals died.

Baked goods are traded for shoes and clothes. But these baked goods have to obey the laws of nature of the countries they are in and don´t stay fresh outside of Confection.

Visitors love to come and have a taste. But they can´t stay long because they start to feel uncomfortable soon. It is as if Confection rejects them. To stay longer they either have to contact the GrImporter and apply for a transfer to this fairy tale country or they have to be summoned by the country itself.

 

Tricky vocabulary

While writing this article I dove deep into the vocabulary of sweet foods. I discovered that my vocabulary needed some expansion.

I had an interesting chat with people on a British translator´s facebook page and learned that different English speaking cultures have different names for sweet foods. The British use the word sweets, the Americans candy and the Australians lollies, at least for loose sweets that you can put in bowls. Thank you for your tips, Lucy!

Dear readers from all over the world, please don´t be offended when I use words that sound all wrong to you. Feel free to add your favourite sweet-vocabulary in the comments. I am looking forward to your input!

 

© Inge Schumacher

Picture of Schlaraffenland by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. You can see it in the old Pinakothek in Munich – first upload in wikipedia on 22:18, 16. Jun 2003 by Stefan Kühn, Gemeinfrei.
Other pictures: pixabay and my own

 

The Fairy Tale Country of the Merpeople

Merbeings, creatures that are half human and half fish, are fascinating. There are countless stories all over the world that prove this. We can find them in ancient fairy tales, in northern mythology or in modern TV adaptions. For example Oscar Wilde published a story The Fisherman and his Soul (1888). Even Netflix plans a fantasy adventure film that is based on Andersen´s story of the Little Mermaid in 2018.

Today I invite you to accompany me on the exploration of the country of the merpeople. I call it Mertopia. First we take a look at Andersen´s fairy tale The Little Mermaid and then we move on to the animated film Ariel. After this I want you to join me in a behind the scenes visit of the fairy tale land of the merpeople.

The Little Mermaid by Hans-Christian Andersen

The fairy tale The Little Mermaid was written in 1836 by Hans-Christian Andersen. It was probably inspired by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué´s fairy tale Undine (from 1811), which was very popular in the early 19th century. Undine is the love story of a knight and a mermaid.

Anderson´s story

Anderson´s merpeople don´t have souls and after a long life of 300 hundred years they turn into foam. Our little mermaid can only obtain a soul and thereby eternal life when a human being loves her, who willingly shares his soul with her.

She lives in an underwater kingdom with her widowed father, her grandmother and her five older sisters. She falls in love with a prince whose life she saves in a storm. She searches for a way to become human and achieves this with the help of a sinister sorceress. The price for her life on two legs is her beautiful singing voice. She will loose her life when her beloved prince does not marry her. Sadly her prince marries another girl, who, he falsely believes, rescued him from the shipwreck.

The mermaid´s family gives her another opportunity to return to them: Her sisters exchange their hair for a magic knife from the sorceress. When the little mermaid kills the prince with this knife she can come back. Of course she is not able to kill him. But instead of dying she is transformed again. She changes into another realm and joins spiritual beings, the daughters of the air. After doing good works for 200 years as a daughter of the air she has the opportunity to achieve an eternal soul.

In Anderson´s story the little mermaid goes through two transformations and lives in three very different places: First she lives in the underwater kingdom, then she becomes human and lives on land and finally she turns into a spiritual being. I don´t like this end very much.

None of the main figures in this fairy tale has a name. For me this makes them somewhat removed from the reader.

 

 

The Little Mermaid Ariel by Disney

little-mermaid peridotmaize

The animated film about the Little Mermaid Ariel (1989) is based on Anderson´s fairy tale. The original story was too tragic for writer Ron Clemens. That is the reason he rewrote it multiple times and modernised it.

Ariel´s Story

In the films and television series Ariel has bright red hair, blue eyes and a green fishtail. She is the youngest, seventh-born daughter of king Triton and lives in the underwater kingdom of Atlantica. Ariel is a rebellious teenager. She is so fascinated by the human world that she collects many human artifacts. Disney´s characters are never lonely: Ariel´s best friend is Flounder and she is watched over by Sebastian, a red crab from the Caribbean.

Ariel falls in love with prince Eric whom she saves from drowning when his ship sinks. To meet him again she wants to become human. The sea-witch Ursula agrees to turn her into a human in exchange for her voice. She has to make Eric kiss her out of true love within three days or she will belong to Ursula forever. Ursula does not play fair and prevents the kiss multiple times.

In the end Ariel does not manage to be kissed before the three days are over. She is changed back to her mermaid form and Ursula takes her away. Her father intervenes and trades himself for Ariel. In the final showdown Eric kills evil Ursula and thereby breaks her spells and saves Atlantica from destruction. There is a happy end and Triton transforms Ariel back into a human form. She then marries Eric and they live happily ever after.

In the next film Ariel has a daughter, she has started an interspecies family. With the help of her father she can change back and forth from being a mermaid to being a human.

 

A behind the scenes visit of Mertopia

The main theme of this country of merpeople is transformation.

A lot of the inhabitants of the fairy tale dimension are able to shape-shift. Depending on their roles in the different fairy tale countries they can change their appearance. But the inhabitants of this fairy tale country can do much more: They can morph into beings that can live under water or on land and also change into spirit-beings. This is why this country enables a wide variety of experiences that are not possible in others. As you can imagine this attracts a special breed of adventurous and playful people.

Mertopia has an equal measure of landmass and ocean. The landmass is divided into many islands. The islands are scattered throughout a blue ocean. There are a big variety of habitats in shallow and deep parts of the ocean and on flat and hilly islands.

Nobody has to farm or work for his food. There is enough sustenance in the sea and on land for everybody.

Since the main focus of this fairy tale is the constant change of body and living environment people can change their form easily after some practise. Newcomers are taught by magicians and supported by experienced shape-shifters.

Many different beings live in Mertopia. During our visit we see animals we know from our dimension like dolphins and many kinds of fish. There are also seahorses that are big enough to ride on. Other beings even offer places to live under water.

Mertopia is sparsely populated. There is no goverment and there are hardly any rules beyond showing respect for each other. The inhabitants form a very close-knit community.

2014_06_04-69

Villages and dwellings in Mertopia

On land peope live in organic houses made out of natural materials. When these dwellings are not needed any more they turn into compost. Some land-inhabitants prefer to live in tree houses or in caves that are natural or carved into mountains.

In the sea giant shells are the preferred dwellings. These mussels have a symbiotic relationship with their inhabitants: In exchange for offering a safe place to sleep they are fed by their dwellers and don´t have to hunt for their own food.

The spirit-beings live everywhere. They need the energy of the land: They thrive on the pleasure of exploration and the fun of playing. They don´t need any sleep or food other than the continuous energy input. When they want to meet as a group undisturbed by other creatures they use rainbows as meeting places. These beings can change from being totally invisible to being quite dense, which enables them to manipulate objects.

 

Life and adventures in Mertopia

People love to take part in dangerous adventures that involve heavy storms. These storms sink the organic ships that are manufactured here, similar to what we read in Anderson´s fairy tale and see in Disney´s Ariel. They die often in these adventures. But remember: Death is not the final thing it is in our dimension. You can come back immediately after you died and go on doing whatever you want to do.

Another favourite pastime beneath and above the sea is the fight against dragons. Dragons from Flitz´es home country love to play here. After a serious game of hide and seek which ends with either the slaying of the dragon or the brave knights being eaten by the dragon there are wonderful feasts that are famous far beyond the borders of this country.

Some adventures have really bad endings when the respective evil sorcerer´s magic gets out of hand and everybody involved is killed: Then the players just say: “Oooops! Here we go again!” and the story starts over.

 

Free flowing energy is the main resource in Mertopia

I visited this fairy tale country before the frequency change was finalised. My group and me did a healing circle there because the people were suffering more than in other lands. Now I understand why. The transformations the inhabitants of this country do all the time are based on intricate energy manipulations. When the energy does not flow freely for whatever reason this becomes very difficult.

With the frequency change not being finalised the inhabitants of Mertopia had massive problems and could not transform themselves and explore the way they were used to. Especially the spirit-beings were affected. Almost the whole country was falling into a depression and the magicians could only alleviate the worst symptoms. Now the energy flows freely again and everybody can enjoy the freedom of creation very much. In my opinion they are going a little overboard with celebrating at the moment!

Mertopia sounds like a fun place to be, doesn´t it? I chose the name Mertopia because this fairy tale country feels so perfect to me. The way the inhabitants here respect each other and how they treat their environment seems utopian.

How did you like our excursion? Are there aspects of this fairy tale country you want to know more about? Please post in the comments!

 

LINKS

Audiobook link to the Andersen fairy tale: The Little Mermaid.

Jennie Fitzkee writes in her wonderful blog a teacher´s reflections about her life as a preschool teacher. The link points to a recent blog article where she shares her personal view on her mother´s fairy tales.

 

Are you interested in more stories about mermaids? Heidi Anne Heiner has put together an impressive list with links on her website SurLaLunefairytales.

© Inge Schumacher

High Sensitivity for Everybody?

It is no coincidence that High Sensitivity is written about a lot in newspapers, magazines and books at the moment. Lately I have noticed that people in my surroundings seem to be more sensitive. To add some objective input to this personal impression I put surveys in some facebook groups. You can see the results at the end of the article.

Based on my life story I share my personal characteristics of high sensitive features and senses in this article. For my job as a healing practitioner this sensitivity is a great bonus.

You can read the article in German here.

In the extensive addendum you find tips for books and links for online-tests, websites and blogs about high sensitivity.

I am writing this article about high sensitivity but I want to remind you that all of us have sensitive aspects. I want to encourage you to give them the attention they deserve.

Some statistics on high sensitivity

High sensitivity is a personality trait and not an illness. 20% of the population, male and female, can be called highly sensitive. All higher animal species have this characteristic. It seems to be helpful for evolution if part of a population is sensitive. Elaine Aron, the pioneer of high sensitivity research, says that this sensitivity is at least partly inherited. 70% of these Highly Sensitive Persons are introverts and 30% are extroverts.

 

How I learned about the concept of high sensitivity

Three years ago I met an interesting woman at a get-together of the mompreneurs in Hamburg. Mompreneurs is an association of self-employed mothers. She told me that she was writing a book about high sensitivity. After that she explained to me what high sensitivity was and what it was like to be a Highly Sensitive Person. In our conversation I heard the expression high sensitivity for the first time. Since then I have been interested in this subject, reading books and taking part in workshops.

Kathrin Sohst´s book was published in 2016. I am proud to have contributed one page to the many testimonials in the book. Sadly it has not been translated into English yet.

 

My personal story

I am the oldest of four children. My parents were born during World War II and for most of their generation outwardly functioning was most important. What was happening on the inside was not really interesting and normally not shared.

Many children of my generation were not treated as independent personalities: We were not allowed to decide for ourselves and our opinion did not count. That was normal. A lot has changed in the meantime.

From High Sensitivity…

Today I know that I supressed my intuition and sensitivity to adjust better to my environment and to create less friction. My parents probably could not follow my highly sensitive perceptions and mirrored to me that these were wrong. Because of this I forgot my sensitive side.

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The first evidence that I carried some emotional baggage I discovered in my twenties after I had completed my MBA. I was on a world tour with my future husband and I experienced a key moment when going to sleep in our tent in Yosemite National Park. Suddenly I realised: Something was missing! This was the first time I was not afraid of the next day. This anxiety had been so normal for me that I had neither ever questioned it nor told anybody about it. I thought everybody was feeling that way.

I was very upset that the world had felt so threatening to me, in spite of me having had a very protected childhood.

…and a depression…

In my thirties after a tubal pregnancy I was diagnosed with depression. I had therapy, took medication and searched for the reasons for this depression.

Why did I get it? After I told my parents about it they shared with me that both of my grandmothers had also had depressions. I found out that a tendency for depression is hereditary.

I believe that besides this hereditary aspect, my dormant sensitivity was another reason for the depression. During therapy my psychiatrist helped me to relearn my intuition by practising it with me. Only later did I realize how far removed I must have been from this important part of myself.

…to being a healing practitioner

After therapy I started to incorporate my natural intuition in my daily life. Slowly I discovered my extraordinary perceptiveness. A few years later I studied energy healing and qualified as a healing practitioner.

 

What does my sensitivity look like?

In the almost 30 years I have been working on my personal development I learned a lot about myself. The knowledge that I belong to the group of Highly Sensitive Persons helps me to explain some of my peculiarities and to view myself from another perspective.

In the following paragraphs I share my personal forms of some characteristics of Highly Sensitive Persons with you: Perception, senses and social interactions.

 

1. Perception and processing of information

Every day we all pick up many stimuli with our senses. As a Highly Sensitive Person I tend to pick up more details which I also process deeper. This can easily become overwhelming. The knowledge that I filter less helps me to notice signs of fatigue earlier and react to them accordingly.

 

2. Some senses are more sensitive than others

2a. Sight

I don´t enjoy shopping. The many colours, objects and offers tend to overwhelm me. Therefore I organise grocery shopping as efficiently as possible. When I go to the supermarket I know exactly what I need and I choose a time when there are not so many people around.

2b. Sound

My hearing has become much more sensitive during the last ten years. I react very diversely to noise: Fireworks scare me and hurt my ears but I like loud classical music in the opera or in a concert. This does not mean that I don´t enjoy pop concerts. I do, wearing earplugs.

2c. Smell

My nose is not very sensitive. I cope well with bad smells. If somebody on the bus or train is wearing a very strong perfume or after-shave I feel nauseous, but many other passengers do too.

2d. Taste

I love eating and good food. Comfort food in winter that warms the body from within is a delicacy for me.

But I hate the taste of an apple that has been sliced by a knife that had contact with an onion before. Then my taste buds curl up in horror.

2e. Touch

My normal tactile sense is not overly sensitive. Natural sheep wool on my skin does not bother me. I don´t mind temperature changes as much as many other sensitive people do. However we heat our house much higher in wintertime.

Nevertheless I have been getting much more sensitive feeling energies with my hands. But these extrasensory perceptions belong to the 6th sense in the next paragraph.

2f. The 6th sense

With the 6th sense I mean perceptions that don´t belong to any of the previous 5 senses: For example the knowing of information without being told or sensing energies with the hands. I use my 6th sense in my practice when I look at my clients´ energy status and create a picture of them in 4D.

 

3. Values

Kathrin Sohst talks about the important inner value system of Highly Sensitive Persons and their search for a meaningful life. I second that. After working in controlling and management consulting for a timeframe I lost the feeling of doing something meaningful. Now being a self-employed healing practitioner I can live the values that are important to me. I have a family, I volunteer and I have the opportunity to continue discovering and exploring.

 

4. Social interactions

I love people and enjoy meeting friends because I am an extrovert. After a party I just need some more time for processing than other people. Like many Highly Sensitive Persons I enjoy deep authentic conversations. My friends appreciate this in me.

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High sensitivity in my practise

My profession is ideal for me because I can use my extraordinary sensitivity to energies there. Additionally to the information my clients give me I work with their chakras and meridians. We only employ self-healing powers and I offer additional energy for healing. The goal is to bring each client into an energetic balance. In what way my clients use the energy is up to them. The wonderful thing is that we are working as a team.

Listening and empathy are strengths of mine I was not aware of for a long time. Today they are very important parts in my toolbox.

The longer I work in healing the more I become a coach. Often only one healing session helps to ease pain or allergies. Sometimes you need more time to look at some deep-set causes for physical symptoms in detail. Then it is helpful not to fall back into old habits and recreate the symptoms. In our conversations my clients and I figure out ways how this can be avoided.

A high percentage of my clients are very sensitive. They have experienced that for them a lot of therapies offered by traditional medicine do not work. Because of this they are probably more open to search for alternatives.

 

Results of the facebook surveys

In the surveys I asked the participants whether they noticed any development of their senses during the last years. They could tick more than one answer. Here are the results:

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Around 100 participants have given 322 answers. I chose two German-speaking groups and one English-speaking group. A lot of members of these groups engage in self-development. This means that they are familiar with self-evaluation and self-reflection. This could also make them more sensitive than other groups of people and this could be the reason why only three participants did not notice any change in their sensitivity in the last years.

Most changes were seen in empathy and sensing energies. Empathy means to understand and share the feelings of another person. Sensing energies stands for the perception of impressions or information, like the identification of places with high energy levels.

Every fifth participant has become more sensitive in these areas. In the commentaries people pointed out that they felt a deeper connection to their environment.

The 6th sense comes third. Almost 15% of the answers indicate that people are more perceptive in the extrasensory field now. Participants wrote that they know about things by intuition or through dreams before they were officially informed.

Synchronicity, the simultaneous occurrence of events, which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection, was also experienced more. Examples for this are women who start to see other pregnant women everywhere when they get pregnant.

 

Does the general sensitivity level increase?

My personal sensitivity has increased considerably in the last years. This shows that sensitivity has a dynamic component. With my non-scientific surveys I cannot prove that we are all going to be highly sensitive one day. But I do interpret this as an indicator that something fundamentally is changing.

We are used to see our senses as being absolute. They cannot be absolute however since the input is selected by our individual perceptions. When our perception changes the input of our senses will also change. When several people describe a situation in different manners their individual perceptions are the reason.

Should my idea that our sensitivity level is rising be correct this would be the result of a shift in perception and not the result of alterations of the sensory organs. I don´t think the organs, our “hardware”, are changing significantly. I believe the “software”, our perception, is getting an update.

It is possible that we are witnessing the beginning of a development that will change our society. What would a world look like that is populated by, compared to todays´ standards, Highly Sensitive People?

 

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Addendum

Online tests

Are you or people you know highly sensitive? There are a lot of self-tests online that can give some insights:

Short online tests

Articles

  • Article with an interview of Elaine Aron.
  • Articles by Susan Meindl. Susan Meindl is a Montreal based psychologist who has specialized in Introverted Temperament and Highly Sensitive People.

Book Tips

Elaine Aron

  • The Highly Sensitive Person, 1996
  • The Highly Sensitive Person´s Workbook (1999)
  • High Sensitivity Person in Love (2000)
  • The Highly Sensitive Child (2002)

Tracy Cooper

  • Thrive! The Highly Sensitive Person and Career (2015)
  • Thrill! High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Persons (2017)

Barrie Jaeger

  • Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person (2004)

Ted Zeff

  • The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide (2004)
  • The Strong Sensitive Boy (2010)
  • The Power of Sensitivity (2015)

Websites for Highly Sensitive Persons

Blogs

 

© Inge Schumacher

Pictures: Togi Simatupang and Inge Schumacher

 

The GrImporter

Or how do you enter the fairy tale dimension?

Today we meet another one of the key figures of the fairy tale dimension (FTD). We already know the ring bearer and the grim reaper. The ring bearer is a person who alternately comes from our dimension and the FTD. He is a great magician in the FTD and a powerful healer in our dimension. The ring bearer can work with the blueprint of the fairy tale dimension and is therefore vital for its development. The grim reaper´s job is to accompany people out of the dimension.

Our new key figure is the GrImporter. His job is also built into the blueprint of the dimension. He represents the door into the fairy tale dimension. What do we have to do when we want to live in the FTD and make playful experiences there? We connect with the GrImporter.

 

The waiting room

The GrImporter meets us in the big waiting room of the FTD. The waiting room is furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas. There are water dispensers and a coffee machine. When we arrive a lot of other beings, who also want to become part of the FTD, are already present.

Basically the GrImporter is the sales representative for the FTD. When there are vacancies in the different fairy tales he fills them by doing sales-pitches. He is aided in this by an interactive video-wall that shows the respective fairy tale lands to the prospective takers. We listen to him:

“Ladies and gentlemen, there happens to be an opening in the very well known fairy tale of Snow White. One of the seven dwarfs has just left the dimension and needs to be replaced. His name is Dopey.” He opens a video window to this fairy tale that shows the remaining six dwarfs happily cooking dinner in their beautiful old-fashioned house in the woods.

“I assure you that you are not stuck with being Dopey all the time because the dwarfs regularly change roles and shapeshift. As you might know almost everybody here can change his appearance. You will have a lot of freedom when you join this gang. The dwarfs are accomplished craftsmen und magicians. They love adventures. ” He shows a picture of a dwarf on a magic motorcycle.

He adds: “By the way, Snow White´s stepmother is thinking of retiring soon. If you care to wait a bit you can have her place. It comes with a lot of magic powers and a beautiful body, of course.” He shows us pictures and videos of the impressive castle, the many rooms and a lot of staff. Pretty soon he has some applicants for the vacancies and he accompanies them to a separate cubicle to discuss details.

The present GrImporter looks human and young although he has had this job for more than 100 earth years. He has dark blond hair that is sticking out on all sides because he habitually runs his fingers through it. He has friendly blue eyes that are twinkling with laughter. He wears a light blue overall with a nametag identifying him: “GrImporter, Incoming Services of the Fairy Tale Dimension”. Yeah, right.

We come up to his desk for our interview. He shuffles some papers around and looks briefly on his computer screen. The equipment looks modern, a bit like in an earth style travel agency. He is fiddling with a ballpoint pen: “What can I do for you?” he asks us. We have a difficult request for him. Let us see how he manages it.

“We want to play in a fairy tale where we can fly in a humanoid form. This means we need a country that incorporates great heights. We picture the inhabitants of this country living in houses perched on levitating rocks. We would like to form a society based on harvesting and processing soft fluffy cloudwool”, we answer.

 

Creating a new fairy tale story

The GrImporter raises his eyebrows: “You have a very detailed imagination.” Absentmindedly he chews on his pen. Then his eyes light up.

“I have an idea. We don´t have a fairy tale with these specifications yet. You are lucky that our current ring bearer has just mastered the third rune for the first time. I am going to chat with her and we will see whether we can add a new fairy tale country in the near future. It will take some time because we have to clarify the specifications and check them with the blueprint. We also need to find other people who are willing to join you in this new story. I hope you understand that it is not very efficient to add a new fairy tale land just for a handful of people.”

He is willing to help us to create a new fairy tale story? This is pretty cool!

Multiple GrImporters

All the incoming fairy tale fans are personally served by the GrImporter and offered an entrance into the fairy tales that fit their needs best. Considering that there are billions of inhabitants, the GrImporter, just like the grim reaper, can make copies of himself. He has created avatars that he employs as needed. One of the perks of being a key figure in this dimension is that you have a lot of freedom in how you fill your role.

Automation of country changes

To ease his workload the GrImporter is working on the continuing automation of the low level changes. By low level changes he means people who want to stay in the dimension  and move from one country to another only. I have explained in a previous blog article that you can change your stories as often as you want to. Sometimes people just walk out of one fairy tale country and end up in the next. Or they die in one country and magically reappear in the next.

It is the job of the GrImporter to facilitate these changes. He has to make sure that there is sufficient room for the new inhabitants in their chosen fairy tale story and provide the logistics. For this task the GrImporter has created a vast databank that works like an Artificial Intelligence. Its job is to match places and people fast and efficiently. Its personality incorporates many traits of the blueprint of the FTD. This means that there can be some funny – in the FTD sense – surprises when an inhabitant changes his centre of living. The GrImporter shows us how the AI system works and we are impressed. He did a very good creative job with this automation!

Where the GrImporter lives

The GrImporter lives in a very secret part of the FTD where the other key figures reside, too. This area is secured and fortified by a multitude of spells and because of this it is practically invisible. Like the other key figures he has the power to customize his home and his grounds according to his needs. Let us pay him a visit.

His house is large and looks very modern. It is a white bungalow built in a U-form. In the space in the middle of the three sides of the U there is a tropical garden and a swimming pool. Nice!

We arrive on a wide porch and knock on a white door. He welcomes us warmly and invites us in. Our first glance at the interior decoration of his house reveals that this is the home of a high tech nerd. In our line of sight there are many gadgets, machines and appliances that look quite unfamiliar. We cannot even guess what they are used for.

His spacious office, for example, is filled with a multitude of computer screens and electronic equipment. But wait, this is not the earth electronics we a familiar with. This must be some combination of medieval magic and digital age gimmicks. We ask and the GrImporter grins and nodds. He explains that he likes to create hybrid machines that combine electronics and magic. He shows us some of his experimental devices, which, he assures us, are not dangerous.

The GrImporter has two assistants who live with him. The apprentices are a girl and a boy who look very much alike. They seem to be in their early twenties. Both are skinny and long limbed with long dark hair, jeans, T-Shirts and sneakers. They are very fond of games and automation and therefore can support their boss in his various endeavours adequately.

In the huge living room we see a large sprawling sofa and a lot of big screens. There are also seats and tables that are covered with all kinds of equipment. The GrImporter explains that a lot of these machines – they work with and without magic – are used for a variety of video games. 3D video games seem to be the hobby of the apprentices.

The kitchen is a high-end affair with shiny appliances and more switches and controls than you would expect in a spacecraft. The GrImporter switches on an elaborate coffee machine and produces delicious coffee for us.

Unlike the grim reaper the GrImporter has a very companionable personality. He is very fond of experiments and some of his best friends are the most powerful magicians in the FTD. We have a mutual friend in the old tree magician, the headmaster of the magic school. (The Magic School) Often he and his magician friends sit together and devise new ingenious ways of supporting their various jobs and tasks and of course to play. Their experiments are often loud and smelly, of course.

The GrImporter hosts parties regularly and it is an honour for the inhabitants of the fairy tale dimension to get invited.

I have the feeling that we will be seeing much more of this key figure of the fairy tale dimension in the near future.

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

Discovering the Fairy Tale Country of the Master Craftsmen

A few weeks ago I listened to a professional fairy storyteller. This experience inspired me to write this blog article. In the first part I tell one of the stories I heard. In the second part I invite you to join me on a visit to the fairy tale country of the master craftsmen.

The Fairy Tale of the two Craftsmen

Once upon a time there was a goldsmith and a shoemaker who wanted to know which one of them was the better craftsman. Since they were widely known for their excellence the king invited them for a competition. When they set out on the journey to meet the king they were looking forward to finally knowing which one of them was better.

When they arrived at the castle they were ushered into the great hall to meet the king and his entourage. The king asked them what they needed to manufacture an object during the next 2 weeks. The goldsmith wanted a big chunk of gold and the shoemaker asked for a cowhide of the finest quality. They both got what they requested and went their separate ways.

After two weeks the two men met in front of the castle. The goldsmith carried a heavy bag. The shoemaker did not carry anything. He only wore a fine new leather coat. Again they were led to the big hall. There the king asked them what they needed to present their objects.

 

The demonstration of the objects

The goldsmith asked for a basin filled with water. The basin was brought and the goldsmith opened his bag. He took out a beautifully crafted golden fish. It looked so real! He set the fish into the water and it started swimming around in circles! Everybody looked on in awe.

The king was flabbergasted. He had never seen anything so wondrous. He was secretly sure that the shoemaker would not be able to top this. But he nonetheless gave him the opportunity to show his object.

He asked the shoemaker, what he needed for this. The shoemaker answered that he only needed the big hall with an open window. A window was duly opened. Everybody looked at the shoemaker curiously. The shoemaker said: ”I manufactured this magnificent coat.”

Then he spread his arms and started to fly! He did three circles over the heads of the people in the great hall flying higher and higher. Then he flew out of the window and continued to fly up until he was so high that he looked tiny. Everybody ran to the windows to catch a glimpse of the flying man. He came back down and flew twists and turns and did summersaults in the air. After a while he returned the great hall and landed in front of the king.

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The decision

“Well”, the king thought, “this coat is as special as the beautiful golden fish. What shall I do?” Finally he told the two craftsmen: “You both created wondrous beautiful objects and therefore you both shall receive the same reward. The only condition is that you leave your objects with me and promise never to recreate them.” Since the reward was so big that neither of them had to work ever again they promised not to duplicate their objects and took their leave.

The two left. But they still did not know, who as the better of the two. The king put the two objects in his vaults for safekeeping and forgot about them.

Some objects come with side effects

One of the many people who had watched the two showing their objects was the king´s son. He was about 10 years old at the time. For years he dreamt about flying with the coat.

One day he managed to steal the key to the vault. He saw many wondrous treasures in the vault but he was only interested in the coat. He got it and went to the empty hall. He put it on and spread his arms like he had seen the shoemaker do it. And up he went! He was really flying, how happy he was! He went up to the ceiling and out of the one window that was open. Oh, he did not mean to fly outside. But he did not know how to handle the coat properly and it just happened. Outside he flew, on and on, higher and higher. He cried for help, but nobody could hear him and what could anybody have done? He flew right over the dark forest and over the next kingdom. He became hungry and thirsty and still he did not know how to stop.

Finally he was so desperate that he tried everything he could think of to stop his flight. When he crossed his arms in front of the coat it stopped charging ahead and he plummeted towards the ground. He managed to break his fall a bit and ended up bruised and exhausted, but alive, in front of the house of a sheep farmer. He had no idea where he was. Will he ever find his way home?

 

Visiting the fairy tale country of the master craftsmen

Let us explore together the home of the master craftsmen. Imagine us strolling into this fairy tale country.

The sun is shining. We are walking on a wide path made of light brown earth. About 20 meters to the side a small stream is gurgling peacefully. We get a glimpse of the first house. It is white washed with red shutters and a thatched roof. We can smell the wonderful aroma of the roses in the garden. But wait, there is something else. Mmmh, there is the smell of freshly baked bread and cake. Delicious! Let´s go and take a closer look.

 

The bakers

We see a man working in the garden. We introduce ourselves as travellers from far away. Two women are coming out of the house. They are arguing loudly. “My cake is better than your bread!” “No, I am the better baker!” Their faces light up when they see us. “Strangers! Great, you are sent by heaven. Please come in, taste our baked goods and tell us who is the better baker!” They promise us coffee, so we decide to accept the invitation. They make us take a seat on a cosy bench on the veranda in the back of the house. Then they go to the kitchen to fetch everything for our meal.

We try the bread first. Nice! It is moist inside and has a wonderful crust. It tastes of countryside and spices. When chewing we get impressions of the ingredients and where they come from. We see wheat undulating in the wind, salt being harvested from the sea and rosemary plucked from its bed right in this garden. Wow, this is a multi-facetted experience!

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The cake is one of these many-layered affairs with buttercream frosting. We take a tentative bite. Oh my, it is so fluffy that you hardly feel you have anything in your mouth. It tastes very light compared to the more earthy taste of the bread. When we chew we have impressions of a garden full of people, of laughter, love and affection. This is great!

Both of these creations are wonderful. We are lucky that we don´t have to arbiter between two kinds of bread or two kinds of cake! We tell the two expectant bakers that they both receive the first prize for their creations. They are okay with our verdict and we take our leave.

 

The goldsmiths

We continue on our way and pass more and more houses as we are nearing a city. We see lots of different workshops. All of them have unique objects on display. We are asked to arbiter again, this time by two goldsmiths.

One shows us a beautiful pendant made with many red rubies. When we take it in our hand and look at the sparkling stones we can see our loved ones and what they are doing at the moment. How cool is that!

“Why can we see our loved ones who are far away in another dimension?” we ask. The creator explains that the magic in the object connects with us. And we are connected with the ones we love no matter where they are at the moment.

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The other goldsmith also has a pendant for us to look at. It is formed like a crescent moon. It is made out of gold and it features a mask. We take a closer look and the mask is starting to talk to us! We hold it closer to our ears and we can tune in to every conversation around us and listen! With some practise we could listen to people who are much further away, the second goldsmith assures us.

Again we have to declare a tie. The two goldsmiths listen to our verdict calmly, smile and send us on our way.

We walk on until we meet an official looking person in a uniform. We ask him whether everybody was as skilled as the people we have met. He nods and says: “You must have been good arbiters, because you look unharmed and well.” We are astonished: “Why do you say that?” He answers: “Well, had you preferred one of the two rivals a mob of people would have attacked you and either run you out of the country or did you serious harm.”

After this we don´t stop and talk to people any more. We have no intention of being the arbiter again. This could turn out to be a very uncomfortable journey! Still everything seems so harmless and peaceful.

 

The results of our look behind the scenes

Everybody in this fairy tale has unique talents and puts their whole being into their art. Interestingly we have not seen a full time magician there. They seem to be busy manufacturing artful objects. The inhabitants of this fairy tale have honed their crafting skills to a point where they cannot be compared with each other any more. Each object is exceptional in its own way. Even the king in this fairy tale is not able to decide which one of the two is the better craftsman.

The peace in this country of master craftsmen is achieved by using neutral people to acknowledge equal talent. When they find somebody who makes a decision in favour of one of the rivals the carefully maintained equilibrium is destroyed.

Then violence and aggression erupt and make life really exciting,  both for the inhabitants and the visitors! Lucky that we did not experience this.

Since there is no sign at the entrance of this country saying it could be potentially harmful to be an arbiter here, I advise everybody to be careful. Since you were with me on this journey you know that it is better for your health to call ties in a very diplomatic fashion when you are asked to arbiter.

How did you like this behind the scenes look? Is there a fairy tale country you would like us to visit together? Please write down the story of the fairy tale you want to visit and send it to me via email: Ingeschuma@online.de or share it in the facebook group. If you like you can invent a new fairy tale. There are so many that are still unknown!

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

Show True Compassion not Pity

I have been thinking about writing a blog article about compassion for some time. My work with refugees triggered my interest in this subject. I learned a lot about compassion in the last years and I want to share some of my personal insights here.

We fairy tale dimension fans use compassion when we help to alleviate the consequences of the overdue frequency change. The illness in the fairy tale dimension

Refugees in Germany

In 2015 a huge wave of refugees from Syria flooded into Europe and in the course of one year Germany welcomed one million of them. This would not have been possible without millions of Germans pitching in.

In my neighbourhood in Hamburg one of more than thirty refugee camps was built. Since then I have been coordinating the German teachers and teaching myself. My colleagues and I have been working with many people from a variety of nations.

At the beginning there were a lot of problems and disappointments until we had established a routine and a fitting mindset for our work. (A mindset is a belief that orients the way we handle situations.)

IMG_20170206_100131_HDRWhat was the problem?

Our students didn´t come regularly and were always late. A lot of them did not seem eager to learn the language. They certainly did not behave like we expected: We had expectations that weren´t fulfilled and as a consequence we felt bad and our motivation dwindled.

We had to learn that it was not our responsibility that everybody attends our courses. If they did not want to involve themselves, so be it. We were there because it was important to us and we wanted to help them to learn the language.

It took some time until we had changed our mindset and learned to take things not personally. Because what do you do when you take something personally? You feel that you are being treated badly. You think the others are doing something wrong – you judge. I have discussed this subject with many volunteers from different organisations and apparently every volunteer has to learn this.

What is compassion?

For me compassion means understanding and accepting without judgement. In showing compassion we are expressing love and kindness for somebody else. When we show compassion we are on the same level as our counterpart. We acknowledge them as being important. With compassion we are creating an atmosphere of acceptance and are standing on the same level as the person we have contact with. We are not judging.

 

What is pity?

Pity is when we feel sorry for somebody. In feeling pity we are not treating the other person as an equal. We judge without being aware of it. I call this the pity-trap. Why?

When pitying somebody our attention is not with ourselves but with the other individual. This is what we are used to do: Focusing on another person and not on ourselves.

We thereby express implicitly that the other individual is not creating their reality well enough and that we know a better way. By this we generate judgement and by judging another individual we are looking down on them. We are treating them as somebody who is not being able to cope, for example.

 

Why is the difference between compassion and pity so important?

We express a significantly different energy when we choose either compassion or pity. Energy is always felt and reacted to whether we are aware of it or not.

People are able to accept the help you offer in a totally different way when we show genuine compassion. With compassion we show acceptance and understanding and  transport a respectful energy.  This is important for self-empowerment and being truly helpful.

People who are pitied don´t feel genuinely understood and supported. With pity we transport a feeling of smallness. People sense being looked down upon even when they do not consciously recognize this.

 

Showing compassion for refugees

25353698_1573850339396329_6867766022466397763_nIn my volunteer work I learned to be more aware. I try now to be aware whenever I slip into the pity-trap, into judging.  Believe me, I still do! When I notice that I am judging I am stopping this immediately. It is working quite well nowadays

I want to treat the refugees I meet as normally as possible. They had to flee under dreadful circumstances and they have often endured terrible horrors. Many are battling with depression. But they are normal human beings and have their faults like everybody else. They like to be treated normally. I see them as individuals and treat them with the same respect I treat everybody. It is so much fun connecting with them. During our lessons we laugh a lot. Sometimes we also cry together.

I want my work to be perceived as something that I give freely and as an equal. I want to help them to learn the language and thus help them with integration. As you might know German has a complex grammar and is not easy to learn.

We have been working at the refuge camp for two years now and the volunteers who are still active and motivated are the ones who have changed their mindset and express genuine compassion. I think you burn out easily when you have expectations that are constantly disappointed.

 

Compassion with people in the victim role

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We all have had moments in which we have experienced ourselves as victims. In these moments we saw no choices. We felt and perceived ourselves as helpless and powerless. Some people keep creating uncomfortable situations for themselves. This is when genuine compassion can be very helpful.

 

How can you best express the compassion you are feeling?

The important thing is to acknowledge your counterpart. Just being there often does the trick. You could also listen as long as you feel up to it. You could reach out and touch them. Do what your impulses tell you is fine for both parties. Don´t give advice unless you are asked for it. When you are asked for advice try to be positive and supportive. When giving advice you could start your sentences with “I probably would” or “How do you feel about trying…” This shows respect for the other individual and leaves them choices.

Try to not have any expectations what the other person should or should not do. I know, this is easier said than done, because we want our friend or family member who is in a bad place to feel better fast. We are so used to creating expectations but, as I have established before, this is neither supportive nor self-empowering.

 

Compassion in my practise

I have been working as an energy healer for over ten years. Compassion is a basic tool for me. With compassion and empathy I create rapport and build a relationship with my clients. It helps that I love people, of course. I perceive every one of my clients as a unique wonderful being.

At the beginning of this career I was afraid to work with chronically ill clients. I felt pity and projected my own fears on them.

A friend of mine, who had terminal cancer helped me through this. She encouraged me to work with her and I could alleviate some of her symptoms. Working with her, I discovered, was just as wonderful and as fulfilling as working with my other clients.

Because of this helpful experience I don´t fall into the pity-trap any more when clients are having a particularly hard time. This way I can get on with truly supporting them.

 

Remember to take care of yourself first

When you want to help people and show compassion it is very important to respect your own boundaries. It does not matter whether you are doing this as a volunteer, as a healing professional or at home caring for a family member.

The moment you don´t honour your boundaries you will create problems. For example what happens if you listen longer to never changing lamentations than is good for you? Sooner or later you will be totally fed up and blame the other individual for your discomfort.

But your discomfort is not their fault. They are just expressing themselves and it is your duty to yourself to express yourself, too. When you start to feel uneasy, change the subject, go away or try to convey in a respectful manner that this is not going anywhere.

Remember you are just as important as the other person and the only one who can take care of yourself adequately is you! This way you honour yourself and you will be able to help the other individual effectively again another day.

Compassion is the key to integration

Something fundamentally changed in Germany because of this refugee crisis in 2015 and I am proud to be part of it. Our social system in Germany would have crashed without the many volunteers. Frankly, I did not know we had it in us. After starting two world wars we Germans opened a new chapter in our history, the chapter of compassion.

Now we have the big task of integration to tackle and this won´t work without compassion!

© Inge Schumacher