Behind the Scenes of the Fairy Tale Rapunzel

The Grimm brothers made Rapunzel famous. But its origin goes back to the 17th century to Petrosinella by Giambattista Basile, which was published in 1634. Its plot has been used and parodied in many media and its best-known line “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” has become legendary.

The heroine of this fairy tale got her name Rapunzel from a plant. Rapunzel is the German word for a kind of small green salad. I had to look it up. It looks a lot like lambs lettuce. Perhaps Rapunzel was more common in people´s gardens when the fairy tale was written. The English translation for Rapunzel is rampion. You can see some pictures of rampion here: It seems to be popular in Italy and Spain.

The fairy tale of Rapunzel

Some people like to make things complicated: Rapunzel´s mother had a hard time getting pregnant. When she finally was pregnant she developed an insatiable craving for rampion. She would eat nothing else thus endangering her life and the life of her child.

The cravings of pregnant women are legendary. To this day soon-to-be fathers can be seen searching everywhere for the strange foods their beloved mates crave. In this fairy tale the husband steals the rampion for his wife in the neighbouring garden which – tough luck – belongs to an evil witch. Of course he gets caught and the witch agrees to share her salad with the couple in exchange for the baby.

That is a very extreme demand but the husband seemed to be so terrified that he would have agreed to anything. When the child was born the witch got it and the parents are never talked about again.

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Rapunzel was very beautiful and she had wonderful long blond hair. When she was 12 years old the old Witch shut her in a tower without stairs or doors. When she visited she called to a window:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
When she heard the Witch’s voice Rapunzel let her braids fall 5 metres down out of the window and the Witch climbed up.
After a few years a Prince on his horse passed by Rapunzel´s tower. As he came near he heard someone singing so sweetly that he stopped to listen. The Prince longed to see the owner of the voice, but he sought in vain for a door in the tower. Nevertheless he returned to listen often. One day, when he was standing behind a tree, he saw the Witch approach and heard her call:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
Rapunzel let down her plaits and the Witch climbed up.”So that is the staircase”, said the Prince. ” I can use it, too.” At dusk on the following day he went to the tower and called:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
This way the Prince finally met Rapunzel. At first Rapunzel was frightened when she saw him because she had never seen a man before. (Really??) But the Prince was a friendly guy.  He convinced her that his heart had been so touched by her singing that he just had to meet her. Rapunzel overcame her fear, and when he asked her to marry him she agreed. Her sensible reasoning was that she would be much happier with the Prince than with the evil Witch who held her captive. She put her hand in his and said:
“Yes, I would like to go with you, but how do I get out of this tower? Every time you come to see me please bring a skein of silk and I will make a ladder. When it is ready I can climb down and you can take me away.”
Because the old woman was with her during the day the Prince visited her every evening and brought her silk. The old Witch had no idea what was going on. Sadly one day Rapunzel gave herself away when she asked the Witch: Why are you so much harder to pull up than my Prince?
“You disobedient child”, cried the Witch. “I thought I had hidden you safely from the world but you have deceived me.”
In her wrath she seized Rapunzel’s beautiful hair, took a pair of scissors and cut it off: The beautiful plaits fell to the ground. Afterwards  she took Rapunzel to a desert far away and left her there.
On the evening of the day Rapunzel got exiled the Witch fastened the plaits on a hook near the window. When the Prince came and called:
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair,” she let the Rapunzel´s braid down and the Prince climbed up. But instead of Rapunzel he encountered the evil Witch.
” You wanted to meet your love, but she is gone for good, Prince. You will never see her again.” she said.
In his despair and in spite of the height the Prince jumped straight down from the tower. He fell into thorns that hurt his eyes and blinded him. After this he wandered blindly through the world, lonely and lamenting the loss of his Rapunzel.
He wandered around for years and at last he came to the desert where Rapunzel was living. He recognised her beautiful voice singing. He walked in the direction of the sound, and when he came close, Rapunzel recognised him, ran into his arms and wept. When her tears touched his eyes a miracle happened and he could see again. He led her to his kingdom, where they lived happily ever after.

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Versions

There are plenty versions of the Rapunzel story. In some versions Rapunzel is exiled to other remote places, being pregnant (with twins) or not. But the two lovers always find each other in the end. What happens with the witch is not clear.

This fairy tale is puzzling to me

Eating rampion during pregnancy does not seem to make the child smart. Or is it the hair colour? The disaster unfolds when Rapunzel gives herself away. Why on earth do they make it so complicated to escape and deicide to fabricate a ladder of silk? She could have cut her own hair off, too.

Did they never hear of rope ladders? Even a rope with a few knots would have done the trick. The two protagonists are young and agile after all.

Why would his people leave the Prince alone and not search for him? Is a blind prince not fit to rule? Is there discrimination involved?

Well, after all these complications hardships, and endurance follow and the happy end due to magic healing gives us all peace.

Hardships were seen as a way to heaven

When the fairy tale was originally written life was very hard. The clergy and gentry had a great interest in ruling obedient people. The people were taught, also by fairy tales, to endure their hardships quietly here on earth. They were promised a reward for this later in heaven.

Behind the Scenes of the Fairy Tale Country of Rapunzel

Great Hair Magic

This country is popular for its hair magic In the Fairy Tale Dimension. The magicians and hairdressers who live here have a very long tradition of growing and grooming hair for humans and other species.

There are potions that make any hair grow fast and in all kinds of colours and textures. The hairdressers are able to fabricate all kinds of crazy hair- and beard-styles that would not be possible without a generous dose of magic.

The hair-magicians are very popular and often invited for festivities in other fairy tale countries. Their creations are status symbols for vain kings and queens.

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The lay of Rapunzel land

The countryside is characterised by dense woods, small villages and most importantly many many towers. Some towers are hundreds of metres up, some are under water, some levitate or change place randomly.

They are also in deserts and high mountains. People live by hunting and farm for their food. They generally lead quiet and peaceful lives.

For a few weeks every year however they celebrate a big festival. People from far away visit to take part in get-togethers and parties. They try their luck in contests  climbing the various towers and freeing the people who are incarcerated there.

These festivities are great occasions to meet people and find a mate. This is why the festival is so popular with young people. You can compare it to a music festival in our dimension: There you can meet people from all over who share a similar interest in music.

Role-play is an all time favourite in the Fairy Tale Dimension

A. Some people try to get up and into the towers

So besides crazy hairdos the race to the top of a tower to free the favourite boy or girl is the goal of the game. When you succeed you get to spend time as a twosome in the towersuite with meals served and other amenities before you decide to come back down.

Using magic potions to levitate up the towers is frowned upon as cheating. So people are creative constructing wings, swinging lassos or building ladders.

Some have tried using magic beans to speed their ascent up. But you never know how potent your beans are. When you are unlucky you get thrown over the clouds only to fight with the giants waiting for youin the bean country up above. Or the roots destroy the tower in the process of growing thus ending the game prematurely.

Like so often in the Fairy Tale Dimension the cunning and intelligent people will win the prize.

B. Some people like to play up in the towers

The people in the towers either help the intruders up – with or without employing their hair. Or they fight off unwanted suitors and try to keep them away from the tower by every means they can think of.

It is no surprise that people get hurt and die all the time during the festivities. But remember, in the Fairy Tale Dimension this is not permanent and can be easily remedied – and the game can go on.

Would you like to play in this fairy tale country? What would be your favourite role?

One member of my facebook group requested this behind the scenes look of her favourite fairy tale. If you are interested in how the country of your favourite fairy tale looks like tell me in the comments, write an email or join my facebook group.

You can read a nice version of Rapunzel here.

Pictures: Pixabay

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

 

 

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Behind the Scenes of Sleeping Beauty

I was surprised to find out that the fairy tale I grew up with does have another chapter that was totally new to me.

The earliest known versions of Sleeping Beauty are found in the 14th century in the long Arthurian book Perceforest. I grew up with the Grimm´s version which is based on Perrault 1628-1703 and is the most popular today.

(Charles Perrault was one oft he first Europeans to put together popular fairy tales and he inspired many for example the Grimm brothers who lived in the middle of the 19th century. )

The story of Sleeping Beauty I am familiar with

At the christening of a king and queen’s long-wished-for child, seven good fairies are invited to be godmothers to the infant Princess. The fairies attend the banquet at the palace. Each fairy is presented with a golden plate and drinking cups adorned with jewels. Soon after, an old fairy enters the palace and is seated with a plate of fine china and a crystal drinking glass. This old fairy was overlooked because she has been within a tower for many years and everyone had believed her to be deceased. Six of the other seven fairies offer their gifts of beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and goodness to the infant princess. The old fairy is very angry about having been forgotten, and as her gift, enchants the infant Princess so that she will one day prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The seventh fairy, who hasn’t yet given her gift, attempts to reverse the evil fairy’s curse. However, she can only do so partially. Instead of dying, the Princess will fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awakened by a kiss from a king’s son.

The King orders every spindle and spinning wheel in the kingdom to be destroyed, to try to save his daughter from the terrible curse. Fifteen or sixteen years pass and one day, when the king and queen are away, the Princess wanders through the palace rooms and comes upon an old woman, spinning with her spindle. The princess, who has never seen anyone spin before, asks the old woman if she can try the spinning wheel. The curse is fulfilled as the princess pricks her finger on the spindle and instantly falls into a deep sleep. The king has the Princess carried to the finest room in the palace and placed upon a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric. The king and queen kiss their daughter goodbye and depart, proclaiming the entrance to be forbidden. The good fairy who altered the evil prophecy is summoned. Having great powers of foresight, the fairy sees that the Princess will awaken to distress when she finds herself alone, so the fairy puts everyone in the castle to sleep. The fairy also summons a forest of trees, brambles and thorns that spring up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world.

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A hundred years pass and a Prince finds the hidden castle during a hunting expedition. An old man recounts the story: Within the castle lies a beautiful Princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years until a king’s son comes and awakens her. The prince then braves the brambles and thorns and enters the castle. He passes the sleeping castle folk and reaches the chamber where the Princess lies asleep on the bed. Struck by the radiant beauty before him, he falls on his knees before her. The enchantment comes to an end by a kiss and the princess awakens and converses with the prince for a long time. Meanwhile, the rest of the castle awakens and go about their business. The Prince and Princess are married by the chaplain.

Disney and all other popular narratives end with this scene.

The part of Sleeping Beauty that was new to me

After the secret wedding the Princess bears two children, Aurore (Dawn) and Jour (Day), unbeknown to his mother, who is of an ogre lineage. When the time comes for the Prince to ascend the throne, he brings his wife and children.

The Ogress Queen Mother sends the young Queen and the children to a house secluded in the woods and directs her cook to prepare the boy for dinner. The kind-hearted cook substitutes a lamb for the boy, which satisfies the Queen Mother. She then demands the girl and the cook this time substitutes a young goat, which also satisfies the Queen Mother. When the Ogress demands that he serve up the young Queen, the latter offers to slit her throat so that she may join the children that she imagines are dead. While the Queen Mother is satisfied with a hind in place of the young Queen, there is a tearful secret reunion of the Queen and her children. However, the Queen Mother soon discovers the cook’s trick and she prepares a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. The King returns and the Ogress, her true nature having been exposed, throws herself into the tub and is fully consumed. The King, young Queen, and children then live happily ever after.

(from Wikipedia)

There are many modern adaptions of the Grimm story: movies, ballets and operas:

 

Here are two contemporary examples:

1. The animated movies featuring Shrek by Dreamworks are very funny: They play with appearances of the protagonists of this Sleeping Beauty story. An ogre rescues Princess Fiona who turns out to be an ogre herself.

2. The book Reckless The Petrified Flesh

is the first of a three-piece-series called Mirrorworld by Cornelia Funke. She is a multiple award-winning German illustrator and storyteller, who writes fantasy.
Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a mirror that is a portal in his father’s abandoned study.

In these books Funke mixes up all kinds of fairy tales. People go on quests and discover treasure. What intrigued me was that the protagonist discovered a Sleeping Beauty who had died sleeping in her castle. Nobody had managed to save her in time. She had lain in her perpetual sleep for hundreds of years while hundreds of potential saviours were killed. Perhaps the good fairy´s magic was sloppy?

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Behind the Scenes information on Sleeping Beauty

Discovering the last part of Sleeping Beauty I now understand why this fairy tale is popular in the Fairy Tale Dimension. The sleeping part is boring because it only offers little adventure. The fairies can bring some variety with all kinds of wishes: flying, dancing, magic. The really interesting play starts with the evil mother-in-law trying to eat her son´s family.

Death is not final in the Fairy Tale Dimension

To end your stay in the Fairy Tale Dimension you have to engage the Grim Reaper to escort you out. Inside of the dimension you can die as many times as you want only to reappear in an instant.

This explains why you will find people getting cooked in pots all the time reappearing instantly. You can picture this like wild hot tub parties. Giants even host big cooking events in swimming pool-sized pots.

In the Fairy Tale Dimension you can also jump a hundred times off a steep cliff and be smashed to bits and just stand up the next moment all healthy and restored ready for another round.

There is no pain

I have been cooked myself plenty of times while visiting the Fairy Tale Dimension with friends in dreams and we laughed our heads off while in the pots. We did not feel any pain. In our reality being cooked is cruel. In their reality it is not. This is why fairy tales often seem so cruel to us.

Flexibility

This makes people in the Fairy Tale Dimension very flexible. Something that we can profit from when we visit. There are not many rules scientific or otherwise and the use of magic enables even a bigger variety of outcomes of any fairy tale.

In Sleeping Beauty sometimes the evil stepmother gets to eat her prey and sometimes she is cooked herself.

The part of the evil stepmothers is a very popular character.

Wolves from Little Red Riding Hood like to play it as well as other animals, monsters, humans or trees.

Sleeping beauty is not always an innocent naïve creature.

I especially enjoy the Ninja version of Sleeping Beauty. She is a martial arts expert and enjoys fighting very much. The prince has to be her equal in battle to be accepted as a partner. Imagine the princess being woken up and doing Taekwondo moves! She can definitely take care of herself. This makes her a great adversary for her mother in law, too.

The children

Can play a very important role in the story and many young ones like to take part in the play rescuing their parents or plotting with their evil grandmother. There is an endless possibility of outcomes.

Were you aware of the evil mother-in-law ending of Sleeping Beauty and how do you like this end?

 

Links

Surla lune fairy tale blog has a very comprehensive list of books, which feature Sleeping Beauty. So many people tap into this fairy tale, it is amazing.

Images by Gypsy Thornton from Onceuponablog Sleeping Beauty Pinterest Board

 

Pictures: Open source by Wikipedia

© Inge Schumacher

 

Behind the Scenes of King Arthur

1. Arthur Pendragon

was a legendary British leader, who led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Arthur’s story is fascinating; full of folklore and literary invention. The historical evidence that he existed is so sparse that modern historians seriously doubt his existence.

Historical background

Britain was governed by the Roman Empire from 43 to 410 AD. The Romans ruled over almost all of England and Wales. After they left the situation got very unstable. This is why the Saxons were invited to assist in fighting the Picts and the Irish. These new arrivals started a series of wars that eventually led to the Saxon occupation of Britain in 600.

Everybody who is reading this has some picture of King Arthur in his head. If you want more details of the story, please consult the story of King Arthur in Wikipedia:

Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian legend vary, Geoffrey’s version of events often served as the starting point for later stories. Geoffrey depicted Arthur as a king of Britain who defeated the Saxons and established a vast empire. Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey’s Historia, including Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, Arthur’s wife Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Arthur’s conception at Tintagel, his battle against Mordred and final rest in Avalon.

The 12th-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story. He began the genre of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand of medieval literature. In these French stories, the narrative focus often shifts from King Arthur himself to other characters, such as various Knights of the Round Table.

From the 12th to the early 19th century there was a break in King Arthur´s popularity.

Many books and stories exist about King Arthur and his reign. Tennyson started the revival with Idylls of the King. He reworked the narrative of Arthur’s life for the Victorian era. His book was published in 1859 and sold 10,000 copies within the first week: Arthur was depicted as a symbol of ideal manhood who ultimately failed, because of human weakness.

Tennyson’s works generated much interest in the legends of Arthur. It also invited a large number of imitators:

In the US Sidney Lanier’s The Boy´s King Arthur was very popular and an inspiration for Mark Twain´s satire: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur´s Court (1889).

Arthur´s story is still constantly reworked to fit modern times to include more equality and democracy. I enjoyed Marion Zimmer Bradley´s version: The mists of Avalon (1982) as a teenager.

There have been comic strips, films and plays. Some of you may know the Arthurian spoof Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

Presently you can see on Netflix a series of a young Arthur called Merlin and a film called King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. In both magic has an important role. Arthur either fights outright against magic or uses it grudgingly and only in dire straits.

What all stories have in common

The battle is always good against bad. Arthur has to fight against evil magic and treason.

Wizards and their magic are not part of ordinary life in most Arthurian stories. They only exist on the fringe of society. This is because magic belongs in the Fairy Tale Dimension, of course.

2. Behind the scenes information on King Arthur

It is not relevant whether Arthur is a true historical figure or not. I know that he and his adventures are very real in the Fairy Tale Dimension:

Arthur and his knights live in a very elaborate fairy tale country that supports events and adventures in a setting that we would term the Dark Ages (476 – 800).

The landscape is divers

All kinds of terrain are negotiated in the adventures here. You can find high mountains, deep caves, lakes, rivers and the sea, islands, giant trees and dangerous bridges.

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Dwellings in King Arthur´s fairy tale

People live in castles and in villages. You can find more than one Camelot: Ranging from giant citadels with intricate artwork and fine masonry to crude castles surrounded by moats and sporting drawbridges. Some have a small town nearby and others stand solitary on the tip of a mountain.

Physical fighting

The people in this country fight against evil. There are swords and daggers, horses and dragons. A lot of energy is used to go on quests to obtain magic objects and slay evil monsters.

You don´t need much intellect for fighting so there are plenty of dumb brave knights.

Battle of the minds

But besides the physical fights there is also a battle of minds. In this fairy tale country  the pros and cons of magic are debated. Great speech-battles about its values and virtues are held that are highly popular. A lot of spectators attend these events.

There are also battles where riddles have to be solved: A kind of Fairy Tale Dimension Quiz Show. Prominent stars of these contests are very much in demand as advisors.

Dragons and other magic creatures

A multitude of magical creatures play on the good as well as on the evil side. Including cat-monsters, boars, griffins and giants. Anything you can imagine and much more.

Do you remember Flitz? In October 2017 I introduced the small dragon Flitz, who is part of the communication and postal service in the Fairy Tale Dimension and belongs to a group of secret agents who work as messengers on dangerous missions.

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Flitz´ Island of the Dragons

Flitz comes from a fairy tale country that supplies the FTD with fire spitting dragons. When a fairy tale country needs a dragon to watch over a treasure, to abduct virgins or as an adversary for brave knights they send an invitation and whoever wants the job leaves the island. Dragons can be wise consultants as well as ferocious fighters spitting fire that grills everybody in reach.

Society

Many different kinds of people live there. I have met a surprising number of children. This is astonishing because most people arrive in the Fairy Tale Dimension as adults. The GrImporter´s job is to let you in and as an adult it is easier to fit right in.

My explanation is that a lot of inhabitants of our dimension have been fascinated by the Arthurian tales in their childhood and therefore want to be able to experience this as a youngster. Popular roles for children are pages and servants. They have their eyes and ears everywhere and accompany adults on quests as shield bearers or squires. Of course  some stories are played exclusively by children.

Culture

People very much appreciate the diversity and many options the country offers. It is one of the most complex and intricate countries. Inhabitants can wallow in romance for example. There is much drinking, dancing and singing. Minnesingers offer their songs and sell magic poems that promise to induce love.

The inhabitants of the Fairy Tale Dimension don´t have a concept of going on holidays. But for the ones that are interested in visiting other fairy tale countries the country of King Arthur is on top of their list. There is so much to see and take part in.

The Arthurs

There are all kinds of Arthurs and because gender equality is not an issue, there are also female Arthurs, dwarf Arthurs and giant Arthurs and tree Arthurs.

Historically metal armour was only worn from the 10th century on. That is why King Arthur and his men wear mostly leather and wool outfits. There are some players though, who don´t care about historical correctness and wear metal armour anyway, just because it is cool.

Fighting dirty

People love to use all kinds of tricks to win. This is very much encouraged because it is the natural way in the Fairy Tale Dimension. The most cunning person will be the star everybody will tell tales about.

The Merlins

In the Arthurian legends Merlin is a symbol for magic. You can find a lot of wizards in this country taking part in the action.

Some of them attend the magic school that is hidden at a secret place. Because there are many possibilities to test what they have learned almost every magician likes to spend some time in this country to hone his skills. It is very good for their career to have this experience in their CVs.

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The sword Excalibur

Merlin is responsible for forging the magic sword Excalibur. It is the symbol of power and entitles the bearer to inherit the throne. In the legend Arthur proved his right to the British throne by pulling this sword from an anvil sitting atop a stone.

Besides a multitude of objects this sword is the most important magical object in the fairy tale country. There is one sword for each Arthur. The magician who is Merlin decides who is worthy of becoming the king.

So as an aspiring king or queen you better are on good terms with the magician in power and motivate him to make the magic of the sword available to you.

How do you like King Arthur´s country?

It sounds like a great way to spend time there to make up new versions of Arthur´s story. What is your favourite role? I want to be a dragon and a magician.

Whether you like adventures and fighting or are into magic and strategy. There is something for everybody.

 

Background Information:

Pictures: Pixabay

© Inge Schumacher

The Harry Potter Dimension

In June 1997 the world was introduced to Harry Potter. The British author J.K. Rowling published her first book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first of a series of 7 books that are set in the Harry Potter Dimension. This dimension is very similar to ours. The big difference is that some people there are wizards and are capable of performing magic.

This results in a division of society

The two parts of humanity live very separate lives: The wizards try to keep their existence as secret as possible. They have their own government, newspapers, postal system, fashion, sports and means of transportation.

Both groups are intertwined nonetheless because sometimes magically gifted children are born to non-magical parents (Muggles), like Harry´s friend Hermione Granger, and some magical parents produce non-magical children. So Muggles and wizards have the same origins. One side can hardly understand the other though and this is why many prejudices exist on both sides.

Both cultures have differences in status

There are poor people like Harry and his friend Ron Weasley and there are rich ones like the Malfoy family, who deem themselves to be better. On both sides there are good and bad, tolerant and intolerant people. The Muggle aunt and uncle who grudgingly raise Harry are a very bad stepfamily who try to keep him from his magic heritage and harm him as much as they can.

There is a lot of information about the Harry Potter Dimension

This is the world´s bestselling fantasy series. 500 million copies have been sold worldwide, translated into 80 languages. People could not wait to read the next sequel, just like me. I was so glad that I did not have to wait for the translation into German and thus could read the books months earlier.

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Harry and his friends fight against the evil Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who wants to become immortal and be the dictator over both wizards and Muggles. The series concludes with Harry finally winning thus saving the world.

This series made the Harry Potter dimension almost as popular as the Fairy Tale Dimension. The word Muggle has even made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary!

Most people are not aware that these constructs of human fantasy are actually reality – just somewhere else – and that the authors have successfully tapped into them for us to enjoy.

Similarities to our dimension

Harry Potter´s world shares our geography. Great Britain and other countries exist and the continents seem to be much the same.

We tend to separate ourselves from people who are different

There is a deeply ingrained fear of people who are different from us whether they look different, have a different religion or sexual orientation. This is because of our fight or flight inheritance where everything that is different could potentially be deadly.

Society in the Harry Potter Dimension reminds me of a very strict Apartheid system. In the US the president stands for people who like to separate themselves from Blacks, Hispanics and Asians.

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In Germany you can see this, too. Many refugees with different skin colour came into the country lately overwhelming part of the population. People react with resistance because it is clear that Germany will never be the same. This is why I work with refugees.

We are fascinated by magic

Magic does not work in our dimension, but we are fascinated by it. For some people it  sounds like magic that we can create our own reality: We are getting more conscious of our energies and the way we use our thoughts and actions to materialise what we want to have in our lives.

Similarities to the Fairy Tale Dimension

I just read The Tales of Beedle the Bard – by J.K. Rowling. In this book she compares our (Muggle) fairy tales to Wizard fairy tales. It seems that both dimensions have a strong connection to the Fairy Tale Dimension. Their fairy tales are also also played there.

In our fairy tales the heroes often have to overcome magic of an adversary – like the poisoned apple in Snow White for example.

In the fairy tales of the Harry Potter Dimension the heroes are capable of doing magic themselves and encounter severe problems because Magic seems to cause as many problems as it cures. It can make life complicated. Here an example:

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The tale of The Wizard and the Hopping Pod:

A wizard inherits a cauldron from his father but he has no intention to follow in his footsteps and generously cure the Muggles in his village who come to him for help. He soon discovers why his father was so helpful: When he turns away the first help-seekers the cauldron starts to hop after him clanging loudly displaying the symptoms of all the people in need around him making sleep impossible. Finally the son has to give in and he helps everybody so that the cauldron is quiet and he can finally get some rest.

Magic by wand in the Harry Potter Dimension

In the Harry Potter Dimension wizards are all but helpless without their wands. Wands are made out of different kinds of wood and are said to have different properties. It is a very important to find one fitting well to each wizard´s style. Ron Weasley has to bear the consequences of having to use a broken hand-me-down wand that produces faulty results all the time.

A wand says something about the wizard who owns it and some are even thought to be socially incompatible: “When his wand is oak and hers is holly, then to marry would be folly”. (The Tales of Beedle the Bard, page 118)

The wands are usually buried with their user when they die because people believe that they are capable of learning and would possibly become powerful and therefore dangerous when learning magic from generations of wizards. Imagine that!

Wands have to be used with spells. Without the right spell a wand cannot do much.  All this complicates doing magic and to not cause any harm to yourself and to others you need to have a thorough education in magic in an institution like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Magic in the Fairy Tale Dimension

In the Fairy Tale Dimension everybody has basic magic abilities. It is normal just like breathing. People don´t have to think about coming back to life when their play has been too fierce again. They don´t need wands for their magic. Not everybody is interested in becoming a wizard of course. For those who are gifted there are hidden schools that are well secured like the school of my friend the tree teacher. Students learn spells and the fabrication of magic objects there.

Death is final

Contrary to the Fairy Tale Dimension death in the Harry Potter Dimension is final, just like in our dimension. Some wizards have tried to overcome this with Dark Magic only to produce terrible monsters, the Inferi.

The postal system 

in the Fairy Tale Dimension is very diverse as I wrote in this article. Post by owl is also known and many other means.

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Hedwig, Harry´s white owl, delivers his mail. She is able to transport even parcels as big as the famous broom Nimbus 2000 Harry received when he joined the Quidditch team.

Did you know people play a form of Quidditch in our dimension, too? Take a look here.

Means of transportation

Wizards in the Harry Potter Dimension cannot fly like birds. Brooms are one possible means of transportation. We have witnessed Harry flying in a car to Hogwarts in the second book.

Another means of transportation is Apparition which teleports you immediately from one place to another. Only very accomplished wizards manage this. And there is the Floo Network that lets you travel from fireplace to fireplace that is one of the main modes of transportation.

In the Fairy Tale Dimension there are secret passageways for the ring bearer and her shadows throughout the dimension. I also own a pair of flying shoes like the Greek messenger god Hermes. You can find more information on transportation methods in the FTD here.

Invisibility cloaks

They exist in both dimensions although they are rare. Harry inherited one from his father enabling him to move about unseen. I have one in the Fairy Tale Dimension. It is one of the perks of being the ring bearer. Sneaking around is one of the favourite pastimes of many Fairy Tale Dimension inhabitants.

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Books

The book of monsters Harry consults in the library at Hogwarts is similar to the talking books in the libraries I adore so much in the Fairy Tale Dimension.

The Fairy Tale Dimension has become part of my life

I like to visit the Harry Potter Dimension. It is fun. But my favourite dimension besides the one we live in is the Fairy Tale Dimension.

I encounter beings from the Fairy Tale Dimension more often now that I am more aware of them:

The other day I was in a restaurant alone and when I left three waiters fell practically over each other telling me good-bye and giving me big toothy smiles. I greeted them back and immediately thought: They behave as if I was a celebrity, they must be from the Fairy Tale Dimension!

What other dimensions do you want to visit?

We all visit other dimensions without being aware of it; mostly in dreams. This week we start a dream group headed by my friend Harry Bosma where we visit other dimensions in dreams. It is always very surprising and fun what comes up in these group dream events. Check out his website. Here is an article about the Waterfall Dimension and Dreaming about a previous dream group.

 

Links

Books

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher´s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowlings

Pictures: Pixabay and private

© Inge Schumacher

 

The Jonah Whale in the Fairy Tale Dimension

Whales are fascinating creatures. I did some exploring both here and the fairy tale dimension and introduce the Jonah Whale in this article.

This article features the roles of whales in this dimension and the species of the Jonah Whale in the Fairy Tale Dimension. When I was a kid I had a book with bible stories that I liked a lot. One of the stories that fascinated me most was the story of Jonah and the whale.

The bible story of Jonah and the Whale

God sends Jonah to the city of Niniveh to get them to change their sinful ways. Since Jonah is not stupid and knows that the life of a messenger with bad tidings is in mortal danger he refuses and flees. He goes to Jaffa where he catches a boat that sails to Tarshish.

Because God is not amused with his behaviour he sends a heavy storm that threatens to capsize the ship. The sailors get anxious and ask themselves why this is happening. Jonah admits that he is probably to blame because he did not abide God´s wishes. He offers them to go overboard to save the ship because he knows the storm will cease then. At first the sailors refuse but when the storm gets worse they are forced to throw Jonah overboard to save their lives. As soon as Jonah is off the ship the storm calms down.

Jonah does not drown however. A big fish appears and swallows him. He spends 3 days and three nights in its belly. There he repents and promises God to do as he bade him and go to Niniveh as soon as he is saved. Miraculously the fish spits him out near his destination.

He musters all his courage goes into the city and tells the king and the city´s inhabitants that they are doomed should they not repent and change their ways in the next 40 days. Astonishingly the people believe him and let him live. Everybody puts on sackcloth, fasts and repents. God sees this change in their ways and spares the city from destruction – this time.

What a story! Jonah experiences a lot of action as a very reluctant messenger.

Jonah is forced to do a job nobody in his right mind would volunteer for. He runs away – but who can run away from God? God finds an original way to persuade Jonah to do the job in spite of himself. He obviously thinks he is the right person for this.

Scientists today mostly believe that the story is fictional but interestingly it exists not only in Christianity, but also in Judaism and Islam. This Wikipedia article gives a good overview.

The bible calls the sea-creature a big fish but sometimes it is also called a whale. What they both have in common is that they are huge. The biggest mammal on earth is the blue whale with a length of up to 30 m.

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Jonah´s story is not the only one where people are swallowed by a big fish. I remember that in the Italian Fairy Tale Pinocchio , the wooden puppet, meets his father Geppetto in the stomach of a fish where he has been living for some time.

There probably are more stories where people get swallowed by a whale that I am not aware of. Do you know any other stories? Please share!

 Whales are often seen as spirit animals

Some people believe that inside the whale there lives a beautiful woman, the soul of the whale, who is the keeper of old knowledge. The following characteristics are attributed to whales:

  • Keepers of history and wisdom
  • Show the importance of family and community
  • Emotional rebirth
  • Peacefulness
  • Strength
  • Communication

Throughout human history there have been many myths and stories about whales:

  • The whale is said to have a connection between this world and Atlantis, which is another dimension
  • Arctic people believe the whale to have a cunning side
  • In Slavic cultures the whale was seen as the pillar of the universe
  • In ancient China the oceans was believed to be ruled by Yu-kiang, a giant fish that was a thousand meters long and had human hands and feet
  • In East Africa there exists a fairy tale of a king named Sulemani who tries to feed the world and sees that he cannot manage this alone when faced with the appetite of many hungry whales
  • In Vietnam whales are regarded as sacred beings that bring luck, safety and prosperity
  • Inuit have a history of talking to whales
  • Today the whale is often used as a symbol for globalisation and the unity of the world

A whale in the night sky

The star constellation featuring a whale is called Cetus. It is one of the four biggest constellations and includes the star Tau Ceti and a big galaxy called M77. The word Cetus comes from the Greek word ketos and means large fish, shark or sea monster. The English word Cetaceans for whales is derived from it.

My own experience with whales

2012 I stayed for a week in Westiceland where a pod of Orcas came feeding close to the shore at night. We sat for hours at the beach in the midnight sun mesmerised watching these fascinating creatures. A little one swam right up to the shore and looked in my eyes. I will never forget this!

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Back home I read up on whales and found that some Bowhead whales, filter feeders like the blue whales, can get up to 200 years old making them some of the oldest beings on earth. Some people say that these creatures could be the living archives of their families. Recording deaths, births and where the best feeding grounds are, ensuring the continuity of culture.

I am quite fascinated by these animals and I am not alone. They have a big draw. Whale watching is very popular but sadly some countries still insist on killing these fascinating creatures.

Behind the scenes info on the Jonah Whale in the Fairy Tale Dimension

I did some research in the Fairy Tale Dimension as the ring bearer and found that there are creatures similar to whales that transport people and cargo.

I call this species the Jonah Whale because I like to picture Jonah travelling in one of them. I don´t know whether to call them fish, whales or water dragons.

Jonah Whales come in all shapes and sizes and can get up to 100 meters long. When you translate this into a submarine these beings are able to transport quite a number of passengers.

The Jonah Whales are sentient intelligent beings like us. They enter the Fairy Tale Dimension like everybody else with the help of the GrImporter.

They have hollow parts in their bodies like caves where passengers can stay while being ferried from one part of the Fairy Tale Dimension to another over oceans, lakes or big rivers.

Being part of the Fairy Tale Dimension with its very special sense of humour you can bet there can be any number of surprises when you choose this means of transportation!

You enter through the huge mouth and it is quite scary to walk along the rows of large teeth and on the huge tongue.

Being spit out is one of the nice ways of disembarking. Sometimes the whales choose to treat their passengers as bodily waste – I leave you to picture that – or shoot them out of their blowhole. Since you are quite indestructible in the Fairy Tale Dimension – it does not matter when you get hurt and disembarking is just another way of being playful.

Playing with Jonah Whales

There seem to be endless opportunities at being playful with these creatures. They have a multitude of  contests.

  1.  They love to race each other or compare who can carry more passengers or cargo.
  2. I have this picture in my mind of many people squeezing into them. You can see the outward shape of the Jonah Whales bulging because of this. Imagine the creature sneezing then: People are spewed outwards in all directions!
  3. They also like to compete at who can jump highest or dive lowest retrieving objects from the deep-sea.
  4. Have you ever wanted to be a live cannonball? You can volunteer taking part in a contest where whales see who can propel his passengers furthest.
  5. There also is a game where people are bounced from one creature to the next. You lose when you fall into the water. The one who stays out of it the longest wins.

What fascinates you about whales and what would you like to play with the Jonah Whale? Please share in the comments!

Pictures: Pixabay and private

Links

 

© Inge Schumacher

Christmas fairy tale of Iceland: The Yule Lads

A big portion of my Christmas decorations consists of Santa Clauses. I have a very strong connection to the country of the Santa Clauses in the Fairy Tale Dimension and that explains why I am such a big fan of the red and white clad figures. I am not the only fan of this country. Thousands of movies, books and songs about Santas attest to the love for this fairy tale country we have. The Santa country is one of the biggest and most divers fairy tale countries in the Fairy Tale Dimension. Hundreds of different Santa Claus stories are played there.

The Christian Santa Claus

A lot of different pagan rituals and stories around the winter solstice were absorbed by Christianity over the centuries. The Christian Santa figure got his name from Saint Nicholas, He lived in the Roman Empire in the fourth century and he was a bishop who was famous for his miracles. Originally from a wealthy family he distributed his wealth to the poor. He set the example and sharing and helping that have been a big part of our Christian Christmas traditions ever since.

The Santas living in the fairy tale dimension are not always the benevolent present distributors I am so fond of. Today I want to introduce you to some pretty scary Santas who are trolls. They are part of the Iceland Christmas traditions.

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Life in Iceland used to be very hard

Until the twentieth century life in Iceland was very harsh and the people were very poor. The hundreds of years old Icelandic sagas mirror the adverse environment in which Icelanders had to fight hard for survival. Only a limited variety of food grew in the cold climate and people relied mainly on fish and sheep for food. Hunger was common.

Perhaps because of this history Iceland has the most hair-raising Christmas creatures I have heard of. The Icelandic Santa Clause family: The Yule Lads (jólasveinar in Icelandic) and their parents.

The 13 Icelandic Santas are living in a family

According to different legends The Icelandic Yule Lads live either in the highlands in the middle of Iceland or in the Dimmuborgir region in the north near lake Mývatn with their troll parents Grýla and Leppalúði and their pet-beast the Christmas Cat. There are historical records of up to 70 Yule Lads, but only 13 Yule lads have survived until today. Even though they are not as bad as their parents, they have very bad manners. Considering who raised them this is no wonder.

The parents of Yule Lads in Iceland 

Grýla – the mother – is a big troll. She looks rather intimidating and is reported to have a tail and multiple heads. As trolls are often cannibals she likes human meat and hunts for misbehaving children in the Christmas season, whom she cooks in a large pot to make stew. There seems to be no shortage of food because she is always depicted as being very well nourished.

Leppalúði is Gryla´s third husband and the father of the 13 Yule lads. He is said to be a quite useless chap. This dumb skinny troll does whatever Grýla commands him to do. He helps her to catch naughty kids for her stew and carries them home in his big sack.

The Christmas Cat

As if the parents are not frightful enough, there is also the scary Christmas Cat (Jólakötturinn) to evade during the Christmas season. This giant black cat shares Grýla´s taste for humans. She is rumoured to devour everybody who does not receive a new piece of clothing before Christmas. So if you don’t want your loved ones to be eaten by this giant troll cat, you better give them at least a pair of new socks or a scarf. 

In 1932 Jóhannes úr Kötlum wrote the still popular poetry book about the Yule Lads. There he gives descriptions of each of the 13 Christmas trolls and describes their comings and goings. Some Icelanders still know it by heart. Hallberg Hallmundsson translated this long poem in English.

The Christmas Season in Iceland

The Icelandic Christmas season lasts for 26 days, from the 11th of December until the 6th of January. It starts when the first Yule Lad arrives 13 days before Christmas Eve and finishes when the last one of them leaves on the 6th of January. They arrive singly until Christmas Eve and then leave in the same order starting on Christmas Day one by one to head home again not to be seen until next season.

The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland

The Icelandic troll Santa Clauses get their peculiar names after their individual characteristics. They are skinny because they are always hungry. Their mother  does not seem to feed them well. These guys are troublemakers who steal food and play tricks on people. This is why the Icelanders have to look well after their food during the Christmas season.

Besides being a nuisance and stealing food the Yule Lads are also ugly and pretty stupid. Here are the descriptions of each Yule Lad in order of the night he visits:

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Illustration by Hugleikur Dagsson

1. Sheep-Cote Clod (Stekkjarstaur)

He has two wooden legs, which make him slow to move. He likes to harass the sheep that have been brought in for the winter. In Icelandic farms the barn used to be part of the house so that the sheep running around in panic could easily be heard.

2. Gully-Gawk (Giljagaur)

He hides in gullies looking for a chance to steal milk from the cows when the farmers do not pay attention.

3. Stubby (Stúfur)

As his name suggests he is very short. He tries to steal pans that have food dried on them because he loves to eat the crusts.

4. Spoon-Licker (Þvörusleikir)

He is abnormally tall and thin as a rake because he is only eating by licking spoons clean. He prefers the long-handled ones that are used for stirring in big pots.

5. Pot-Scraper (Pottaskefill)

steals pots to eat the leftovers. To get to the pots he likes to trick children to make them think that someone is at the door and when they run to see who it is he sneaks in and snatches the pots.

6. Bowl-Licker (Askasleikir)

When the Bowl-Licker is in the house you can find him lurking under the bed. There he waits until somebody puts a bowl with food on the floor, which was happening a lot in the old days because beds were also used as chairs and there were not many tables. Then he reaches out from under the bed, steals the bowl and eats everything in it.

7. Door-Slammer (Hurðaskellir)

is a really annoying lad. True to his name he likes slamming doors loudly, preferably at night. When you have just drifted off to sleep he wakes you up with slamming another door.

8. Skyr-Gobbler (Skyrgármur)

When he has been visiting you can easily tell because he leaves his finger marks all over the skyr. He is also a very messy eater so that you have to clean up a lot after him. Skyr is a delicious Icelandic dairy product. Everybody tries to copy it nowadays but in my opinion nobody succeeds in making it taste as good as the Icelanders do.

9. Sausage –Swiper (Bjúgnakrækir)

He hides in the rafts under the roof and raids food from sitting up on a crossbeam. At the first chance he gets he snatches and gobbles up every sausage he can find.

10. Window-Peeper (Gluggagægir)

He is one of the more creepy Yule lads. With his enormous eyes he peers through the windows and steals everything he can see and get his hands on. This makes him perhaps the worst thief of the group.

11. Doorway-Sniffer (Gáttaþefur)

With his huge nose he can make out delicious Christmas treats from far away. He sneaks around outside of Icelandic houses and hopes that someone forgets to close the door so he can get inside to steal the food.

12. Meet-Hook (Ketkrókur)

This Yule lad steals meat by lowering a hook through the chimney. He uses the hook to grab smoked meat that is hanging from the rafts. Luckily his hook is often too short to reach everything.

13. Candle-Stealer (Kertasníkir)

He sneaks up on the children who run around the farm at night with their tallow lights to steal them. These candles were made of fat and he did not want them because of their light but to eat them.

When Christmas is finally there

the Icelandic farmers have a lot of their food stolen and are probably hungry. They are also tired from waking up several times a night, spooked because of strange sounds coming from the doors, sheep pens, the roof or the stables. They wonder why they cannot find any candles. Still they are lucky not to have been eaten by either Grýla or her cat.

You see that the Christmas season in Iceland used to be a very scary part of the year. The sun only managed to creep over the horizon for about 4 hours and people imagined all kinds of ghosts lurking outside.

Only ghosts were said to knock on doors at night. In the old days if a visitor came in the dark he went to the window and said: Here is God (Hér sé guð) to distinguish himself from the dangerous beings lurking outside.

The Icelandic Santa Clauses today

The fairy tale of the 13 Icelandic Yule lads, their parents and pet makes me glad that I grew up with stories of benevolent fat red clad Santa Clauses. I feel sorry for the Icelandic children who have been raised with tales of these intimidating dangerous creatures over the centuries.

The old stories are still very much alive today in Iceland and you can meet Icelandic Yule Lads at Christmas parties, in schools and pre-schools. Nowadays these lads have softened up though. The Icelandic Santas have even started to leave presents for children in their shoes if they put them in the windows.

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How do you feel about the Icelandic Yule Lads? What kind of Santa Clause is your favourite? Please share!

 

Pictures: private and Hugleikur Dagsson

© Inge Schumacher

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Petra Pan in a Fairy tale about Freedom and Fun

1. A fairy tale country you want to visit for a big dose of fun.

A lot of us have a very close connection to this fairy tale country. Do you remember dreams of impossible adventures in your childhood? You may have been one of the many children who visit Neverland in dreams.

When I tapped into this fairy tale story my first strong impression was that Peter Pan was female: Petra Pan should be the name of the heroine. I asked myself why Barrie wrote about a boy. When I did some research of the history of Great Britain at the time Barrie wrote about Peter (1902) the reasons became clear.

Barrie first used Peter Pan as a minor character in his novel” The Little White Bird” (1902). People liked the character and so 1904 Peter got the central role in a stage play titled Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. In 1911 Peter became the lead character of the still popular novel Peter and Wendy I am basing this article on. Today there are a lot of works based on this story: films, unauthorised sequels, comics and computer games. Peter Pan still captures our imagination today and you will know why when we take a closer look behind the scenes of this country.

 

2. Historical Background

Society before the First World War (1914-1918) was very stiff and governed by many rules. Queen Victoria reigned until 1901. The Victorian era was identified with strict standards of personal morality. Women had hardly any rights. They were not allowed to vote or to study. They wore confining long dresses and corsets that symbolise the female oppression of these timesfor me. As a woman you were supposed to be docile, loving and maternal, not adventurous and intelligent. The time certainly was not ripe for a cheeky girl to be a heroine who defies rules.

In Barrie´s story the Lost Boys appoint Wendy as a surrogate mother as soon as she arrives in Neverland. She readily assumes this role that she learned from her mother including making a home and singing lullabies.

Nevertheless Barrie wrote Peter Pan in times when change was waiting just around the corner: Women were starting to campaign for the vote and equal rights. Perhaps this is the reason why he included so many elements of freedom in his novel.

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3. The Story of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Darling household consists of the three children, Wendy, John, and Michael; the stern but friendly father, Mr Darling; the loving mother, Mrs Darling and the children’s nurse, the dog Nana.
Peter Pan likes to sneak into the children’s bedroom at night to listen to the kids´ bedtime stories. One night, Nana and Mrs Darling see him and almost catch him, but only get hold of his shadow when he flees out the window. They roll it up and put it in a drawer. Peter returns with the fairy Tinker Bell later after the parents have left for a dinner party. When he finds his shadow, he can’t make it stick to him and wakes Wendy who sews it onto him.
Peter tells Wendy that he has run away the day he was born because he heard his parents talk about the things he would do when he was a man. He explains that he went to live in Neverland so that he would never have to grow up. Now he leads a group of boys there, who got lost when they fell out of their prams.
Peter convinces Wendy and her brothers, by teaching them how to fly, to return to Neverland with him and Tinker Bell. They fly over the rooftops of London into the sky and beyond.
In Neverland the lost boys share their island with the pirates, led by Captain Hook, and the Picadilly Indian tribe, led by the chief and his daughter Tiger Lily. Hook desperately wants to capture Peter Pan and his friends because Peter cut off Hook’s hand and fed it to a crocodile. The crocodile likes his taste so much that he follows him everywhere. Since the crocodile has also swallowed a clock, the ticking warns Hook of his approach.
When they arrive in the magical land the lost boys, spurred on by a jealous Tinker Bell, believe Wendy to be a giant bird and shoot at her with a bow and arrow. Peter saves Wendy and banishes Tinker Bell. He then explains to the others where Wendy and her brothers come from. They build her a house and ask her to be their mother. Hook and the pirates put a green poison cake near the new house. The boys want to eat it as soon as they find it, but Wendy, the wise mother, stops them and puts them to bed, after singing lullabies to them.
The next day, Peter takes Wendy to see the mermaids. While there they see the pirates put Tiger Lily on a rock to drown at high tide. Peter saves her and the Indians become their friends.
Eventually, the children get homesick and decide they want to return to London. The lost boys want to go with them, but Peter wants to stay. Hook and the pirates stop these plans by capturing the children. Peter narrowly escapes with Tinker Bell’s help.
The pirates are about to have their captives walk the plank, when Peter saves them. In the final fight with Hook, Peter forces the pirate captain to the edge of the ship where he falls into the waiting jaws of the crocodile.
The three children finally return home, along with the lost boys, who are adopted by the Darlings. Peter stays in Neverland, coming to visit Wendy once in a while but she soon turns into an adult and forgets about Neverland. However, she has a daughter, Jane, who dreams of pirates, Indians, and magical places far away.

 

Barrie´s Neverland stands for freedom

Peter and the Lost Boys, the Pirates and the Indians in Neverland live a free life compared to the strict rules of Victorian times.

The Darling household looks pretty normal on the surface. The only hint that this family might be different is that their nanny is a dog. The children meet Peter, a person from another dimension and travel with him to his world. Peter, Wendy and her brothers are the connection between the two dimensions. They get the opportunity to experience the freedom of Neverland.

Peter, the leader of the Lost Boys, is cheeky and rebellious. Even laws of nature, like growing up, don´t apply to them.

The Pirates in Barrie´s story also stand for freedom and individualism. In our dimension they successfully interrupted trade, colonialism and social order. During the 19th century they were presented as romantic anti-heroes. (Treasure Island by Stevenson was published in1883).

Indians in Barrie´s time were viewed as strong and free people. Karl May´s Winnetou (1878) was popular at the time and is probably partly responsible for this. The public did not acknowledge the genocide that was going on at the time.

 

4. Behind the scenes of Neverland

The main themes in Neverland are playfulness, adventures and freedom. For me it looks like a giant playground.

This fairy tale country is loud and exuberant: When arriving you may stumble upon a noisy battle between pirates while a few miles away some sea creatures are trying to devour a group of Lost Children. This country is nothing for the fainthearted!

Its landscape consists of many islands scattered in an ocean, very similar to the country of the merpeople. However the landscape of Neverland is as variable as a giant stage and can be easily adjusted to the needs of the inhabitants: Should they need a bay, some steep mountains or a big cave, they contact the local magician and make it happen.

The many different interacting groups make this fairy tale country so colourful. All the time something is happening.  The groups invent new adventures continuously. Sometimes many different groups are involved in them and sometimes only one.  Alliances change constantly. Individuals can join other groups easily: An Indian can become a pirate or a mermaid.

Successful players become group leaders fast and lose their jobs just as fast when they are not successfull. This is why cunning and intelligence are very important traits in this country.

In spite of all their battles and conflicts the inhabitants divide the chores of providing food and clothing for everybody between themselves evenly.

 

4.1 The known players

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Petra, Peter and the Lost Children

The Peters and Petras of Neverland are the leaders of their respective teams. The number of teams varies according to the number of participants. The teams are not exclusively male or female. Besides boys and girls also faeries and other magic creatures belong in this. What they have in common is that they are young and love wild playing.

 

The Pirates

The pirates in this fairy tale country are adults. The crews live on a variety of ships ranging from wooden three masters to modern yachts that are powered by magic. The pirate captains and crew consist of males, females and magic creatures, who enjoy serious sword fights. They second as fishermen and provide food from the sea for everybody. Some ships trade with neighbouring countries.

 

The Indians

They live on the islands as families in villages consisting of teepees with chiefs as mayors. Together they work the land providing much of the needed food. They provide a safe heaven for people who need some rest and tranquillity after too much hard play. Of course they also take part in the games. It depends on the individuals how much they want to involve themselves.

 

The merpeople

form an in-between group. They belong partly to the ocean and partly on land. They are shape-shifters just like in the country of the merpeople.

 

4.2 The unknown players

The sea-creatures

This is a cool group. The crocodile stands for these dangerous animals living mainly in the ocean. They form a separate group that includes whales, giant octopus, stingrays, huge sea snakes and dragons. When they are in a good mood they let members of the other groups slide on their backs and take part in swimming and diving contests.

 

The magicians

The magicians in this fairy tale country love playfulness just as much as the other inhabitants. Together with the respective group leaders they design and build new “playgrounds” or arenas for games. They can control the weather and help out should a storm be needed. Should arise the need for an arbiter the magicians have the last word.

Their job is to maintain order if games get out of hand. They are allowed to play too, of course.

 

The shadows

In Barrie´s story Peter´s shadow can exit separately. This is typical for the Fairy Tale Dimension. There the shadows are just another life form. When they have time off they live a life of their own. Because of having less substance shadows have faster ways of travelling and communication than the other inhabitants. They are organised in a brotherhood, an organisation that spans the whole dimension.

In Neverland the shadows form a separate group and take part in the games. As you can imgaine they are responsible for many surprises.

 

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5. Being 100% present

I love this country for its sense of freedom, its creativity and its bursting energy. The inhabitants act out their aggressions and rivalries in bloody adventures and make sure they are maintaining their country at the same time. This gives them the chance to be 100% in the now.

But remember, in the Fairy Tale Dimension results of wild play like serious injuries or death are not final and easily remedied.

The players´ fantasies are the only boundaries: Games are set in all kinds of environments: In the air with fairy dust or hot air balloons, in and on the surface of the sea and on and beneath the ground. Imagine a whole country with ADHD! Neverland definitely is no utopia. Everything is allowed and fair play is not an option. I love to visit these wild lovable people although it can get quite exhausting.

My first impression of  Petra Pan was a symbol for the possibilities of this country. It  is so unique that it cannot be compared to anything else I have ever seen. These guys are  living their freedom to the fullest without any compromises.

A big part of my attraction for this fairy tale country is that its inhabitants are aware that they are self directing and that they are always totally present in everything they are doing. This is incredibly powerful and something we can definitely learn from them.

© Inge Schumacher