Fairy stories are far more than just enchanting tales for children. They are full of symbolism and meaning. Sometimes, if you are facing difficulties and problems in the real world, reading fairy tales can do a lot more than just take your mind off your worries as they can offer insight and inspiration to help you overcome obstacles and face up to life's challenges.
Here is a little bit of fairy tale magic to help you find the right story for your day.
Go to a bookshelf containing volumes of fairy stories. This could be your own bookshelf if, like me, you have quite a collection of fairy tales. If you don't, then go to your public library or a good bookshop.
Stand in front of the shelf and close your eyes, point your index finger and make a circle in the air three times while silently asking the fairies to guide you to the right story. With your eyes still closed, touch the spine of a random book with your finger. Open your eyes and take the book from the shelf. Then, open the book to a random page. Whatever tale is on that page is the right one for you to read.
I tried this and was led to The Yellow Fairy Book,which is part of a famous collection of fairy tales edited by Andrew Lang. The book fell open at the story of The Snow-Daughter and the Fire-Son.
It wasn't one I had read before, and I found it is a sad tale with a tragic ending. Here is a precis:
Once upon a time there lived a man and wife who had no children.In traditional fairy tales - as in real life - things don't always end up with everyone living happily ever after - but that doesn't mean you can't learn from them to help you avoid tragedy in your own life.
One winter's day the wife said to her husband: "I wish I had a daughter as lovely as an icicle." As she spoke, a snowflake fell into her mouth and, nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl.
The child was as white as snow and as cold as ice. Although she was beautiful, she could only stand living in the coldest places. She was very happy playing outside in the winter, but in the summer she stayed in the cellar because she could not bear the warmth of the sun.
The couple loved their Snow-daughter, but were worried about her. One day, sitting by the fire, the wife said: "I wish I had given birth to a Fire-son." At that moment, a spark leaped from the fire and landed in the wife's lap. Nine month's later she gave birth to a baby boy, but he gave the couple just as much worry as their Snow-daughter because he could not stand the cold at all. He would only go outside on hot summer days and in winter he stayed as close as possible to the fire.
What's more, the Snow-daughter and Fire-son, although they were fond of each other, could not bear to be close because it hurt them.
They grew up and decided it was time to leave their parents and make their way in the world - and the snow-daughter had a clever idea to allow them to travel together. She said: "I have made thick fur coats that will protect us from each other."
For a long time the Snow-daughter and the Fire-son wandered the world. They had many adventures and were very happy. Then, one snowy day, when the Fire-son was huddled in a cottage by a huge fire, the Snow-daughter met a King, who was hunting in the winter woods.
They fell in love and decided to get married. The King built huge ovens in the grounds of his castle where the Fire-son could live, while his bride-t0-be had rooms in the coldest part of his castle.
The Fire-son was delighted with his new home and got so close to the fiery ovens that his skin glowed as red as burning coals.
Without thinking, he rushed up to the King and embraced him. But his skin was so hot that the King screamed, then fell to the ground dead. The Snow-daughter was distraught and flew at her brother in a rage. They had a terrible fight, and crowds of people ran to see what was happening. But, by the time they got there, the Snow-daughter had entirely melted to water and the Fire-son was nothing but a blackened cinder.
I think the story of The Snow-daughter and the Fire-son is a cautionary tale that warns us to be mindful of each other's needs and feelings. Relationships between people who truly love each other can fail because emotions run too high and we do not pay enough attention to what our partner wants.
Physically too, what is right for us, isn't necessarily right for those we love and we should be careful not to harm others with our actions.
Thinking about the message this story has for me personally, I know that I love chocolate, but my partner is diabetic and mustn't eat sugary things. Perhaps the lesson for me is that I should keep my chocolate all to myself and not tempt my loved one into eating something that is very bad for him.
I think I can do that :)
And, as someone who loves fairy stories, I hope Tell a Fairy Day becomes a recognised festival all over the world.
The Yellow Fairy Bookis available through Amazon in book format and, for just 70p, in Kindle edition.
Links and previous related posts:
The Yellow Fairy Book