I'm starting off slow with this story. I love it so much. I used it for a client's Story/Reading when I was offering that form of coaching, and it was so right for her. This week, I'm going to talk a little about why I love this story. Next week, I'll share what some other writers have said about it.
There are a whole slew of European fairy tales about people being turned into birds. One of the main themes of these stories, is that someone has to complete an arduous task in order for the transformed ones to be returned to their human form. So often, we are willing to set off on an adventure that we'd never consider otherwise, because someone else's life or well-being, or even just convenience, is at stake. In this story, it is a little girl who faces a journey far from home. She is not an adult, not even a maiden of marriageable age. She's a child, one who is determined to set things right.
I love how there is no question in her mind, as soon as she learns of her brothers' existence, that she is the one who will save them. She is ready for her journey -- she takes food and drink, a ring from her parents to remember them by, and a chair. A CHAIR!!! She is ready to rest herself. This is the kind of practical thinking that fairy tales are sometimes thought to lack, but in reality, they have it in spades. She is going to save her brothers, and it's going to be hard, and she'll need to rest. So she needs a chair. Of course.
The little girl journeys to the sun, the moon, and the stars, and it is the stars, the ones to whom little children sing, the ones who are so gentle and so insistent in their shining, who offer her welcome and help. I love how they are ready to tell her how to find her brothers, and to give her a gift to help her get there.
Gruesome as it seems, I love the moment when she realizes that she will have to give up part of herself to see this adventure through to the end. Having lost the chicken bone the stars gave her, the little girl cuts off her own finger to open the lock on the glass mountain's door. She has a knife, which was not mentioned before, and does what needs to be done, with no drama.
When I tell this story to little children, not one of them flinches or even blinks at the need to cut off her finger. In storyland, it's not a problem. She probably grows it back instantly. Or perhaps she will get a silver finger. It's not important. What is important, is that a dwarf comes and tells her the ravens aren't at home.
I love that it is the print of her lips on the glass that gives her away, and that the ring she brought along alerts her brothers as to who has come. The brothers regain their human form, just like that. I imagine a great ruffling of feathers, and a whirring of wings, and then a gradual settling of the air, and seven young men now appearing, for they will have grown older in the time since they were transformed.
This story is about love. It is about love that seeks us out, even when we are lost. It is about love that sends us searching for what, until just now, we didn't even know we lacked. It's about trust, and magic, and bravery. It's about how quickly things can change, and how our words can have such powerful impact that they change the world forever, and change the lives of others, for good or ill. It's about our journey through life, perhaps our journey before birth, and perhaps about the underworld or the unconscious. It's about life.
more to come...
Sara Renee Logan has been telling stories to everyone who would listen since she was seven. She organized storytimes for her college roommates, and spent a year at Oxford studying folklore and folktales. Many years as a Waldorf teacher allowed her to tell stories about everything from Baba Yaga's hut on chicken legs to the water cycle to the life of Joan of Arc. Sara shares her life with her partner, Melanie, their son, and an unreasonable family of pets. She continues to share her love of storytelling and stories with audiences of all ages, specializing in bringing the wild beauty of folktales to young and old. Sara writes about parenting, storytelling, and about living a life with stories.