The Terrors and Delights of Childhood Innocence

Although it has already been shown by various mythographers that in simple popular folklore and fairy tales are often found the complex psychological synopsis of many cultural mythologies often simplified and reset to accommodate the requirements of an oral tradition. Needless to say some basic distinctions exist between allegorical myths and popular folktales. Historians assert that folk tales are relevant records of an ever-changing “zeitgeist” which has re-shaped the universal mythic themes to accommodate the social and moral mores of various cultures and ethnic societies. In the case of the fairy tale this has occurred gradually and almost imperceptibly from one generation to the next in accord with both social, political as well as religious belief. While the mythological tales reflect changes and upheavals that extend over much longer periods and reflect the ideologies of successive dynasties and aeons of human development and not just a social or family generation. The need to adapt and evolve stories from the major themes whilst still maintaining the seed essence or “raw material” of the original seems to have been the purpose behind the storytellers’ motives. Perhaps the “grand themes” contained in the recorded histories of great civilisations did not appeal to the common people in their original form and it was decided that simple renditions would reach a wider, commonplace and popular audience. The ability for fairy tales and folklore to be appreciated by both adults and children alike suggests that the key to understanding their role lies in the faculty known to us as the human imagination. The term fable is of French origin which incidentally gave rise to the generic term Fabian meaning “to delay” in order to “confound” (after the Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus-503 AD) and the French term for a metrical poem viz: “fabliau” of a comical or coarse nature. These were intended to while away the idle hours, to entertain, to educate and formulate by means of a moral apologue cultivate some aspect of popular wisdom and good behaviour in the listener. The term “fabulous” literally means good enough to be celebrated in fable or song, similarly the terms “Romance” or “Saga” have also been used to signify certain aspects of storytelling. Other literary works for example “The Canterbury Tales” written by Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) were intended as a historical and popular documentary record of the period. In fact many fables may have been derived from an actual incident that was later extemporised upon just as popular jokes are today. In the same manner, perhaps as mythologies, folktales employ allegory, analogy, metaphor, epigram and simile. The category of folk sayings includes of course proverbs and nursery rhymes, as well as verbal rhyming, charms, prophetic omens and numerous riddles.

Origins, Purpose & Meaning:

There is considerable evidence to suggest that folklore and fairy tales are derived largely from rural communities, although it should be noted that city folk also thrive on their own tabloid tales, plays, and soap-operas of a banal, bizarre or superstitious nature. However, although popular and comforting as “ersatz”, these do not satisfy or prepare the mind of the developing child for adult life. Psychologists today understand that a human beings’ character traits and habits are conditioned by their essential beliefs or understanding of the way both external elements and other people operate in the world. Positive beliefs can be reinforced and negative ideas eliminated both on the conscious and subconscious levels of our mind. The process of harnessing the power of the human imagination to correlate a fantasy with reality is the role of the allegorical tale, which also provides the moral and spiritual foundation for both the innocent child, and the dispirited or confused adult.
This is both a clue to its’ efficacy as a disguised moral induction process and its’ widespread popularity. Essentially, we are to a certain extent all programmed to respond and live our lives according to our own so-called personal perceptions and to those individuals who influenced us in our early life as well as the perception of our immediate environment. Religious, genetic and cultural factors are also significant influences in this ongoing educational process. Philosophical outlook, knowledge and practical education is largely a matter for our teachers, coaches and mentors but our family as well as the friends we make over time, inform and teach us in the rudimentaries contained within the experiential field known as ” The School of Life”. We look to them largely for direction, to open doors and provide us with clues that enable us to solve our personal and ideological as well as emotional dilemmas. Unfortunately, the continuous march of time and progress inevitably produces inexorable paradoxes for us all, because the beliefs of yesteryear no longer stand up to the scrutiny of our contemporary drives and motivations. These paradoxes must be resolved, otherwise we become stuck in a static humdrum routine or digressive mental and regressive emotional states. The role of the fairy tale is to some extent to re-educate, elucidate and provide new or essential material to enable us to tap into universal truths and allow us to effect this transition. In this sense the developing child who becomes disenchanted with the tyranny or hypocrisy of its’ peers will search out its’ own role models and derive a new set of values, morals and definitions of its’ new role in society.

The latest characters to be launched from the Marvel Comics Group

Animated comic strips or story books today act or provide the same role as the storyteller did in ancient Babylon or Greece whose mythological themes probably owe their existence to a secret knowledge or wisdom that precedes civilisation. Synonymously, the fairy tale, like the child, derives its’ theme from some previous source and, while retaining the “essential message” in time, goes through various transformations and revisions and is in itself a mirror of personal transitions, maturity and human evolution. Like the many layers of the onion, these can be peeled away to reveal the customs, rites of passage or initiatory ordeals practised by earlier generations – which for the sake of convenience were enshrined in the theatrical plays, ceremonies and historical re-enactments of a particular tribe.
It is nevertheless conceivable that several stories may contain recurring or identical themes and in their imagery borrow from either the vast storehouse of the human subconscious or the myriad of mythologies from neighbouring cultures. In that case it would be quite natural to presume that in the process of cultural interaction they would naturally form numerous connecting “links” or “strings” of association. Alternatively these could be “old yarns” that have been re-spun or interwoven with more contemporary material or events producing a new narrative or “tapestry”.

The Round Table made especially for the Knights selected by King Arthur

The Holy Grail or Arthurian Legend is just such an example having been re-worked by numerous authors who have in their own way some personal experience to add to the already existing fabric. Like the ripples caused by pebbles thrown into water, they merge and reflect a new set of kaleidoscopic patterns both on the surface and on the nearby surroundings, illuminating our vision and understanding of reality as well as each other. They form both a bridge to a universal empathy with those individuals who, by sheer providence, belong to a totally different race or culture and a secular network of tunnels that permeates every strata common to the human psyche.
What is particularly puzzling however is that a number of tales from cultures who are divided by vast periods of time and space still bear some remarkable similarities. This could in fact be pure coincidence, as the stories contain elements which in themselves are bound to be limited to the parameters of human experience. These are our fundamental need to survive, acquire the resources of comfort and mutual well being and make sense of our perceived environment. In other words to gain a greater understanding of the laws of cause and effect and how individual actions based on our moral or ethical views affects the mechanics of our personal existence. However, what we need to ask is does fate or destiny act upon us imperceptibly regardless of personal choice, does our existence become part of this equation or are we inextricably led blindfold through its’ labyrinthine passages? Various theories have been suggested for these coincidences and anomalies based on years of in-depth research and study. The psychoanalytical view is that the developing child needs to master some basic principles in order to deal harmoniously with its parents, its siblings and the wider world. Through a strong link or influence from its mother it learns basic trust (object relation), then it learns autonomy in order to fend for itself. Much later it learns to apply initiative often expressed as play, curiosity, or amusing itself through play. Through the father it learns the value of applied industry or work, and through its own perseverance and determination finally reaps rewards. Eventually, it develops an identity (Ego) that is acceptable to the world through developing outside friendships. At this point fantasy may fly out the window and reason prevails.

An artist’s impression depicting the “Death of Arthur”

Analysis of Fairytales, Myths & Fables:

The accepted views of western anthropologists to legends, myths and fairy tales changed as a result of Levi Strauss’ work “The Structural Study of Myth” published in 1955, where he presents a series of arguments that suggest folktales and myths to be a type of cryptic code or language not unlike the binary code found in computer languages. To identify this code he used an archaic story found in two distinct North American Indian tribes, – (The Story of Asdiwal) he reduced it to its’ basic components and applied the same theory of structure to other mythologies from around the world. The significance of his discovery is that myths, fairy tales and legends contain a symbolic grammar and linguistic structure just as most types of spoken language contain certain rules and procedures. Understanding these basic structures enables us to fully appreciate the purpose and meaning intended for these stories and tales. However, Levi Strauss may not have arrived at his conclusions had it not been for the invaluable work of Vladimir Propp’s study of folktales and Georges Dumezils’ study of Indo-European myths published in 1928. Further enlightening studies in the same vein include “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” and “The Masks of God” by Joseph Campbell. Although much opposition was given to Levi Strauss’s theories particularly among British anthropologists when he published “le Cru et le Cuit” in the autumn of 1964, only minor details were left to quibble over, his conclusive evidence received the acclaim of many other scholars in Europe and America.

Jungian Iconography:

The psychoanalyst and mystical philosopher, C. G. Jung incorporated some of these alchemical ideas within his own psychoanalytical system to represent a form of synchronicity linked to cause and effect. However, there was nothing new in the eyes and ears of occultists who had been nurtured for previous centuries on eastern mysticism. They received Jung and his ideas by placing their tongues firmly into their cheeks and expressing a sense of muted surprise. True enough Jung’s system was more academic, allegorical or psychological incorporating many new semantic terms. This made his perspective especially appealing to the upwardly mobile middle classes who did not wish to appear to their moral forebears as new age heretics. What Jung failed to account for was the rich diversity and often contradictory interpretations in archetypal symbols from one culture to another. For example, there is no adoration or worship of the male genitalia in western religion as there is in the Eastern Tantric Religion. The Chinese imperial dragon is totally different from that monstrous beast slain by the pious and chivalric Christian St. George. The Arabs consider sand to be a symbol of truth and purity, whereas in more temperate climates it is an image of decimation and drought. Despite all his “Jungian” philosophical meanderings, he failed to account for many discrepancies which blew holes in his collective hypothesis. However, the alchemical idea remains universal – a diversion or total separation from traditional religious iconography and the notion of blind faith. This indicates that the fundamental truth of our existence will always resurface and assume other recognisable forms even though it has been obscured for a millennia. It also indicates that the arcane forms of archetypal symbolism can lose their significance and meaning only to wither away. Alternatively, they may be cynically hijacked and perverted by movie moguls and advertising agencies in the name of profit and greed. In Jungian philosophy the anima and animus represent the unconscious masculine and feminine energies locked within the psyche, depicted as Sol and Luna in traditional alchemy, and which in folklore are expressed as the young knight and the chaste maiden. The anima has three manifestations – the naïve virgin goddess, the whore or seductress, and the horrendous hag or witch. Similarly, the animus is symbolised by the athletic hero or young man, the coarse, untutored brute, and the tyrannical, possessive and manipulative villain. Alongside these six basic archetypes are the “Great Mother” – the caring and nurturing aspect of humanity, who can be seen in folklore as the “Fairy Godmother”.

The Three Witches from Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth”

Her diametric opposite or “shadow” was the all-devouring mother or “Evil Witch”. To complete this picture is the all-knowing “Father God” – whose role is to uphold the law, defend, nourish and protect the community in his care. His diametric counterpart was the evil ogre, monster or “Giant” whose role was to disrupt and encourage rebellion. There is also a representation of goodness or virtue in the form of the “Saviour” or handsome, charming, beautiful Prince or Princess. These characters represent what the child should emulate as a role model or what they could become. Psychological “blind-spots” also have their respective images, the “Trickster” for example represents our susceptibility to temptation or deception, and the “Shadow” our darker aspect which is drawn to selfishness and misanthropy and attempts to corrupt the process of distillation by drawing their evolving consciousness into the miasmic depths of Hell. In effect both the trickster and the shadow principle act as blocks or obstacles to really understanding the enigma of our own existence. The trickster assumes different forms and often misdirects and misleads us as in the case of Hansel and Gretel. The monstrous Ogre on the other hand, through his terrifying confrontation, intimidation and fear makes us aware of our lack of courage and faith in ourselves. The “Wolf” represents our deepest lust, secret fears, as he strips back the superficiality of our being to reveal the terrified, powerless, vulnerable, or naked child. Finally, the “Ugly Dwarf” meanwhile represents our personal dislikes, repulsions and prejudices.

The fairy tales of Jack & the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Hansel & Gretel

When we examine the tale of Jack & the Beanstalk we may detect the emergence of sexual potency in the child and their appreciation or control of it. However, the story has some deeper implications, since it is not only a subtle reference to the practice of masturbation but how the parents may regard the child’s newly discovered sexual preoccupation. However, on another level it also deals with the mother’s unwillingness to allow her son to be totally independent of her and gain maturity. The tale of Snow White deals particularly with parental jealousy that has its origins in the Oedipal Complex that Freud drew entirely from Greek mythology. The myth itself has many components and levels of meaning that can be transposed and elaborated on for the purpose of understanding, not only the role that families have in determining the behaviour and attitudes of their children, but the severe ramifications or repercussions those actions create in a karmic chain reaction on their future generations. It also confirms that fate or destiny cannot be avoided or for that matter denied once the ball, metaphorically speaking, has begun to roll. Through trial and error, or by rote of hard won personal experience, the heroes and heroines in folktales have to overcome all these archetypal energies if they are to achieve true liberation or freedom from the illusory world. As in the case of many folkloric tales, all of these Jungian archetypes are actually borrowed from Celtic, Greek and Hindu Mythology, only their names have been changed to give the impression of Jung having devised or discovered “something new”.

An artist’s impression depicting the Heroic Quest within the tales of the “Holy Grail”

The folktale of Rapunzel, who is trapped within a tall tower, or that of Sleeping Beauty surrounded by a deep forest of briars, are useful examples in understanding the nature of the anima and animus and their relative interactions in human development. In many cases the inference is both moral and sexual, and tutors the naïve child in appropriate behaviour and how success can eventually be achieved. For the male of the species it is a matter of overcoming the so-called “sleep of reason”, and for the female a matter of overcoming a form of familial dependency and emotional isolation. The masculine counterpart of these types of story can be found in the male conquering their base instincts, and attaining sexual maturity. This is usually portrayed as the “slaying of a monster” (eg: St. George & the Dragon), as is also the case of the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, rescuing the Athenian youths or of say the Anglo-Saxon hero Beowulf wrestling with the dragon that threatens to engulf the world. These actions are often instigated while on their way to completing some other task, as none of the participants in these tales is fully conscious of their true destiny. The “shadow principle” is best described in the epic tale of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, his initial enemy and later, his close ally or accomplice in finding the Flower of Immortality.

An artist’s impression of the “Anima” and “Animus” conjoined.

The Freudian Psychoanalytic Perspective:

Bruno Bettelheim, a pupil of Sigmund Freud’s, was responsible for decoding the significance and meaning of many fairy tales for the child, the parent and the student of human psychology. He was able to identify stories of this nature and style as a particular scheme devised by sages with great psychotherapeutic value for human beings even today. Fairy tales are inherently therapeutic, instructive and educational in that they introduce a child to the most pleasant and unpleasant realities of the outer world as well as the misgivings of their own personal dilemmas, aspirations, hopes and fears. As a tool for self-realisation and empowerment they represent an effective means of coping with a child’s irrational manifestations (psychoses-desires) and identifying rational complexions (neuroses-fears) for both adults and children alike. In other words they continually reflect and reconcile elements of the known and the unknown in human personal experience. A fairy tale moreover is a work of art since it can represent or reflect different things or meanings to different people, it has an objective, collective and subjective existence almost simultaneously. When absorbed and understood as a psychological gestalt or leitmotif it enables a person to resolve deeply-rooted inner conflicts and embrace a positive or optimistic attitude to life’s predicaments. The majority of fairy tales tend to resolve problems and have a happy ending. While fables may be cautionary tales that warn, demand or threaten the listener, the various myths or legends are essentially pessimistic, since they often feature tragic karmic consequences (hubris, nemesis & catharsis) when humans act against their own conscience.

Two major Greek heroes, Dionysus tied to the mast and Hercules’ Twelve Labours

When confronted by certain difficult situations human beings tend to neglect their personal development, or literally act out their negative feelings or thoughts. Sigmund Freud noted that many myths, with their gods, heroes and mortals are somewhat grandiose and often tragic because they feature the interaction of the id, the ego and the superego in a dramatic format unconsciously playing out their basic instinctual urges, their need for self-preservation with various fateful encounters (Odysseus) or mortals being subjected to initiatory trials (Hercules) that end in some expiatory acts of atonement, submission or self sacrifice (Orpheus). Fables simply feature inanimate objects, creatures or things that emulate, behave or speak like human beings and they always end with an incontrovertible, implicit moral truth. Although comical or tragic, nothing in fables is ambiguous, hidden, multidimensional, or optional and they tend to lack nuance in their personal significance. The Fable is therefore dualistic and non-progressive or sequential often delineating an either/or situation, since once a person has identified with one of the characters in a fable the outcome is inevitably successful or doom-laden.

The legend of “Robin Hood” has become an iconic “Fairy Tale” based on a real-life character

In contrast the themes found in fairy tales are dream-like exaggerations from the repository of the unconscious mind, but they deal largely with making positive choices that can empower a child or adult that suffers from a variety of negative emotions or behaviours. As positive affirmations and options to the child’s mind they tend to fall into a classic or traditional mould, in that they illustrate how to deal effectively with pride, vanity, selfishness, greed, sloth, envy, jealousy, lust, greed, etc, but they may also touch upon other hidden fears or behavioural conditions for example lack of self-worth, timidity, dependency, self-loathing, hopelessness, lack of courage, revenge, hypocrisy and so forth. The fairy story usually begins quite simply with an unpleasant situation or problem, ie the King and Queen without a child, a man without a wife, a poverty struck family, or an orphaned child and the main characters have pseudonyms or nicknames describing their outward appearance or behavioural characteristics (eg: Goldilocks, Snow White, Little Red Cap etc) while the lesser characters are known simply as the dwarf, the wood-cutter, or witch and so forth. By this simple literary technique or style the child is naturally facilitated with a little help from their fertile imagination into forming projections, identifications or idealisations with one or more of the characters in the tale. The tale of Hansel & Gretel deals with the dangers of succumbing to oral gratification when they are not under parental control or guidance but under the negative influence of a malevolent witch.

The tale of Little Red Riding Hood is extremely complex and multi-dimensional but essentially deals with the sexual fascination a teenager may encounter when they reach puberty. The all-devouring, death-dealing wolf being a metaphor for excessive sexual indulgence but at the same time representing the seductive, predatory male and the girl’s subconscious sexual attraction to destructive instinctual urges or temptations. Therefore it can be read on many different levels and has been altered over time to accord with various stages of childhood development (oral, anal, and genital) or to suit different religious or cultural approaches in dealing with sexual self-knowledge, integration and control. Since fairy tales deal with sensitive issues and the harsher realities of life as well as the problems encountered by the developing child that will condition, for good or ill, their own attitudes, behaviour and subsequent harmonious human relationships in later life. Unfortunately some problems are naturally caused by how our own parents and other family members conditioned us consciously or unconsciously to respond or deal effectively with hunger, thirst, sleeping, playing or enjoying and entertaining ourselves. The problems therefore tend to surface at critical periods in the child’s life, for example at the onset of puberty, the vagaries of adolescence and then the further subsequent attempts that many adults have to gain self-mastery and control of their sexual desires. Many people do not realise that maturity often requires a regression into the childhood state in order to gain insight into a current crisis or problem. It is therefore a continuing process of reorganisation, education, re-evaluation, and repair. Because of their complexity, some fairy tales are also open to different levels of interpretation, or a variety of permutations in meaning in order to fully satisfy a child’s need for physical, emotional and intellectual integration in a constantly changing world, a world in which not only their attitudes, habits and behaviours may change but those of the society or culture into which they are thrust into may change also. In other words the thrice-born hero or heroine is actually born many times over out of their foetal, oral, anal and genital fixations or preoccupations. The various encounters in fairy stories usually relate subliminally to those sexual encounters that occur in later life that are “clouded” or veiled by the process of transference or projection. Whenever unconscious or for that matter conscious anxieties, fears and fantasies are projected onto a significant other that partner will then unconsciously play them out and in a manner to which they have become conditioned or in a way that satisfies their own deep psychological needs at any one time of personal development and integration. So the incidents in our lives, however pleasant or unpleasant are dramas or scenes that are learned, rehearsed and then re-enacted to satisfy some primordial need. Our secret fears and anxieties are then projected into the world so that we may transcend or overcome them.

A scene from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Symbolic Categories & Definitions:
As already mentioned numerous main characters, plots and sub-plots appear within the fairy tale format, all with their own symbolic attributes. There is a common numerical pattern, usually of three’s and sevens but also many dualities, polarities and sometimes fourfold elemental features denoting some aspect of the child’s imagination and their status in relation to the real world.

Major Characters:
King & Queen (maturity/adult phase) Virtue
Prince & Princess (adolescent to teenage phase) Pleasure/Success
Brother & Sister (puberty phase) Innocence
Old Woman/Man (old age phase) Wisdom
Fairy Godmother & Wizard (or Good Witch-positive characteristics of a mature adult)
Evil Witch & Ogre (negative characteristics of the mother and father)
Giants (Powerful People-the Adult World)
Ugly Dwarf (anxieties/fears-resulting from arrested psychological development)
Monsters & Beasts (eg: Dragons – manifestations of the “irrepressible id”)
Fabulous Beasts (Chimera -of unknown origin or dark forces, internal or external)
Huntsman (benevolent custodian of the natural order)
Woodcutter (industry & work)
Fairies & Elves (benevolent or malevolent) Unseen Psychic/Magical Forces
Animals, Birds, Plants (Natural Phenomena).

Underlying Symbolic Themes and Connections:

Little Red Riding Hood:
This fairy tale parallels the stage when a female child begins her menstrual cycle and develops her libido in response to other teenager’s demands.
Jack & the Beanstalk:
Deals with teenage masturbation, self-love attaining authority in the family and society. Work and its’ rewards.
Highlights the inequality of social status between two lovers from divergent family backgrounds (eg: Tristan & Isolde).
Snow White & the Seven Dwarves:
Makes distinctions between illicit or casual sex in comparison with conventional engagements and marriage. Trial and error before meeting Mr. Right.
A call for personal freedom and expression to engage in illicit or casual sex or dangerous and challenging enterprises.
Sleeping Beauty:
The quiescent or latency stage in childhood development, a period of self-withdrawal for inner reflection and protection. Digression or regression and inevitable disenchantment.
Hanzel & Gretel:
Coping with oral gratification or excessive desires, losing one’s way, failure to listen to parental advice.
Problem solving, attaining independence from family influence and dependence.
Goldilocks & the Three Bears:
Encourages relationships and experimentation in order to attain distinction and discrimination.

Magical Objects:

These represent personal powers, knowledge, skills or those things acquired that are necessary for the aspirations of self development especially when the hero or heroine face what appear to be insurmountable difficulties, obstacles or odds. They also represent the child’s ability to develop a differing perspective, attitude or behaviour which is necessary if they are to move unobstructed into mature adults or parents themselves. However, in other cases they may represent their primordial needs being satisfied eg food, clothing, shelter. In the story of Jack & the Beanstalk for example the bag of gold, the goose that lays the golden eggs, and the harp that sings, that are stolen from the absent or sleeping ogre represent on one level the child’s need to satisfy their own independent needs by making their own way into the world.

Power Animals:
Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish insects and even inanimate rocks all contain some potential symbolic significance for the animistic mind of the child.

Basic Polarities:
The basic polarities, contradictions or “contradistinctions” in fairy tales focus on illusion and reality, the negative and positive aspects of the id, the ego and the superego which may be reduced to simple formulas. These are often expressed as strange creatures or events entering the scenario. These may include fairies, elves, dwarves, and nymphs often hailing from differing habitats eg: woodland, flowers, rivers, oceans, (mermaids and sirens).

Major Mythic & Fairy Tale Themes:

In the Epic of Gilgamesh a wise ruler together with his consort need to deal with their underlings or subjects thereby avoiding social chaos and general upheaval. Although this is a legend and deals primarily with problems related to government and an evolved civilisation it still retains an interesting psychological dimension. Their subjects (ie: children) have to cope with situations in their social environment, for example hunger, poverty, industry, education, technology, etc and observe the man-made laws that regulate their activity and ensure mutual co-operation is achieved. But they also need to deal or interact symbiotically with certain powers or elements considered below them, that is the natural world, or the “wildman of the woods”, represented by the beast-man Enkidu. Then they also have to deal with the power of the unknown, usually represented by various monsters (chimera) and that we might associate today with diseases, foreign invasions, cataclysmic disruptions and so forth.

An artist’s impression featuring the two Babylonian rivals Enkidu and Gilgamesh

Finally, they have to deal with the powers above them, the universal or cosmic laws usually governed and maintained by omnipotent powers (gods/goddesses). In the case of monotheism it would be the good GOD and his protagonist the evil SATAN. Meanwhile Gilgamesh needs to attain to a state of immortality and this may infer metaphorically employing a means of self-development that delivers him from mortal suffering or worldly attachment. The formula for wise and judicial handling of one’s affairs in accord with the natural world and thereby establishing order applies equally to the family as it would do to the state. The family is the microcosmic embryo that reflects harmony in the state as the state itself is a mirror of cosmic unity. In fact the phantasmagorical arena of fairy tale themes is so vast that to categorise them is a feat worthy of any heroic quest, nevertheless an attempt will be made here to assert that some general themes and structures do exist and can therefore be classified. This is not an attempt to reduce myths, legends, fables and fairy stories to their singular components but to allow an in-depth analysis and suggest a common thread or message does and has always existed in the telling and retelling of these tales. When we examine these more closely it reinforces the idea that myths and fairy stories are magical formulas drawn from the language of dreams, the collective subconscious and the individual unconscious that can lead a growing child to self-knowledge and self-mastery – that is the development of the will.

The thrice-born hero Hermes Trismegistus (The Emerald Tablets), of whom much has been discussed among the metaphysical elite, was said to have been resurrected or born out of his own foetal, oral, anal, and genital fixations and preoccupations. In my forthcoming post I will be examining two well-known Greek tales in order to understand what can go wrong or right for the developing child. I will analyse two important Greek myths; that of Oedipus/Electra and that of Adonis & Psyche.

The continuation of Fairy Tale Examples can be accessed by clicking on the following link: “Oedipus, Eros & Psyche”.

The links to my current publications, on the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy; “Shakespeare’s Qaballah” and an anthology of poetry “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:


Published by Leonidas Kazantheos

For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about the arts, social change and the sustainable environment. After more than thirty years of voluntary and professional involvement commuting between Yorkshire and Lancashire while working in those areas I finally relocated to Buxton in 2013. This was after the birth of our son Gaspard and to further the career of my French partner, Francoise Collignon who is currently seeking work in the tourism sector. In 1988 I became the Regional co-ordinator for the National Artists Association in Manchester and helped promote the artistic revival in the region. At the turn of the millennium in 2001, while pursuing my vocational interest in symbolism and the natural world, I became involved in environmental conservation and the protection of green space in W. Yorkshire. I was elected editor for Calderdale Friends of the Earth, a monthly postal and online newsletter. In my spare time I was preoccupied as a writer, natural archivist and amateur poet. Over a period of five years I also worked briefly as an architectural technician, landscape designer and mural artist near Holmfirth where I gained invaluable insights into restoration and the development of Green Field and Brown Field sites. In my mid-forties I relocated from Halifax, W. Yorkshire to Manchester where I worked as an artist and freelance set designer for several photographic, film and video companies. My work recieved reviews in Hotshoe International, Avant Magazine, NME, The Face, the Big Issue and one shot (The Wolf) became a best-selling poster for Athena Posters. In the late 80’s I became an active member of the National Artists Association and a subscriber to the Design & Artists Copyright Society. I assisted in the instigation of the first Multi-cultural Arts Conference and the first Black Arts Forum in Manchester. I became editor of a quarterly Arts Magazine concerned with promoting and supporting artist’s initiatives in the region. Nevertheless, in my spare time I wrote numerous articles on the natural world and researched aspects of Dream Symbolism and the study of semiotics and gestalts in literature and art. I was involved as facilitator for the local allotments and helped set up a local nature reserve at Hough End. Finally, I was encouraged by a close mentor in America to write more seriously about the work of the literary genius William Shakespeare and to pursue a role as a poet. Although somewhat reluctantly over the past four years I have given poetry performances, workshops and readings in Manchester. I have recently published an anthology of my poetry entitled “Parthenogenesis” and a companion to Shakespeare studies entitled “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”. I am currently working on a screenplay entitled “Not Without Mustard” about the life of Edward de Vere.

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