The term fairy tale brings to mind a children's story, but in truth these tales are parables of history. It is a spiritual teaching that calls out to us from the ancient past. It is a lesson that will not die, even though it has been suppressed, repressed, persecuted, attacked, and twisted for centuries.
In olden times, it was common for all religious teachings to take the form of parable. We all know that the New Testament stories of the shepherd and his flock are not lessons in animal husbandry. They are parables for religious teachings.
Fairy tales are the same. In order to decipher them and find their message, we need only grasp the concepts behind the 'Olde Ways', and remember the persecution of these peoples and their history.
The libraries of Alexandria were one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was a truly metropolitan centre of culture and learning. In AD 351, Bishop Theophilus of Rome led an attack on the great libraries, destroying the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. The reason for this onslaught was based on The Council of Creeds of Nicaea, which demanded that orthodox Christianity be the official religious doctrine of the people. This bloody trend of persecution continued for almost 2,000 years, spreading across Europe and the Middle East, and eventually crossing to the Americas in the form of the Salem Witch Trials.
One such story, rarely taught in school, tells the tale of Hypatia. She was a professor of philosophy, a noted authority on the works of Plato and a teacher of algebraic mathematics. However, in the eyes of the Mother Church, Hypatia was a witch.
After the destruction of the Alexandrian libraries, the cleric mobs hunted down any scholars whose works conflicted with the teachings of the Church, especially women like Hypatia who, they claimed, had no place in the academic world. She was captured and dragged from her carriage by a group of monks, stripped naked and paraded through the streets to the churchyard of Caesarium. They held her down and "scooped the flesh from her bones with sharp tiles and oyster shells". When she finally died from the shock and torture, the monks scattered her remains in the streets as a grisly warning to the people of Alexandria.
The fairy tales and children's songs that have survived over the centuries tell the story of these atrocities, and preserve a history that would otherwise be lost, if spoken of openly. It is amazing that the connection between these stories and the religious history of early Europe has been completely overlooked by researchers. The most probable reason is that most scholars are either viewing their studies from a Christian perspective, or they simply realize that there is no money to be made from research that raises the ire of the Church.
Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel are examples of oral folk tales that carry the hidden history of the Olde Ways. These maidens were pricked with needles, subjected to evil spells, fed poisoned apples, demoted from places of status, or condemned to servitude. The maiden in the parable is not Hypatia herself, or any of the other hundreds of thousands of women who were burnt or tortured by the church; the Maiden is the symbol of the belief system that was under attack.
Look at Snow White. She is The Maiden. Her friends are the forest animals or forest people, like dwarfs or fairies. She draws her wisdom from her connection to nature. It is obvious that the Maiden is a metaphor for the Earth-Based Matriarchal Religions of pre-Christian Europe. A stepmother, a woman who is competing with Snow White for the attentions of her father, is replacing her real mother (Mother Nature), the Goddess symbol of Olde.
The Wicked Stepmother is a woman of great power and standing, who wants to take over and supplant herself in place of the maiden. She is the symbol of the violent censorship of the rising patriarchy. She is not the real mother, the earth mother; she is the false mother, the stepmother, "The Mother Church" of Rome.
The father represents the commoners who were swayed into turning their backs on their true family in exchange for the new doctrine.
The stepmother calls to the powers of the spiritual realm by praying to the deity in the mirror. "Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" The Church has always fought against all other belief systems, insisting that it is indeed "the fairest of them all". As long as Snow White - whose truth and beauty are pure - is in view, no one will ever give their attentions to the stepmother, in spite of her wealth, her ornate attire, or her powers of persuasion. Snow White must be destroyed!
The stepmother then goes to work, and uses a poisoned apple to destroy her rival. This is significant, because the apple is the symbol of Eve, and the basis of the patriarchal doctrine of original sin. This biblical doctrine has been used to denounce and demote women from any position of power or respect in Islamic, Christian and Hebrew cultures. It is the single-most damaging thing ever written about women.
The stepmother expected Snow White to die from this poison, but she did not. Her faithful forest friends hid her away and altered the spell, so that she would simply sleep for a hundred years. Snow White would sleep until a hero - representing the next generation of her father's people - would return to nature and find her again. Her glass casket tells us that she is still visible, still there, for those who seek her out.
The parables of this teaching are everywhere, once you learn to seek them. For example: The Little Mermaid enters a pact with the sea witch and attempts to conform (grow legs and walk on the sand) in order to unite with her prince. This is a girl who turns her back on Matriarchy and becomes a member of the new religion. The story shows that there is no middle ground. She must choose one life or the other.
Little Red Riding Hood is about being fooled by the wolf, disguised as the grandmother. The wolf is a symbol of evil, and is the same sort of antagonist as the wicked stepmother and the sea witch. He is a male, representing the Patriarchy, disguised as the Grandmother Crone, who is the ultimate wise woman of the Matriarchy.
It is interesting to note that Riding Hood wears red. The red robe was a symbol of the Essenes, worn by their highest-ranking Women Priestesses. Jesus was a member of this priestly group, and there is a direct correlation between the traditional robes of the Essene Priestesses and the red robes worn by the Cardinals of the Catholic Church. Further, it must be noted that in olden times, a "Woman in Red" was a sign of a woman who held high office as a spiritual leader. The symbolism is, ironically, quite different today.
The examples are ample enough to fill volumes of books. So rather than bore you with any more, dear reader, I will bid you good hunting as you seek the deeper meanings in the fairy tales you encounter, and hope that you too will find the hidden wisdom of these parables, and live happily ever after.
(Kelley Bell is an Ohio-based writer, graphic designer, Qi-Gong Master, self-defense instructor and seminar leader.)