A Fish Story

A Fish StoryA Fish Story

Tewa

It had not rained for many days. The crops were dying. It was the duty of the fish people to pray in the Kiva for rain. They would fast and pray and stay inside the Kiva. The girl responsible for feeding the fish people was named Fee-ne-nee. She would give them a little bit of food and only a few drops of water.

One day, one of the men got so thirsty that he left the Kiva and drank from the pond. He drank and drank until he was all full. He went back to the Kiva, but before he could climb all the way down, he burst. Water came out of everywhere. All the people inside turned into water creatures. Fee-ne-nee went to check on the fish people and saw the man with water coming out of his head and saw that everyone had turned to various water creatures.

She went back to the house of an elderly couple and sat down to grind corn, but she only made one pass when she had turned into a snake. The husband and wife decided that they must take her to live with the other snakes. They gave the snakes blue corn meal and told Fee-ne-nee she was a young lady snake now. The snakes must accept her as a sister. The couple decided that they must leave this place since one of the fish people had failed them.

The people left their home at O-ke-owin and moved to Xun Ochute, which is now San Juan.

Observations

Drought can certainly cause a people to move somewhere else. If nothing will grow in that spot, how are you supposed to stay? This isn’t like today where we just drill down and down into a water table to get water. The people had to rely on surface water and rain. If there wasn’t surface water in a feasible area and it wasn’t raining, it would have been very difficult to survive in this place. You can practically survive anywhere if you have water, but as far as continued survival, that takes a lot of water. You have to be able to cultivate for yourself, or at least have an area with water that animals come to drink so you can have plenty of animals to hunt. Sometimes, you just have to leave a place. The weather changes or something happens that makes it impossible to stay, so you leave.

Themes

When a group of people are in a tight situation, one person can ruin it for everyone. There are situations where you have to adhere to what a group says. If you do not, things are going to be bad for you, but also everyone else. These people got turned into fish, which isn’t very likely in our everyday goings on, but the situation could have been different. Maybe there was a water ration and there was only so much water to drink for X amount of time and one person drank up more than their fair share of the ration. Maybe people were hiding from an enemy and one person decided they had to make a noise and everyone gets caught. You may not like being in a group, or team projects, or humanity in general, but sometimes, you just have to play by group rules.

Overall

Don’t be that guy.

Weigh In

Do you blame this guy? Do you think his fellow people blame him?

What do you think happened to the Kiva full of water animals?

The Sea-Hare

The Sea-HareThe Sea-Hare

What is it exactly? Well, it’s a type of mollusk that lives in the ocean and was referred to as a “sea-hare” back in the day because it was derived from the Latin lepus marinus, they called it that because the two things sticking up in front kind of look like bunny ears. This story involves a sea-hare.

Once upon a time there was a princess who had a castle, but she also had an apartment in her castle with twelve windows that looked out every possible direction. She could already see better than your average person, but each window made her vision even better. Through the first window she could see alright, but by the twelfth window she saw everything above the Earth and under the Earth. Nothing could be hidden from her.

She liked her freedom. She declared that she would only marry a man who could hide himself from her in such a way that she couldn’t find him. If she did find him, he got his head cut off and stuck on a post. There were currently ninety-seven posts with heads on them.

Three brothers got the idea that they could hide themselves from her. The first one hid in a lime-pit, but she found him and had his head cut off. The second brother hid in a cellar in the palace, but she found him and had his head cut off. The third brother made a deal with the princess. He suggested that they wait a day before he hid, but that she would also give him one out of three. She could find him twice, but if she didn’t find him the third time, she had to marry him. She agreed.

The youngest brother went out to hunt. He was about to shoot a raven, but the raven told him not to shoot. He would reward him for his kindness. The man did not shoot.

He then saw a large fish swim to the surface of a pond. The fish cried out that he not shoot. The fish promised a reward. The man let the fish swim away.

Then the man saw a fox. He was going to shoot it, but the fox called to him and told him to come and pull a thorn out of his foot. The man did so and was going to skin the fox anyway, but the fox told the man to let him live and he would be rewarded. The man let the fox go.

The next day was the day for the man to hide. He thought about where he could hide that she wouldn’t see, but he couldn’t think of anywhere. Finally, he called to the raven. He asked the raven where he should hide that the princess would not see. The raven broke an egg in two and hid the man inside of it. The princess started her search. She could not find the man and became worried, but she got up to the eleventh window and she finally saw him. She ordered the raven shot.

The man was to hide again. This time he called to the fish he spared. The fish hid the man inside of his stomach. The princess started her search. She looked and looked, but did not find the man until the twelfth window.

The princess told the man she was looking forward to seeing his head on the hundredth post.

Then it was time for him to hide again. The man called to the fox. The fox led him to a spring. The fox jumped in and became a merchant. The man jumped in and became a sea-hare. The merchant took the sea-hare to the market where many people wondered over it. The princess happened to be at the market as well. She liked the sea-hare so much that she bought it. The merchant offered this advice to the man, he should crawl up behind the princess’s braid when she was performing her search.

The princess went home and began her search. She looked. She looked and looked. The sea-hare had crawled up behind her braid and hid there. The princess became so upset that she slammed the twelfth window down that all the windows in the castles busted to pieces.

The princess felt the sea-hare below her braid and grabbed it and threw it. The sea-hare went back to the fox and they both went back to the spring to regain their proper forms. The man went back to the castle where the princess married him and subjugated herself to a man. The man never told her that he had help hiding from her. She thought he did it on his own and was impressed.

The End

The Sea-HareObservations

Does anyone else think this is weird? I mean, that thing is a mollusk. I’m all about picking up snails and stuff, but…gross. I really want to hope that this story means some other kind of animal other than the one pictured up above, but from the research I did, that’s what these people meant when they said “sea-hare.”

This story is like a really demented game of hide and go seek. I can envision the movie now:

I can imagine it now. There is a woman called The Seeker who is black in the heart. She rules from her castle with twelve windows that look out on all directions. She entices men to gain control of her kingdom. They must simply survive a game of hide and seek with her. Little do they know that she has special vision and can see almost anything. Posts with heads line the road going up to the castle. Suitor number one, suitor number three, all the way up until ninety-seven. Three brothers are offered the task of subduing The Seeker by their father. It’s his final dying wish, that his three sons subdue the evil woman in the next kingdom over who says she needs no man. They go in together with all their brotherly love, but she finds firs the oldest brother and then the middle brother without even trying. It’s up to the youngest, probably named Hans, to survive and the subdue the princess. He has three spirit animals which appear to him along the way and help him to hide himself from the princess. The first two spirit animals fail, but the third helps the man transform into something he’s not. The man hides right under her nose and she doesn’t think to look there, so she loses. She has to cede her power and herself to the rule of a man.

I’m half-joking about “being subdued by a man” in this post, but I’m not joking on the other half. This princess knew that if she married she would be ruled over by a man. That’s how things went in that day and age. She knew she wouldn’t be able to make choices of her own. She had quite enjoyed ruling herself and wanted to continue. She became a bit violent in doing so. She was protecting herself and fighting with everything she had. She did not want to be subjugated by a man. She eventually lost as it was bound to happen because of the time period. She was a woman living in a world that was very much a man’s world.

She actually reminds me very much of Queen Elizabeth, not the current one, the red-headed one famed for being “The Virgin Queen.” Elizabeth chose to stay unmarried. She knew that a marriage on her part would leave her not ruling her country and could possibly put England in some very difficult places. She chose to keep her power by staying single. The virgin part was probably a load of crap. She was the queen she probably had a “pool boy” or a “stable boy,” who just happened to have a six-pack and arms of steel just hanging around, waiting, for when Elizabeth needed to see him in her private chambers… for… you know… business.

The Sea-HareThemes

She thought she knew everything. She thought she was untouchable, but she didn’t look right under her own nose. Her downfall came from inside. No one had ever thought to hide on the other side of her windows. Sure, she had good vision, but the windows were the tools she used to secure her victories. Without the windows, she was merely a woman who had sharp eyes.

We’ve mentioned this before, you’re not infallible. You may think you can do no wrong, but there will come a time when someone bests you. There will be someone can beat you at your own game. You may be on the top for a while, but the longer you stay, the more likely you are to topple.

This princess had her period of ruling just the way she wanted, but she became too sure of herself and it led to her downfall. What is the saying? “Pride goeth before the downfall,” I think it’s something like that anyway. She was scared of what might happen, but she was also sure of herself because of all the times she had won. There is nothing wrong with being confident in your abilities, but there will come a time when your confidence just isn’t enough. We don’t like to think about those times, but they do happen.

It’s kind of sad how this story was about the end of an era for a person. She wasn’t very nice: I’m not trying to make you get behind this princess as your role model, but it’s still sad that she fell. She had power. She had money. She had notoriety. She had her freedom. She had her gifts. She had kept all of these things through ninety-nine men, but then one comes along to change her life forever. It would be a love story anywhere else. Sometimes as women we give up a lot for “love” or what we think is “love.” Sometimes we’re right and it is love and sometimes we’re severely wrong, but we already gave up so much. We gave up what we were. We gave up our person. This is what happened to this princess. She didn’t necessarily give her person up for love, she gave it up because she got married. I seriously doubt this guy loved her. He knew of her terrible doings and most likely only married her for her wealth and status. They probably reached some kind of tolerance after a few years, but I doubt they were happily married at any point in their lives.

Overall

Who combines a story about a strange ocean mollusk with a blood-thirsty princess? Killer Snails!


 

The Lambkin and the Little Fish

The Lambkin and the Little FishThe Lambkin and the Little Fish

Baaaaaaaa! Baaaaaaaaaaaaa!! mmm…..lamb.

This story does actually have a lamb in it and it does almost get served for dinner.

Once upon a time there was a brother and a sister who were very close. Their own mother was dead, but they had a step-mother, but she seemed to be terrible in the ways that only a step-mother in a Grimm’s fairy tale can be terrible, so she wasn’t very nice and she was a witch.

One day the children were outside in a meadow, near a pond, playing a game with other children. They would run around trying to catch each other and say:

“Eneke Beneke, let me live,

And I to you my bird will give.

The little bird, it straw shall seek,

The straw I’ll give to the cow to eat.

The pretty cow shall give me milk,

The milk I’ll to the baker take.

The baker he shall bake a cake,

The cake I’ll give to unto the cat.

The cat shall catch some mice for that,

The mice I’ll hang up in the smoke,

And then you’ll see the snow.”

They would stand in a circle and whoever said the word “snow” had to run away and all the other children ran after him. The step-mother was watching and apparently she wasn’t in a good mood because she turned the boy into a fish and the girl into a lamb. The fish could swim and swim, but could not be near the lamb. The lamb could run up and down the meadow, but not be near the fish. They stayed that way for some time.

After a while, the step-mother was going to have some visitors so she told the cook to go out into the meadow, fetch the lamb and slaughter it for dinner. The cook went and got the lamb, who came with him quite peacefully. The cook got out his knife and made it ready to slaughter the sheep. He happened to have placed the sheep near the gutter of the building. There swam a fish.

The lamb spoke to the fish:

“Ah, brother, in the pond so deep,

How sad is my poor heart!

The cook he whets his knife

To take away my life.”

The fish said to the lamb:

“Ah, little sister, up on high

How said is my poor heart

While in this pond I lie.”

The cook figured he couldn’t cook the lamb after hearing it talk. He knew the lamb had to have been bewitched by the wicked woman who lived in the house. He found another sheep to serve to the guests. He took the lamb to a peasant woman and told her all that had happened.

It turns out that the peasant woman had actually been something of a foster-mother to the children in question and was very sad about what had happened to them. She cared for them. She took both the lamb and the fish to a wise woman who was able to transform them back into humans. They stayed with the peasant woman in her hunt, alone, but they were happy.

The End

The Lambkin and the Little FishObservations

If one lamb is talking, what is to say the other lambs aren’t bewitched children?

I tried to figure out what or who Eneke Beneke was, but at best it’s someone’s name. Beneke is a for real last name. I find the children’s game a little odd. I don’t know how it’s going to snow if you hang up mice in smoke. Does the story mean ash? The game somewhat reminds me of Duck, Duck, Goose. If you’re sitting and the person lands on Goose, you’ve got to run.

The thing about some of these old children’s games is that they carried symbolism. Ring Around the Rosy, does hearken back to way, way back. Or even the whole song about London Bridge. You know, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.” London Bridge really fell down, well, not just fell over, but at times the construction was not the best and it even caught fire. The London Bridge the world loves today is newer and wasn’t how it always was and the demise of its former self is immortalized in a children’s song. I mention these two children’s games/songs because this song in this story may have once held some major significance. It does sound somewhat pagan in origin; I could be completely wrong. If it wasn’t for the “Eneke Beneke” and the mention of snow, I would think this children’s song was purely a child’s rhyme, but I do think those two items lend to the idea that this is one of those children’s games that wasn’t necessarily always a child’s game.

The Lambkin and the Little FishThemes

We have a brother and sister who are very close much like the tale of Hansel and Gretel. The step-mother is evil much like all the other step-mothers in the Grimm’s tales. She’s a witch, no surprise there.

Something that is brought to mind about this tale is that the world can be a very strange place. Had this cook ever heard a lamb talk before? Probably not. Was he freaked out? Probably. He accepts the idea that this is no normal lamb and he should not eat it. It’s intelligent; it has the gift of speech.

Something else you can also consider about this tale is that when the cook discovers the lamb can talk, the lamb automatically becomes off-limits as food because it’s too human. Do we eat parrots? No, we don’t eat parrots. Why? Because they can talk. We tend to see animals with abilities more like our own as partially human and therefore, we don’t chow down on them. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. There are people in the world who eat monkeys, whereas, most of us wouldn’t because of how smart they are and the fact that they have thumbs. Most of us don’t eat horse meat, because horses are really smart, they can’t talk, but they’re super smart. Probably one of the most abominable things a person can do is eat another person. You murder someone and that’s pretty normal, but if you murder someone and then eat their body, that’s crossing a line that none of us like to think about.

Now, inversely, sometimes people develop a belief that devouring all or part of a human being, or highly intelligent animal, will allow them to take on some of the characteristics of that person or animal. Some tribes have believed that devouring another person would let you gain their strength or their wisdom.

Those are really the only two ways we look at a situation like this. This man was respective enough of a highly intelligent animal not to kill it. He wasn’t in the boat that would have said, “Holy crap! A talking lamb! I’m going to eat this and it’s going to make me smarter!”

Overall

Duck…duck…duck…duck…duck…duck…duck…duck…duck…duck……….

GOOSE!



 

The Fisherman and his Wife

The Fisherman and his WifeSummary

The Fisherman and his Wife is a tale that has been told many times all to illustrate how one can be too greedy and reach to far. Sometimes you have to find your happiness closer to home.

Once upon a time there was a fisherman. He was at the sea fishing. The sea was a nice green/blue color and it rolled gently. He wasn’t having a lot of luck with the day’s fishing. He finally caught a flounder, but it turns out, this was no ordinary flounder. This flounder could speak.

The flounder told the fisherman that he was really a prince and he asked to be let go. The fisherman complied, who in their right mind would keep a talking fish?

The man went back home to his wife, fishless, where the two lived in a pig sty.

Let me interject here, living in a pig sty isn’t that uncommon. Throughout history people have regularly lived in the same building with their animals. What this story describes as a pig sty is simply a hut where both people and the pigs lives. It probably had a dirt floor and no insulation whatsoever.

The woman asked the man how he day had went. He told her that he didn’t catch anything but a talking flounder and he had let it go. The woman asked the man why he hadn’t asked the flounder for a favor. She told him to go back to the fish and ask for a hut to live in instead of a pig sty.

The man goes back and he says:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea;Come, I pray thee, here to me;For my wife, good Ilsabil,WIlls not as I’d have her will”

By this time the sea is a little choppy. This guy isn’t scared though, he’s used to seeing the sea in all of its moods. The fish appears. The man tells the fish that his wife wants a hut. The fish tells him to go home and that she has it already.

The man goes home to find a rather nice hut. There are separate rooms and all the furnishings are quite nice. The two are happy for a week or two, but the wife decides she wants more. She tells her husband to go back to the fish because she wants a castle.

The man goes back to the sea, which has become darker and even more choppy. The sky is ominous and waves are crashing on the shore. The man repeats his fish-calling rhyme. The fish appears again. The man tells the fish that his wife wants a castle. The fish says, “Go home, she has it already.”

The man goes home and sees that his wife has a castle. There are generous furnishings and servants all around. The wife is happy for an even shorter amount of time than before. She asks her husband to go back to the fish and ask the fish to make her king.

The man goes back to the sea, which is even more turbulent. The sky is darker. The waves are stronger. The man calls to the fish again with his rhyme. The fish appears once more and the man says that his wife wants to be king. The fish says, “Go home, she is king already.”

The man goes home to find that it is true. The queen has her rule over many people, but already, she is dissatisfied. She tells her husband to go back to the fish because she wants to be emperor. The man is a bit doubtful if the fish can actually do this, but he goes back anyway.

The sea is raging and it’s all kinds of strange colors. The sky is dark. The man calls out to the fish again with his rhyme. He tells the fish that his wife wants to be emperor. The fish says, “Go home, she is emperor already.” The man goes home to find that his wife is the emperor and princes and kings are bowing to her, but she has changed her mind again. She wants to be the pope.

Yet again, the man finds himself back at the sea, which is even more violent. Waves are crashing. There are dark clouds in the sky. The wind is strong. The man calls to the fish again with his rhyme. The man tells the fish that his wife wants to be pope. The fish says, “Go home, your wife is pope already.” The man goes home and sees that it’s true. The wife is the pope. She lives in a great church and wears many pope-ly vestments. The man makes a remark that surely she must be satisfied because there is nothing above a pope that she could be. The woman sleeps on this thought.

The next day she tells her husband to go back to the fish. She tells him that she wants to be like God. The man argues with her and says, surely the fish cannot do this. Surely, the wife cannot do this. The man tries to reason with his wife, you can’t be God. She just gets angry and she rips her bodice(what kind of a pope is this woman?). The man finally decides, ok, ok, I’m going to talk to the fish.

The man goes to the see again. The sea is practically black. There are large waves crashing on the shore. The sky is dark. The wind is blowing so hard he can barely stand. He looks in the distance and sees two ships in a battle against each other upon the sea. He calls to the fish with his rhyme.

The fish is kind of miffed by this point. The man tells the fish what his wife wants. The fish says, “Go home, you will have your sty again.” The man goes home, and finds that he has his wife and his sty back. The two lived this way for the rest of their lives.

The End

The Fisherman and his WifeObservations

Notice that this tale breaks our pattern of three. There is no three in this tale.

There is also some sexism in this tale. Why wouldn’t there be? This tale was created in a time when women were definitely considered the inferior race. You must notice that it’s the woman who is asking for everything and the man is quite content to live in a pig sty. Kudos for being humble, but also not kudos for being a dork who doesn’t want to progress forward in life. Here’s the thing, no matter what your circumstances in life are upon your birth, it is your job, your responsibility, and your right to try to get ahead in the world. You’re not supposed to be living in the same single-wide trailer your teenage mother brought you home to when you are thirty-five years old. Get a life and learn to make something of yourself.

The man in this tale, while humble, irritates me. He’s not just supposed to be happy living in a pig sty. That’s not to say you can’t be happy living in a pig sty, you totally could, but who wants to do that? Nobody wants to do that. People don’t want to live in pig sties.

I’m sick of every time we tell this tale having people fall all over themselves about how humble and obedient the husband was. You know what…he needs to grow up and get a real job.

The Fisherman and his WifeThis tale does kind of bend gender roles a bit. We have the wife becoming king, emperor and the pope. While, there was a time when there was supposedly a female pope, it’s not really a thing. Women are not the pope. Women don’t become the king, they become the queen. There have been empresses though, but not women who were the emperor. These ruling titles are still very much gender related. We still don’t use the title ‘king’ interchangeably for a man or a woman. Should we? I don’t know, maybe we should adopt another named convention. The woman is also clearly the party ruling this relationship, while back in the day, it was generally the man who did this.

When you are you men going to learn that the woman rules everything in the relationship? Forget about who is wearing the pants, because your wife is wearing the pants. Forget you have pants.

Also, flounders totally have two eyes on one side of their heads. I don’t know why that makes them so magical. It kind of freaks me out.

Notice that the woman wants to become pope for her next to last request. Why is this? Why is pope greater than emperor? Well, back in the day, pope was greater than emperor. If the pope did not like your reign, he could totally depose you. Popes weren’t the benevolent grandfatherly types back in the day. It’s just been recently that popes have decided to clean up their acts and be pious, peaceful and celibate. Before that all kinds of debauchery was going down at the papal palaces.

The Fisherman and his WifeThemes

The elephant in the room is, of course, that you shouldn’t over-reach yourself. You have to learn to find happiness with wherever you are instead of always thinking about some ‘couldhavebeen’ or ‘couldbe.’ I agree with this sentiment to an extent. It is true that you should strive to find happiness wherever you are, but it is not true that you should always do so. Remember how I mentioned the fact that you shouldn’t live in the same single-wide trailer your mother brought you home to? Remember that? It was only a few paragraphs ago. We are supposed to strive to do better in life. That’s how we work as human beings.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way, seriously. Yes, I am well aware that there are people who simply like their lives the way they are. That’s fine. You can be happy how ever in the heck you want to. Most of us like the idea of progressing to something else in life. We want a different house. We want a better job. We want to publish a book. We want to become an actor. We want to be the president. You know, just whatever. If everyone was like the fisherman in this tale, no one would ever be president. The best thing about the fisherman in this tale is that he is very good at following. We need people who follow in life, but as intellectuals, we generally aren’t those kind of people.

Mythbusters=not followers. Presidents=not followers. Great artists=not followers. Actors/actresses=not followers. Wonderful authors=not followers. Musicians=not followers. Great scientists=not followers. Einstein=not a follower. Abraham Lincoln=not a follower. Martin Luther King Jr. =not a follower.

The Fisherman and his WifeAre you seeing a pattern? All these people whom we admire were never followers; they also didn’t get out-of-the-way. They made things happen.

Honestly, if the wife in this tale had no over-reached herself, I think she could have made a very good king or emperor. She had this belief and faith in herself that she could do this. That takes some guts.

I don’t know, after thinking about this tale, I kind of feel sorry for this woman. Here she is wanting to be freaking awesome, but she lives in a pig sty with her fisherman husband who doesn’t even come home with one single fish. Where’s the fish? I didn’t catch any. That’s what you said yesterday. Yeah, well I didn’t catch any fish yesterday either. Were you out drinking on the boat again. No. *mumble mumble*

We only get part of this story. Maybe the wife had had it. Maybe she was all like, “Well, if he’s not going to bring home the bacon, I guess I’m going to have to do it myself. For crying out loud, we live with the bacon, he doesn’t even have to bring it home. I need some money for flour and stuff. He hasn’t brought home a fish in a week. I’m tired of fantasizing about these pigs turning into savory bacon every minute of the day,” Maybe she saw this fish as an opportunity to put on the pants in her family and keep them.

Getting back to over-reaching yourself, it happens. We can be too ambitious. We can move too fast too soon. It doesn’t have to involve career moves, it can involve all sorts of aspects of life. We could move too fast in a relationship. We could move too fast as far as financial investments. We could move too fast in concerns to how we raise our children. We can simply try to do too much too fast. We’ve all done it, well at least those of us who have motivation have done it. We see this big picture in the end and we don’t think about all the hurdles along the way that will definitely trip us up.

I once sold insurance; it sucked. You can make a lot of money selling insurance, but it sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, and sucks some more. It’s not fun and it makes you feel like a vulture waiting to swoop down and prey upon people’s worries.

My point about insurance is that they show you this big picture and they’re like, “Oh yeah, you could totally make this happen. It’s like a one-hundred percent possibility.” Then you get there and you realize that everything sucks and you might actually be able to get to that point, but you would have to sell you soul to the devil and learn how to juggle on the street corner to get spare change while you’re learning to become the vulture you need to be to reach the top.

Over-reaching ourselves is a part of being human. We have stories like this to remind us that we should be careful in our reaching. We can go too far.

The Fisherman and his WifeOverall

You know what sounds good right now…flounder. Fry it in the pan with some lemon, pepper and butter. Oh that would be delightful right now, I’m hungry. That darn fish would have ended up on my plate. Maybe the smarter solution for all of this would have been for the man to ask the fish for a bountiful haul of fish every single day so he could start his own fishing empire like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.. We know our fisherman wouldn’t have done that though, he lacked the motivation.


The White Snake

The White SnakeSummary

The White Snake is yet again another fairy tale we aren’t quite so familiar with. I don’t recall ever hearing this tale before I read it. I do have to wonder if this tale is where the band White Snake got their name. That would definitely bring some interesting questions into the idea of crappy eighties music.

Once upon a time there was a king who seemed to know all the gossip in his kingdom. Every evening he would eat a dish alone in the dining room. No one ever saw what was underneath the dish. One  day a servant became curious and took the dish away to peek underneath. What he found was a white snake. He decided to try a bite. After eating a bit of this white snake, the servant found that he could talk to animals.

The queen’s ring was missing and the blame was going to be pinned on this servant because he was allowed everywhere in the castle. He was to be sentenced to death if he couldn’t turn up the ring. Well, using his new-found animal talking powers, he overheard a conversation between some birds. One bird was talking about how she had accidentally eaten a ring. The servant grabbed this bird up and took it to the cook, who sliced it open and found the ring. The king was so pleased he asked the young man what he wanted in return and he asked for a horse.

The young man went out traveling. He heard some fish in a barrel complaining about being caught. The man let them go and they promised to remember him. A little while later, the man heard some ants complaining about how they were always stepped on. The young man chose to use the other side of the path instead of walking over the ants. The ants said they would remember him. Later, he came to some ravens that had kicked their babies out of the nest before they were ready. The man killed his horse so the ravens would have something to eat. I think that’s a bit extreme. The ravens said they would remember them.

He walked on, because he doesn’t have a horse anymore, and found a kingdom where the princess was looking for a husband. Any suitor had to pass a challenge in order to marry her, but if he failed he would be put to death. This young man becomes all enamored with the princess and decides to go for it. The challenge is to find a ring the king has thrown into the sea. The young man is disconcerted about this, but before he can even really work up a good worry, the three fish he saved find him on the beach and bring him a shell. Inside the shell is the golden ring.

The king is happy about this, but the princess is not. She thinks the young man is below her. She insists upon another challenge. Ten large bags of millet, a grain, are thrown on the ground and all the grains are supposed to be picked up by morning. To the young man’s surprise the ants he helped out came and picked up every single piece of grain in the night. The princess was impressed, but she was still a little proud, so she insisted upon one more challenge.

The last challenge is difficult. The princess insists upon an apple from the tree of life. Nobody knows where this is and the young man is willing to go and look, but he doesn’t have to. The ravens he helped out have already flown to the tree of life and brought him back an apple. The young man gives it to the princess. They actually share the apple. They get married and are pretty happy.

The End

The White SnakeObservations

Here’s that number three again.

I don’t really know what the white snake had to do with this tale. It’s never explained why this snake grants its eater the power to converse with animals. I have to wonder if this is one of those tales that has lost some of its pieces over the years. There is no mythology about the white snake in this tale other than if you eat it, you can talk to animals. A white snake would be pretty rare. Snakes are generally darker and earthy tones to blend in with their environments. Every once in a while, an albino snake does come along. I’ve never seen a completely white one, they’re usually like white and yellow or white and purple. It might be that the creators of this tale had actually seen an albino snake and considered it to be a magical creature rather than a genetic mutation. People used to use all kinds of strange stories to explain away genetic deformities and expression.

Again we have parallels to the story of Joseph from the Bible. This young man is a trusted servant. He is given privileges others aren’t, but is almost betrayed by the boss’s wife, just like the biblical version.

The White SnakeThemes

Talking to animals is this desire that has existed on the fringe of society for a long time. Generally, the idea shows up in children’s stories like The Wild Thornberries, which is a good show by the way. Kids more often would like the desire to speak to animals, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t adults who like to have this ability. Society has brought us tales of people who mesh with various animals so well that they’re called whisperers. Generally, we hear this term in relation to horses. Oh that person is a horse whisperer. There’s a dog whisperer. There is also a guy who is like a cat whisperer that comes on television. These are people who have studied these animals to such an extent it seems they can communicate with these animals. They are actually communicating with these animals, but it’s in gestures and body language rather than speech of the human kind or animal kind.

I would like to think that even back in the day of the Grimms there were people who cared about what animals felt. This tale is a testament to the fact that those people existed. There have always been people who would care for the welfare of creatures who cannot speak on their own. That’s a good thing. Like I mentioned in a previous post, death is still death and torture is still torture, it doesn’t matter what life form you are. It kind of plucks a little heart string to find out that there were people who cared for small creatures even back in a day when torture was a normal thing. Kudos anonymous people who made up this tale.

The White SnakeThis man  doles out kindness and kindness is returned to him. It’s a universal law. I don’t car what religion or lack thereof you claim to profess, whatever it may be, there is always this idea of reciprocation of deeds. If you do bad things, you’re going to get some bad things back. If you do good things, you’re going to get some good things back. It’s this whole idea of passing it on. A small thing you do for someone can lead that person in turn to do something for someone else. Then that person can do something for someone else, then another person can do something, and so on, and so on, and so on. The good and bad things you do create a ripple effect in life.

We all kind of live in this web. Think of a spider’s web. All the strands are connected somehow, right? A spider can feel the tiniest vibration of a single strand of the web all the way on the other side of the web because everything is connected. Think of life like that. You may not think anything of holding the door open for a little old lady, but imagine what the ripple effect might eventually become. We don’t see the ripple effects we cause most of the time, good or bad. Just remember that you create ripples even if you think you do not.

The three challenges in this story are more or less filler. The young man already proved himself when he rescued the various animals. The challenges were simply to illustrate that good things returned to him for his good deeds.

Overall

This is a sweet story. It’s pleasant. No one in the story is a terrible person. There have been quite a few of these Grimm’s tales with horrible people. It’s refreshing to find a tale where people aren’t jerks.