Friday, February 6, 2009

When it's cold, I dream

It's been really cold in DC for the last couple of days, too cold to leap out of bed before the crack of dawn. Consequently, I've been sleeping in a little bit - well, till 7:00 a.m. which is late for me - and dreaming like crazy. Is it that I dream more dreams early in the morning right before I get up or is it that the most important dreams arrange themselves to occur then? I will probably never know.

The cold also means I've been spending time on my couch, reading. This week I've had my nose deep in books of fairytales and folktales. Those stories are, according to the cosmology of Reya, cultural dreams organized and put down on paper. Of course all folk/fairytales were shared orally from generation to generation before there was a way to write them down. I believe the seeds of many folk/fairytales come down to us from the very beginnings of human consciousness. These tales are blueprints of the unconscious grid of values and beliefs that lies just below the surface of every culture. No wonder I love them so much.

One of my favorite books is a collection of fifteenth century French versions of popular European fairytales, translated into English during the 1990's in the U.S. - a time when many people were interested in the feminine divine. One of my favorites is "Parslinette," a story we call "Rapunzel" in the here and now.

In the old French telling, the wicked witch is actually a very powerful fairy who understands it's her duty to take the baby in as her apprentice. She knows the baby is supposed to study with her because the poor pregnant woman craves the parsley that only grows in the fairy's garden. When the husband sneaks in to steal the parsley, the fairy takes that as a sign.

All is well between the parents and fairy until she makes the mistake of sprinkling too much beauty on the baby. When she realizes how beautiful baby Parslinette is going to be, she builds her a silver tower in the woods, to protect her, not as a way to keep her in jail. The kind fairy provides every entertainment for Parslinette - paints, musical instruments - all the arts are hers to explore in her luxurious silver tower. Parslinette has the most beautiful clothes, the most fabulous furniture you can imagine. She has dozens of songbirds to keep her company. In that version of the story, Parslinette, with her long blond hair, is pretty darn happy out in the woods in her silver tower.

So, OK, the fairy does get mad when Parslinette gets pregnant. Yes, she pokes out the prince's eyes and cuts off Parslinette's hair, but not because she's wicked. At least from the perspective of sixteenth century French storytellers, translated into English by late twentieth century American goddess worshipers, she wasn't wicked, just pissed off and a little possessive. In the end, everything turns out well. After all, Parslinette is not a German folktale told by the brothers Grimm. Thank God! What those dudes were channeling was so dark and scary. Yikes.

Isn't it interesting that the cultural dream of Parslinette got turned around so dramatically in the ensuing centuries? Wow. Makes me wonder how my own personal dreams have turned themselves around during the many decades of my lifetime as my own value grid has evolved. Hmmmm.

Tomorrow it's supposed to warm up, a very good thing. My plan is to get up early, get out of the house. Enough of cultural dreams, enough of personal dreams, for the time being. Enough!


Chris Wolf said...

Good morning. How cold is cold to you? You mentioned the fairy's dreams but not yours. Were they intriguing, scary, or full of perspective?

Reya Mellicker said...

My dreams have been weird. Quick snip of one: A woman is keeping what remains of her husband in a shoebox. All that's left is a rotting head and the remains of an arm or leg. The woman goes to get the head a glass of orange juice. While she's gone, I take a peek inside the shoebox. I jump away in horror. I am completely repelled by her devotion to the rotting head. She is oblivious.

Dreams like that.

Cold for DC is 10 F. at night, 20 F. during the day.

crone51 said...

Wonderful stuff. One of my favorite hobbies is to trace fairy songs like Tam Lin, or The Great Silkie- In my next life I would love to be a musicologist and collect them all like Francis Child did. I love your definition of Fairy Tales. Such richness. Was happy to see that Neil Gaiman, a collector and writer of modern fairy tales has just been awarded the Newberry for his children's book The Graveyard Book.

I shared a dream I had recently on another blog
in a post about synchronicity ( I think the post is called Coincidence)
It was pretty indicative of where I am philosophically these days- not too happy about being in that place...

Pet your Gold Puppy for me... mine is currently barking at a neighbor.

tut-tut said...

I love that picture of ice: static yet flowing.

Eidetic memory is also an interesting concept.

the Spearman's said...

I am so thankful that you relayed that information about Parslinette, what a beautiful story. I think the fairy just sound like a mom who is afraid to lose her child. I have been having weird dreams too, last night I dreamt I was in the middle of nowhere being evaluated of my worth by an old woman, after she ha evaluated and estimated me to be worth very little I saw circus pens that cross bred animals. I woke up wondering what it was trying to tell me.

Tomorrow to stimulate change in my life I am going out to a house that was severely damaged in a wind storm. I hope to help this family clean up as much as possible.

Lynne said...

Yes, a well deserved warm-up is also due here in NJ this weekend. They are predicting 50 F ! Right now it's only 17 F outside.

I've been dreaming weird things too. Last night I dreamt I met pod. He came to the States and we hugged and kissed, glad to finally meet. Very odd. I must tell him.

Loved the Parslinette story! My mother fed me a constant stream of fairy tales and such when I was little.

arya said...

‘Let the curtains be drawn
Never be it unveiled
Once it is wrapped off
The secret will be blown
Good God I cant bear it
My chamber is highly decorated
And you cant afford the pleasure
I have in here.
And once you unfold this
You will burn out of shame…’
Dear Reya, you remind me of this folk song written in the memory of Rapungel.
I had a flashback of most of fairy tales I heard from my grandma in the bedside as I was reading you, you made me nostalgic.
Much love,
arya shaya

Joanne said...

New England is due to have a warm-up this weekend too. I think there will be a mass exodus of people, stepping out of their homes, arms wide open to the warmth!

Unknown said...

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what that was in the picture. I knew it was a form of water, but my coconut brain couldn't conceive what type. Ice. Fabulous. Crazy. Weird.

I love the cosmology of Reya. I couldn't agree with that second paragraph more! It's fascinating!

Merle Sneed said...

It was 80 here yesterday. Warm, but not unheard of in February. I don't like the bitter cold, so for one day at least, I'm glad I don't live in D.C.

Reya Mellicker said...

Merle, I am very sad you don't live here. If you lived here, I would come into the hardware store and be the best customer in the world.

Tam Lin? Oh God - a bunch of us at witch camp one year almost went completely nuts exploring that story. It's so powerful, wow!!

Kim your dream is so powerful. I think cleaning up the damaged house will change the mind of that old woman at the crossroads. She is a constant in fairytales, you know. She asks for help. The good characters in the story give the old woman their last crust of bread or whatever. The bad characters are mean and abusive.

Later on the old woman turns into a beautiful queen or handsome king and awards the good characters.

At least that's what they always do in fairytales.

Why do frogs turn into princes when kissed? I always wondered about that.

Reya Mellicker said...

The puddle of ice in the pic is reflecting puffy clouds in the sky.

Nancy said...

I loved your story! At one point, during my childhood, I read every children's book that came with our set of encyclopedias. It was wonderful, all those stories. The Iliad and The Odyssey, Ally Babba and the Forty Thieves, etc. The Brothers Grimm were my least favorite. They could cause some odd dreams, I would think.

Stay warm! It is snowing here.

Barry said...

Communication is such a tricky business, even when it's directly between you and I. Add a few hundred years and a translation from one language into another, and it's a wonder we can understand each other at all.

It is also fun, in this context, to look at the confusion over some thing as solid as your photo of the ice puddle.

Elizabeth said...

Such clouds!
Did you ever read Bettleheim's The Uses of Enchantment?(super title -book a mixture but interesting)
I love fairy tales of all stripes and read a lot of unusual tales in Morocco.
So odd how each culture has a different take or twist on themes that run through almost all of them.
Such richness to explore.
Not to mention the dreams.........

crone51 said...

Reya- your post today inspired me to spend a lot of fun time researching some old Child Ballads. Wrote a blog entry today about The Great Silkie. I would love to hear your thoughts on Tam Lin!
Thank you for bringing back some lovely memories for me as well as inspiring me to track down some information...

And of course, a pat to the Gold Puppy ( mine just returned from playing in the snow).

Janelle said...

oh those clouds, that puddle, and your magik! oh! i LOVE dreams. xxx j

Tess Kincaid said...

It's fascinating how stories are preserved, loved and retold through the centuries.

My kids always called it "the butt crack of dawn".

Cheryl Cato said...

Rapunzel is one of my favorite "fairy tales". I like your French version better than the one we normally read.
And as for dreams, I too have more vivid dreams in the early morning. I don't know if it is because we are nearer consciousness at that time & remember the dreams or if it is some other phenomena...
Hope you can get out tomorrow & find other wonderful photographs to have for us. Happy weekend!

Steve Reed said...

I think we dream more actively just before we wake up, which is why those dreams are memorable to us. But that's just a hunch, entirely unsupported by any science that I know of. :)

Did you ever see "Into the Woods," Stephen Sondheim's musical? It winds together fairy tales like Rapunzel in some really beautiful and memorable ways.

Carolyn said...

It must be that time in the universe for dreams to be cast upon us as I too have slept later of late and the dreams have been plentiful...maybe the awakening of the new season in us? I love your first photo. Thanks for sharing.

Bee said...

That peek of your dream? Scary.

I've always noticed that I dream most vividly when I have been woken into consciousness and then resumed sleeping. (Unlike you, I am not an early riser or one who rises easily.) But perhaps we just remember those dreams best? I always wonder if dreams are just random firings or a way of working out things in our subconscious mind.

Your photographs are always quite dreamy, Reya.

Delwyn said...

Good morning Reya.

In the original Rapunzel I don't think the witch thought Rapunzel immoral - but felt deceived by her - she had attempted to keep her cut off from the world. I like the way the tale ends with rapunzel giving birth to twins - a boy and a girl - such symmetry and balance, and escapes the confines of her forest to find the prince in the desert-and she restores his sight with her compassion. I think the story tells us to break free of the confines of who we think we are and what we know and to face the desert of the unknown which has its own intrinsic rewards.

Reya Mellicker said...

Delwyn - That's very close to the translation I have - giving birth to twins, and restoring the prince's sight with the power of her tears.

Tears are mighty in fairytales. In The Snow Queen, the heroine melts the little shards of satantic mirror in the heart and eye of her friend with her tears.

Delwyn said...

So in terms of our own psyches...what do you think that means?...That we can wash away the way of seeing or restore a fresh perspective...with the power of compassion...

I left you a note of thanks at my place too.

Ronda Laveen said...

Dream messages are strong and frequent during the power points of the year, the veil is thinner, being the thinnest at Samhain.

It was wonderful to hear one of the original renditions of Rapunzel. Much less evil and hellish than the traditional version I grew up with. The fairy must have given her more than paints, clothes, and furniture to play with if she delivered twins.

When you wrote about the stories being passed orally from generation to generation and then being collected into books, it made me think of the development and compilation of the Bible. And gives pause to consider: what was chosen to be saved and what beauty and lessons were lost due to controversy or unimportance of that time?

karen said...

how i love those photos, as ever! and the story of Parslinette - fantastic! :-)

Angela said...

I read the book by Bruno Bettelheim: Chidren need fairytales. What he said was that children want this clear division of good and evil, of right and wrong, of the good being blessed and the bad being punished. I know it doesn`t apply to all fairytales, but I think that some (what is Frau Holle called in English? The woman who skakes up her down beds and makes it snow? And who lets pitch rain on the lazy girl and gold on the diligent one?) did influence my set of values. i did NOT like the ones by H.C.Andersen, though, they were all too incredibly sad.

Coffee Messiah said...

Like your thoughts and the books you're reading!

Reminds me I need to read some more of those kinds of stories.

Haven't since my son has grown up
; (

Extra nice photo of the ice spot too ; )

CocoDivaDog said...

I see you are an early riser too.
It's easier to jump out of bed early on weekends than on weekdays.
And what a cool photo of that ice. But what's that little thing in the lower left-hand corner? A mitten? It looks like a mouse's face????

Reya Mellicker said...

Ronda - It was the prince in Parslinette, who climbed up the long plait of her blond hair after hearing her sing, and immediately "married" her (as they euphemistically describe it in the story) who impregnated her.

I always wonder about the Bible, what those stories used to sound like, and wonder how literally we should take in the stories now.

Angela, we have no Frau Holle in the U.S. I like the image, though, of her shaking her bed so that it snows.

Reya Mellicker said...

Upper left hand corner? The last of the bedraggled maple leaves from last year.

Susan English Mason said...

I believe I like the way you think and the cosmology of Reya. I did not like the brothers Grimm even as a child so somewhere in my collective unconscious some memories were lurking. I look at cars all of the time and I never see the cool reflections you see. I must not have the eye for it. Have a great weekend.