Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Fairytale Grimoire: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White is my favourite Disney princess. The animation film has always been something magical for me and as a small kid I really loved it. The story itself is enchanting as well as dark. It has something about it that is more than fairytale. Behind the fairytale is esoteric wisdom and mythology.
The fairytale that we know of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was first published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm. What I will do is give a brief synopsis of the story so that you can understand what I'm about to talk about later.
A queen is sewing as she's sat by a window, looking at a wintry scene. She pricks her finger with the sewing needle and three drops of blood fall upon the embroidery. She makes a wish and asks for a daughter who could be so beautiful, with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair black as ebony. She later gives birth to a daughter with those very features the queen wished for. She calls her daughter Snow White. Soon the queen died. The kind remarried and the new queen was vain. She had a magic mirror that showed her that she was the fairest in all the land. Years passed and Snow White grew up into a beautiful young woman. The queen asked the mirror who was the fairest, but it didn't show her reflection this time. Instead, it revealed an image of Snow White. She became so angry that she ordered Snow White killed in the forest. She told her huntsman to do this and return Snow White's heart in a box. In the forest, the huntsman was so overcome by Snow White's beauty that he let her go, and he killed a stag and put its heart in a box. The queen was deceived into thinking Snow White was dead.
Snow White escaped death by running through the forest as far away from the palace as she could. Eventually she came upon a small house. Inside she found a residence with small seven beds and it was so untidy that she cleaned it up and made dinner, before going to bed. Seven dwarfs had been working and they arrived home to discover how neat their home was, and cooked food was made for them. They found Snow White asleep over the beds. Here they woke her up, and she told them her story of how her step mother wanted to kill her. The dwarfs took pity and let her stay with them.
Meanwhile the queen discovered the huntsman lied to her. She wanted to kill Snow White herself. She poisoned a few apples and put them in a basket. She donned a cloak as a disguise and set off to locate Snow White. She came to the small house, and knocked on the door. Snow White answered and saw a woman selling apples. She agreed to try one of the apples, and soon as she bit into it, she fell down dead.
The dwarfs returned home and found Snow White dead. They buried her in a glass coffin and left her on a hill, guarding them one by one. A prince rode by on a horse and took an interest. Her saw Snow White was beautiful and lifted the coffin lid. He bent down and kissed her. Snow White coughed out a piece of the apple and she woke up. Here the prince and Snow White fell in love and went away to get married. The End.
Now before I explain the different magical elements, remember that the story I've given is the modern version. In the original tale, "Snow White" is a bit different. The mother of Snow White was actually the wicked queen who became step mother in later versions. Remember that the first queen made magic. She gazes at a window and pricks her finger to cast a wish. The very wish was to have a daughter with the features of mystical combined a trio of colours. The earliest version doesn't have a huntsman. Instead the queen takes a seven year old Snow White into the forest to pick flowers and then leaves her to perish alone. When the huntsman is introduced later, he is ordered to return Snow White's liver and intestines for the queen to consume. She also attempts to kill Snow White three times when Snow White is living with the dwarfs. The first time, she poisons a comb and digs it hard into Snow White's scalp, making her fall unconscious. Then she uses ribbons and binds it tightly around Snow White's waist that it makes her pass out. Then the famous poisoned apple that kills her, or so one would've assumed. Also the queen is tortured to death at the end in the original version.
Colours red, black and white
Snow White was given black hair, white as snow skin and red blood lips. These are the prime colours of magic and time. Red for the sun and daylight. White for the moon. Black is for the earth and also night. Red is for the fire. White is for ice. Black is for soil and wood. Some believe that the three colours represent the triple goddess, or the three phases of a woman's life. The colours are also potent as these are used in a deck of cards, including tarot. Historically in Germany, where the Grimm Brothers are from, the colours red, white and black are from the combined Prussian and the Hanseatic flags.
Magic mirror on the wall
One can think of magic mirrors and scrying mirrors but the earlier version didn't have a mirror as such. Instead it was water that the queen gazed into. Some believe that the voice of the mirror was actually the king who assured his wife she was the fairest in all the land but admitted his daughter was far more beautiful. The mirror, like the window, reflects and is the cause for the queen's jealousy and downfall.
In the earlier version, there aren't any dwarfs but seven robbers. They were a threatening band of men who frightened Snow White, and she was forced to choose between staying with them as a slave, or if not they would give her up to the queen or kill her themselves. Now dwarfs later was used to represent the less frightening, more charming aspect of the fairytale so that Snow White is not under threat or bullied. Dwarfs exist in Norse and Germanic myths. They dwell in mountains or live underground. They mine metals and minerals, and they build excellent tools. Dwarfs might have lived and were, some say, the primitive hominids called Neanderthals that people came across during migrations during and after the previous Ice Age.
My view on the fairytale
It's just my opinion that Snow White could not have been a mortal. She survived death and never died at all. She was asleep and had been so beautiful that she was put in a coffin made of glass. The prince (a warrior, hero and demigod), wanted to disturb her coffin by giving her a kiss. Is she based upon the sleeping Valkyrie stories? Fairytales today don't make much sense but are full of sweetie pie magic. They used to be horror stories made up to frighten children a long time ago.
Explore Snow White:
SurLaLune Fairy Tales: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White on Disney Wikia