Paganism in Fairy Tales

Hello everyone,

I thought I would bring up a subject that’s of great interest to me. When you say that you attribute religious/mythological significance to fairy tales, most people will look at you kind of funny. On the other hand, we have had a thread recently about working with Baba Yaga, so it seems there is some acceptance that at least certain fairy tale figures are unambiguously pagan or mythological.

I actually have a theory that Slavic fairy tales like those of Baba Yaga are especially archaic. During the 19th century, many romantic scholars analyzed fairy tales in depth and tried to find deeper mythological meanings in them. Modern scholarship tends to be much more skeptical. Yet most western scholarship has focused on Germanic fairy tales like those of the Grimm’s collection. In the past, it was assumed that these were preserved fossils of “Aryan” culture.

In reality, I’ve found that the paganism in Grimm’s fairy tales seems much more degraded than that in Slavic stories. Both have a story about a bird stealing golden apples and being pursued by a hero. Yet the Grimm’s version of this story, “The Golden Bird” is a silly animal fable about a foolish hero who only succeeds because of the aid of an extremely exasperated fox. Meanwhile, if we look at the Serbian “Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples” we see a much more mythological story in which the hero discovers that the Peahens are shapeshifting princesses (Daughter of the Sea, in some stories) and later has to rescue one from Koschei the Deathless or a Dragon. The Slavic variants of this story actually have many parallels to the Nart Sagas of the North Caucasus, which affirms their pre-Christian nature.

 Of course that’s not to say that German fairy tales don’t have their little gems of pagan belief, like Frau Holle for example, but they just seem harder to find. That’s not surprising, because we know that a lot of folklore was probably destroyed by industrialization and the uprooting of old-fashioned agrarian life. By the 19th century, when many of these stories were recorded, you had many places in Eastern Europe where peasant life was not very different from the middle ages. Germany was much more modernized, and that probably had an impact on the German folk memory. Also, the proto-Germanic language probably dispersed across Europe around 500 B.C., during the iron age, whereas the Slavic migrations didn’t happen until the middle ages. So the Slavs stayed isolated and formed a cohesive group for about a thousand years after the Germanic tribes had scattered and diverged from one another, which could have helped preserve ancient narratives in the Slavic folk memory.

I’ve compiled a list of Eastern European fairy tales that I consider to be relics of Slavic paganism below.

I was wondering if anyone else has delved into fairy tales or folklore in order to recover past knowledge. If so, what has been the result?

Slavic Fairy Tale List:

Vassilissa the Beautiful
The Frog Tsarevna
Maria Morevna
Ivan the Cow’s Son
Nikita the Tanner
Finst Falcon
The Crystal Mountain
Koschei the Deathless
Elena the Wise
Go I Know Not Whither and Fetch I Know Not What
Vassilissa Golden Tresses
The Sea King and Vassilissa the Wise
King Bear
Water of Youth, Water of Death, Water of Life
Prince Danila Govorila
Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Man Himself
God and the Devil
The Lime Tree
King Kojata
Baba Yaga

Balkan/South Slavic:
The Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples
Kiss Miklos and the Green Daughter of the Green King
Mirko the King’s Son
The Reed Maiden
Praslea the Bold and the Golden Apples
The Three Brothers and the Golden Apples
Bash Chelik

West Slavic:
The Jezinkas
The Wood Lady
Three Doves
Plavachek the Coal Burner’s Son
Good Ferryman and the Water Nymphs
Princess of the Brazen Mountain
Princess Miranda and Prince Hero
The Eagles
The Mouse Hole and the Underground Kingdom
The Frog King
The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Allknow

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Defunt Religions

Okay, the problem I have with Christianity is that it is no longer easy for people to learn ethics they can apply to their modern lives from these stories.  The problem I have with Paganism is that it is trying to be out of date as well.  Neither are addressing the ethical issues confronting people who want to make the best choices with all the new science and information and resources available to them today.

I have spoken in tounges.  I have done energy healings.  My pendulum works about as well as can be expected considering my guides.  I have gotten good readings with tarot cards and the Lenormand cards.  I am perfectly happy to muddle through life without referencing any religious texts.

My children learned their ethics from Japnese anime and Harry Potter.  And perhaps from me. I don’t think with the resources available to me I could have done a better job.

So really all the religions make feel as if I have been given a book on MS-DOS copyright 1981 and am told to take that as my only source and build a hot new phone app that works on Apple and Samsung.

Does anyone ever feel this way?  Is it just me?

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Coming to Up All Night 2018: Divination!

Eastling had the great idea of making divination for the coming new year a part of Up All Night‘s  festivities, so now we’ve got that to look forward to, as well as the Great Global Group Meditation and the general partying that always comes with UAN!

At some point on the evening of December 21, Eastling will open a thread in this Divinatory Arts section titled “Up All Night 2018: Oracles for the New Year”, which will be separate from the main UAN thread. Cauldronites will be invited to post to it explaining how they do divinations, what Powers (if any) they call on for it, and what kind of divinations they’re offering tonight. Others can then reply to any post within the thread asking the poster for a divination either there in the thread or somewhere more private (PMs here or on Discord). Then…save it somewhere and see how it applies to the coming year.

Expect the unexpected!

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Gods merging, etc

From what I understand Egyptian deities sometimes merge.

How about other deities? What are your experiences with this in prayer or life?

I spend a lot of time praying, and I’ve had some interesting experiences with this even though in the Christian tradition which is a part of my path (albeit informed by liberal and other theologies) this is not something I know of.

Nevertheless I have experienced Christ appearing as my tiger god even though in my prayers and usual experiences they are distinct.

I also have experienced a similar syncretism between my nymph friend and the Blessed Virgin.

Finally, my Wise Old Woman has appeared in multiple forms.  The most unusual was when I was reciting the rosary, and she appeared in my meditations as Alice and Wonderland, and she expounded each Christian mystery associated with the Rosary with scenes from the Alice and Wonderland books.

The Coronation was related for example to Alice crossing the chess board and becoming queen.  I still don’t know why my spirit friend would take this form, but she was relating spiritual ideas through the lens of fiction relatable to me.  (I also had a devotion to the Alice character in the past.)

Pardon me if I share too much!  I don’t think there are many places other than this forum that I can discuss these aspects of spirituality.

How about you? Do you find your deities or other spirits merging?  Or appearing in the guise of another deity? or even taking on fictional or pop culture forms?

How does this happen for you?  I mean, how do you apprehend these experiences? Is it your intuition?  Does it happen for you in meditation?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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Traditional witchcraft + meditation book?

Hello, all. The kind of thing I’m looking for might not quite exist, but I figure I’d ask. I am most interested in the “Traditional witchcraft” path, such as described in books by Lee Morgan, Emma Wilby, etc. I am also a long time meditator, primarily in the shambala tradition, very interested in compassion practices in particular. I am wondering if anyone has come across a book that incorporates traditional witchcraft as well as more meditative practices. I’m looking for some kind of guide to help me not feel like I’m pulling in two directions as I try to consistently work on both parts of my spirital practice. although I love my shambala practices and plan to come back to them at some point, right now I’m craving some more witchcraft-central practices that are also contemplative.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

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What are your solutions to boredom? Favorite past-times? Certain kind of discussions or practices? Anyway, it is one of the things that drew me towards neo-paganism. Whatever else it might be, paganism does not see mundane and boring.

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How do you honor local spirits?

Most of us (though not all!) honor some kind of Powers or deities as pagans. In a lot of cases, those Powers are not particularly connected to where we live, which leaves a bit of a gap, considering that most practices through the ages have included some kind of worship or honors dedicated to local spirits–be they called daimones, genus loci, or something else.

What do you do in your practice to honor these spirits, if anything? And what would you suggest to someone looking to connect with local spirits as a new part of their practice?

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Healthy Challenge, Winter 2018/19

It’s been a good long time since we as a group took up one of these, so let’s see who wants to commit to a healthy challenge for Winter 2018/19.

The idea is:

to announce a health and/or fitness goal in this thread, so that we can all hold each other’s feet to the fire and offer tips and encouragement

HINT: Pick a goal that’s specific, measurable, and attainable

  • Beginning with the impending solstice, strive to achieve your goal by the equinox on March 21
  • Update us here in this thread periodically on your progress

Up All Night (for those of us participating for all or part of the evening of Dec. 21) may play havoc with the first day, but that’s OK; there’ll still be 3 months to do the work, whatever health/fitness goal you choose. Who’s in?

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The ancient unknown gods?

We’ve been wandering the Earth for quite a long time and for most of that time in most cultures didn’t have a way to write down tales of the gods and spiritual practices, or like the Druids chose not to because they valued memorization.

This must mean that there were Deities who’s names are forgotten, knowledge of them being lost to time. Have you ever encountered them, and how has that gone? Do you have a way you revere and worship these unknown gods?

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TC’s own Great Global Group Meditation 2!

It’s back!

With the Cauldron’s annual Up All Night: A Technopagan Solstice Celebration less than 2 weeks away, I’m very pleased to announce that what started as a way to mark UAN’s 10th anniversary is back as a UAN11 special Cauldron event:

The Great Global Group Meditation 2
via video/audioconference

Any registered Cauldron member from anywhere in the world can teleconference in to join our special guest meditation leader, Eva Yaa Asantewaa, as she talks us through a nondenominational meditation…a meditation on the night of the solstice, spanning pagans and non-pagans alike, from across the globe, simultaneously!

WHEN: During UAN–on the night that begins at sunset on Friday, December 21, and ends at dawn on Saturday, December 22–beginning at 2 AM Universal Time–

–6 PM Pacific and 9 PM Eastern in North America
–2 AM Greenwich Mean and 3 AM Central in Europe
–Noon [on Dec. 22] Australian Eastern
It will last about 30-40 minutes.

WHERE: Wherever you are! As long as you have computer access, a smartphone, even from a “dumb” phone.

WHO: You must be a Cauldron member. Sorry, but if you’ve just wandered into the forums and haven’t signed up yet, you’re not eligible. (Simple solution: sign up!)

HOW: via a Zoom teleconference. It’s free! And there’s an audio-only option too, for those who want to preserve a degree of anonymity (or, if in a state of undress or sleep-deprived dishevelment, dignity)

Pre-register with me, so that I can send you the info for connecting to the Zoom meeting, which will be sent out immediately prior to the event on the night of UAN. Just PM me with your email address, which will be used *only* for this purpose and will be kept strictly confidential.

Our time in the Zoom teleconference is limited, so to maximize our meditation time, everyone should come prepared to *briefly* introduce themselves by telling us these (and only these) 3 things–

a name (anything you want: your Cauldron screen name, your real name, your pagan name, or a name you just made up off the top of your head)
what part of the world you’re in
a ONE WORD description of your solstice (how it’s been so far, or how you hope it will go)

Sorry, but to be fair to everyone’s meditation time, anyone babbling on will face the moderator’s mute button!
(It’s like the orchestra starting to play in the middle of your Oscar speech, only more merciless)

Once again we’ll be bridging vast distances between people through the power of meditation on the night of the solstice! Join us for the Great Global Group Meditation!


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