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The Brothers Grimm fairytale of Mother Holle from a shamanic perspective
Tags: Grimm Grimm Brothers Frau Holle Hulda Freya Fairy Tale Shaman Perspective Parsifal Solstice Snow

The Brothers Grimm fairytale of Mother Holle from a shamanic perspective
Matriarchal shamanic elements in the fairy tale of Frau Holle

In order to recall, the fairy tale of Mrs Hulda can be read here in a strong abbreviated form.

Mrs. Holle, Hel, Perchta or Berchtam originally Goddess Freya is an important part of German folk belief.

Freya on her sky ride pulled by her cats

Excursus for explanation
From Freya via Hulda to Mrs. Holle

From the Edda (oldest book of Germanic Mythology)
Freya, her brother Freyer and her father were kidnapped by Wodan / Odin as hostages.
Odin / Wodan was married to Frigg.
Freya and Freyer were included in the 'family' of the Gods (Æsir) and they were - in the course of 'Gods' awarded Life - attributes.
Freya (or Freia - translated 'Mistress'), called 'The Lady' became the Goddess of fertility and Love.
She has a falcon robe and a chariot pulled by cats.
She has the property to give infertile women children and to heal people.
But she also has the power over death.
She is considered the mother of the God Thor.
She ensures rich harvests.
Her infinite Love is an unfulfilled, since her (unknown) 'Divine lover' has gone away according to saga.
She lives as a lover all her Life - including Wodan.

As a Goddess she was worshiped by the peoples of today's Scandinavia, Greater Russia (Baba Yaga) and Europe under many names.
Until the Christianization.
Through Her connection to the Earth, Christianity condemned Her to a lower demoness.
She and all other Gods were 'allowed to worship no other Gods' after the Donar Oak felled by Boniface - a rather dubious Irish monk, who was 'approved' by the Pope at his own request with a bishopric of Christianity for the unbelieving Teutons... on death penalty.

But she lived on in the stories.
From the mothers to the children.
As Holda and later to the brothers Grimm - Mrs. Holle.

(Abrogation formula
The confession of faith of the 'holy' church was preceded by an abjuration formula, which contained the abjuration of faith in Heathen Gods and idolatry.
Whoever clung to the old Gods and secretly sacrificed to them was called the devil's servant; so the old baptismal vows simply asked:

'Do you renounce the devil?'
Answer: 'I refuse the devil and the devil's worship and all the works and words of the devil, the Donar and the Wodan and the Saxnot and all the monsters who are their comrades'.)

The Matriarchal Shamanic World View at a Glance: A Brief Introduction
The shamanic activity as seer, priestess and healer is spread worldwide for a very long period of prehistory and early history of at least 40.000 Years and has survived until today among the many indigenous peoples both in theory (as a religious-spiritual background) and in practice (in the rite of seeing, healing and celebrating).
parsifalrain, December 24

Also in the Tradition of the 'new witches' that has been reviving since the seventies of the last Century, the magical-shamanic world view and its ritual implementation is an essential component.
In this context I refer to a standard work of the US-American ecofeminist Starhawk, who has published the basic principles in 'Spiral Dance - A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess'.
At the center of the magical-shamanic world view is a 'Non-everyday Reality' populated by many different beings, which is just as real as our 'Everyday Reality', which encompasses everything we understand materially in the broadest sense.
In contrast to the Everyday Reality, the Non-everyday Reality can be reached in an extraordinary state of consciousness, which can be attained acoustically (drum, rattle, flute, singing), chemically (intoxicants) or by movement (trance dance).
All shamanic worldviews worldwide have a three-storeyedness, which divides the non-everyday reality into a Lower (Netherworld), Middle and Upper world.
The 'Lower World' is reached through a tunnel, a tree root, a body of water or a well using the trance techniques described above.
The 'Middle World' is the invisible, spiritual side of our everyday reality, that is, the 'world' next to the 'world', which is populated by the energies of all kinds of elemental spirits and other Nature spirits according to shamanic imagination.
The Middle World encompasses our entire solar system.
Like the Lower and Upper World, it is traveled from a place of power in Nature.
The shamanic traveler reaches the 'Upper World' via an auxiliary construction that leads upwards: a ladder, a staircase, a Tree, a climbing Plant, an elevator.
Everything is possible.

Matriarchal shamanic motifs and backgrounds in the Holle fairy tale
We find all these worlds again in the fairy tale; especially in the Frau Holle fairy tale where the two young girls Goldmarie (Maria Gold) and Pechmarie (Calamity Jane) first travel to the 'Lower World', where they fall or jump into the fountain.

According to shamanic opinion the 'Lower World' is a wonderful, inviting place (in our fairy tale a lush meadow), where our original Life force is abundant, mostly embodied by our power animal(s), allied animal spirits, who accompany us (whether we know them or not) through our respective lives.

These animal spirits can speak, see into the future, advise and warn us, renew our Life force and take us everywhere, far beyond the boundaries of space and time.

In our fairy tale neither the Goldmary nor the Tough Luck Mary meet their power animal, but other beings who are inspired, speak and can thank us like the bread in the oven and the Apples on the Tree.

Both pictures are means of Life in the original sense of the word, gifts of Nature in its manifestation as Great Goddess, which renew the Life force and are thus manifestations of the shamanic Lower World.
The furnace is also a place of transformation, transformation through fire.
The Apple Tree here is the Tree of Life which embodies the cycle of blossoming, maturing, harvesting, resting and rebudding, transferred to human Life, the cycle of Life, death and rebirth.

How do the two young girls deal with these laws ?
Goldmarie recognizes these laws of Life by taking the bread out of the oven and shaking the Apples from the Tree.
She does the right thing with heart and mind.
The Pechmarie places herself outside this natural order through her non-action and her exclusive focus on the supposed 'reward'.
She only does what she needs to and acts manipulatively when she jumps into the well.
This is her real dilemma, much more serious than the supposed laziness that is attributed to her as motivation in the fairy tale.
After some time, they both meet the house, from whose window an old woman speaks friendly to them.
Nevertheless, her appearance, especially her 'long teeth', rafts the Goldmary something like scared.

Interestingly, 'Frau Holle', who is of course no other than the universal Great Goddess of the Old and Neolithic Era, is depicted as an old woman with an appearance that at first glance seems repulsive.
This shows the narrowing and partial devaluation of the view of this creator-Goddess as a result of the spread of patriarchal structures of power - first by the Celtic-Germanic Cultural Cycles but later the complete suppression of the natural religion by violent erasement (i.e. Witch Hunt) as well as relentless Christian 'missionary work' and the complete establishment of the patriarchate as the new order.

However, the fairy tale also reveals again and again that Frau Holle is just this Great Goddess, the Creator of the Visible and Invisible Worlds, the Everyday Teality and the Non-everyday Reality in the shamanic world view of matriarchal societies.

She takes both girls into her service, that is, she trains them as priestesses, shamans of her cult and teaches them everything that belongs to a good Life, a Life in harmony with the Natural Order.
Such a priestess formation also included divinatory, that is, prophesying, ritualistic and other magical practices, which we find only partially in our fairy tale (for example, natural magical practices such as making the weather, talking to other beings such as the Apple Tree and the oven).

In the myth of 'Earthworms' or 'Earth snake' handed down by Karl Paetow, which is similar to the gold Mary in Mrs. Holle's service, the magic of elements and seasons is described as another natural element, namely the 'air', because earthworms are driving through the air in a wild dance in a small wagon pulled by a 'Goldkäferchen' (golden beetle) to Mrs. Holle.

Already the name 'Earthworm' or 'Earth-snake' is a shamanic name and denotes here the element to which
the person concerned is particularly connected, while 'Marie' (Mary) as a name belongs more to the
 society shaped by Christian conventions than to Mrs. Huldas Reich.

With the elements fire (oven), earth (bread), water (washing day) the earth snake and the two Maries have to do with it, with the air however only earth snake in her beetle small wagon aviation.

The element ice, which is represented by snow, is an important part of Germanic mythology (the world originated from the struggle of fire and ice) and may therefore have been preserved in fairy tales.

The technique of transformation also plays a role in both stories: the young girls learn to turn flax into linen and grain into bread.
Seasonal magic is reflected in the activities of house cleaning (Spring), baking bread and harvesting Apples (Summer and Autumn), shaking beds and making snow (Winter).

After the fall of the Neolithic matriarchal Cultures in Europe in the wake of the Celts and Germanic (of which we are not allowed to experience in-depth knowledge, thus don't know much tangible, by the way) invasions and the subsequent occupation of the land, the importance of women and their spiritual background, the cult of the Great Goddess, gradually diminished.

The division into typically female and male tasks in society developed to the disadvantage of women parallel to a hierarchization due to land ownership and the influence associated with it.
The male dominated family of the Asen Gods with Odin/Wotan at the head took the place of the Great Goddess.

The strong references to domestic activities in our fairy tale point to the heyday of matriarchal societies in the Neolithic period in our Cultural area, when nomadic tribes and clans gradually became settled yeomanry.

During this time the Great Goddess was worshipped as a teacher who instructed women in such important and innovative activities as spinning, weaving, agriculture and Plant (-healing) science.

Besides She was still the creator of all Life, who in Her three figures appeared as a young, wild (white) Goddess, as a mature, maternal (red) Goddess and wise, old (black) Goddess in the Wheel of the Year and stood for Life, death and rebirth.

This universal Goddess was Nature Herself in all Her manifestations.
For tens of thousands of Years the divine principle was female.

In the course of the Neolithic Age, the Great Goddess, according to man's imagination, received a companion whom she gave birth to, married to, and let die Year after Year in Autumn, in order to bear him again as a child of Light at the Winter Solstice.

The masculine was transient in these times, the feminine eternal and ever renewing herself and the masculine.

What do we find of it in our fairy tale ?
The Goldmary meets Mrs. Hulda in her form as an old, long-toothed woman; she is the Goddess in her black form as a wise and powerful old woman.
At first the Goldmarie feels fear or - better said (easier to understand) - reverence for Her appearance, and that is a reminiscence of her Divinity.
The reverence remains, the fear disappears, because the Goddess only proves her good and the tasks she has to face in her education can be mastered well.

Above all, the 'shaking of beds' is recommended to her by Mrs. Holle, a form of weather making that focuses on the whole spectrum of tasks of a heavenly Goddess and on a partial aspect of the old,
all-competent Triple Goddess.
The snow stands for Winter, the time of retreat in the magical Year of the Goddess, for the Time for the training of their priestesses, who retreat together with the Goddess into their caves and mountains in Winter and return to the world (Everyday Reality) with magical shamanic knowledge in Spring.

The place where the beds are shaken is the Upper World in the shamanic world view, where our shamanic teachers are located, the place of knowledge and overview.
In the fairy tale the initiators do not follow a specially described path into the Upper World, but are at the same time in Frau Holle's house in this place with her.
The Great Goddess, in her original role as embodiment of Nature and in her later role as creator of Culture, appears equally here in the fairy tale.

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How does our fairy tale continue, and how does it end ?
Although she lives as if in paradise, the Goldmarie and the Pechmarie (albeit from different motives) are drawn back into the world, into their temporal homeland, the Everyday Reality.

The Goldmary is given with knowledge and experience, symbolized in the fairy tale by the golden rain.
She carries her 'gold', her spiritual and material knowledge and experience, back to the world where she is and distinguishes her as a recipient of a gift from the Goddess.

By taking and applying her magical knowledge, she builds a bridge between Non-everyday Reality and Everyday Reality.
Calamity Jane, the Pechmarie, on the other hand, carries her ignorance and her amateurishness into the world, which become visible here through the bad luck that now clings to her.

In the fairy tale it looks like a reward or punishment by the Goddess for good and bad deeds, from a shamanic point of view it is rather a revelation of the current inner attitude of the two girls, which now becomes visible for everyone.

Here the natural law of cause and effect becomes clear, and this gives bad luck the chance to shake off bad luck by changing their inner being and the resulting actions.

How this can happen is not addressed in the fairy tale; however, the matriarchal shamanic world view, which - as we have seen - shines through in many places - gives hints: the Goldmarie acts from an inherent insight into the necessity of her action.
She does the 'right thing', which her heart and mind enter, while Tough!-Mary does what she benefits from.

She thinks and acts exclusively manipulatively and not in accordance with the Laws of Nature.
To go the other way and thus dislodges her bad luck is always open to her from a shamanic point of view; she is not - as the fairy tale suggests - doomed to 'bad luck'.

The shamanic-magical world view, which becomes visible as a guiding thread in this fairy tale, brings us back into harmony with ourselves and with Nature, of which we are a part.
The utilitarian world view, which is oriented towards material gain with as little effort as possible, leads to a dead end, because - whether we want to admit it or not - we are still today as individuals and as a species embedded in becoming, growing and passing away, in the cycle of the Great Goddess Mother Nature and in Her legitimacy.

The Twelve Nights After Christmas
Everything is Born out of Darkness
Yule - Midwinter - Winter Solstice - 'Christmas Eve'

Plants in the Wheel of the Year - December

deutsche Version hier


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