All posts by Stuart France

About Stuart France

Writer and Director of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School.

Parsley and Partiality: Craving…

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*

“Before we solve that particular problem,” says Wen, warming to her theme, “I’d like to spend some time considering the ‘craving motif’.”

“It is not particularly overt in the Grimm version. I even thought about including it as a problem.”

“It is occluded in Grimm, one could be forgiven for thinking that Rapunzel is named on a whim.”

“Not so in Petrosinella!”

“She even gets the birthmark, presumably because the craving for parsley is only partially satisfied.”

“Are we thinking that the craving comes from the unborn child?”

“As a curse of styes in the eye we, perhaps, might be, yet the birthmark motif seems to hark back even further and is at least suggestive of the spirit of plants or some such.”

“Petrosinella replays many of the motifs of the frame story and in the frame story Basile appears to ridicule such folk beliefs.”

“Ridicule, or call them to the fore-front of our attention,” says Wen, and then continues, “the second tale of Day One, ‘The Myrtle’, features a fairy who lives in a sprig of Myrtle.”

She seems mighty reluctant to let this go…

*

Parsley and Partiality…

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*

… “I’ve answered two of the questions,” smiles Wen.

“You mean you’ve found solutions to two of the problems, and which would they be then?”

“I know where the tower is situated.”

“Ah, I thought you had the air of one who has been grubbing about in old books about you.”

“If by ‘grubbing about’ you mean research, I feel no sense of shame about that,” says Wen.

“Petrosinella!”

“You already know about it?”

“I know of it, yes, but I wouldn’t like to steal your thunder.”

“The tower is built in a wood.”

“Would your second ‘answer’ have anything to do with how the tower was constructed, by any chance?”

“It might,” says Wen, “and we needn’t have done any ‘grubbing’ for this one, we could have worked it out.”

“Ah, Little Grub, ’tis music to my ears… Pray explicate! Pray explicate…”

“As the Old Woman is an Enchantress, in the Grimm version, and an Ogress in Basile’s, the tower was constructed around the girl and then raised by enchantment.”

“A woman wearing a tower, naturally, I know not how I missed it, but why is the owner of the herb garden… the Enchantress… the Ogress, or even, the Sorceress, an Old Woman, and without resorting to names, who is she?”

“More problems,” says Wen.

“I am afraid so.” …

*

Keys to the House of Don: Crucible…

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‘…Such a situation invites the approach of treating the various versions  as at least theoretically, the garbled remnants of an episodic whole. While such a method can never lead us to the definitive story but merely and at every turn to a series of closely parallel yet different approximations of the definitive story, some approximations will be seen to be better or nearer the definitive story than others… ‘

Crucible of the Sun

… “Well, first off I suppose I’d better decide which of our seasons to drop,” said Wen, looking somewhat bemusedly at the sky, “and after much deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to drop winter.”

“Why, oh pray tell us why, Little Grub?”

“Because, psychologically, winter is death and the seasons should be all about life.”

“An admirable piece of deduction!”

“We do have a problem though.”

“We do?”

“We need to know the length of the year?”

“Don’t worry about being too precise just go with a thirteen month year.”

“Why?”

“Because in one of the extant versions of the story the princess had twelve hand-maids, and take the summer as being five months long, because of the king’s five eye patches.”

“Which makes autumn and spring each four months in length.”

“Perfectly balanced, that is, Little Grub, perfectly balanced.”

“And summer is not?”

“No, the fifth month of summer is an imbalance, hence the king’s baleful eye signifying the late summer sun which will blight the crops if they are not gathered in.”

“Does that also work psychologically?”

“How do you mean Little Grub?”

“If the Ego is not transcended, for want of a better term, then the ‘fruits’ of the individual life turn rancid?”

“I think that is true. The Ego turns to Super Ego instead of turning to the Id, takes everything, especially itself, hyper-seriously and cannot tolerate anything without its own image.”

“So why did you go with nine hand maids for the princess?” said Wen.

“They linked with the children ‘lost’ beneath the sea and signified the nine months of gestation.”

“The ‘seals’, the sea being both a watery womb and the subconscious?”

“We’ll make a lunatic of you yet, Little Grub.”

“I’m not sure I want to be a lunatic,” said Wen and then went on, “so I would have a spring smith forging the year, a summer warrior defending the year, and an autumn wizard contemplating the year,” with scant regard for just how mad that made her sound.

*

Keys to the House of Don: Heart…

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…’Wen is still worried about the insanity of it all… but fairy stories only appear insane to us now because we have become so separated from truth…

As children we accepted their subconscious logic intuitively.

It both satisfied our sense of justice in the developing weirdness of the world around us and reassured us that all would eventually be well again… in fact… was still well… even though it did not necessarily appear that way…’

The Heart of Albion.

…”That’s both disingenuous and tautological, Donald Sams and you know it,” said Wen displaying her grasp of formal logical terms.

“It may though, simply be mischief with a serious point.”

Wen said nothing.

“We know the builders of the megaliths had developed pin-point astrological accuracy with their, still held by many to be rather crude, structures, which by definition are anything but.”

“Agreed.”

“So, why wouldn’t they load their mythologies with such information? Especially, if it looked like they were about to be wiped out for any reason.”

“They could do that but the stories would have to have been operating functionally in order to be properly seeded.”

“Well, who’s to say they weren’t? The combination of cosmological and psychological truth would make for a pretty harmonious culture.”

“The one constantly verifying the other and vice versa?”

“Pretty much.”

“So that would mean every character should have both a cosmological and a psychological explanation.”

“Pretty much.”

“I think I can probably work out the psychological attribution of the three brothers.”

“Oh, you can, can you?”

“They’re the centres aren’t they, and that’s why they built the king’s castle because in a sense they construct the Ego?”

“Yes, they’re the centres. The warrior is the heart… The wizard is the intellect… and the smith is movement.”

“But what about cosmologically?”

“I think it allows us to posit a three season year for the ancients.”

“So, why are the brothers seasons?”

“Because they live by the sea and could thus be described as ‘sons of the sea.'”

“Ingenious!”

“Things are definitely beginning to look up but you can jolly well work out the seasonal correspondences for yourself.” …

*

Keys to the House of Don…

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…”I do have my reputation as an I.M.O.M to consider.”

“An I.M.O.M?”

“An International Man of Mystery. And there, if you only knew it, is the first key.”

“Which is?”

Don reaches ‘blind’ behind his head and extracts from the mahogany bookcase a slim, yellow covered, paperback. He opens the book and starts to read…

‘The key to understanding these tales is to ask yourself questions. If you are alone do not be afraid to address thin air. If you ask your self enough questions your soul eventually answers and before long you will no longer be talking to air you will be walking on it…’

– The Initiate

“I take it no one answered the question?”

“You can take it that no one even realised they were expected to.”

“The magic halter?”

“Cosmologically, the magic halter is the…”

“One step at a time!”

“Cows don’t wear halters. This is the clue that tells us that the cow is not really a cow and that the halter is not really a halter.”

“Plus the fact that the cow is ‘wondrous’ and the halter is ‘magic’.”

“If the wondrous cow is the Moon and the magic halter governs the whereabouts of the Moon, then the question is, ‘what governs the daily position of the Moon’ ?”

“What force governs the daily position of the Moon?”

“Easy now, the force of gravity.”

“More specifically?”

“The force of gravity in relation to the Moon and the Earth.”

“They didn’t know about gravity in those days.”

“They knew though, by observation, that the Moon followed a regular course or pattern in the sky and that ‘something’ governed that.”

“Which was?”

“The Moon’s orbit around the Earth. The halter is an orbit.”

“That sounds like its the wrong way around, could they have thought that the Earth circuits the Moon?”

“Perhaps, but in the story the wondrous cow does make a daily circuit of the land.”

“And the land, is the Earth… okay.”

“Cosmologically, then, the magic halter is the Moon’s orbit. It is the Moon’s cycle perceived from the Earth. The Moon completes the same cycle each month that the Sun completes in a year, traversing each of the Zodiacal Houses, which means that psychologically speaking the Moon is the seed of the Sun.”

“You’re going too fast again, and anyway, they couldn’t have known all that, way back then.”

“But if they didn’t know that, then, how did it get into the story?”

*

…Let down your hair!

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… “Oh really… and what are the problems with Rapunzel?”

“It is not possible to climb a tower by somebody’s hair, without breaking their neck, no matter how long it has grown.”

“Then it must be symbolic.”

“If the tower has no door or stairs how did Rapunzel get up there in the first place?”

“Why, then it must be symbolic.”

“There is no location given for the tower, we know only that it has thorns at its base.”

“Oh, then it is definitely symbolic.”

“Symbolic of what?”

“…?…”

“And why does Gothel go to visit Rapunzel on a daily basis?”

“…?…”

“And why does she need to incarcerate her in the tower anyway?”

“Ah, we are told that. It is because Rapunzel is the most beautiful maiden in all the land.”

“Why should beauty alone be sufficient reason for incarceration?”

“…?…”

“Like I said, there are numerous problems with Rapunzel.”

*

Buzzards Big as Bears…

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…Some of the roadside Buzzards we pass resemble small bears, which I suppose makes them rather large birds.

A lot has happened since our last visit to Avalon.

A lot has happened this past year.

Will it have altered our reception?

The first thing I notice at the Nine Mile Mark is that the tower on the tor is too square!

“It has always been square,” says Wen, quite reasonably.

“I expect so, I just didn’t notice it before that’s all.”

“Anyway, I’m not sure a thing can be too square, I mean it’s either square or it is not!”

“It needs to be a round tower.”

“A Rapunzel tower?”

“Possibly, or no tower at all.”

“It is pretty iconic these days!”

“Even so, there are a host of problems with Rapunzel.” …

*

Mother-Earth-Mound…

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I have it in my mind that we have been to Avalon at least once since our last presentation there which was way, way, back in December Two-thousand-and-fourteen.

But, when I think, it is difficult to say precisely when, and why this other visit occurred, which probably means that it did not happen at all.

Our visits in that year were both frequent and regular which could account for my confusion.

This time, the journey down most resembles our third trip that year.

The one with all the hawks.

The hawks now, somehow, manage to look like they are encouraging us on our way and that they are also entirely cognisant of what is about to befall us.

As well as being impossible, this is both mildly disconcerting yet incredibly exciting.

It means that something is about to happen and if it in any way resembles the happening on that third trip it will be more than well worth the petrol money…

*

Mysteries…

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*

“You’ll know it,” he said, “by the stone stairs and the hawk’s head over the lintel.”

I was expecting a carving, or a painting, or possibly even, an offering, not half a cliff-face…

Nevertheless, it had still been a bugger to find.

The light was fading when I tip-tipped down the stone steps and stood before the crudely imposed entrance.

I stepped inside…

A dim glow lit the interior and the odour of old incense, clung…

He stood and turned, a huge bull of a man.

“What took you so long?”

“I got here as quick as I could.”

“Coffee?”

*

…and Red-Fox.

*

…In another part of the meadow Red-Fox was hunting mice for breakfast. He saw one and jumped on him with with all four feet but the little fellow got away.

In his disappointment Red-Fox heard a distant call, “Bring a knife!”

He started in the direction of the call and as it got louder he continued.

By and by he came across the body of Buffalo lying on the ground with Field-Mouse still standing atop it.

“If you dress this Buffalo for me I shall give you some of the meat,” said Field-Mouse.

“Very well,” said Red-Fox, and he dressed the Buffalo while Field-Mouse sat on a mound nearby looking on and giving orders.

“You must cut the meat into small pieces.”

When Red-Fox had finished his work Field-Mouse paid him with a small piece of liver. He swallowed it quickly and smacked his lips, “May I have another piece?” he asked.

“Why, I gave you the largest piece,” said Field-Mouse, “How greedy you are. You may have some of the blood clots.”

So poor Red-Fox took the blood clots and licked the grass. He really was very hungry, “I have six little ones to feed at home, may I take some more meat?”

“You can take the four feet of Buffalo,” said Field-Mouse, “that ought to be enough for your little ones.”

“And what of my wife,” said Red-Fox.

“Why, she can have the head,” said Field-Mouse.

Thereupon Red-Fox jumped on Field-Mouse who just had time to let out a faint squeak before he disappeared.

*