Some moments in life call for the unique archetypal power and magic of fairy tales to console us, to cloak us in their warm embrace of sparkling pixie dust and story-foam, and to replace our salty tears with sweet and tender smiles of ease and well-being.
As coincidence or fate would have it, I have just the right kind of fairy tale up my Gypsy-sleeve. Wanna lean back, pour yourself your favorite type of tea, and be whisked away to a world of almost-pure imagination? Your storytime-wish is my command – los geht´s (let´s go)!
A tale of two brothers
Once upon a time, there were two brothers. One was called Jacob Ludwig Karl. The other was called Wilhelm Carl. They were pretty smart cookies and excelled in academia, cultural research, and literature. The brothers had a shared passion: they just LOVED to travel deep into the past and mine for the golden nuggets of forgotten truths. While on their their intrepid adventures, they met some astonishing storytelling-heroines like Dorothea Viehmann and poetess extraordinaire Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.
These heroines shared age-old wisdom in story-form with the German brothers from Hanau, and the brothers Grimm (yes, that was their full name) passionate storytelling-fire led them to set the stories in stone aka on paper and gift us with the Grimm´s fairytales, originally known as Children´s and household tales, first published in December 1812 and containing 210 unique fairytales. Oh, curious side-info: The Grimm´s were also fab enough to found the immensely valuable fairytale science (“Märchenkunde als Wissenschaft” in German).
Venturing into charming Red-Riding-Hood-country
Germany´s magnificent forests and charming towns and villages build a lot of the backdrops of Grimm´s fairytales – and, like magic wands/ wants it… drumroll, German yodel song, drumroll: the brothers did invite us back to where they used to live and where they frequently felt the gentle caress of their muse. This place is, up until today, known as “Red-Riding-Hood-country“, located all around Kassel and Marburg in Hessen, right in the heart of Germany. Pretty cool to go on an outing with such outstanding personalities of German and European Cultural history, right?
“Bist du bereit?” Rotkäppchen wartet schon auf uns!” (“Are you ready? Little-Red-Riding-Hood is already waiting for us!“), Carl Grimm enunciates excitedly in his Hessian accent while greeting us at one of the entry-points of the famous “Knüllwald“, the Knüll-forest in the densely wooded region of the Knüllgebirge (Knüll hills).
The magical forests of Knüll
“Klar, los gehts!” (of course, let´s go!), I reply, dragging you along:P. All around us – majestically towering larch trees, rich green leaves rustling in the light breeze, and picturesque quiet valleys that seem untouched from any notion of acceleration, just at ease being left to their own being.
After a short hike in the rural area of Knüll (darn, Wilhelm Grimm forgot to tell us to bring proper hiking shoes! These lofty scholars again with their heads in the clouds), we reach the Wildpark Knüll wildlife park.
“There! Little Red Riding Hood! Can you see her?”, asks Carl Grimm with a pleased look upon his face. “Nah, all I see are horses!“, I reply enthusiastically.
Or do I glimpse a little girl in a cute red cape vanishing into the woods in the distance? No time to figure this one out – Wilhelm Grimm is impatiently tugging me by my sleeve. “There he is, the rascal! Up to no good, as usual!”
What the wolf doesn´t tell
A gorgeous wolf appears in front of us, his silvery-grey fur almost sparkling a little in the gentle sunshine. For a moment, I wonder – did the brothers Grimm not mix something up here, and mistake this gorgeous, wild, and honorable creature for an off-track human? Why would a wolf be after a little girl in a red cape? Do wolfs not usually go for prey like deer, elk, bison, and moose, or beavers?
Mmm, something to ponder indeed. I decide to keep my admiration for the wolf to myself, though. By the way, check out the fantastic book “Wild Harmonies: A Life of Music and Wolves” by acclaimed French pianist Helene Grimaud – she literally lives with and around wolves, when not playing on the stages of this world, and has astonishing things to say about the true nature of these intriguing animals.
Checking out Sleeping Beauty´s enchanted abode
“Oh, ich hab langsam Hunger!” (Oh, I am slowly getting hungry!) Let´s head over to Sleeping beauty´s place – she is probably out like a light, but her place ist really erste Sahne (first class, literally: first cream)“, comments Wilhelm Grimm.
Half an hour later, and we find ourselves at Sleeping Beauty´s cozy abode in Homberg/Efze, a sleepy (obviously) and charming little town not far from the enchanted forests we had just visited. Unfortunately, Sleeping Beauty must have fallen asleep somewhere else as she is nowhere to be seen. And I so wanted to quiz her on how to sleep like REALLY well! Ah, next time. The brothers Grimm show us around and also share a little gossip on the town of Homberg, which is just one of many, many stops along the 600 km long German fairy tale route that reaches from Bremen in Northern Germany to Hanau in Central Germany, not far from where we find ourselves now.
A lot more happens that magical day in Central Germany, and if there is one thing I would love for you to take away from this, it´s that miracles and magic are real and do happen… never lose faith, be prepared for good things to come to you, and keep your heart and mind wide open!
Back to you, dear reader: What is your favorite ever fairy tale? And: Do you believe in magic, and that there is more to life than what we can see? Or are you a die-hard realist? As always, I would love to hear from you:)
On a different note: I am considering offering a limited amount of fun German (and Spanish) language and culture classes again! In case you want to find out more, just get in touch via mariaelena@agypsyatheart. Bis bald:)