Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Frog King gets Religion

28 Jan 2003 Frog King gets Religion

After a search on the net, it became apparent that the Frog King is frequently used as Sunday sermon material regarding spiritual transformation in the similar manner that moralists enjoy using the lowly caterpillar that metamorphoses into the ethereal butterfly. The symbols of water, kingship and transformation are deeply embedded into Christian thought as the water usually symbolizes baptism or spiritual rebirth. Difficult to argue that the frog isn't a baptized believer if pursuing this idea. Kingship naturally relates to the Kingship of god over the universe as the transformation from sinner into saint who inherits God's kingdom.

However, is this really what the brothers were after? Were they into born-again Christianity or exploring other directions of human psyche? it seems strange that the frog gets physically transformed wehn he gets thrown against the wall in a fit of rejection, but isn't that the key to opening the magical door of understanding? It is when we finally reject something violently, that we are able to transform ourselves. Perhaps the frog is only a foil to the princess, two parts of a single entity. The princess although beautiful, is unpleasant, discourteous and dishonest. She has no intention of keeping any commitment with the frog and is willing to promise anything to satisfy her own selfish interests. On the outside she is beautiful, but her real nature is ugly. The frog though is a mirror, externally, there's not much to be said about the frog. He has low marks in physical beauty with a tongue that is longer than his body. He eats flies and lives in the mud, and his voice is about as beautiful as the Siberian Raven. Yet, watch a frog swim or jump, and it is lithe, flexible and beautiful in motion, and the litheness is exquisite. his performance, whether speech or bearing is charming. he shows compassion and speaks softly. Harmless, the frog is the daily breakfast of storks and other predators adn is unable to protect himself other than leaping to hide. The princess though is a bully. She torments a creature that is indefensible, curses him and throws him against the wall. For what? For fulfilling her demands? For satisfying her petty whims?

But if the frog can be seen as a symbol of spiritual purity or the desire to live a spiritual life, then perhaps the ugly shape is only a reflection of the princess's true intentions and behavior, while his nature si that which she envies: hence his color, green. In the opening of the story, where is she, but in the woods by a well? Woods frequently symbolize the unknown, the subconscious or death in the case of Robert Frost's poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. In the medieval ages, the woods were a threatening wilderness in which robbers, bandits and wild animals ranged that attacked civilized people. Only the woodcutters or forresters could survive in deep woods as it was perceived to be the enemy of man. The castle conversely represents law, order and civilization. The princess has taken a step outside her known, ordered world. She is no longer under the control of her father's edicts and worse than that she has taken his golden orb to play ball with. She puts the kingdom at risk by her irresponsible and wild nature. A kingdom or country cannot long survive when the rulers are narcisstic and interested only in selfish pleasures.

The linden tree is often seen as a symbol of spiritual life with its roots reaching down into the infernal regions and limbs raised to the heavens. The princess recognizes her own duplicity in promising the frog anything he wishes and is ashamed and humiliated when he shows up to eat off her plate.

But this is often the way people are. They go about life with two minds and two faces: one for the public and the other that is hidden behind a mask. Sometimes the mask slips so that we see who the person really is or really thinks in an off moment, but it only becomes clearly apparent in a person who may be schizophrenic. In throwing the frog against the wall, the princess may be rejecting the ugliness that she finds within herself that the frog only symbolizes...and when it is at this magical point when we can recognize our own evil and weaknesses that we are able to transform into mature, loving, kind people. Only when we can reconcile our on faults with our internal longing to be beautiful, are we able to matue and become spiritually transformed.

Some links of how the Frog King is interpreted through Judaism and mainstream Christianity are listed here.

Beyond the Illusion

Carl Jung body & soul
judaism & christianity

The Frog King or the Coming of Pentacostalism

Frog King with Bettelheim interpretation and given a Pentecostal outlook

Meeting Ourselves in Adversity

Sermon of Saturday, September 22, 2001
Dr. John Blackwell, Minister of Discipleship
the Frog King becomes a Methodist

Dear Abby

By Dr. Abby Rosen more spirtiual journey within to the higher being. lovely drash.

Exploratorium: Frog Myths

an interpretation of love and illusion

Monday, January 13, 2003

Out of the Well in the Woods

13 Jan 2003 Out of the Well in the Woods

Originally, there were two Frog stories in the First Edition of the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmaerchen: The Frog Prince and the Frog King or Iron Henry. Edgar Taylor, intranslating the stories combine the two together, taking from the Frog King or Iron Henry, the opening of the story and closing it with the ending of the Frog Prince. However, in the later editions of the stories, the brothers dropped The Frog Prince, retaining Thr Frog King or Iron Henry with its frog-tossing event. Apparently the violence disturbed Edgar Taylor, for he put the frog gently on the pillow.

The story is believed to be of German origin, going back to the 13th century with a Latin source. It appeared in Scotland in 1549 as The Well at the World's End, found in The Complaynt of Scotland. The first English translation was by Edgar Taylor in 1823, succeeded by translations of Richard Chambers and Joseph Jacobs.

The Brothers Grimm's tale went through a transformation akin to the frog's. A quick glance at the comparison chart created by students at George Washington University reveals how the text was expanded and changed through the editions. The introduction of the princess changed from a simple statement in the 1st Ed. , "A King's daughter, to the hyperbole of the 3d Ed., a King whose daughters were all handsome, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun himself, who had seen so much, wondered each time..." Surely such a transition is not by accident but by device. Originally, the stories may have been gathered like straggling wildflowers from an overgrown meadow, but surely the brothers snipped away at the dead leaves, pruning them to bring forth blossoms and sweet fruit. As Gary V. Hartman points out, the brothers were philologists, professors of German Literature, having sound knowledge of Classical Literature, who had profound influence over the usage of German language usage and literature studies that spread outwards to England and America. The stories, like Ovid's Metamorphoses, are frequently used for psychological analysis by Freud, Jung, Bettelheim and others to explain human nature and the world we live in. In overlooking the craftmanship of the writing, the reader ignores the depth of the language with its literary devices and symbolism. The stories have effectively been used for political propaganda, frequently appearing on the Banned Books List . Variations spread across the world.

The brothers gathered the tales as a way to establish national identity of the German people who suffered French rule. Although this seems rather simplistic form of nationalism, the Irish followed their lead with Celtic consciousness and revivalism of Celtic culture. As myths and fairytales frequently embed historical events in symbols, Did the Frog King reflect the Grimm's nationalism? In searching for the Frog King, I crossed a website of amphibious trivia and was reminded of the French-- well-known for eating froglegs by the epithet, Frog. According to the site, Clovis I, was the first to use the Fleur de Lis as the emblem of France, before then, apparently the Franks were identified by a frog.

Clovis the Frank (466-511) married the daughter or niece of Gondebad, the Burgundian King, seated in Vienne. Clovis, a pagan, married a Christian. He won Gaul and SW Germany by fighting the Romans, Alemanni, Burgundians and Visigoths. Later through the persuasion of his wife Clothilde, he converted to Christianity at Reims. The story is that the chrism, needed to annoint him, could not be found, but was supplied by a dove descending from heaven. This legend became the basis for the coronation of French kings to take place at Reims until Charles X.. Clovis invaded and overtook the lands which now belong to Germany, Austria, northern Italy and Spain, reaching westward to the Lowlands. Perhaps, the brothers with their thorough understanding of history purposely used the Frog-tossing incident to recall the subordination of the German/ Burgundian Lands to the Franks and later, the Napoleonic invasions. Definitely, they wanted their princess to defend herself and not passively submit. And certainly, only arfter Clovis conversion, did he act like a prince to his Burgundian in-laws, but as a barbarian to others.

all you ever wanted to know about frogs but were too ignorant to ask,

trivia , facts and myths about frogs. ah, the French were called Frogs. Why? because Paris was surrounded by swamps and one had to be amphibious to live there. Or because they are the world leaders in frogleg consumption.

Sur la Lune Fairytales: Frog King History
a short summary of the story's history with links to similar stories

D. L Ashlimann, U of Pittsburgh: Frog Kings Aarne-Thompson Type 440
a listing of Frog King stories, the English translation and adaption by Edgar Taylor who radically changed the text, romanticisng it and creating a mushy princess. Both the Frog Prince and Frog King or Iron Henry are supplied in fulltext here.

Joseph Jacobs
The Well at the World's End
English Fairy Tales, David Nutt, 1890
the girl's rudeness is exaggerated and she has to behead the frog. Although originally her intention was to get rid of the girl, the stepmother is neither evil nor good, perhaps reflecting our worst intentions actually have good results sometimes; but good intentions often turn out badly.

The Frog Prince
George Washington University

The Changes Made in Frog King by the Grimm Brothers

FrogKing Psychoanalysis

The C G Jung Page: The Loose-leaf Fairytale Book
Gary V. Hartman, Diplomate, C.G. Jung Institute Z├╝rich
commentary including an attempt at interpreting symbols.

New Advent: Clovis I
a short history of Clovis I that describes the legends and written history of his rule. Clotilda was the niece of Gondebad, King of the Burgundians.

Wikipedia: Clovis
hypertext history of Paris, Clovis and the Franks

Medieval Sourcebook: Gregory of Tours on Clovis
preserved medieval text

the legend of Clovis

Encyclopedia.com : Clovis
hyperlinked text that gives historical and geographical information

What happened in AD508
another discussion of the consequences of Clovis' reign

Monday, January 06, 2003

Transformation Myths and Reality-Callas

6 Jan 2003 Transformation Myths and Reality

The magical metamorphosis that often appear in fairytales and myths reflect the apotheosis of our mundane lives. In both Cinderella and Frog King, radical changes are effected through magic; but are they magical? Superficially, they appear to be so as the ashes of Cinderella's life carbonize to diamonds when she makes her scintillating appearance at the ball. The frog changes his shape when brutally thrown against the wall. With deeper insight the reader knows that neither is magical. Cinderella has endured humiliation, physical drudgery, verbal and psychological abuse to transcend the limitations of her immediate environment spiritually. She has the spirit that inspires social reformers to go beyond class and social restrictions to attain recognition. The inner transformation effects the external and the way society views her.

The frog, though is a slightly different creature. He too, endures verbal and physical abuse. Today, the wretched Princess would be hauled into court to be convicted of assault with intent to do bodily injury or accused of endangerment. The frog leaps out of the water to console and assist her. The story is replete with symbols that can be interpreted a variety of ways, but he is definitely at the bottom of society as her scorn shows, "as if that old frog could do anything but croak in the sludge." The Princess is disdainful of his attention. She promises what she has no intent to do, and although she is so beautiful that the sun stopped in its path to gaze upon her, she has no spiritual beauty, little integrity and much self-conceit. Why any frog would want to be her companion is beyond comprehension for there must be dozens of readily available princesses hanging about just for a chance to catch a greenback. He tolerates her abuse, returning it with courtesy and kindness. She puts on a show at the dinner table of being disgusted and repulsed; he endures the humiliation.

It is a problem of perception. So often we miss something intrinsically valuable because we don't like the packaging. A quick browse through the tips on jobsites will reveal many articles dedicated chiefly to appearance: how to dress for an interview, how to make your resume look good; which clothes to wear, the right color for shoes; yet when it comes down to it, the clothes really don't work. They are only the packaging. A person who has shabby clothes or may be out of the toe might actually be a better employee. The interviewer makes an injust decision in judging the person by his clothing, makeup or botox job. A person, dissatisfied with his or her appearance and absorbed in the superficial appearance, might also make a very bad employee, always glossing over irregularities or mistakes, afraid to confront personal shortcomings or admit failings. This isn't needed in the working world, whereas the person with limited resources, might have greater ability at utilizing the skills and resources available. He might also have the maturity to understand personal limitations which is the first step of self-mastery. The person, having endured humiliation or hardship as Cinderella, might have the tenacity to take on difficult projects that require greater self-discipline and dedication. Such a person would be a valuable asset to a company as a reliable self-starter, requiring little or no supervision, but providing a model of inspiration to others.

Do such transformations happen? Assuredly, but usually they have some personal price that comes with incredible self-sacrifice of discipline. Possibly one of the most famous cases within the 20th century was a singer by the name of Maria Anna Sophia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou, better known as Maria Callas.

She was born in Brooklyn, the daughter of Greek immigrants. By twelve, she wasn't at all pretty. She could sing, but nobody really wanted a fat lady on stage. In 1953, she carried tonnage like a laden freighter at 210 pounds. Within two years, she dropped her weight to a slim 140 pounds. She was obsessive about her public image, pictures and physical appearance. However, being thin isn't particularly good for the voice, demanding the impossible of herself, singing not only the lyric dramatic roles of Wagner and Strauss, but also the highly embellished coloratura roles of Donezetti and Bellini as well as the heavy dramatic roles such as Turandot. It wears on the voice terribly, just as badly as being an icedancer and then playing rugby. Like Patton, she created an image, conforming herself to live within the mask like a classical Greek actor from a tragedy of Sophocles. It worked. Today, she is as controversial as when she appeared on stage; her recordings are in high demand today. There are few, if any, who can explain the riddle of the sphinx; but her image and presence did not only transform the presentation of opera, but the way other leading ladies are presented as divas to the public. A quick glance through the pictures makes you realize that even Audrey Hepburn copied or imitated the Callas. There are Joan Sutherland images that look remarkably similar. Neither Jackie O or Princess Di will ever have the publicity or fascination that Maria Callas had for the world, yet it is very difficult to know the real person behind the mask, or comprehend the price she paid to become immortalized as La Divina.

Serendipity's Maria Callas' Picture Gallery
Maria Calla at 15 years hauling tonnage

Serendipity's Maria Callas' Picture Gallery
a heavyweight diva

Serendipity's Maria Callas' Picture Gallery
i vespri siciliani 1951
no small butterfly

Serendipity's Maria Callas' Picture Gallery
The transformation complete: la Divina

Serendipity's Maria Callas' Picture Gallery

Maria Callas Gallery
anna bolenna Donezetti Anna Bolena, teatro alla scala

Maria Callas. "To sing is an expression of your being, a being which
is becoming." -Maria Callas.
Gioconda early in career

Maria Callas. "To sing is an expression of your being, a being which
is becoming." -Maria Callas.
recording Gioconda at la Scala late

Divas- the site

the diva Callas

Divas-the site
the minx- Audrey Hepburn imitating callas

Maria Callas. "To sing is an expression of your being, a being which
is becoming." -Maria Callas.
the callas as the original

EMI biography for Maria Callas

ugly duck turned into a dying swan