Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Winter Solstice Six Swans

21 Dec 04 Winter Solstice Six Swans

Seven Sisters

"One day the great hunter Orion saw the Pleiads (perhaps with their mother, or perhaps just one of them; see Merope above) as they walked through the Boeotian countryside, and fancied them. He pursued them for seven years, until Zeus answered their prayers for delivery and transformed them into birds (doves or pigeons), placing them among the stars. "

The Pleiades Star Cluster

The Six Swans are in the original Grimm collection of Household Tales of 1812. They cited sources as Die sieben Schwane from Feenmarchen published by Braunschweig in 1801. Similar tales include the Seven Ravens which appears also in the Grimm collection. Others are Twelve Brothers, Twelve Wild Ducks and Wild Swans that appears in Andersen's tales. Add to this the Twelve Dancing Princesses which has the ladies descending to a netherworld to wear out their shoes each night.

The stories probably are derived from ancient sources; the most notable is that of Proserpina who was abducted from earth by Hades while she was gathering flowers with her mother, Ceres. Hades, King of the Underworld didn't much appreciate his bachelorhood and had no interest in the wraiths that shadowed his land. Apparently they were so thin that he put his hand through them or could get a proper grip on their waists, and they were probably ticklish in bed. Whatever the reason, he nabbed Prosepina and dragged her under into darkness, leaving her mother disconsolate on earth. For this reason, the year is divided into seasons, as Ceres mourns the months that Proserpina must return to be with her self-imposed husband. Ceres wandered the whole earth in search of ehr, but finally went to Zeus to beg intercession and strrong arm his brother. Zeus, not wishing too many conflicts with his brooding sibling became diplomatic:

Metamorphoses Bk 5 Story of Proserpina and Hades

"The girl shall rise to heaven on one condition—
That is, if no food touched her lips in Hades
For this is the law commanded by the Fates.

He had his say, but Ceres was determined
To claim her daughter, yet the Fates said No.
But Proserpina, guiless, innocent,
Had taken refuge in Death's formal gardens
And, as she strolled there,plucked a dark pomegranate,
Unwrapped its yellow skin, and swallowed seven
Of its blood-purpled seeds."

Ovid, The Metamorphoses Book V, p155
transl by Horace Gregory, Mentor Books 1960

In the Grimm's tale, a forlorn king is lost deep in the woods. On condition of finding his way out, he consents to marry the witch's daughter, but:

"The King had already been married once, and had by his first wife seven children, six boys and one girl, whom he loved more than anything in the world.

Although it is not immediately apparent, the two stories are probably related. The hidden problem might be the shift from a lunar to solar calendar which can be found in Grimm's version of the six swans. There are seven children, one female and six boys. The boys vanish cursed as swans into the wide world. On hearing their mysterious disappearance the sister determines to find and redeem them. The task is arduous. She must remain mute for six years and weave shirts from star flowers. Fate intervenes in the form of a King determined to marry her. Her silence is attributed to witchcraft. When she gives birth, her children are stolen. Condemned to die as a witch by fire, she is still feverishly mute, trying to finish the sleeve of the last shirt of star flowers.As the fire is lit, the swans appear.

How many moons are there in a Lunar calendar and months to a solar year? Hence the youngest brother receives an incomplete shirt and is transformed once more into a human being, but deformed by a wing. Six and half doubled make up the thirteenth moon, while the six swans might represent the months of a solar half year. A beginning astrologist might split the circle into upper and lower halves, explaining that the center top is the zenith while the opposite pole is the nadir. The top is governed by the sun representing success and fullness of life, but at the opposite extreme lay the hardships and darkness a person endures. In one version, the brothers live double lives, during the day they are swans, but transformed back into humans at night, revealing its relationship to astrology and astronomy. As a transformation story, it symbolizes the ability of the soul to transcend the hardships of this world to enter the world-to-come.

Despite the loss of her three children and the accusations of being a witch, the sister remains faithful to her brothers even to the point of suffering a horrible death. She does not allow her emotions to be split amongst her children, husband or brothers. Superficially this looks easy, but how easy is it to remain silent when people speak evil of you? How easy is it to be torn in alliances between a husband and siblings? More than one marriage has been torn to shreds as a result of family bickering and antagonism of a family against a husband or wife. As social creatures, we seek the affection and acceptance of others, making compromises as it is necessary to maintain stable relationships. When the fire is lit, the brothers circle above her. Is it magic? No, not really. She has spent the six years loyally mute and completed the demanding task of the six shirts with the exception of a sleeve. The fire quenched, she begins a new life, filled with the rewards she deserved from her self-imposed labor. Although many like to preach about heaven, just as many forget that to enter that state, they must first die. In fairytales, the transition is quickly made as the characters transcend their hardships on earth and enter Paradise on earth.

The Wild Swans by Judith M Warren
a lovely illustration

Classical Sources

Pluto et Proserpina

transl Dryden, Ovid's Metamorphoses Book V

Orpheus Myth

Kline, A. S., (poetry translation) “Ovid, The Metamorphoses
full downloadable Metamorphoses in .pdf with index and hyperlinked text for quick searching.

University of Virginia Etext: Ovid Metamorphoses

Ovid Metamorphoses
Golding complete text
The Fifteen Books of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 1567
The first translation into English - credited to Arthur Golding

Latin Search Engine


Sur la Lune Index Illustrations

Grimm Six Swans
illustrated with engravings

Grimms Six Swans 1812 edition
trans Ashlimann plain text

Sur la Lune Six Swans

Sur la Lune, The Wild Swans

Sur La Lune, Seven Ravens by Grimm

Wild Swans by Andersen

An Analysis of "The Wild Swans" and "The Eleven Swans"

Andrew Lang, Red Fairy Book--Twelve Brothers and Twelve Dancing Princess

contents of the Yellow Fairy Book

Yellow Fairy Book: Six Swans

Andrew Lang, Yellow Fairy Book –Six Swans
nightingale steadfast tin soldier tinderbox emperor's new clothes
glass mountain and more

Grimms Household Tales transl Edward Taylor 1812
in plain text with notes

Planet PDF Grimm's Fairy Tales
and much more for .pdf

HCA: Fairytales and Stories transl H. P. Paull (1872)
168 stories in fulltext

HCA Center
http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/liv/minibio/skole_e.html schooling


Kay Nielsen Six Swans


NGC 1999: Reflection Nebula in Orion
my fav pic

Moon and Planets Sky
Mars Venus Mood and Pleiades


Seven Sisters
Pleiades- peleiades, `flock of doves', consistent with the sisters' mythological transformation.

"The Pleiad(e)s were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and half-sisters of the Hyades, whose mother was Æthra (`bright sky'; a different Æthra than the mother of Theseus). They were perhaps also half-sisters of the Hesperides, who were daughters of either Night alone, or Atlas and Hesperis (`evening'), or Ceto and Phorcys"

the male counterparts also exist in mythology as the seven Hyades or rainmakers.

Cygnus Nebulosities

Cygnus loop

Cygnus Loop Shockwave

Other Andersen in Suite Fairytales

20 June 05 The Nightingale Art vs Artifice

18 June 05 HCA The Nightingale

17 April 2005 HCA Tin Soldier

21 Dec 03 Little Match Girl

14th Dec 03 Fir Tree by HCA

7 Dec 03 Snow Queen

1 November The Silence of Longing p2
reposted on 3d November was deleted


1 November The Silence of Longing p1

24 October The Waterline p1

24 October The Waterline Going Deeper p2

24 October 2003 The Waterline: Drowning p3

21 October 2003 The Mermaid

22 June 2003 The Ugly Duckling

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Kidnapped Santa

5 Dec 04 Kidnapped Santa

Kidnapped Santa
Gutenberg index L Frank Baum works
"One would think that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to
making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as
a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but
love wherever he might go

But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus
very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy."

A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

Baum opens his Christmas parable with the conflicts of love and hate, wealth and poverty, happiness and sadness. Although already an institution in the United States through the corruption of St Nicholas, Santa represents the base commercial aspects of American Consumerism. Derived from Christian sources, he represents happiness through mass accumulation. He does little to ease the agony of the world or bring peace to embattled countries. Unlike Dicken's Scrooge, he suffers no moral dilemma or repents of miserly living. In truth, Santa is a cardboard figure, planted in busy shopping malls and plastered on plate glass windows to keep the economy circulating in the darkest time of the year. Moreover, he lives at the frigid North Pole and annually drives about in an airborne sled drawn by a team of reindeer. Not much can be more ridiculous than this American fairytale of achieving happiness through commerical gain.

The protests begin, "but Santa represents the Spirit of Giving." Does he really? Enter a church during the Christmas season and what is more commonly heard: The Giving or The Getting? There might be a display of Christian Charity with a heap of presents going to a local orphanage or children's hospital once a year, but what about the impoverished members that live amongst the wealthy congregation? Does anyone approach them to help them establish a new business, enter a new program of study so that they can become more self-suffcient? Or is it really much mor superficial than that with giving a present to satisfy a fleeting interest? How much is a doll or walkman really worth to a child when he does not have love and attention the year round or conscientious adults to provide him with a model of good living? How much are these things worth in comparison to the homeless poverty of many American children or the lack of dental and health care? Santa may indeed be symbolic of giving, but the serious question is what kind of giving?

Taking a superficial story designed for American commercialism, Baum tries to endow it with deeper insight and universal meaning. The biggest problem about Christmas is that it is largely a Christian festival with unscrupulously unchristian values of self-interest, whether consumer or corporation. Christmas is indisputably the season of plastic and increased debts. Mothers and fathers fret about fulfilling the demands of their children and children stressed out about satisfying the expectations of their parents. Kids arrive in school eager to show off what they got, but not what they gave to those in need. It's also one of the few times in the year, when the homeless can stand in long lines and reasonably expect to receive a cooked meal.

What's so generous about that?

In the US, approximately 33% of the children now come from single parent or homeless families. They live in shelters, becoming urban nomads without proper diet, social support or stable foundation. They have no future. This isn't their future, but America's future. People do not live in the street merely because they are shiftless, lazy people. Often they land there as sudden reversals in their lives and catastrophes outside their control. Sudden medical bills or consumer fraud strips a person quickly of his means. A job loss or unexpected accident forces a family from its home. Once on the street or in a shelter, it is virtually impossible to return to a stable position in a society that puts so much emphasis on material accumulation where the rich live like robber barons while exploiting the poorer classes for labor. Compared to Europe, the US is a disaster area fast becoming a country like India with an enormous split between the wealthy and poor with the impoverished becoming the Untouchables and Invisible Unwanted Burdensome People. They eat tax money for breakfast says the big self-serving government.

Moreover, technology affects the working population of America deeply. Without basic education, health or technological skills, an unemployed person cannot find a job. Jobs such as waitressing or janitorial work are unstable. Unskilled labor is dispensible, easily replaced by another drone. Psychologically the worker is worn down by the pressures of society, the unrelenting debts and his inability to fulfill basic needs of his own or family's survival. Certainly a Sony Playstation might be a nice toy to give to a family with limited means, but development skills, constant encouragement and personal interaction will go a much longer way in reversing the ills of society.

Baum tries to rewrite the Christmas Consumer Story, by creating conflicts between good and evil. Certainly it is a much better version than Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman with much deeper allegorical meanings for the reader, but the problem isn't the parable or the quality of writing; but what the reader does for his neighbor.

" The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads
up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of
the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In
it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern
inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is
next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon
of Malice--situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of
the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there
are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may
very well be true."

Succinctly, Baum identifies the demons of contemporary society: selfishness, envy, hatred and malice. Pick any one of them before you enter the fifth cave. Consider which one you can sacrifice to help someone regain a more stable position in life. There are hundreds of social programs available. When you say your time is limited, consider the neighbor next door. Chart two hours a week to help someone at school, at church; at the synagogue, in the street, at work. Instead of plastic, give of yourself this year.

Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

UC San Diego History of the Wizard of Oz
with book jacket illustrations

American Fairytales
American Fairy Tales by L. Frank Baum

Wonderful Wiz of Oz

Eric Gjovaag was born
January 21, 1966 in Seattle, Washington, USA
has FAQs re L Frank Baum and the books/film

L Frank Baum


offers an index to the books
movie index
has also an index to places, things, characters and weblinks

Lyman Frank Baum
has a collection of links and 26 works online
plain vanilla text—well laid out and legible


Wizard of Oz 1
with pumpkin pie

Wizard of Oz 2 Political Allegory
with roasted turkey

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Nix of Mill Pond

1 December 04 Nix of Mill Pond

Fairies live in woods, leading men astray into enchanted forests, the world of fantasy and confrontation with reality. In literature, the netherland of fairies often represents the human consciousness, the dreams and schemes that we wish to do, but frequently fear to try. In Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck casts a spell on Titania to fall in love with an ass, parodying the foibles of love.

In Germany, there are stories of the Lorelei, the water nymphs luring the unwary huntsmen to their deaths with beautiful voices. Grimm records one of these stories in the Nix of the Mill Pond. The formula is familiar. An innocent man chances upon a body of water from which emerges the nix, nymph or sprite who entrances him with her beauty. In Rusalka, the Czech version, the nymph yearns to become embodied and joined in marriage with a man, but the price of the transformation is the loss of her voice. Only through the faithfulness of her beloved and the subsequent marriage, will Rusalka become truly human. The process is in reverse, discovering a dream and briinging it into reality through faithful application and personal discipline. However, the Rusalka story warns of outside influences for on the bridal night, the bridegroom is lured away by a seductive rival. Nearly the same theme appears in Tschaikovsky's famous ballet, Swan Lake, in which there are two apparitions of swan maidens: Odile and Odette, one white and the other black, each in competition for his affections, possibly representing the Good versus the Bad Intention since all people are born with both and frequently make decisions with leanings toward one or the other, including marriage.

In the Nix of the Mill Pond, the watersprite deceives the Miller who promises the newly born within his house:

"The Miller saw at once that it was the Nix of the mill-pond, and he knew not from fear whether to stop or go away. The Nix solved his doubts by calling him in a gentle voice, and asking him why he was so sad. At first the Miller was dumb; but as she spoke kindly to him, he took courage, and told her that he had once lived in riches and prosperity, but now he was so poor that he did not know what to do."

The Complete Illustrated Works of The Brothers Grimm, 1984 p 747 (first published in 1853 by George Routledge and Sons Ltd as Grimm's Household Stories) ISBN 1 85152 505 X

Doubt enters the Miller's life through misfortune. The Evil Intention persuades him to acquiesce. Life cannot get much worse. Because of the hardships and misery, he faces, he cannot see the consequences. He sees the immediate overwhelming daily struggle of survival with the misery that poverty inflicts on others. His intentions ar mixed. He hates the hardship, but sees no other alternative and is readily beguiled by the opportunity that the Nix lays before him. If he has sufficient food on his table and wealth to care for his family's needs, what dangers can be hidden in the innocuous agreement? Oppressed, he makes the pact, desiring a better life. Upon realization that he has traded his son for his own comfort, the bargain becomes a harsh reality. None of his friends can advise him.

The warning is clear. If a person indulges too greatly in his desires, they can swallow his life, just as the Nix claims the Miller's son. The metaphor warns the reader to be careful of schemes that sound too good, or plans that are built on air. Some dreaming is healthy, but becomes dangerous when the dreamer is narcisstic, basking hours within his own reflection, rather than working. Each person has a water nix that can betray him into self-destruction, by luring him into unfeasible projects or speculative endeavors. The relationship between reality and fantasy is illusive. Man first conceives a thing before bringing it into reality. Without the encounter with the nix or nymph, man lacks creativity. When the nix or nymph dominate and drive hard bargains concerning future life, the relationship becomes self-destructive. Only when the two are equally matched in marriage is an endeavor succesful. The man must be as strong as the dream, matching it with both physical and intellectual capacity, but not allowing it to dominate him.

Moreover, such decisions bear influence over generations. Although the Miller's son is apprenticed as a Huntsman, his fate overcomes him. One day, he in turn comes upon the mill-pond where the Nix waits for him. Unwary of his father's decision, he is entrapped by the contract. The burden of the bargain passes onto the wife on his diappearance. To break the spell, transformation is required as well as tenacious fidelity. The wife must struggle with the complex problems inherited from her father-in-law's facile decision years before. Only through much suffering does the conflict between nix and man resolve. Applied to business, the mtaphor illustrates a situation: a bad decision regarding investments. With it, consequences continue for years with a company struggling with bankruptcy or being sold to pay off debts. To redeem the company from the inadvertant bad decision, transformations must be made. Consultants consulted for restructuring and management changes hands.

Throughout literature, water-nixes and sprites appear, analyzed by Jung in his interpretations of dreams and symbols. Of the versions I know, a favoite come from a brilliant writer, Jan de Hartog.

Jan de Hartog, is known primarily for two books, The Peaceable Kingdom and The Captain. A prolific writer, Hartog served as a captain of the North Sea Fleet during the WWII in merchant marine. The Captain belongs with a group of novels that reflect his sea duties, along with The Distant Shore and others. He joined with merchant vessels smuggling concentration camp victims into Palestine. He also wrote for young audience, including the story of the nymph of the Lost Sea, the Zuider Zee.

Jan de Hartog came into my hands by my brother who died suddenly on December 1, 1971 in an unexplained rollover while hauling Christmas trees. How a cab can roll over its driver after it has been braked in a cul-de-sac is relatively inexplicable, especially when the truck is two weeks off the sales lot. Brakes simply don't fail on rigs two weeks new, but I suppose evidence in double-logging, might explain some of the mysterious circumstances that surrounded his death and those of his colleagues. Trucks don't swim very well in the Columbia River, either—but I am sure that at the time, the police believed in fairytales.

On this day, a little dark blue, Toyota Corolla got swept under the carriage of a sixty-foot rig, just off I-5 and 45th NE crossing the bridge during rush hour. I was on my way to a voice lesson on Mercer Island. A very still voice warned me to look in the review mirror. The rig charged throuh the lanes behind me, sweeping the merging traffic off to the sides, but I had nowhere to go caught in the center lanes. Quickly overcoming me, it sucked the car under the trailer. Horrified I saw myself being pulled back under its rear wheels. Somehow, in seconds, I escaped being crushed to death, but the little red car ahead of me was impaled on its grill and carried for nearly a mile where the rig finally stopped. The car was totalled. I stopped to see whether the people were alive. They got out, shaking in terror. We stood there together on the highway shoulder exchanging our horror. The driver of the rig climbed down, blaming us for cutting in front of him. He didn't even see the red car until he ground to halt.

To this day, I believe that my brother protected me that day, warning me of impending danger. Of the thousands of vehicles (5000+ an hour), I was the only one to stop, the only one to file a police report and the only one to bear witness for the insurance investigator. Unfortunately for the couple, they lost their new car—less than a week old—and their birthday present—skiing in the nearby mountains. However, they won their case. The driver was sky high. Drugs.

In honor of my brother who loved the sea, and gave me the wonderful stories of Jan de Hartog.

By Jan de Hartog

Jan de Hartog, The Lost Sea

other books by Jan de Hartog

Grimms Household Tales

Nix of the Mill Pond
online text

Nix of the Mill-Pond
translated by Maragaret Hunt

The Household Tales of Brothers Grimm
translated by Margaret Hunt

The Household Tales of Grimm
edited by William Barker, recommended by Gutenberg Project as more faithful to original texts

Nix in the Mill-Pond
translated by Margaret Hunt

transl by Ashlimann, The Nixie in the Pond
Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), 7th ed. (Berlin, 1857), no. 181

Grimm's Household Tales

Grimms Brothers Home Page

Planet PDF Grimm's Fairy Tales
and much more for .pdf download


Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake
with Seiji Ozawa as conductor

DVD, Tschaikovsky Swan Lake with Royal Ballet at Covent Garden
Markarova and Dowell

University of Oregon : Swan Lake
catalog of video recordings look to bottom for
Maiia Plisetskaia, Nikolai Fadeyechev, Ballet and Orchestra of the Bolshoi Ballet,

another good recording would be Fonteyn/Nureyev or Nureyev's production in Vienna 1991 --brilliant production

Fonteyn/Nureyev with Wiener Staatsopern Ballet
must be a re-issue of an earlier tape as Nureyev was in
Vienna in 1991, but Fonteyn died that year of cancer –

for other very good options

Margot Fonteyn

Gallery of Margot Fonteyn

Wikipedia Fonteyn
learn more about this incredible woman and fortunately she brought ballet to film

Antonin Dvorak, Rusalka
Vaclav Neumann, Czech Philharmonic with Benackova, Soukupova, Ochman, Drobkov

Antonin Dvorak, Rusalka
synopsis by Opera News

Fokine, Les Sylphides
Jim Williams, ballet photographer

More fairies in pointe shoes: Les Sylphides


22 June 2003 The Ugly Duckling

1 December 2004 Nix of Mill Pond

3 November Silence of Longing part 2
part 2: Rusalka, Berg and literary social criticism


1 November The Silence of Longing p2
reposted on 3d November was deleted


1 November The Silence of Longing p1

24 October The Waterline p1

24 October The Waterline Going Deeper p2

24 October 2003 The Waterline: Drowning p3