Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 1)

The Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland is full of weird and wonderful things that can catch anyone out. What’s the ultimate type of magical item you can have in your fairy tale travel bag? Wishful Wares!

There’s no need to find wishing stars in the sky or any other magical item we’ve covered in this series of blog posts. Whatever you desire, a Wishful Ware can bring it. You’d think it’d be a magical item that brings out the most despicable greed, jealousy and murderous intent in Fairylanders, but it’s surprisingly lukewarm and understated. In fact, people who find themselves in possession of a Wishful Ware don’t wish for everything.

Wishing Cloak

In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Long Nose’, a magic dwarf presented three veterans with three magical items, and the first happened to be a Wishing Cloak (which, despite rendering the other two magical items redundant, nobody fought over). The veteran who had been given the Cloak wished for a fully-furnished castle, complete with horse and carriage, so that he and his comrades could retire comfortably.

Since they could live like royalty, they started telling people they were royalty. A stay at one king’s castle ended in disaster, however, when a princess stole one of the veteran’s magical items. So, instead of using the Wishing Cloak to magic the missing magical item back, one of the veterans used it to break into the princess’s bedroom. It didn’t take long for the entire castle to give chase, and in all the chaos, the veteran forgot to take the Wishing Cloak with him as he leapt out the window.

Wishing Ring

A cursed princess was lucky enough to carry a Wishing Ring in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Drummer’. The Wishing Ring had the power to work many wonders at her command, but it seemed to be useless against witchcraft.

The princess was bathing in a lake when her white cloak was taken by a local youth, who was a drummer by trade. She pleaded him to return the cloak, for without it, she couldn’t fly back to the glass mountain; this was where a witch had cursed her to stay. The drummer gave the cloak back, but also vowed to break the spell she was under.

After taking miraculous means to reach the top of the glass mountain, the drummer met the witch, who subjected him to long and arduous tasks that included emptying a pond with a single thimble. The princess advised and helped him every time, using her Wishing Ring to instantly complete each chore. After they’d successfully killed the witch, the pair teleported back to the drummer’s hometown by the Ring's magic.

Sadly, the drummer failed to follow the princess’s instructions and consequently lost the memories he had of her. To win back his heart and make him remember who she was, the princess used her Wishing Ring to conjure the powers of a Dressmaking Nut and create three beautiful ballgowns (funny how some things come full circle).

That’s my list of all the magical items that appear in Brothers Grimm fairy tales! Personally, my favourite three magical items are the Mystery Salve, Teleport Ring and Spirit Ring… I wouldn't mind having them around.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 2)

The Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland is full of weird and wonderful things that can catch anyone out. Here's one type of magical item you may want to keep in your fairy tale travel bag: Fairy Therapies!

Nothing’s impossible in Fairyland, so there’s a remedy for everything. There are even remedies that let you put heads back onto bodies; the most powerful can bring the dead back to life.

Fairy Healer Therapies

These can heal any cut, scrape or gash in seconds. The characters in ‘The Spirit in the Glass Bottle’ and ‘The Three Army Surgeons’ didn’t keep the Healer Therapies all to themselves; after all, it’s easy to pass yourself off as a miracle doctor with a Healer Therapy at hand.

Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Spirit in the Glass Bottle’ sees a student outsmart a bloodthirsty genie and get a Genie’s Handkerchief as a reward. One end of the Handkerchief could turn metal into silver, whilst rubbing the other end over a wound could heal the injury. Blog reader Julia Mavroidi offered this fascinating insight into Mercurius and his Genie Handkerchief:

“The Genie's Handkerchief is probably meant to be mercury (note that the Genie's name is "Mercurius", which in the Middle Ages was used both as medicine (Ik: Bad Idea) and believed to be a vital ingredient when turning non-valuable elements to gold.”

With the Genie’s Handkerchief, the student became the most stupendous doctor in the world, but he had the good business sense to complete his medical degree first. That’s more than I can say for the travelling freakshow in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Three Army Surgeons’…

The “surgeons” (as they liked to call themselves) travelled far and wide to find as many people as possible they could show off to. If anyone asked, they’d say they were furthering their education. To prove their worth, they’d hack off their own body parts and stick them back the very next morning (surely there were more effective publicity stunts that didn’t involve amputation, dissection or eye gouging?). But the men didn’t have magical healing powers – they had a bottle of Mystery Salve, which can heal any wound in an instant.

Nobody knows how Mystery Salve came to be, but in the mountainous regions of Fairyland, there exists a Mountain Root that can heal all kinds of ailments and injuries. The faithful animals in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Two Brothers’ managed to find the Root to fix their master’s decapitated head back onto his body. Treatment is instant and simple – just put the Root into the ill person’s mouth.

Fairy Revival Therapies

This rare type of Therapy comes in two forms: Snake Leaves and the Water of Life. With them, it’s possible to cure fatal diseases and raise the dead.

A youth in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Three Snake Leaves’ discovered the mysterious Snake Leaves when he was buried alive in a tomb with his dead wife (more on that creepy predicament another time). As he waited for his own death, he saw a snake slither towards his wife. To protect the lifeless body, the youth sliced the snake up with his sword.

When a second snake saw what had happened, it rebuilt the first snake and placed a Leaf over each cut. The Leaves magically fused the severed pieces together, bringing the first snake back to life. Both snakes retreated and left behind the miraculous Snake Leaves, which the youth placed on his wife’s eyes and mouth to breathe life back into her. This form of Fairy Revival Therapy seems to have grave side effects, however. The wife lived, but no longer loved.

The Water of Life features in Brothers Grimm fairy tales ‘The Water of Life’, ‘The King of the Golden Mountain’ and ‘The Prince Who Feared Nothing’.

In ‘The Water of Life’, three princes set out to cure their dying father. They vowed to bring back the Water of Life, which an old wise man said was the only thing that can save the king. Unlike his brothers, the youngest prince was courteous to the magic dwarf who approached him, so the dwarf told him exactly where to find the Water and how to retrieve it.

This form of Revival Therapy can be found flowing from a fountain inside an enchanted castle. To get to the courtyard where the fountain sits, one needs bread and a Sorcerer’s Skeleton Key. The prince was given these magical items by the magic dwarf, who instructed him to tap the castle’s entrance gate three times with the Sorcerer’s Skeleton Key. Once inside, the prince must tame the guarding lions with bread (let’s just assume it’s magic bread), before venturing deeper into the castle for the Water of Life. If he succeeded in finding the Water and left before midnight, he could escape entrapment inside the enchanted castle.

‘The King of the Golden Mountain’ begins with a bankrupt merchant and a magic dwarf. In exchange for the first thing that brushes past the merchant’s leg when he returned home, the dwarf would make the merchant wealthy again. As what normally happens, “the first thing” turned out to be the merchant’s little son. A big argument broke out over the terms of the contract, so they did what they could do: put the twelve year old boy in a small boat and send him down river rapids to live or die.

The boy’s troubles weren’t over when he managed to reach land – he met a snake princess who appointed him, without question, as the saviour she’d been waiting for. To break the spell she was under, the boy would have to endure beatings, stabbings and decapitation without squealing like a pansy. That last part was important; if one human sound came out of his mouth, the princess wouldn’t be able to/want to treat him with the Water of Life. Can the Water of Life heal mental damage, too?

The prince in ‘The Prince Who Feared Nothing’ was more fortunate, because he at least had greater control over his own destiny. He was challenged by a giant to pick an apple from the Tree of Life; when he succeeded, a Ring of Strength closed around his wrist as proof. When the giant presented the apple to the maiden he wanted to marry, however, the maiden refused his hand, because he didn’t possess a Ring of Strength.

The giant poked out the prince’s eyes in his fight for the Ring. Fortunately, the prince’s life was saved by the lion he befriended at the Tree of Life. The lion guided the prince to a stream and used the pure Water to wash his master’s face. In no time at all, the prince’s eyes had healed. Similar healing miracles can be seen in Brothers Grimm fairy tales ‘The Two Travellers’ (eyes healed by morning dew) and ‘Rapunzel’ (eyes healed by a lover’s tears).

When the prince continued his travels, he discovered an enchanted castle with a cursed princess at its gate. To break the spell, the prince had to stay in the castle vestibule for three nights and endure terrible torture. Not only was he not allowed to squeal like a pansy, but his heart couldn’t show the slightest shade of fear. At the close of each night, the princess would heal his injuries with the Water of Life. Unlike the grim ending for the lad in ‘The King of the Golden Mountain’, the suffering that the brave prince endured turned out to be worthwhile and he got his happily ever after.

Fairy Therapies are rare gifts and it would be a sin to waste them, but there is one more type of magical item that holds even greater power…

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 3)

The Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland is full of weird and wonderful things that can catch anyone out. Here's one type of magical item you may want to keep in your fairy tale travel bag: Feasts for the Fairylander! The items that fall under this category are the Everlasting Foods, Magic Dining Table and Magic Tablecloth.

Get hold of one of these magical Feasts and you’ll never go hungry again. All you have to do is figure out how to stop people from stealing it. The crime rate in Fairyland is atrocious…

Everlasting Foods

At the dinner table, you have your basic bread, meat and wine. If luck would have it, each of these would have been enchanted to last forever.

In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Raven’, a princess was changed into the form of a raven and instructed a youth to go to a house in the forest. He was to wait for her in the garden, but not fall asleep – that meant avoiding any food or drink offered by the old woman who lived there. If he succeeded, he could free the princess.

The youth turned out to be hopelessly unreliable and accepted food and drink from the old woman three times. Seeing he would never be useful in such a state, the princess decided that he could always rescue her straight from her prison: the golden castle of Mount Stromberg. Obviously, the youth was unlikely to accomplish anything without a bit of help, so the princess gave him three Everlasting Foods (bread, meat and wine that will never run out) for him to take on his journey. It’s a shame she didn’t see he could have used those Feasts from the start.

A loaf of Everlasting Bread was found by a prince in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Water of Life’ on his quest to cure his ailing father. He picked it up from the floor of an enchanted castle and went on to share the Bread with three kingdoms that were plagued by famine.

Magic Dining Table

According to ‘The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack’, it’s possible to get a Magic Dining Table from a carpenter if you complete an apprenticeship with him/her successfully. When the lad in this Brothers Grimm fairy tale received his Magic Dining Table, he invited others to share in his good fortune. All he had to do was tell the Table to be covered and the most scrumptious of spreads would appear (complete with fine tablecloth, silverware and drinks). It’s no surprise that someone stole the Magic Dining Table later that night.

Magic Tablecloth

Far more portable and practical than the Magic Dining Table, the Magic Tablecloth also yields a great feast at the command of its owner. A traveller in ‘The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn’ was lucky enough to find one abandoned in the woods and greedy enough to take it with him.

Like his counterpart in ‘The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack’, he shared his fortune with people he met on his journey, only these people were honest. Rather than use their magical Wicked Weaponry to take the Tablecloth by force, they offered them up for trade. The traveller took full advantage of their goodness; after trading, he used the Wicked Weaponry to steal the Magic Tablecloth back.

Feasts for the Fairylander can bring out both greed and generosity. My penultimate post on Brothers Grimm Magical Items will explore the most powerful healing solutions that Fairyland has to offer.