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.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 4)

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: Keys for the Wandering Wonderlander! The items that fall under this category are the Eyes of Fairyland, Yonder Yarn, Fairyland Terrain Tools, Sorcerer’s Skeleton Key, Magic Boots, Magic Horse and Teleport Keys.

These Keys will unlock the winding road and help the travelling Fairylander on his or her way.

Eyes of Fairyland

Before you cross Fairyland’s wilderness, think of those who will be left behind – only the Eyes of Fairyland can let them know how you are. These magical items include the Shining Knife, Golden Lily and the infamous Magic Mirror.

Twins used a Shining Knife in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Two Brothers’. It was given to them by their foster father, who was a huntsman. Should they need to take different paths, they’d have to stick the Knife into a tree in the middle of the crossroad. If one brother wanted to know how the other was faring, he’d have to return to glimpse the Knife. Should harm come to either traveller, the side of the Knife facing the path he’d taken would rust.

The Golden Lily appears in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Golden Children’. When a fisherman caught the same Golden Fish a third time in his net, the Fish instructed the fisherman to cut him into six pieces. The fisherman was to have his wife and horse eat two pieces each, while the remaining two pieces were to be planted in the ground.

In time, the wife gave birth to two Golden Children, whose lives were connected to the two Golden Lilies that had grown from the fish pieces in the ground. Like the Shining Knife, a Golden Lily’s condition would reflect the health of the individual it’s connected to.

Believe it or not, the powers of the magical “mirror, mirror on the wall” in the Grimm Brothers’ version of ‘Snow White’ aren’t unique in Fairyland. You have the likes of the Spirit Ring seen in ‘Strong Hans’ and even an Omniscient Bean, which was used in ‘Okerlo’ – both see just as far and wide and are arguably more useful, because the Spirit Ring offers physical aid and the Omniscient Bean is portable. Nonetheless, nothing can take the Magic Mirror’s place in Fairyland’s hall of fame.

The Shining Knife and Golden Lily would warn a family when their loved one was in danger, but in ‘Snow White’, the evil queen used the Magic Mirror to target enemies. The Magic Mirror is reputed to see and know all, and most importantly, tells nothing but the truth.

Yonder Yarn

More reliable and practical than peas or breadcrumbs (and a good deal less wasteful), the Yonder Yarn unravels its thread to lead you to your desired destination. The king in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Six Swans’ was given a ball of Yonder Yarn by a wise woman, so he’d never lose his way when visiting his children (who were in hiding from their stepmother) in the woods. Unfortunately, the Yonder Yarn lacks a security system. Once the stepmother got hold of the Yarn, it led her straight to her unwanted stepchildren, who she immediately turned into swans.

Fairyland Terrain Tools

What do you need for a mountain trek? In Fairyland, you’d want Three Needles and a Plough Wheel. The princess in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Iron Stove’ made good progress with these, although it’s hard to picture how she carried them.

To aid the princess on her quest to find her beloved, the enchanted toads that lived in a cottage in the woods (such things appear whether you know you need them or not) gave her Three Needles to climb glass mountains and a Plough Wheel to ride when crossing pointy swords (to be exact, three sharp swords that somebody stuck in a ditch). There are more magical magical items out there, but Fairyland Terrain Tools build character.

Sorcerer’s Skeleton Key

The Sorcerer’s Skeleton Key is a fancy name for a stick that can open any door. In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Raven’, a man obtained it (along with two other magical items) from a trio of robbers. Nobody’s ever demonstrated the full power of this magical item, but by simply tapping it against the locked door, the man gained entry to the castle that held the trapped princess.

(Added: 31/05/2016) Another version of this Key was used in Brothers Grimm fairy tale 'The Water of Life' and was referred to as an Iron Wand. It was given to a young prince by a magic dwarf, so that the prince may enter the enchanted castle that held the Water of Life. To gain entry, the prince had to tap the Iron Wand three times against the entrance gate. The magic dwarf, however, cautioned the prince to leave the castle before midnight or else he'd find himself trapped. This suggests that the Iron Wand doesn't have the power to unlock the gate from the inside.

Magic Horse

This remarkable animal can cross any terrain (no matter how treacherous) and was used by the man in ‘The Raven’ to scale a glass mountain. The Magic Horse was one of three magical things that the man stole from robbers.

Magic Boots

A popular magical item to have when giving chase or running away, Magic Boots have appeared in several Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

There are Seven-league Boots in ‘Sweetheart Roland’ where the wearer only has to take one step to cover an hour’s walk. A wicked witch used a pair she owned to catch up to her fleeing stepdaughter. Similarly in ‘Okerlo’, a cannibal’s wife put on Seven-mile Boots to pursue a fleeing couple who, incidentally, also had a pair of Seven-mile Boots.

The Magic Boots in ‘The King of the Golden Mountain’ reportedly take the wearer to any place in a matter of seconds. A king outwitted three giants who were fighting over their inheritance, which included a pair of Magic Boots (do such Boots mould themselves to fit any shoe size?). Once the king had the Boots, one thought was enough to take him to the place he wanted to be.

Teleport Keys

The ultimate Key for the Wandering Wonderlander is undoubtedly the Teleport Key. Have one in your possession and you can disregard all other Keys on this list. Teleport Keys come in different guises, but all achieve the same effect: they’ll whisk you away to your desired destination in a blink of an eye.

A huntsman in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Lettuce Donkey’ met an old woman who, because of his kindness, told him how to get his hands on a Teleport Cloak, which was being fought over by a flock of birds; firing one shot at the birds will make them drop the Cloak. It was a magical item the huntsman never had the chance to use – the Cloak was stolen by a witch’s daughter.

The trouble with a Teleport Key is that once it lands in the hands of another person, it will disappear with the thief in an instant. The lad in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Drummer’ figured this out when he came across two men arguing over a Teleport Saddle. As luck would have it, they were at the foot of the glass mountain where three princesses were waiting to be rescued. After getting hold of the Saddle, the lad wished himself on top of the mountain.

The third son of a sorceress came across a Teleport Hat in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Crystal Ball’. Unsurprisingly, the Teleport Hat was being fought over by two giants. In no time at all, the sorceress’ son tricked them and used the Hat to transport himself to a place he longed to be: the castle where an enchanted princess was waiting to be saved.

When the king in ‘The King of the Golden Mountain’ expressed a wish to see his mortal father, his queen gave him a Teleport Ring to save him from walking the journey. This Ring also had the power to wish for certain individuals to appear beside the wearer. Things didn’t go well – the queen let the king visit his father on the condition that he wouldn’t use the Ring to summon her and their son away from the Golden Mountain. The king ended up summoning his family in a fit of rage when his parents didn’t believe they existed. Unable to forgive her husband for breaking his promise, the queen used the Teleport Ring to take herself and their son home, leaving the king behind.

To conclude, Keys for the Wandering Wonderlander are incredibly convenient, but attract a lot of mischief and treachery. The magical items in my next post will cater to a very basic human need…

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Post Update: Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 8)

I was carrying out research for my upcoming 'Magical Items' post when I revisited 'The Golden Children' and realised I overlooked a Gold Animal: the Golden Fish! Not surprising, I suppose, seeing as prep for the 'Magical Items' series involved skim-reading every single Brothers Grimm tale...

I actually remember giving the Golden Fish a pass, because it could talk. The fact it could speak made it appear more like a genie figure, and it was also very similar to the magical fish (which called itself an enchanted prince) in 'The Fisherman and his Wife'. It just so happens that Kristin at Tales of Faerie touched upon 'The Fisherman and his Wife' in her recent blog post 'Fairy Tales about Contentment'.

Having written about Gold Animals though, I couldn't overlook the Golden Fish again. The magical creature was similar to the Golden Bird, not only because it was made out of gold, but because eating it brought some form of wealth or fortune.

You can read about it now in my updated post: Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 8)

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 5)

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: Gifts from Fantastical Friends! The items that fall under this category are the Animal Tokens, Magic Snake, Blue Light, Gnome Flute, Spirit Ring and Omniscient Bean. All will summon magical help when you need it most.

Animal Tokens

The ability to befriend animals in Fairyland is the mark of a good and true heart. Win the favour of a mighty member of the animal kingdom and you may be given an Animal Token.

In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Three Sisters’, Prince Reinald won the respect of three cursed princes who turned into beastly animals at certain times throughout the year. He was given three hairs from the bear prince, three feathers from the eagle prince and three scales from the whale prince. To summon help, he only had to rub the Tokens together. Prince Reinald used them on his quest to rescue his three sisters and also succeeded in breaking the curse on the three princes and their sister.

Magic Snake

If you weren’t born with an affinity with animals, you can always eat a Magic Snake. A servant unwittingly did this in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The White Snake’. His nosiness got the better of him, so he sneaked a peek at the king’s secret afternoon dish and couldn’t help but try a small piece. It turned out that the dish was a Magic Snake, which gave him the power to understand the language of animals!

To get the most out of this magical ability, it helps to be kind. By listening to their needs and wants, the servant was able to help Fairyland animals, who would later return the favour.

Send in the Gnomes

One of the best companions to have in Fairyland is a gnome or a dwarf. On your side, they’re a fantastic source of wisdom and magic. If you find the Blue Light, you’ll have the power to summon one dwarf. Get hold of a Gnome Flute and you can summon a little troupe of gnomes!

Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Blue Light’ sees an army veteran wander into the clutches of a wicked witch. In exchange for food and shelter, he was told to complete some chores and, lastly, retrieve a Blue Light from the bottom of a well. Sensing he was in danger, the soldier refused to hand the Light over. Outraged, the witch dropped the soldier back down the well and left him for dead.

Helpless, the soldier could think of nothing better than to smoke his pipe, which he lit with the Blue Light. From the smoke emerged a small, black dwarf, who pledged loyalty to him. This companion got the soldier out of the well, killed the wicked witch, kidnapped a princess and pummelled everyone in a courtroom (and the king). The trade off? All side effects you get from smoking.

According to Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Gnome’, Gnome Flutes can also be found at the bottom of wells. In this story, three huntsmen ventured down a well to rescue three princesses, but only the youngest was brave enough to reach the end. When his brothers betrayed him, the youngest found himself alone and trapped. Fortunately, there was a Gnome Flute hanging on the wall and every note played upon it would summon a flying gnome. They flew the huntsman straight out of the well.

Spirit Ring

The Spirit Ring is a rarity, but in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘Strong Hans’, a youth named Hans managed to kill an evil dwarf that happened to be wearing one. It was a stroke of luck, because even though Hans had rescued the fair maiden, he made one big mistake: he let his two comrades lift the maiden out of the hole first. Deep holes and wells bring the worst out of Fairyland folk, so Hans was left underground to perish.

When Hans put the Spirit Ring on, a group of helpful spirits appeared and circled about his head. The spirits declared that Hans was their master; they lifted Hans out of the hole and told him where the traitors had fled. They could be summoned by a simple turn of the Ring.

Omniscient Bean

This curiosity was one of the magical items taken by the princess in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘Okerlo’ when she fled an island of cannibals. Only the fairies know how the Omniscient Bean came to be, but it possesses the power to see all, hear all and (most importantly) tell all. As a bonus, it comes with cake! Thanks to this magic, the princess stayed several steps ahead of the wicked woman who was chasing her.

Travels in Fairyland lead to tricks, traps and treachery, so it helps to have allies you can depend on. It’s best not to rely on others too much, though. The magical items in my next post are practical tools for the independent traveller!