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…

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