Archive for June, 2012

Forests in Folklore Book List

Probably one of the first things most people envision when they think of fairy tales, myths or even ancient legends is a deep, dark forest. Depending on the culture you might think of other dense pockets of nature too, whether a cave containing treasure, an oasis harboring the fountain of youth, a valley within which lies Shangri-la, or a jungle where intrepid heroes go in but never come out. Sometimes the nature is in a smaller package, it’s a single flower containing the power of the gods, a mythic tree of life or wisdom, an herb capable of granting eternal life, or a single apple promising forbidden knowledge.

Nature is a huge part of the mythic narrative no matter what part of the world you are in. Nature is a strange and mysterious mistress and stories from all over the world show her elements as magical, mythical and even legendary. What follows is a short book list that showcases books talking about the forests of the world in this context in one way or another. These books show nature’s mythical as well as very real abilities and the stories and legends that have sprung up surrounding the natural elements of our world.

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The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats

What makes this fairy tale stand out from the others is its almost mythic themes of life and death and rebirth. We have two opposing main characters set up against each other in a battle over the lives of seven children. On the one hand a self-centered, devouring dark wolf who wishes to kill and eat the children. On the other is a self-sacrificing, saving light mother who wishes to protect and nurture the children. In between them are the mother goat’s seven kids who have to learn to distinguish between the two.

The fairy tale opens with the mother saying good-bye to her children as she is going into market to buy food for her family. She tells the children not to let anyone in but her and to beware the big bad wolf. He has black fur denoting his evil while the mother has white fur denoting her purity and goodness. She also tells the children that the wolf has a deep gruff voice while hers is soft and melodic. The children promise their mother they will remember all of this and off she goes to market.

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