13 Dec There’s lot more to the picture
“The Goose Girl or die Gänsemagd” In variations, this story can be found in nearly all European countries, as well as on other continents.
Mysteries are conveyed in symbols as in Maier files there are plenty. Symbols can be decoded only by those initiated into the state of mind whereby their content becomes obvious, their intentions clear to the enlightened intuition. We all like to know what happened, but on what level did a thing happen?
History is a story made up of stories of what happened. Some stories may be corroborated with dates, times, and numbers, and some not. History is hardly a fair trial when all of the witnesses are dead. As in a joke, a fiction, a movie, or a play, a story may be unreal but nonetheless true.
The significance of a story is generally what matters most to us. The significance of the story forces itself onto our attention by signs. The story or narrative may be only the object (not the purpose) from which the signs emerge. However, if the sign connects with our real experience, we take the story as a whole as meaningful, truthful, or insightful.
One can ask why the old Mueller told Lena in her childhood the story of the Goose Girl over an over again. Could it be that he already warned Lena for what’s to come? Is he aware of the levels in what Dietrich calls the game … The Goose Girl learned that it is much harder to be truly oneself, but that this alone will gain her true autonomy and change her fate while the evildoer could think only of trying to be—or appear to be—somebody she was not.
In the Brothers Grimm’s version, the tale begins like this:
“There once lived an old queen whose husband had died many years ago, and she had a beautiful daughter.… When the time came for her to be married and the child had to travel into the alien country,” the mother gave her precious jewelry and treasures. A chambermaid was assigned to accompany her. Each woman was given a horse to ride on, but the princess’ horse could talk, and was named Falada. “When the hour of parting had arrived, the old mother went into her bedchamber, took a small knife and cut her fingers until she bled; then she let three drops of blood fall onto a white handkerchief, gave it to her daughter and said, ‘Preserve this carefully, dear child, it will be of great service to you on your trip.’ ” After the two had been traveling for an hour, the princess got thirsty and asked the maid to fetch her some water from a stream in her golden cup. The maid refused, and seized the princess’ cup, telling her to get down and drink from the river; that she would no longer be her servant.
Later on, the same thing happened again, but this time as the princess bent over to drink, she dropped and lost the handkerchief with the three drops of blood; with this loss she became weak and powerless. The maid took advantage of this and forced the princess to change horses and dresses, making her swear to tell no person at the royal court of this exchange. On arrival, the maid was taken for the princess-bride. Asked about her companion, she told the old king that he should give her some work to do, and the princess was assigned to help a boy tend geese. Soon afterward the false bride asked the young king, her betrothed, the favor of having Falada’s head chopped off, because she feared the horse would reveal her evil deed. This was done, but the horse’s head, thanks to the pleading of the real princess, was nailed over a dark gateway through which the princess had to pass each day when she went out to tend the geese.
Each morning as the princess and the boy with whom she was herding geese passed through the gate, she greeted Falada’s head with great sorrow, to which it replied:
“If this your mother knew,
Her heart would break in two.”
Out in the pasture, the princess let her hair down. Since it was like pure gold, it tempted the boy to try to pluck some out, which the princess prevented by summoning a wind which blew away the boy’s hat so that he had to run after it. The same events were repeated on two consecutive days, which so greatly annoyed the boy that he complained to the old king. On the next day the old king hid at the gate and observed it all. In the evening, on the goose girl’s return to the castle, he inquired what these things meant. She told him that she was bound by a vow not to tell any human being. She resisted his pressure to reveal her story, but finally followed his suggestion to tell it to the hearth. The old king hid behind the hearth so that he could learn the goose girl’s story.
After this, the true princess was given royal garments, and everybody was invited to a great feast, at which the true bride sat on one side of the young king, the pretender on the other. At the end of the meal the old king asked the pretender what would be the right punishment for a person who had acted in a certain way—and he described to her the way she had in fact behaved. The pretender, not knowing she was found out, answered: “ ‘She deserves nothing better than to be stripped naked and to be put into a barrel studded inside with pointed nails; and two white horses should drag it up street and down until she is dead.’ ‘It’s you,’ said the old king, ‘and you have found your own sentence, and thus shall it happen to you.’ And when the sentence was carried out, the young king married his right bride, and both ruled their kingdom in peace and sanctity.”
Another tidbit about the story: The name of the horse Falada suggests an ancient origin of the tale. It is similar to the name of Roland’s horse, which in the Chanson de Roland is called Valantin, Valantis, Valatin, etc. Even more ancient is the motif of the talking horse. Tacitus reported that among the Germans horses were presumed to be able to predict the future and were used as oracles. Among the Scandinavian nations, the horse is viewed in similar ways.
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