The Starry Crown after the Snow

Apr 24, 2018

Anton Pieck's "Mother Holle" shows how, in former times, it was believed that when it snowed, it was because Mother Holle was making her feather bed.

Next week we’ll be halfway through Spring, and in the sky you’ll notice that the constellations of the bull and the giant are setting, while the golden crown and the lyre are rising. And if you want to make your way through the lingering snow on the ground this late in April, then consider this tale from the Brother’s Grimm.


The tale is “Mother Holle” and it’s got the usual set up of stepmother-dislikes-beautiful-stepdaughter-and-prefers-her-own. 


But first, a little history on the Brothers Grimm. In my work I find that a lot of people aren’t aware that the Grimm’s fairy tales were not gathered to amuse (or scare) little children. The Grimms, Jacob and Wilhelm, were scholars and librarians at work in the 19th century safeguarding their culture in the face of French invasion. They went about their business of gathering their folk tales nearly 100 years after Charles Perrault inaugurated the literary genre known as the “fairy tale” while he was in the service of the Sun King Louis XIV.


For me, the Grimm’s tale “Mother Holle” brings to mind the reward of the golden crown overhead that awaits all those who make it through the mystery of snow this late in the season: “A widow had two daughters, one who was beautiful and industrious, the other ugly and lazy. But she was fonder of the ugly and lazy one because she was her own daughter. The other had to do all the housework and carry out the ashes like a cinderella. Every day the poor maiden had to sit near a well by the road and spin and spin until her fingers bled. Now, one day it happened that the reel became quite bloody, and when the maiden leaned over the well to rinse it, it slipped out of her hands and fell to the bottom. She burst into tears, ran to her step-mother, and told her about the accident. But the stepmother gave her a terrible scolding and was very cruel. ‘If you’ve let the reel fall in,’ she said, ‘then you’d better get it out again.’ The maiden went back to the well but did not know where to begin. She was so distraught that she jumped into the well to fetch the reel, but she lost consciousness. When she awoke and regained her senses, she was in a beautiful meadow where the sun was shining and thousands of flowers were growing…”. 


It’s a perfect tale for the mystery of the snow and the crown in this season, and you can find it here: Mother Holle