Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sleeping Beauty and the Spindle

Okay, bear with me people. I didn't get my so very necessary pregnancy nap today, and, despite the fact I was able to sleep in till the blessed time of 9:30, I am now fading quickly... zzzzzzz....

Tonight before bed, we read a couple of traditional fairy tales to Lizzie. Oh wait-let's qualify that. We read some Walt Disney fairy tales. These are only traditional if you are a red blooded American. I'm not sure if I ever had the chance to watch Sleeping Beauty. It seems to be out of production on video. I've never seen it for rent. Yet I know some of the scenes, from commercials and television shows. I know the basic story...

A King and a Queen want very badly to have a child, and when finally a baby girl is born to them, they hold a great celebration and invite 3 fairies to bless her. One gives her beauty, one gives her...erm... something else, but before the 3rd can bestow her gift, another fairy crashes the party. This one is livid about her exclusion, and as payback, curses the baby to die from pricking her finger on a spindle before her 16th birthday has passed. The third fairy quickly steps in and amends the curse to stipulate she will only fall asleep until she is awoken by a kiss of true love. The fairies whisk the child away to a forest home, where she can be protected and where she grows up in ignorance of her true heritage. On her 16th birthday, she chances across a serious hunk of a man and returns to the forest cottage and her three "aunties" to tell the tale of her new love. The fairies come clean and explain she is already betrothed and then take her to the castle, assuming that since the kid hasn't cacked it yet, she's safe from the curse. Poor Sleeping Beauty is having a pretty hard time dealing with this sudden change of events and has a meltdown at the castle. The fairies give her some time alone to pull it together, and wouldn't you know, the silly twit is lured to a lonely castle tower where she discovers a spinning wheel. The minute she reaches out to touch the spindle, her finger is pricked and she falls into a deep sleep. The fairies do a little damage control by putting the whole castle to sleep, and then set off in search of this hunky forest dude, in hopes he can break the spell. Armed with a sword, shield and something else, the Prince defeats the evil fairy (who has turned herself into a dragon) and fights through the brambles about the castle to break in on his true love, slip her a little tongue and miraculously, the whole castle awakes. And, they live happily ever after.

Okay, I'm getting to my point finally...What the hell is up with pricking your finger on a spindle? How the hell is that even possible? When I've done spinning demos, people have asked about this. There IS no part on a spinning wheel that is a spindle. We've got bobbins, a distaff, even strange things called mother-of-alls... but no spindle. A spindle is an alternative tool to spin with... Old Walt really needs to get his poop in a group. So again tonight, I began to wonder about this tale, and the errors it had picked up in it's sanitization for the American kiddees. Remember, Snow White's evil stepmother was punished by dancing away in slippers of molten lead in the Grim version. Grim indeed. I recalled that there seems to be an inordinate amount of necrophilia in the old versions... that little kiss to wake the Sleeping Beauty began to take on a more nefarious tone for me. So! Here's the real version, which is actually older than the Brother's Grim-how did their own sanitizing for the kiddees... We can trace this one all the way back to Giambattista Basile (1575-1632), an Italian who undoubtedly simply recorded a common story told by peasants.

A king has his daughter's future foretold. He learns she will die from a sliver of flax. Naturally, he has all hemp and flax removed from his castle. Wouldn't you know it, the girl chances on an old woman spinning flax and she immediately is intrigued by the texture and sits down to spin the fiber with a spindle. A sliver of flax chances to work it's way under her nail and she immediately falls down dead. The shattered father arranges her as if she were asleep on his throne, and shuts the castle up-never setting foot in it again. Many years pass and another king chances upon the castle while out hawking. His hawk flies inside and he enters to retrieve it. What he sees is a fetching young woman seemingly asleep on a throne. She's apparently pretty hot-even if she is dead. Much rumpity pumpity occurs. Later he leaves and forgets all about his dalliance with the dead girl. Nice huh? Well, despite her corpse status, the princess is apparently incredibly fertile and gives birth to twins-a boy and a girl, who suckle from her breasts while she slumbers. At some point, one of the children has some difficulty reaching a nipple and instead finds the finger with the sliver in it. The child promptly sucks it out, and the Princess is revived. She cares for the children and time passes. In the meantime, the King finds himself remembering the girl in the throne room and returns, only to find a living girl and his two children. He stays with them a bit, but later returns to his Queen and his kingdom. The Queen finds out about the mistress and children and orders the cook to bake them and serve them to the King. The cook takes pity on the kids and hides them-serving the King to goat kids instead. The Queen schemes to have the Princess thrown on in a fire, but the King arrives in the nick of time and gives the Queen a taste of her own medicine. He marries the Princess and THEN they live happily ever after. So I ask you, would you marry a dude who raped you when you were dead?

Wanna see a bit more? perhaps some analysis?

So, there was no spinning wheel in the original-nor was a spindle even the real culprit! ...and, didn't I tell you there was a lot of necrophilia in these old stories?


Rayelle said...

The 'spindle' was a distaff, and those can actually be pretty pointy, so I've always gotten that one. Strange choice of word but at least it's possible to figure it out.
I never knew the real version was so...creepy. Thanks for that! And hey if this guy was so hunky, and if HE was changing the diapers while I lay there all but dead, I'd say sure! LOL

BTW It's Grimm not Grim.
But you're terribly exhausted, I know.

CL said...

Actually, there are spindle wheels - they predate the flyer wheels. The great (aka walking or wool) wheel is a spindle wheel; the new Rio Grande Wheel is a smaller version of the great wheel. Charkhas are also spindle wheels.

And yes, the points can be very sharp.