By Laurie Steven. September 26, 2022
Or – why folktales, why contemporary, and what’s the deal with magic?
Let’s define magic in folk tales as things that happen in the physical world that defy reason: objects that bring sudden beauty or riches, or spells that inflict dreadful curses. Sometimes these mysterious happenings are caused by supernatural beings, like witches, ogres, and goddesses. And these beings might act with good intentions or with malice.
What excites me is that these blasts of magic usually have a drastic impact on the lives of heroines and heroes. In fact, they often lead them on a tortured, marvel-filled path to a major personal transformation. Think browbeaten cinders-sweeper to go-for-it queen, via hard work, brave defiance and creative thinking, like using a pumpkin for transportation.
In the real world, if we want to change ourselves, or our situation, it can be a grindingly slow process of trial and error (or extensive therapy) over a lifetime. Often, we never discover how we might change if something big happened to us. Without a fairy godmother or a magic spell, we get chained to the way things are.
What I love about folk tales is that their gifts of magic condense change into an explosive brew that catapults us, with the heroine, into a massively different future. That future is often a testing ground for the spirit, one where change is not just possible, but inevitable.
Folk tales and plays of all kinds usually have a moral. If it isn’t expressed on the surface, look for it in how the main character succeeds or fails. Snow White might discover that it’s sometimes best, when faced with a superior competitor out to destroy you, to chill out and let your seven plus friends help you, rather than deal with the enemy on your own. This is also one of the lessons of The Art of War.
But what intrigues me most about setting folk tales in today’s world is to see if we can let the magic that causes dramatic change, stir our creative thinking, break the chains that limit our expectations, and help make wondrous things a reality.
I hope your journey down The Other Path brings a little magic into your life.