Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Goose Girl

Having written a post about the Chinese New Year and its association with the Goose, I am prompted to write about the old Northern European tale of the 'Goose Girl'. The Goose is an ancient symbol of the Goddess, usually associated with the Goddess of Life and Death, or the Goddess of the Crossroads between the Worlds. The fairytale of the Goose Girl is not limited to Northern European distribution but can be found as far away as Palestine in the form of the tale of Jbene. There are a number of characteristics that are shared by all versions of the tale:

1. The daughter who either is betrothed to a prince far away or who is kidnapped or otherwise forced into exile;
2. Her horse, which has the ability to speak and 'bear witness' on the girl's behalf;
3. A false maid or group of girls who conspire to usurp the rightful position of the girl;
4. The song of the girl in exile, that elicits responses from all the creatures of earth, from beasts to birds;
5. The prince or king who secretly witnesses the girl's ritual and thus discovers the truth;
6. The restoration of the girl to her home or rightful position.

Many versions of the tale incorporate the idea of the 'drops of blood' from the mother's hand that act as witnesses to the girl's plight. In the Palestinian version, the girl is associated with a local spring and rather than the handkerchief with the mother's blood upon it, she has an amulet in the form of a blue bead. When the girl ultimately returns home, the Spring that dried up in her absence flows anew.

I intend to retell the entire tale here, and include a discussion of universal mythological elements, but not today...

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