COMMON THEMES, EAST & WEST:
Creatures of earth, air, & water
who share their wisdom & humor
Detail of a painting by Susan Seddon Boulet (1941-1997)
Pomegranate Publishers, Inc.
9 May 2000,
Jungian therapist, Marie-Louise von Franz, spent much of her life studying the world's folklore. Since folklore represents the collective consciousness of humanity, at one point she wondered if it would be possible to find a single ethical core running through all the stories -- a golden thread by which, for all our ethnic and other differences, we humans might be wisely led through the shifting labyrinths of time. She found none -- at least not in general folklore. What she did find, however, is that in stories with animal helpers/guides, one must never harm them or go against their advice or else one is doomed. Her comments are worth quoting here:The one exception to the rule of contradiction... seems to be that one must never hurt the helpful animal in fairy tales. I have found a few cases where disobedience leads to trouble, but in the long run does not lead to disaster; you may temporarily disobey the advice of the helpful fox or wolf or cat. But if basically you go against it, if you do not listen to the helpful animal or bird, or whatever it is, if any animal gives you advice and you don't follow it, then you are finished. In the hundreds and hundreds of stories that is the one rule which seems to have no exception. However, when we analyze what the animals say, again it is completely contradictory: one says to run away, another says to fight, another to lie and another always to tell the truth. The animal plays it this way and that, from an ethical standpoint, but if you go against it you are lost....In all nations and all fairy tale material I have never found a different statement.In a time of worldwide, growing abuse of animals and their habitats, von Franz' pregnant words are worth noting. Animals from the "real world" call out to us now for help. Their survival is at risk -- and as worldwide fairytale wisdom warns, so is ours.
(Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales. Boston & London: Shambhala, 1995; pp. 145-146.)
It is in the spirit of honoring these helpful animals that I begin this page.......
This marvelous site on the therapeutic use of donkeys and horses in treating handicapped children comes from Alice Root, Ph.D., one of my former students and a recent graduate from Pacifica Graduate Institute's Mythological Studies Department, where her dissertation was written on this anciently rooted yet very new form of therapy: onotherapy [FYI: ono- means donkey]. Dr. Root looks at the science as well as the rich mythic foundation for onotherapy. Using evocative images and photos, she includes a wealth of ancient myths, fairy tales, and contemporary literature as well as personal experiences. Here is a passage from her opening page explaining what she does:http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.htmlHorses and donkeys partner with humans to bring the multi-sensory gifts of alignment and adjustment to the less able, the unable and the disabled. Hippo (horse) and Ono (donkey) therapy engage the physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and storied lives of people in an actual arena for healing. Myths, folklore and fairy-tale reflect the tenets of equine-assisted therapy, reinforcing and resurfacing the foundational power of a practice whose worth is already acclaimed through medical evidence....Here is how she begins her beautifully written "Myth" section:Stories and myths are templates for healing: humans are humbled into donkeys and realize their own potential; magic horses leap with their underprivileged riders to great heights of heroism. We invoke the winged Pegasus as we ask a disabled child to balance on the horse's back with arms akimbo. We mount with Apollo in his chariot of the sun when we ride behind a donkey in a specially adapted cart for the handicapped....The depth of Dr. Root's committment to this work shines through every page.
This is an overall index of worldwide folklore and mythology from Professor D. L. Ashliman of the University of Pittsburgh. Motifs are alphabetized but the sheer amount of wonderful information is almost overwhelming. I've therefore taken the liberty of pulling out direct links related to animal lore (there's still much more to be gleaned if you prefer to work straight from his index).http://www.pacificnet.net/%7Ejohnr/aesop/
Androcles and the Lion (and other folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 156);
Animal Brides(Folktales of Aarne-Thompson Type 402 and Related Stories);
Animal Brides and Animal Bridegrooms: Tales Told by North American Indians;
Animals in Exile(Folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 130);
Cat and Mouse fables;
Faithful Dogs & Other Animals (folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 178A);
The Language of Animals (folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 670 about wife beating);
The Monkey's Heart(folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 91);
Swan Maidens (folktales of Type 400).
Plan to spend a long time here.
Plan to spend a long time here too. This is John R. Long's handsome and huge website on Aesop's Fables -- including the animal fables. He tells us that:http://www.pitara.com/folktales/wardrum/wardrum.htmOur online collection of Aesop's Fables includes a total of 655+ Fables, indexed in table format, with morals listed. There are many more on the way. Most were translated into English by Rev. George Fyler Townsend (1814-1900) and Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) the rest are from Jean De La Fontaine in French and translated to English by several good internet souls. Included are Real Audio narrations, Classic Images, Random Images, Random Fables, Search Engine, Message Forum and much more on the way....
From Pitara, an electronic magazine for children, comes this well illustrated tale of "The Wardrum" by Ajay Jaiman. It's about a sad, frightened jackal named Mukabla and his adventure with a great drum and the wind. The story honors the jackal's curiosity -- despite his fear, he's brave enough to keep on exploring. (Note: click on Pitara's Folktale Index for a great many more tales, many about animals, all nicely illustrated and appealing to adults as well as children.)http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/4456/animal.html
From Luminara's web of Myth-tery comes "Animal Spirits," an alphabetized list of creatures with their symbolic meanings. Sources aren't given for the data but the entries are nonetheless great starting places for further work. Be on the lookout for entries whose titles are "hot links" -- when you click on these, you'll find linked sites with more in-depth explorations of that particular beastie.
Mural of Noah's Ark for a Child's Bedroom
1/10/11: I cannot leave this Myth*ing Links page without adding the animal-filled Noah's Ark.
The link to this mural's story, and to the little Jewish boy whose father painted it, is very moving.
Menu of Common Themes, East & West:
[NOTE -- 23 June 2002: these
menu-listings are now out of date -- many more have been added to this
Please click on Home Page link at the bottom of this page for a complete Site Map of Common Themes.]
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Floods, Storms, Rainbows, & Other Weather Wonders
Food: Sacrality & Lore [Forthcoming]
Landscape: Sacrality & Lore (Mountains, Wells, Springs, Pools, Lakes, Caves, Labyrinths, Spiral Mounds, Crop Circles, Stone Circles, Feng Shui)
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Puberty
Sacred Theatre, Dance & Ritual
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes: [Forthcoming]
Time(Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Weaving Arts & Lore(Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)
Down to Geographical Regions: Africa
Note: my complete Site Map and e-mail address are on my home page.
This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01: colors may
appear distorted on Macs.
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
© 2000-2003 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
Page created & published 9 May 2000.
10 May 2000 (Aesop's + Ashliman); 5 June 2000 (ML logo);
23 June 2002: minor format changes;
small revision at end of opening thoughts in preparation for copying it for Crone Papers;
noted Alice's dead link; no time to check other links or to update Common Themes menu.
26 September 2003: in the crush of major personal happenings the past year, never got Alice's updated URL -- totally forgot I didn't have it or I would have asked her in Santa Fe earlier this month. Aaargggh. Anyway, someone sent it to me out of the blue & I just updated it. No time for more.
17 May 2009: moved the brief Raven section to the new Birds page.
10 January 2011: added Noah's Ark image near the end because the story behind it is so compassionate.