Some time ago I wrote a post in which I talked of the fable Little Red Riding Hood here.
Since this is a subject I have given additional thought to I decided to go ahead and speak more of the fairy tale to show what direction my thought have gone to recently. For this I am going to break elements down that stand out to me the most in the story (though i am going to try not to be repetitive of what I have already posted so if you haven’t read my other post I would recommend reading that one too that I have linked above).
1) Little Red Riding Hood
So we have a girl, wearing a red hooded cape venturing alone into the woods. She has gone to see her grandmother. I don’t personally attach a great of significance to her grandmother as this character seems more like a vehicle to move the story than anything particularly significant. Though it could be viewed that a road through a great forest between a girl and an elderly grandmother can represent a life journey. There are those who interpret Little Red as being not so much a little girl but rather a pubescent girl, trasitioning into adulthood…playing on the imagery of the red hood. There could very well be something to this as both Artemis and Apollon are associated with nurturing youth and their transitions into adulthood, likewise Apollon is the god of the road, and Artemis a goddess of the wild woods. Therefore as I have often suggested that Artemis persues a soul along her twin’s road, there seems to be something of this element here in which we have the girl by necessity venturing along the road.
2) The Road. The road plays a very prominent part in the story. It is that which leads through the forest, which Little Red Riding Hood is warned by her mother not to venture off of (and like many teaching stories, is advice that is utterly disregarded). The road is the focus of her journey. The road which belongs to Apollon Agyieus, Lord of the Roads. Apollon rules the roads and the comings and goings frm the points of origin and destination. He is present on the journey (though not always in the foreground) and receives at the end of the journey.
3) The Wolf. Aside from Zeus, the only god who carries the epithet that refers to him as a wolf god is Apollon as Apollon Lykeios. So we see the wolf interacting with Little Red Riding Hood in an almost malevolent character. He sees the girl and desires her. He distracts her by setting temptation before her (the picking of flowers…which she has the choice to disregard or carry on with…incidentally picking of flowers is an activity strongly connected to childhood and innocense. We even see in Euripedes Hippolytus where the hero is offering the goddess flowers that he has plucked for her from her virgin meadow). I had mentioned in my other post the nature of the devouring of the girl and likening it to other devouring myths, but from the standpoint of the wolf and the nature of Apollon Lykeios I have come to another idea. Apollon is the destroyer. He destroys and rules the law of death (as we see from Euripedes Aclestis in his discussion with Thanatos). Likewise in Pausanias we see Apollon as a god of the cemetaries (and I have also noticed by Ionian inscriptions to Apollon on tombs which ask the protection of the god over the tomb). Therefore the wolf swallows Little Red Riding Hood…she enters his belly. She enters the tomb. She is also in a very intimate way connected to the wolf in a way that we see in the swallowing myth of Metis by Zeus. The maidens joins with the wolf, is joining with Apollon). Devouring has also of course been associated with sexual innuendos too, and there are people who put a bent on it that way in which a pubescent girl encounters sensual devouring by a “wolf” and is rescued by a handsome woodsman. But that aside we see union between Lykeios and the maiden, and her entombment. And the wolf is not an uncommon form of Apollon acting as a destroyer as we know from myth that it was in the form of a wolf that Apollon Telchinios destroyed the Telchines which I have often imagined as a ravenous wind.
4) The Woodsman. I once said that this could either be connected to Artemis or Hermes. But I now say Hermes unquestioningly. It certainly would surprise me to see Hermes pop in a tale in relation to his brother of whom he is quite fond. But likewise in myth Hermes is the receiver of souls, both mortal souls and new divine souls. The Woodsman comes to the house, and sees the wolf sleeping off his dining from grandma (who in this sense mingled as she is with Little Red in his stomach can represent here the old culmination of all of Little Red’s lives…represents the old soul of Little Red…therefore the swallowing of both signifying all that Little Red is, was, and would be merging with Lykeios). The huntmans cuts open the sleeping wolf and removes Little Red and her Grandmother. He is retrieving them even as Hermes retrieves souls of the dead from the cemetary, from Apollon, after the passage of the 40 days in which the soul is connected to the earth). In some versions he slaughters the wolf…but the point is the rebirth of Little Red from the wolf by the hand of the woodsman.
Therefore, for me the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is an important one symbolically as it speaks of the journey, the innocense of the mortal soul which often makes falter when it comes to decision making, the transitioning/growth of the soul as she makes her way on the road, seeking through the wilderness of Artemis…Artemis who pursues to the next transition, being received by Apollon Lykeios, being destroyed and brought into union with him, death of the old self, and a new birth. It is a spiritual story of great meaning to me.
I have thought of doing a painting, but perhaps even better would be a charcoal, mixed media work which depicts this tale in a way that will be visually meaningful for me.