Some European fairy tales strike me as containing such great elements of the Orphic philosophy that I can spend a great deal of time enjoying thinking about them and finding a great deal of spiritual meaning in them. There are a number of fairy tales that I find such value in…whether that is Donkey-skin (the original story of Cinderella from France), Beauty and the Beast to some degree, but particularly those of Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood. I enjoy it enough I am thinking of making a spot on my webpage devoted solely to Orphic-ish analysis of these fairytales. But will at the moment talk about one fairy-tale, my favorite fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.
This story has such blantant symbols in it that I spent a good hour tossing it playfully through my mind. So we will start from the beginning… I cannot comment on the child’s destination to her grandmother’s house other than the fact that she is seeking her ancestrial home, seeking our her grandmother more specifically and so the older generation of her line. Perhaps this can be an allusion to seeking memory of who we are, I cannot comment with any degree of certainity on this though. So we shall set this aside and focus on the key players. First we have Little Red, the darling girl with the hooded cape. She brings me directly to mind of a relief I have seen of Artemis wearing a hooded cape at the fore of a great company of men that she is facing (perhaps hunters? It has been some time since I have seen this image and will hunt for it to add to my website when I decide to post my better worded articulation on this fairy tale there). Though it is uncertain what color her hooded cape is, it is certainly possible that a hooded cape can bring one association with Artemis. Now I have read a long time ago a suggestion that this tale originated from a Roman priestess of Diana. I think that is grasping a little too far at straws to make such a direct association, but I will grant that this girl is connected to Artemis, perhaps in the way that all small girls are connected to the goddess, but the very specific nature of a hooded girl seems to lean in some particular fashion that the girl is perhaps one who specifically belongs to the train of Artemis. But this aside we have a mortal soul, represented by the child (and perhaps can be alluded by the red color of her hood which denotes the color of blood) who is traveling through the woods (the domain of Artemis where she hunts the souls) along a specified road (the road established by Apollon Agyieus) with the stern reminders from her mother not to wander from the road. And she is carrying a basket full of goodies that seems to me an echoing of the basket of Dionysos filled with the sacred things of the soul. She is carrying this with her through the woods. Along the way she meets a wolf, the animal of Apollon, who is acting on the soul by persuading her to stop and gather some flowers for her grandmother which I see directly associated with the flower blossoms, the poppies, of the mysteries. Stop here in your journey and gather the flowers of the initiate. While she is thus detained he beats her home to grandma’s house (the house of memory) where he awaits for her disguised. Little Red through memory is able to see through his disguise (grandmother what big ears you have, grandmother what big eyes you have…statements that ironically can have some connection to Apollon aside from the wolf of the fairy tales…the sun in the sky is as a big bright eye of Apollon peering all about the world, and the god also was depicted according to Pausanias at Sparta as a god with four ears..granted these are not big ears but noteworthy ears!) The preliminaries thus done away with the wolf gobbles the girl up, he essentially destroys her, unites with her and takes her into his being where she exists entirely whole within his stomach. Thereby the woodsman, who seems as if he can be connected with Artemis as being an entity particular her domain, but whom we can also connect to Hermes very briefly if we recall Aesop’s tale of Hermes and the Honest Woodman. In both cases we can see some sense. For the first, Artemis through the woodsman is effectively retrieving her transformed attendant, and in the latter we can see Hermes who gathers forth babes born from the divine. And born again she is, from the stomach of the wolf which is rather reminscient of the birth of the elder brothers and sisters of Zeus from the stomach of Kronos, though instead of induced vomiting it is because the wolf has his stomach split open and sewn up again. Thus we have the child who travels through the environment of progression who becomes destroyed and reborn.
Like I said, it is my favorite fairy tale and quite appropriately a favorite one since it includes such lovely symbols of Artemis and Apollon and I being one who loves these gods!