The Wisdom In Fairy Tales

January 29, 2018

Can you feel it? There’s a change in the air. It’s the women of the world rising up and telling their stories, being there for other women and looking out for each other. Traditions lost are surfacing again; traditions of telling stories that will help young women navigate the world with resilience, bravery and strength. Traditions that were once the norm in day to day life.

For many of us the only fairy tales we know are those produced by Walt Disney Studios, and yet there are a wealth of lesser known tales which once upon a time were stories of magical transformations. They were meant for young women as they grew away from childhood and moved towards adulthood. They were told by mothers, grandmothers and the wise women of the clan as they spun, wove and stirred the pots and made their potions.

Contrary to popular opinion, a woman’s goal in life is to not just marry a handsome prince. The ancient tales of wonder showed heroines who set out on a difficult road of trials to discover their true destiny. These old tales of growth and adventure are about learning to be strong, brave, kind and true hearted and trusting yourself to change the world for the better.

In December, Australia’s Queen of Fairy Tales, Kate Forsyth in collaboration with artist Lorena Carrington, launched ‘Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women.’ This collection of seven traditional fairy tales has been published by Serenity Press. In these stories Kate has re-imagined tales from The Brothers Grimm, Andrew Lang and included traditional tales from Scandinavia. These beautifully illustrated stories can be read alone or read aloud to younger readers.

Here are some of the brave young women from tales of yore…

  • Vasilisa who must outwit the fearsome Russian witch Baba Yaga.
  • Katie Crackernuts who sets out to save her sister from dark magic.
  • Flora, the gardener’s daughter, who marries a giant serpent to save a prince.
  • Fairer Than A Fairy, a princess who is kidnapped by an evil one eyed enchantress.
  • Lullala, in love with a prince cursed to be a lion by day and a man by night.
  • Rosemary, a Scottish lass whose baby is stolen by the wicked fairy folk of the Sidhe.
  • Ursula, a princess replaced by a walking talking automaton.

These princesses need to solve problems, use their power and wits to save the day and ultimately take charge of their own fates.

I was fortunate enough to hear Kate Forsyth speak at the recent Romance Writers of Australia Conference and she is an incredibly inspiring person who faced her own trials as a youngster and yet is still brave, kind and true.

Her great love of fairy tales has prompted her to study them in depth and she is also an accredited storyteller so she knows how to weave a wonderful tale. Her enchanting retelling of these traditional tales are accompanied by some amazing artwork from Lorena Carrington. Lorena’s illustrations, comprised of a layering of photos and natural objects, make Kate’s work sing and they go hand in hand to tell the story. Her silhouettes perfectly mirror the mood of the stories.

Share these tales with women of all ages to inspire and delight. ‘Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women’ can be purchased from Serenity Press or ask your favourite bookseller to order it for you. It’s a beautiful book to be treasured forever.

Michelle Beesley
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.

Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).