The fairy tale opening, “Once upon a time”, sets the scene: as in all true mythology and folklore we are out of mundane history and mundane space, in a realm beyond that of everyday experience. We are in illo tempore “that time”, the primordial time of which it can be said that human actions were symbolic of Eternal truths and the spiritual quest was the daily task – when maid, true to her essential nature, occupied her true “central” position.

The reality of our state upon this earth, separated from the Spirit, Source of all life and joy, and seeking reunion with Her, is the most essential of the symbolic themes of mythology and folklore. Every prince seeking the princess, every child seeking her mother, every questing hero seeking the grail, the golden apples, the singing bough or the water of life – all ancient symbols of our Mother God – is the soul seeking Her.

Often the central character is not the only one to set out on a quest, but is one of three, the youngest and silliest. This “silliness” is a purity of heart and a humility (“the wisdom of spirit is folly to the world”) which listens to advice from old peasant women and talking animals. And the supernatural aid which rewards this humility leads to success in the quest.

Those souls not open to Spirit can achieve only on the human level, where they achieve at all. More often they are deceived by a pleasant but maleficent stranger (the illusions of the world) or lured into a wayside inn where they are pauperised or even killed; while the despised youngest, with supernatural aid, becomes the highest in the land.

Often it is simplicity, humility and obedience – which prompt the soul to the other virtues: courage, generosity (freeing trapped animals, sharing scanty food with strangers), wisdom (correctly solving riddles, performing impossible feats – helped or instructed by Spirit in Her various guises). For it is only through Spirit that Spirit is attained.

From Fairytales from Eternity