Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Norse Vision Quest, "The Snow Queen"

Many fairy tales like,the "Snow Queen" are thinly veiled shamanic journeys or "Vision Quests." 

In the fairy tale of the "Snow Queen," the Snow Queen is not a witch but a frost goddess. The story recounts the shamanic journey of it's heroine, Gerda, to save her beloved playmate Kay frozen in the Snow Queen's realm. Gerda and Kay are both depicted as children. When Kay mysteriously disappears, Gerda searches for him. 

Her first step is to make a pagan offering of her precious red shoes to the river so that, in exchange, it will return Kay. The river responds: when Gerda climbs into a boat, it simply floats away with her, taking her on a journey that ultimately leads to Kay. 

How does Gerda know how to do this? Her grandmother is described as speaking the language of crows, ie. she is a shaman. 

Gerda's first stop downriver is a little house with toy soldiers standing guard. It is a witches house: she is described as an old, old woman leaning on a crutch. Although the woman can work magic, we are told that she is not a "wicked witch," only a dabbler. She adores Gerda and would like to keep her there, but intends to care for her, not harm or eat her, although she is obstructing Gerda's path. 

She enchants Gerda so that she temporarily forgets her quest. From a shamanic perspective, the old woman is a test: will Gerda become so comfortable that she gives up her search for Kay?

*Gerda is able to speak to plants, and so eventually recalls her mission.

*She is able to speak to crows, and so is given information to bring her closer to Kay.

In the process of rescuing Kay, Gerda must visit the houses of two more wise-women: one identified as a Saami woman, the other as a Finnmark woman, both identified with Pagan traditions and Germanic shamanism. 

These three woman serve as Gerda's shamanic initiators. Gerda passes all tests, behaves with purity of heart and single-minded focus, and is able to rescue Kay from permanent frost (coma). 

In true shamanic style, the journey is retraced step-by-step until Kay and Gerda are safely home with her proud, welcoming grandmother. 

Brightest of Blessings,
any questions 

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