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Deepness of Fairy Tales for Alpine Environmentalism in Athropocene

by Jurij Dobravec

Fairy tales (Märchen, fiabe, pravljice) with their manifold characteristics represent common human heritage. Different disciplines of social sciences and humanity, like philosophy, psychology, folkloristics, ancient religion studies, literary history and morphology, and others treat their exciting topics and deep motives. While romanticized in many periods and with various intentions, their core remains intact and therefore represents a deep spirit of common human genius.

Animals and plants, rivers, winds and mountains, as well as processes and interrelations among them are common contents of this genre. While natural - not symbolic - role of creatures has been considered in a few research papers allready, the significance of natural processes in landscape has been mostly neglected.

In a paper, I demonstrate that in fairy tales - beside characters of the creatures - the reality of nature processes and human nature interrelations is deeply presented. Three tales will serve as a demonstration source. The Goldhorn - a magical goat and guardian of Alpine meadows that was challenged by human greediness, healed himself by the magic Triglav rose when it forthwith grown up from the seed of his own blood. Process of his self revival is compared with nature self balance and buffer systems. Success of Stepdaughter with 12 heroes represents the idea that natural course of events and natural cycles has to be respect by human. In commonly known Cinderella, we are focusing on interrelations of the heroine with oak branch and conquering human inner self. Link to the modern mountaineering is discussed in the latest: it is not the mountain to be conquered, but rather a climber to conquer him/her inner self.

The Anthropocene is believed to be caused by today's Western way of life, mostly connected with terrible environmental issues caused by over-consumism and indifference. A relation between nature and human is therefore ruined. As many known fairy-tales origin in Western culture, I claime that they serve as a self reflection to this very broad community. There is no way back from the today level of industry, informatics and globalization. However, environmental crisis is in interest of all to be resolved.

Stories animate human lives. Tales work with people. In discussion, I underline the importance of establishing of in advance relations with other nature, as shown in role of many animal/nature helpers in fairy tales. I stress the need of our inner attitude towards biorhythms and other processes in the nature, as it is the case in presented three examples: deeper understanding of self healing nature, regular nurture of sprout to growing into a tree, and suitable service to the genuine nature needs of birds, fish or other creatures to gain their help exactly in time and place most natural and most necessary. Present civilization would need similar attitude with nature processes in landscape to survive.

Without direct moralizing, tales' can serve to all generations in the best way as a healing tool towards balancing human nature interrelations.

[Ref: Propp, Jung, Bettelheim, Zipes, Lüthi, Kropej, Disney]

presentation slides.

NOEMIS Institute
Društvo JARINA Bohinj