The Folklore of Oshiroi Baba

OSHIROI BABAThere are Winter Witches and Snow Queens that litter folklore and mythology — from giant ogresses to hags who eat children.  The more you look through them, the more you notice a pattern of death and cannibalism.  However, there is one wintry figure who is neither, who brings sake to weary and cold travelers.  Her name is Oshiroi Baba.

Oshiroi Baba, or the Face Powder Hag, is considered a servant to the Goddess of Cosmetics and appears as an ancient looking woman, her back bent with age, leaning on a bamboo cane.  She is clothed in kimono rags, with a straw hat broken and heavy with snow.  In her other hand, she holds a bottle of sake.  But it’s her face that gives her her name: her wrinkled and lined face is covered in oshiroi — white powder just like what the geisha’s wore.  The last bit of her appearance goes to her mirror, and the reason why I leave this for last is because it is usually not seen.  However, the sound of a clanging mirror being dragged behind her is always heard, alerting you of her presence.

The most commonly told stories of Oshiroi Baba are by travelers who find themselves lost and cold, wandering in snow storms.  She brings her sake and offers travelers a chance to warm up before they continue on their way.  The most famous story about her is very different and comes from the Hasedera Temple.  According to the story, the monks were starving after their food was confiscated by the army, and they prayed, pleading that they may finish their work.  The next day, they spotted a woman washing rice at the well, and as they watched, they noticed she would empty the bucket of all but a single grain, and when she would, the bucket would magically refill.  She repeated this until there was enough food to feed all of the monks.

There is not much lore in regards to the Oshiroi Baba.  Some believe her to be a variation of the Yuki Onna, traveling down the mountain to demand makeup or sake from travelers, others believe her to be a blessing.  However, the belief that there is a winter hag who brings sake to those who are cold is a much more warming thought.  So if you ever find yourself lost in the snow, keep an ear out for the sounds of a clanking mirror as it might be Oshiroi Baba bringing you warm sake to give you strength.

 

For more reading on Oshiroi Baba (sources):
Oshiroi Baba – The Face Powder Hag
http://yokai.com/oshiroibabaa/

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

kay_nielsen_3East of the Sun and West of the Moon” is the third entry in The Blue Fairy Book. This Norwegian fairy tale was originally collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. It is Aarne–Thompson type 425A, Search for the Lost Husband. It is related to both the tale of “Cupid and Psyche” in The Golden Ass and to “Beauty and the Beast.” Beauty and the Beast is usually given its own subcategory as 425C which has the same name as the tale. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is usually placed in 425A: The Animal Bridegroom (Thompson 1945). You can read the entire fairy tale for free at Patreon.

Other related entries include She Sees Him by Candlelight, The Golden Age of Illustration, Riding the Wind, and The Troll Bride. Enjoy!

Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess (The Blue Fairy Book)

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The enchanter steals the Dear Little Princess. Art by Henry J. Ford.

Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess,” a French fairy tale, is the second story in Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book. (Reference given in at the end of the story: “Le Prince Desir et la Princesse Mignonne”. Par Madame Leprince de Beaumont.)

This is a strange little tale about a prince with an extraordinarily long nose. Like many fairy tales composed by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (26 April 1711 – 8 September 1780), this story is a moralistic one. While working as a governess in England, Madame Leprince de Beaumont recast French fairy tales as children’s fiction. She borrowed liberally from the writings that came out of the 17th-century French salons and recrafted them into stories that were both moral and instructive. Her most well-known fairy tale is the abridged version of “Beauty and the Beast,” which she adapted for young readers from Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve‘s original.

The complete fairy tale of “Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess” is available to read for free at Patreon (The Blue Fairy Book Project). There are also two public posts featuring the original art by Henry J. Ford: The king chases the cat and The enchanter steals the Dear Little Princess. For as little as $1 a month, Patrons have access to two additional posts with additional images, prompts, and poetry: Casting shadows and Pinocchio.

Note: Feel free to share links to your poetry or prose in the comments. Next up is “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” See you soon. — Carina Bissett

east of the sun_kay nielsen
East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Art by Kay Nielsen.

 

 

Spring Workshop Schedule

45y3wt4qwegwegwegewgANNOUNCEMENT: The day workshop schedules firmed up for the first Spring section of Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tale & Myth. There will also be an evening session, but I haven’t pinned down the time and day for those meetings as of yet.
There is ONE seat left in the Monday workshop (2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/4, 3/11, 3/18), which runs from 2-4:30 pm (PST). There is also only ONE seat left in the Wednesday workshop (2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20), which runs from 12-2:30 pm (PST). There are TWO seats left in the evening workshop, but I’m waiting for another registration before finalizing that time and day. Feel free to share. This is going to be FUN! — Carina Bissett
 

The Bronze Ring (The Blue Fairy Book Project)

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The mice have the ring. H. Ford

The Bronze Ring” is the first story in The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. This version of this fairy tale from the Middle East or Central Asia and was translated and adapted from Traditions Populaires de l’Asie Mineure by Carnoy et Nicolaides (Paris: Maison-neuve, 1889).

The complete fairy tale of “The Bronze Ring” is available for general viewing along with two other prompts: The Gardener’s son meets the old woman and Fishes for an old ring. For as little as $1 a month, Patrons have access to three additional posts (so far): The mice have the ring, The Quixotic Quest of Three Blind Mice, and Magic Ring.

Note: Feel free to share links to your poetry or prose in the comments. This is going to be fun!

Carina Bissett

 

The Blue Fairy Book–A Creative Project

blue coverTo kick off the new year, I’ve started a project revolving around Andrew Lang‘s  The Blue Fairy Book (1889), which was the first of twelve “coloured” fairy tale collections published through 1910. There are 37 tales in The Blue Fairy Book, which includes seven tales from the Brothers Grimm, five from Madame d’Aulnoy, three from the Arabian Nights, and four Norwegian fairytales, among other sources. Every eight to ten days, I will be posting one of the fairy tales along with my notes of potential links, mash-ups, and outside sources on Patreon. Other posts will include commentary on the original authors and collectors of these tales, links to contemporary retellings, and classic fairy tale illustrations. It’s going to be a fun ride, and I hope you will join me on this adventure.

The Blue Fairy Book (1889) Table of Contents

  1. The Bronze Ring
  2. Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess
  3. East of the Sun and West of the Moon
  4. The Yellow Dwarf
  5. Little Red Riding Hood
  6. The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
  7. Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper
  8. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  9. The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was
  10. Rumpelstiltskin
  11. Beauty and the Beast
  12. The Master Maid
  13. Why the Sea Is Salt
  14. The Master Cat or Puss in Boots
  15. Felicia and the Pot of Pinks
  16. The White Cat
  17. The Water-lily. The Gold-spinners
  18. The Terrible Head
  19. The Story of Pretty Goldilocks
  20. The History of Whittington
  21. The Wonderful Sheep
  22. Little Thumb
  23. The Forty Thieves
  24. Hansel and Gretel
  25. Snow-White and Rose-Red
  26. The Goose-girl
  27. Toads and Diamonds
  28. Prince Darling
  29. Blue Beard
  30. Trusty John
  31. The Brave Little Tailor
  32. A Voyage to Lilliput
  33. The Princess on the Glass Hill
  34. The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou
  35. The History of Jack the Giant-killer
  36. The Black Bull of Norroway
  37. The Red Etin

The Myth of Frau Perchta

frau perchta 2Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, is a well-known Yuletide figure.  However, over the years we have seen some of the more… unsavory characters come into the spotlight.  Krampus was one of those characters from folklore who became wildly popular after his 2015 horror/comedy debut on the big screen.  However, there are still other mythic stories, legends and folktales of different Yule spirits and demons and elves and trolls. Today, we are going to be taking a look at one of these, a witch who punishes naughty children.  Her name is Frau Perchta.

Frau Perchta comes to us from Austrian and Bavarian tradition, becoming more well known with her other name Frau Berchta which was popularized by the brothers Grimm.  She is also associated with Berchta the Germanic goddess of abundance who was demonized by the Catholic church and referred to as a witch. Either way, Frau Perchta is generally depicted as a crone dressed in rage with a beaked, iron nose.  Sometimes she carries a cane, but almost always she carries a long, sharp knife that she keeps hidden beneath her skirts.

frau perchtaYou see, Frau Perchta — much like Santa Claus — will reward good children and punish the bad.  She also punishes women for unkempt households and unspun flax. For those she deems good, a silver coin is left for them.  If she deems you unworthy, if you forget to leave out a bowl of porridge for her, if your flax is half spun and unfinished, she slits open your abdomen, removes your organs, and replaces them with straw.  She was also associated with the Wild Hunt, flying through the night sky while accompanied by her demonic Perchten — Krampus-looking creatures — and elves and unbaptized babies. During the last three thursdays before Christmas, you will hear the sounds of thunder and wind roaring, however it is really Frau Perchta leading her Wild Hunt.

Either way, Frau Perchta doesn’t seem like a woman to cross.  Whether she is a crone who judges your housework, or someone who comes to punish the naughty and reward the nice, or even the leader of the Wild Hunt itself, Frau Perchta promises punishment for those who she sees as undeserving.  One thing is for certain: whichever version of her tale you believe, be sure to have your house dust-free and stay indoors on the nights leading up to Christmas or Frau Perchta might replace your organs with straw.

For more reading on Frau Perchta (sources):
https://boroughsofthedead.com/frau-perchta/
http://occult-world.com/germanic-gods-goddesses/berchta/