One of the best known and best loved children’s tales, “Cinderella”, brings us today’s Fairy Tale Tarot card, The Fairy Godmother. Here in this deck The Fairy Godmother fills the role of The Empress from the traditional tarot. As the ultimate fairy tale nurturing mother figure, The Fairy Godmother helps to bring some twists to this tarot card.
The story of Cinderella is believed to have derived from a story that dates back to the first century BC when it was recored by a Greek historian. The story tells the tale of a young servant girl who is sent to wash clothes in a stream one day while everyone else attends an event being held by the Pharaoh. While she is at the stream an eagle comes along and takes one of her sandals and brings it to the foot of the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh begins to seek out the owner of the sandal and has every woman in the kingdom try it on but it doesn’t fit anyone. The servant girl is one of the last he asks to try on the sandal and when she does it fits perfectly. The Pharaoh falls in love with her and they marry.
The version that most of us know is the one that originates from French author Charles Perrault. Perrault wrote the story which was published in 1697 in his collection of stories called “Comte de ma Mere L’Oya” (“Tales of Mother Goose”). He had taken the previous versions of the story and cleaned them up to make them more acceptable to an upscale and more refined class of reader. Previous versions told of the shoe being filled with blood from the sisters trying to cram their feet into it and even one version tells of a sister severing a toe while trying on the shoe. All of this was replaced with lighthearted bickering and shoving in Perrault’s tale. In 1812 two German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, best know as the Brothers Grimm, would retell the story in their own collection of tales.
One of the most notable differences between Perrault’s tale and the tale of the Brothers Grimm and others is that in Perrault’s story the fairy godmother comes to Cinderella in her time of need. In many other versions including that of the Brothers Grimm, it is the spirit of Cinderella’s dead mother who comes to her aid. There are some that think in the original tales that inspired Perrault the shoe was actually a ring and that the goal was to find the woman who’s finger would fit a special ring. If you read the post from yesterday where we looked at the Four of Cups and the story “Why the Sea Moans” you’ll notice there are a lot of similarities between that story and the once of Cinderella.
Since we all know the story of Cinderella, I wont go into much detail in trying to retell it. So here is a brief nutshell version:
Cinderella lives with her stepmother and two step-sisters. All of them treat her terribly, making her sleep by the chimney and wear rags for clothes. The sisters are especially mean to Cinderella and taunt her constantly. One day the sisters are invited by the prince to attend a ball. Cinderella spends all her time helping the sisters get ready and before they are finished she asks if she can come too. The sisters laugh at her telling her she could never go to a ball dressed the way she does.
After seeing the sisters off Cinderella goes out to the garden and cries but while she’s there an old woman appears who is to become her fairy godmother. She asks Cinderella what is wrong and after hearing of the situation the fairy godmother asks Cinderella if she really wants to go to the ball and when she says yes she tells her to gather together a pumpkin, six mice, one rate and six lizards. When Cinderella brings these things back the fairy godmother turns the pumpkin into a gilded coach, the mice into white horses, the rat into a coachman and the lizards into footmen. She then transforms Cinderella giving her a beautiful dress and glass slippers to wear. As Cinderella prepares to leave she is warned that at midnight this will all go away and she will again be in her rags.
Cinderella goes to the ball and all eyes turn to her as she enters. The prince is taken by her and he goes to be by her side and they dance together throughout the night. At midnight Cinderella runs off before her gown turns back and she heads home. The ball takes place again the next night and again the fairy godmother helps transform Cinderella and again she heads to the ball. Again she spends the night dancing with the prince who has now fallen in love with her. But when midnight comes Cinderella must run off before anyone sees her in her rags, though in her haste to leave one of her glass slippers is left behind.
The next day the prince sets off to find the owner of the shoe. Everyone woman in the kingdom tries it one but it doesn’t fit anyone. He comes to the last house, the house where Cinderella and her sisters live. The sisters push and shove one another while trying to cram their feet into the shoe but it doesn’t fit. Cinderella, recognizing the shoe, asks if she could try it it and when she does it fits perfectly with ease. The sisters are stunned and suddenly realize she was the woman from the ball and the prince sees in her the woman he fell in love with. Cinderella goes to live with the prince in his castle and they are married and live happily ever after.
While the Fairy Godmother doesn’t have a huge role in the story it’s important to remember that if it weren’t for her and her help she gives Cinderella in her moment of need, there would be no story to speak of. She wouldn’t have gone to the ball, wouldn’t have met the prince and wouldn’t have had her happily ever after.
In The Empress card we see some of the following themes:
Mothering: giving birth and nourishing life, working with children, expressing tenderness, taking care of others especially when they are unable to care for themselves.
Abundance: extravagance, lavish rewards, luxury, feeling rich and having more than you may need
Nature: relating to, working with, and connecting to the earth, plants and animals.
All of these we see in the Fairy Godmother of “Cinderella”. She comes to Cinderella in a moment of desperate need and heartbreak and helps give her the opportunity to do something that, on her own she never would have been able to do. With this she fills a very strong motherly role and helps to nourish the life of Cinderella in a way it hadn’t been since her own mother had died. Abundance is certainly present in the lavish gown, jewels and the glass slippers that Cinderella is given. She certainly feels as though she is rich in those moments at the ball and has more than she may have dreamed she’d ever have, even if only for a short time. And we see the connection to nature with the use of plants and animals in the moment of magick that the Fairy Godmother works in order to get Cinderella to the ball.
Lisa Hunt’s connections with the symbols in her artwork are interesting. The pumpkins represent the connection between the upper and lower worlds, the fairy godmother herself represents the female principle and a connection to the power of nature with her abilities to create something useful from them. The full moon is a reminder of the constant change in our lives while the castle that it rises over represents hopes and dreams yet to be realized. The rats represent resiliency as we strive to push through obstacles while working to reach our dreams and the doves that fly overhead remind us to keep a sense of balance as we work to move toward realizing those dreams.
Think about this…
What dreams or goals have you had that you might not have nurtured and rather than seeing grow and be “born” they have withered and died? What lost dreams do you wish your own fairy godmother would c
ome along and bring back to life? Take the time to look at these dreams that you may think have become nothing but fantasies and remember that if you are not an active part of working toward seeing them manifest, we eventually lose them. Much like the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella” we must be resourceful, nurturing and in tune with what needs to be done to make things happen. Be willing to be more open to seeing things from an intuitive, nurturing and feeling side rather than a straight analytical side and you’ll be able to get a different perspective and find another way to work with the hopes and dreams that you may have thought were just a distant memory.