when fairytales are awake
Paradisaea # 12 // The Falling Back Into Life Collection
99,9 % cotton (EC), 0,1 % polyester (glitter ends)
Woven with a two-sided twill and plainweave combination, "The Pearls"
Size 3 + (3,3 m)
About 320 g / m2
"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
I have one, especially vivid memory of my childhood. In the picture it’s evening, and we all are gathered into my parents’ bed, nestled in the middle of blankets and pillows, listening as they read books to us. Not just any childrens’ books, though there were a lot of the regular ones with large pictures, but also long, deep, wild and massive stories. I can still enter the world of Narnia in my brain, and the feelings associated with the memories are as strong as ever: the joy when the everlasting winter breaks; the excitement when Bree and Shasta flee to the North under a starry desert sky; the warm breath of the massive Lion, walking in the glimmering, thick white mist.
The stories lasted for weeks, and the moment in the evening with the books was one of my favourite things in life. It was absolutely thrilling to be whisked away from the known world into strange lands and unknown horizons, to take part in wild adventurers, to imagine myself as the heroine who slays the dragon. I would carry the stories into my dreams, and in the following day they would shape my games and my playtime. I longed to be the princess and the adventurer, and the language my parents taught us by reading books opened the realm of imagination for me. I don’t know about intelligence, but they did give me a yearning to explore the magic of stories.
When I asked the mother, to whom this wrap was made, of the things that make her feel most alive, she wrote the sentences that are quoted in the beginning of this text. It’s a beautiful picture - one of those moments when the known world disappears. I was more than happy to be thinking about fairytales when I wove this wrap - about the moments when you find yourself transported into a magic world, when you fall down a rabbit hole, walk trough a strange closet, touch a portkey and POOF - enter and adventure.
Fairytales are age-old. I suppose the human kind has always told stories. People would sit around a fire, their backs turned to the darkness, someone would start a tale, and others would listen, holding their breath. We love stories. I’d even like to venture to suggest that the human soul is always somewhat fairytale-shaped; there’s something in us that reacts most strongly with tales and stories. They are everywhere; folklores, ancient sagas, childrens’ stories, Hollywood movies, modern novels. We need stories to tell us who we are - they tell us where we have come from, what are we about and where we are headed.
I dare say each child is born an natural adventurer. They are meant to live in stories - they invent fairytales themselves, all the time! They absolutely refuse to live only in the known, rational world, and they happily believe in miracles. I envy their imagination and their ability to move fluidly from reality to magic. For them fairytales are still awake.
Sometimes we as adults seem to forget what fairytales are about (Like Peter Pan in “The Hook”, remember?). Stories fall asleep in our brain. Living with a child might be like a new beginning in this sense. It is said that children learn to read by sitting in their parents’ laps, listening. Reading to a child might bring the fairytale alive to both the kid and the adult.
In Psychology Today there is an article by Sheila Kohler that really struck me. She writes about the importance of fairytales ("Should we continue to read these often frightening stories to our children?") and says that fairytales are especially important because they help children to feel feelings they couldn’t otherwise safely process. Trough a story they can feel excitement, suspense, even fear or anger that would be almost dangerous otherwise. And they can sense joy and happiness in a very special level. Kohler points out that when kids listen to fairytales, they can identify themselves as the hero (as kids often are the heroes in fairytales) who has to rise to the occasion and conquer the evil. Fairytales help kids to find hidden powers and abilities in themselves.
One sentence in Kohler’s text was especially interesting: "These tales thus permit both the expression of natural violence and at the same time preserve that essential part of life without which the child cannot prosper: hope."
A child cannot prosper without hope…! Wow.
But can an adult?
I don’t think so.
This is the beauty of fairytales. They teach children - and adults! - the power of hope. We might often see our every day life as a sort of “frozen” reality; dull, stressing, and lacking all the potential for change. It’s soul-killing. But fairytales have all the potential for magic. (Maybe that’s why fantasy books are so appealing? Magic makes everything possible, all the time.) In fairytales things are not fixed, not doomed for eternal anxiety or everlasting stress.
Weaving this wrap made me wonder what would happen if fairytales could still be awake for us adults too. If we could, trough the joy of our children, enter into the magic realms again and believe in the unseen…? If we could still keep hope alive and believe that in the end the good shall overcome all evil?
I bet the world would be a different place.
There are many dangerous things that can happen to a human being, and it's sometimes said that one of the most dangerous things is to lose your heart. If you lose your heart you might lose your ability to hope. What easily takes the place of it is fear, anxiety, cynicism or something as dangerous. Without hope we come to think that “this is all I’m going to get”, and deprived of hope, the human soul will wither and suffer. I sometimes wonder if this is partly the reason for all the evil in the world; people without hope don’t have the ability to reach for good anymore, and souls become distorted.
Being and adult means that you have to accept the limitations of life. We do not have magic wands (but God knows how badly I would have loved to get a Hogwarts letter!). Adults need to carry the responsibilities of live and live trough disappointments. It doesn’t, however, mean that we should abandon fairytales. They also contain fear, disappointments and pain. But in them goodness will always win, in the end.
How would life feel like if the knowledge of this would empower us to really live?
Fairytales are the stuff of dreams. And dreams overcome fears. Hope kills fear; cold reasoning often won’t do it. My wish was that this wrap could have something of fairytales in it; that the strong fuchsia could resemble the vivid first light of the morning in the forest, that the glitter and the pink could speak of royal princesses and princes, the ones who will slay dragons. I wished that it could somehow carry an encouragement in it, a whisper saying "it's ok to dream! It's necessary to dream!". I wished that it could be a vessel for carrying tiny adventurers into their own grand stories, their personal mighty fairytales. And it might make a story blanket too for cosy nights, nestled on the sofa, with a fairytale book.
Hence the name - When Fairytales Are Awake.
***personal, somewhat spiritual reflections on the subject***
A certain thought has been important to me personally while weaving this wrap. I’ve come to love the thought of fairytales as a paradigm. This life seems to make a lot more sense if I think of it as an adventure where I need to actively fight the forces of darkness that try to steal life away from us. The paradigm enables me to be an active agent, not just a passive object, and it equips me with explanations to many things that wouldn’t otherwise make sense. Sometimes I feel like the kid, sitting in God’s lap, him telling me the story of our life, trying to make me identify with the heroine, trying to make me believe in the good, trying to make hope stay alive in me. Letting go of the cold rational sense is sometimes extremely relieving; it feels safe to be able to (at least momentarily) be the child again who chooses to believe even though she does not understand.