Advent in the Secret Garden: A Report from the Fairy Tale Group by Marion Donehower

Hello! It’s time to report again on the Fairy Tale group that meets in my garden twice a month.

We started our group this past summer in July.

Time flies! Now we have arrived at Advent and winter. . . and it is the season to brew tea, sit by the fire, read fairy tales, dream, sleep, meditate, watch Britbox and MHZ, and listen to the whispers of inspiration . . .

“All fairy tales are dreams from a distant homeland everywhere and nowhere.”
— Novalis

Barn Doors & Magic Casements

During summer and fall, we sat around a circular table on my porch. The table is made from wood salvaged from an old, abandoned barn in Santa Cruz. The porch overlooks the backyard garden. Our work is close to nature! In summer, we feel the heat; in autumn, brr! it gets chilly. The elementals dance about and enjoy hearing tales of the fairy folk.

Rudolf Steiner, Marie Louise von Franz, Verena Kast, Almut Bockemühl, Robert Bly . . .
These are just some of the authors of secondary literature that have visited our little group.

We roam the woods and steppes, the moors and savannahs – wherever a fairy leads us.

But most especially, we warm our friendships.

“The Floating World” by Marion Donehower

Friendship & Fairy

There’s something magical about sharing fairy tales and reading them aloud together. As Bruce likes to say in our Section meetings:The Fairy Tale is mightier than philosophy!

How is that so?

Well, perhaps it’s like friendship! In our discussions, we don’t over-analyze the fairy tales to get at the “real meaning.” The meaning is right there! It’s as present as the orange pumpkin that sits in the middle of the barndoor table or the birds that fly to the bird feeder or the bees buzzing on the flowers.

“The fairy tale is the touchstone of poetry . . . everything poetic must be like a fairy tale.”
— Novalis

We explore the imaginative, symbolic richness of the fairy tale in a mood of friendly conversation — enlivened with snacks and beverages and sometimes even a cake or two for a birthday party celebration. We don’t search for “the right or wrong meaning,” and this non-linear conversational approach has made our group stronger, I think.

“The question is coming deep from the psyche: who are you? I once addressed that question in a poem.
After walking about all afternoon,
Inside my lakeside shack, barefoot,
I have grown long and transparent.
By dusk I resemble a sea slug
Who has lived alone doing nothing
For eighteen thousand years!”,
— Robert Bly

Robert Bly (12.23.1926 – 11.21.2021)

In our last meeting, we paid homage to Robert Bly. Many of us are very fond of him, and some even spent time with him when he was teaching or reading his poetry. At our recent meeting, I presented the introduction to Robert Bly’s book More Than True, The Wisdom of Fairy Tales in which Bly brings six fairy Tales in his own unique language. He seasons these tales with insightful and surprising comments. He was a wise old owl!

May he flourish in the light!

Our Group Is Closed Right Now to New Participants
The last several months have given the group a special friendship and identity. The group size is perfect for an intimate group. For this reason, I have decided that we will close the group to new participants for the time being. Once the year 2022 gets a bit underway, I’ll revisit the question of new members. As we know, and as the fairy tale teaches . . . everything changes!

“Darkness is falling through darkness
Falling from ledge
To ledge.
There is a man whose body is perfectly whole.
He stands, the storm behind him,
And the grass blades are leaping in the wind.
Darkness is gathered in folds
About his feet.
He is no one. When we see
Him, we grow calm,
And sail on into the tunnel of joyful death.”
— Robert Bly, “The Hermit” from The Light Around the Body