Wednesday, April 29, 2020

"Snow White, Rose Red and Other Tales of Kind Young Women" - Online Launch Party May 1st 6pm AEST (Friday Australia/Thursday US)

If you're a longtime reader you know that we in the Fairy Tale Newsroom are longtime fans of Australian fairy tale writer Kate Forsyth, who has created an amazing collection of historical novels with specific fairy tales at their center [and we personally adore The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower (2016), which explores the Rapunzel tale-type throughout history and includes all sorts of wonderful creative expressions, as well as a research-based exegesis!]. It's also no secret that we are continually drawn to the magic photographic illustrations of Australian artist Lorena Carrington, so it's a given that any collaboration between these two magical women is a must for us - and we're about to be treated with their third!

The third book of the Long Lost Fairy Tales Collection, a collaborative series by Australian writer Kate Forsyth and Australian artist Lorena Carrington, is going to have an online book launch that anyone from around the world can attend!

The book is titled Snow White, Rose Red and Other Tales of Kind Young Women.

The previous two in the popular series are:
  • Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women
  • The Buried Moon and Other Tales of Bright Young Women
All are available through Serenity Press.

We've included a small selection of popular time zone, times below to give you a start on figuring out how to block it into your calendar.
Australian Eastern Standard Time - 6pm FRIDAY night
USA PST (Pacific Standard Time) - 1am FRIDAY early morning (late THURS.)
USA EST (Eastern Standard Time) - 4am FRIDAY super early
UK London Time - 9am FRIDAY
Moscow, Russia Time - 12pm (noon) FRIDAY

(click image or link below):
Online link:

(no Facebook required! Click image or link below)::
Online link:
Publisher's book description:
An enchanting collection of little known fairy tales about young women who prevail because of their kindness and compassion.Snow-White & Rose Red save an enchanted bear from an ungrateful goblin Marushka is sent to find strawberries in the snow by her cruel step-sister but wins the help of the Twelve Months Ailsa climbs Mischanter Mountain to rescue her sister, armed with nothing more than her sewing kit and her parents’ blessing Reinhilda outwits a witch and saves her sweetheart.A kind henwife helps Morag find a home for her family with the help of a magic pot. Agnes and a young Romany woman together overcome the curse of an enchanted cupBrigid honours a promise she made, even though it takes her to theunderworld and back.With an introduction by Isobelle Carmody, Snow White, Rose Red & Other Tales of Kind Young Women contains tales fromGermany, Slovenia, Ireland and the Scottish Travellers.It will transform the way you think about fairy tales.
And here is a lovely sneak peek inside the covers!

Can you guess which fairy tales Kate and Lorena are retelling in this volume?
Hope to see some of you Friday at the launch!
(Or Thursday - whatever day it will be where you are!)
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
A small selection of the many fairy tale books by Kate Forsyth:
 Fairy tale art - in book form! - by artist Lorena Carrington:

Saturday, April 25, 2020

'The Girl Who Spun Gold', And How Rumpelstiltskin Explores Creativity Under Stress

All illustrations in this post by Leo & Diane Dillon for Virginia Hamilton's The Girl Who Spun Gold
This past couple of weeks in the Fairy Tale Newsroom, we've been thinking a lot about the trials of the usually-nameless girl in Rumpelstiltskin, forced to produce gold from the leftover dried stalks of cereal plants, after all the "good" parts have been removed (we call it straw), under fear of death if results - a.k.a. GOLD - aren't produced.

Boy does that feel relevant right now! In a world where we can barely find toilet paper, how are we supposed to produce beautiful and good things with substitute or substandard (or no!) resources? Let alone get in a creative flow when every tickle of the nose making us sneeze has us grabbing our always-within-reach thermometers, to see if we've (gulp!) gotten a fever and been infected?

It's a mad world and we feel like we've gone mad too, and oh-my-goodness-if-one-more-person-says-this-is-the-ideal-time-to learn-a-new-language-we-just-might-scream?! We might as well be trying to spin gold out of empty toilet rolls... Hey Miller's Daughter: we are so feeling your mood right now!

Did you notice the focus of this fairy tale tends to be about naming yet the girl at the center of the conflict, the one under duress, the one without whom the tale wouldn't be, rarely has a name of her own? We'll come back to that... it's important.
The Pressure To Produce "Gold" In A Pandemic
Although we don't have a tyrant threatening to kill us (personally), it's no exaggeration to say that all over the world we are currently living under bizarre conditions with the possibility of illness and death looming, and yet somehow we are required to keep "normal life happening" and, as it turns out, are being pressured to do a whole lot more. As fairy tale friends and professors Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman commented in an interview with Enchanted Conversation Magazine's Kate Wolford, just this week:
"'s hard to tap into that creativity, to do the things you want to do and make the things you want to make, when your mind is caught up in a stress spiral or too awhirl to settle down. (If you've found yourself actually screaming 'STOP' out loud to your own brain in the last few weeks, know you're not alone!)"If you're scared, if you're stressed, it can feel impossible to do basic tasks, let alone be Super Creative and Accomplished!
Rumpelstiltskin provides some interesting ways to look at survival under pressure, at creativity under pressure, and, depending on how the tale is told, different ways to consider ingenuity, bargaining, and even helpers.
To quote the Carterhaugh Fairy Tale Profs:
"Spinning is, of course, about so much more than transforming fiber into thread."
The CarterhaughSchool for Folklore and the Fantastic course "Rapunzel's Circle: Finding Enchantment Under Quarantine", starting next week, seeks to find ways to help fairy tale folk through the stress and pressures to places of wonder and hope and to help the open the door to creativity despite the circumstances. The pressure to do the most ordinary of things (did you shower today?) is so very great at present, and the call to "be productive, creative, or reinvent yourself NOW, because this is the perfect opportunity and it will NEVER come again", puts even more pressure on top of basic survival. It's not as simple as it first appears; it's a very complex issue, swirling with human need, fear, worry, confusion, motivation, values, and having to remain on guard against misinformation.
Putting The Focus On (And Helping) The Ones In Crisis, Not The Unfamiliar Threat With A Weird Name

COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus disease appearing in 2019).
SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 )
Coronavirus is the family of viruses this new (novel) one belongs to (which include SARS and MERS).
COVID-19 is the official name for the disease.
SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the virus that causes the disease...

See? We're already stressed out by focusing on the names of these threats, names we barely understand, and currently have no cure for, rather than the people - us! - in crisis who have to deal with the threat, no matter what its name happens to technically be. ("A rose is a rose by any other name...")
It's affecting people EVERYWHERE of all different backgrounds, cultures, social statuses, faiths, countries, and appearances. If anything, this coronavirus is a great equalizer. We are all at risk. And yet when we're stuck at home with our immediate families, we can forget that faces that don't look like ours are dealing with the exact same issues, worries, and stressors. But the wonderful thing is that remembering this can bring us together, even while separated, which is what we truly need to survive this: we need each other, just not in a way that we're used to.

For this post we thought we'd focus on a different representation of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale by the amazing African-American writer Virginia Hamilton, specifically to remind ourselves that this is a worldwide issue, not just a local or national one and that we should be focusing on what we - as people - are doing. 

The wonderful thing about this variant, too, is that instead of focusing on the foreign threat of Rumpelstiltskin, or in this case 'Lit'mahn Bittyun', it focuses on the woman at the center of the crisis, and how she employs her skills and resources at hand to solve the dual dilemma of surviving the king's threat and the magic-man's price.
All the illustrations in this post are by Diane Dillon and Leo Dillon for Hamilton's retelling of Rumpelstiltskin through the Caribbean, or West Indies, lens, titled The Girl Who Spun Gold. In a note in the rear of the book, Hamilton explains there are many cultural variations from different parts of the world (not just Europe) on the tale and that she chose one from the West Indies for her retelling. (Unfortunately, we have not been able to track down a traditional text or recording of the West Indies variant.) While we are keen to find that West Indies source, in the meantime, this book does a wonderful job of shifting our usual - sometimes too familiar - perspective on the tale, and makes us reconsider it in a different light. Gone is the child-snatching threat and instead the story focuses on the girl, who is given a name: 
Meet Quashiba, a beautiful, innocent girl who is about to be made a queen, although she is not a princess. No, she is merely a peasant girl, busy spinning the plainest thread on a day when the king comes riding up to her.“Oh, great Big King,” says her mama, hoping to catch the king’s attention, “my daughter is spinning a whole field of finest golden thread to make cloth for his Highest.”What can Quashiba do about her mama’s terrible lie? For the king decides to marry her, and in a year, he will padlock her in a room and demand that she spin and weave him three whole rooms of golden things.So begins the dramatic, fascinating fairy tale about Quashiba and the tiny, sinister creature who agrees to save her by spinning gold on one condition.During his three nights of spinning and weaving, she has three chances to guess his whole name. If she fails, he will make her tiny and carry her off.What will Quashiba do? (From Virginia Hamilton's website)
For those interested in cultural variations on well-known tales, a discussion of Virginia Hamilton's adaptation and the accompanying illustrations in relation to authentic West Indies cultural traditions and representation is included in the book Fairy Tales with a Black Consciousness: Essays on Adaptations of Familiar Stories (by Vivian Yenika-Agbaw, Ruth McKoy Lowery, et al). After a discussion of language, story rhythm, names, customs, hierarchy, food, and more, the writers concluded this book was a fair cultural representation "warts and all".
Picture of text excerpt from Fairy Tales with a Black Consciousness
But let's return to the main question: how does Rumpelstiltskin explore creativity under stress (or duress!)?
As already mentioned, not only are there many variants of Rumpelstiltskin, but there are as many ways to tell this tale as there are tellers, and everyone will focus on different things. That principle works very well in seeing how Rumpelstiltskin explores stress too. There is a known relationship between stress and creativity but it's a complex one. While many forms of stress do stifle - even ruin - creativity, others can enhance it, and a lot of "which stress has which effect", depends on the point of view of the person. If your goals have true personal meaning to you, (and that doesn't tend to include repetitive tasks or goals you feel are necessary, like cleaning EVERYTHING, EVERY DAY right now!) then that meaning kindles creativity.
"When people reach goals they consider meaningful, Amabile writes in her book, they "feel good, grow their positive self-efficacy," and "get even more revved up to tackle the next job."The relationship between stress and creativity here depends on how you perceive the stress you're under at any given time. Is it connected to a goal you find meaningful? Does it push you to accomplish this goal? If so, that little dose of stress may be helping you think outside the box.." (Teresa Amabile, from her book The Progress Principle)
The truth, though, is that even a "good stressor" can ruin creativity if it happens in excess - something that is more likely to happen in a pandemic/ quarantine/ isolation/ social distancing situation than it would under normal circumstances because these stakes are high... and this is where it's important to know what your limitations are. When to compromise, when to rest and when to accept help (even if it's not ideal) are all very important strategies for both surviving and getting that creativity flowing. Like the heroine in Rumpelstiltskin, sometimes you are out of options and need to acknowledge this task is not something you can do - or at least something that requires irregular help. What the ABC series, Once Upon A Time said continuously is true, though: "Magic always comes with a price..." and that's something that should be taken into consideration. Actions have consequences, even in dire circumstances when the main goal is just survival, and decisions made under these conditions sometimes compromise the result you wanted, possibly even affect the future. Sometimes that means accepting help and not being able to take full credit for a work that's important to you. Sometimes it means paying someone, or bartering a precious resource you have for services. The result of the trade-off is not always immediately apparent and it may change the course of your plans, or the future you had envisioned. Rumpelstiltskin can remind us of that too. 
But not all Rumpelstiltskin variants have helpers who result in negative fallout! Sometimes they are friends in disguise. Sometimes these helpers will become like family. Sometimes the price is that your life will never be the same - and that's a good thing!

We should also point out that the tale underlines fortitude, not giving up, thinking outside the box, adapting to a situation and then, if the endgame is something you are not happy with, (eg. still having to give up your baby!, or, in this case, not wanting to become a teensy person and carried away) that using your wits, using the resources you have now, and again accepting help (though notice this time it's in a different way in the tale the second crisis around) - all these aspects point toward the possibility of having a say in our destinies, no matter what authorities, situations and complications occur. 
We could go on for MUCH longer discussing pertinent parallels and themes that we could consider relevant to today's pandemic crisis but instead, we'll let you figure out how this fairy tale can be a good reference for your own situation, and, hopefully, make you aware of some choices you perhaps didn't realize you had, so that even now, under quarantine, instead of waiting in limbo, you are able to live your best life and look forward to the future.

Quick Reminder: We feel fortunate to help announce the appearance of a benevolent magical helper for all fairy tale and folklore folk, who need "something" to help them get through this time. Carterhaugh's School of Folklore and the Fantastic has created a custom-made-for-this-pandemic-crisis course "Rapunzel's Circle" and it begins MONDAY. Rather than focusing on achievements, assignments and projects, which can be yet another stress, this course is designed to help you find a safe and calm space, to build hope, discover community and help you dip your toe into some creativity if you feel up for it - all with no pressure, obligation or commitment. There is no way to fail this course and you are welcome to be as involved as you want to be. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

3 Scholarships Available for "Rapunzel's Circle: Finding Enchantment Under Quarantine"!

Rapunzel by Wenjia Tang

A special note from Dr. Brittany Warman (also charmingly known as "Briarspell" on her social media accounts), Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic's co-founder, folklorist, teacher, writer and a slew of other giftedness - regarding the new course we just posted on, "Rapunzel's Circle: Finding Enchantment Under Quarantine": 
We should also mention that we're offering THREE full scholarships for this course,
so please e-mail us at
or watch our Facebook group for more information on that :).

How awesome is this? More than a few are having serious financial issues with the important and life-saving, but also challenging order to #stayathome, so now more folks can be involved, by-passing this difficulty altogether. (Our Fairy Tale Professors ROCK!)

Hope to see some familiar faces and/or names in the course next week!

"Rapunzel's Circle: Finding Enchantment Under Quarantine" - A New Fairy Tale & Folklore Course, Designed Specifically To Help Us Weather This Pandemic Storm

by Antonio Mora

Feeling overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, trapped and worried about so very many things?

Us too.

Having trouble finding magic in your days?

Us too.

Wishing fairy tales had answers or at least some refuge and hope?

We have something to offer!

Carterhaugh's School of Folklore and the Fantastic have gently been offering light and hope via social media, especially through their community on Facebook, on Instagram and sharing inspiring posts on their blog - which we recommend subscribing to.

As mentioned in a previous post, they've even offered a huge list of free resources aka "Rapunzel's Toolkit".

But now they're offering even more, specifically to help folks of the fairy tale and folkloric persuasion, in finding rest, solace, hope and community during this time of upheaval.

Fairy tale professors Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman have created a special course, designed to help RIGHT NOW:

"This course draws deeply on folklore and fairy tales to help you weather the storm. Our mission is to re-story you, to connect you to the community and combat loneliness, to inspire you creatively, and to help calm your restless mind.
(That is this-coming MONDAY folks!)
The course will include live lectures, an invitation to our private Facebook group, access to all the fairy tales we discuss, weekly fairy-tale incantations, and so much more. This course is, above all, about community. It is about coming together during a time of crisis and loneliness to meet with other, like-minded folk and form a space where compassion is alive and magic is still afoot. Your spark hasn’t gone out - we will find it together."
And if you want to take part but the last thing you feel you can manage is something else on your plate, you should know this course is designed, not as an intensive study, with tons of reading, huge projects or assignments but as something you can flit in and out of, whenever you find a few minutes of downtime. You can dip your toe in and get wonderfully refreshed in just for 10 minutes, or soak for a few hours and deep dive to your heart's content - it's up to you and the course allows for both approaches.

Here's an overview of what will be focused on in the weeks to come:

This 4 week course is being offered at a lower than usual price to be more accessible to folks, and Carterhaugh offers different payment plans to make it easier too.

It should also be noted that these courses are a GREAT way to find other fairy tale folk and become part of a community. You are not alone at home, or in your quirky folkloric and enchanted interests! There are many folks out there like you (like us!) and these courses are a great way to discover thoughtful and kind people from all over the world - and, importantly right now, in a very safe way. Connecting while social distancing is made possible through communities like this one and creates a great introduction for when we can wander the world safely again, perhaps this time to share coffee, tea and conversation with new friends.

Note: Rapunzel's Circle logo for Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic by Cheryl Honeycutt

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Homemade Fairy Tales in Quarantine

Little Red Riding Hood by Gustav Dore (color), recreated by Katrin La aka @0815utzi
Folks are getting very creative while in quarantine and finding wonderful ways of keeping their lives magical, and the creativity isn't restricted to artists. One trend that keeps appearing is people recreating famous paintings with whatever they have around the house. This has made for some hilarious pictures (especially those reflecting the pandemic symbols of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and more).

We were more than a little thrilled to find a handful of fairy tale pieces (along with more "fairy tale adjacent" pieces, especially those of the pre-raphaelite sensibility) and thought our readers might enjoy taking a peek - and perhaps get inspired to create your own homemade fairy tale.
Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes recreated by Mona Longueville aka @lechasfaitronron
The Instagram account, @tussenkunstenquarantaine (not a typo) has been collecting submissions to help spread joy through the web, and is encouraging folks to get involved.

Here are the guidelines:

Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine

For everyone at home who needs some relief. Some homemade art 👩🏼‍🎨
1. Pic your artwork
2. Use 3 items in your home
3. Share @tussenkunstenquarantaine

Although people seem to stretch beyond the "3 items" guidelines, from time to time, it's a pretty fun challenge that good for stretching your brain and engaging your sense of humor, and of course, we'd love to see some more classic fairy tale paintings and illustrations recreated!
Ophelia by John Everett Millais recreated by Astrid Hulsmann aka @astrid_hulsmann
If you post on Instagram please feel free to tag @tussenkunstenquarantaine, our Editor's account @inkgypsy and also the online fairy tale profs of The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic Everyone is friendly, supportive and we are all delighting in each mote of magic that comes our way right now. And there's a good chance we'll share it in our feeds.

Enjoy the art and #staysafeathome! (It is still SO weird to type those words and realize they remain relevant the globe over.. hang in there folks!)
The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse - "trash version" by @brettmanningart (her words!)
Note: Brett has recently recreated a number of Pre-raphaelite scenes -they're all wonderful and worth checking out HERE

Friday, April 3, 2020

Beauty and the Beast-The Corona Version, Rapunzel in the Kingdom of Corona & Other Fairy Tale Commentary On Surviving This Pandemic

So how are you all?

We will catch you up on our new year, new surgery, and new challenges (typing = headaches!!) another time but for now our focus, is just like yours: surviving this pandemic, and that's a complex thing.

There were pleas from authorities to not joke about Covid-19 on April Fool's Day two days ago, because there are too many people afraid, or sick, or fighting for their lives while others are risking their own lives (and their families) daily by being on the front lines to help combat this pandemic, and we agree.

We do think, however, that humor can help alleviate stress and this video walks the line between funny parody and sobering truth - hopefully it's a good combo for you. Just going to leave this here for you all to... enjoy? Cringe at? Sober-up over? Heh.. oh boy.
"I've yet to see a reckless fool quite like her,"
"Without a mask or gloves she goes?..." 

Why is this so difficult for folks to adjust to??
For the first time everyone around the world - all at once -  is having to think about everything they do, in every aspect of their lives (from the most basic "how do I get food?" to the more complex "how do I educate my kids?") and that's an overwhelming adjustment to make, especially as it's not something someone else can do for us. We're each having to do it, individually, for the most part, but that doesn't mean we're as alone as we may feel.

The Fairy Tale Profs at The Carterhaugh School of Folkore and the Fantastic, have - inspired by the iconic "maiden in a tower fairy tale" story - put together a list of resources, or, as they delightfully title it "Rapunzel's Toolkit, or How To Nuture Magic and Sanity in Your Own Tower".
It's varied, extensive and wonderfully tailored for fairy tale and folklore folks to be inspired by during our confinement. You can find that awesome list HERE or by clicking on the image below.
While we have you here - and thinking of people locked in places they don't want to be - we wanted to remind folks that we could all use a little more kindness and gentleness in dealing with our current "cellmates". Everyone is having some sort of issue with the restrictions. Perhaps most obviously, extroverts quickly got cabin fever in a just a couple of days and are finding each additional 24 hours more difficult (and depressing), but introverts too are struggling with having no place to escape their co-confined families for some sanity-reviving alone-time and are feeling suffocated. More importantly than either of these groups, though, are two others that desperately need our awareness, support and care:

1) those quarantined with people they don't get on with (relationship fallout is already happening across the globe)
2) women & children in abusive and violent homes (domestic violence is on the rise the world over)

We thought this might be a good image for a sober reminder:
And there are other "at risk for additional violence" groups too: the homeless, the elderly in nursing homes, displaced youth, those in "halfway houses", the incarcerated...
Compassion and kindness isn't just about all the various "Rapunzels" that we are, getting through this more humanely, and creatively, but it may, in fact, save lives in a different - but very important way - too.

Yeah - this subject gets heavy REAL fast!

By the way, anyone else begin picturing a whole lot of Rapunzel-type towers sprouting up through a kingdom, trying to figure out how to keep daily life and functions running while we're talking about this? Just us? :D That would make for an interesting and twisty, fairy tale challenge...
(Feel free to write that fairy tale and we'll publish it here!)

Let's finish with a little extra giggle bonus, because we can't help but feel that despite the incredible gravity of this situation, a roll of toilet paper will be the ultimate symbol for this era in world history...
PS: A PSA (because we cannot get complacent about this!)
  --WASH YOUR HANDS -- (at least 20 seconds - you should know how by now!)                           -- STAY AT HOME --  (ie. in a single place - no visiting people who don't sleep in the same place you do! Shop once a week OR LESS for necessities only.)
(the length of a turkey vulture's wingspan!) 
A Personal Note from the OUABlog Fairy Tale News Room
Question: Is Once Upon A Blog still open for business then?
Answer: Yeeesss. Sort of. It's a qualified yes. We wish to be but computer work has become a very real physical challenge and posts are likely to be random, short and erratic. We wish we could do more right now but healing has to be our priority. We hope you understand and forgive the inconsistency. We were working with doctors on this before the world-wide emergency hit, so progress in this department is taking a backseat until our docs are available again. Keep up your "habit of Wonder", practice creative living, focus on healing (like Mother Nature is doing, despite all this!) and you'll see us in your orbit again very soon.
Gypsy & the Fairy Tale News Team