Sleeping Beauty

The fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty shows how birth and death belong together. When a child grows up and reaches for its own thread of life, childhood will die with it’s dependence. If you cannot cope with that you will fall asleep, dream of a mature life and wake up only when you are capable of taking responsibility for all your own actions.

Once there lived a King and a Queen who reigned their kingdom with harmony and peace; for an eternity already. And it could have lasted for another eternity this way, if the King and Queen had not longed for a child so much. Years went by and when they almost had given up hope the Queen felt their wish would be fulfilled. The child was born. It was a girl, a little princess. The King and the Queen were, of course, very happy and they decided to celebrate the birth with a great feast. A feast to which the twelve fairies of the kingdom were invited.

The fairies presented the infant with their good gifts. Everyone of them brought a talent for the little princess. When the feast was in full swing, the fairies came one by one to deliver their wishes at the cradle of the princess. The first fairy, who could reach into the heavens with her magic wand, gave inspiration to the princess. The second fairy gave her love, the third intelligence. Next came the fourth fairy, but she hid her gift and let the others go first. The other fairies gave willpower, beauty, skill, healing power, wisdom, dignity, friendship and confidence to the princess.

But there lived another fairy in the kingdom, the thirteenth. This fairy possessed the gift of dying. This fairy was forgotten for convenience’s sake, for one doesn’t like to think about death at birth.

The thirteenth fairy came uninvited to the feast and had to announce herself. All were terrified, for she was angry because she wasn’t welcome. She entered the hall and, without greeting anyone, even without looking at anyone, she exclaimed loudly: ‘The princess shall prick herself with a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and die.’ She turned her back, left the hall and all rejoicing left with her. Fortunately the fourth fairy, who brought the gift of heavenly light, had concealed her present. She had been hiding behind a pillar and now came out. She said: ‘Unfortunately I cannot take away the harsh truth of death, but I can soften it. I will hide the heavenly light in the heart of the princess. It will slumber there and when the princess is affected in her heart and the fire is set alight, she will not die of this fire. A hundred years duration she will sleep, until she is awakened by a fearless prince with courage in his heart.’

Of course everybody present was very shocked and the King did as any king would in a case like this: he tried to avert fate by cleverness. Every spinning wheel in the country had to be taken to the marketplace. There he burned the pile himself. But it was of no avail. On her sixteenth birthday the princess awoke, restlessly, and she decided to take a walk on her own. She used to do so often, but this time she walked further than ever before.

She discovered a desolate tower on the bank of the lake. She climbed higher and higher and there, in the tower room, sat the thirteenth fairy with a spinning wheel. The princess, who, of course, had never seen a spinning wheel before, asked her what she was doing. The fairy told her she was spinning thread from that golden tuft, a thread so strong you could pull Heaven towards you and keep it forever.

This was exactly what the princess desired. ‘May I try once?’ she asked and of course the fairy let her. The princess took the thread, pricked her finger with the spindle and fell down in a deep sleep.

When the princess didn’t return from her walk, the whole palace was in an uproar. At last a courtier thought of looking in the deserted tower and there he found the princess. He carried her to the palace. There she was laid on a bed in the garden room between the roses she loved so dearly. The King and the Queen, the courtiers, the servants and the guards, everybody was desperate. Often they went to look at the princess, but after a few days the roses were smelling so stunningly that everybody in the palace was dazed and, one by one, they fell in a deep sleep. The hedge of briars around the castle started to grow and grow, till nobody in the country could remember when they had seen the castle for the last time. Only the smell of roses, which got through the hedge, reminded the people of the history of the sleeping princess.

People told each other about the princess, who was now called Sleeping Beauty and some still hoped for a fearless prince to arrive. Many princes who had hoped to find Sleeping Beauty and thought themselves fearless tried to penetrate the hedge, but in vain.

They tried to fight their way through with their swords and some seemed to be going quite a long way. But ever again the hedge closed quickly behind them and it seemed at every attack that the thorns were growing twice as fast and twice as big. The princes got entangled in the hedge, and so they perished miserably.

Until one day a prince from a country afar saw the small towers of the palace rising above the hedge. “What is it, there, there behind that hedge?’ he asked.

He was told the story of the beautiful princess who had been asleep for at least a hundred years. ‘But nobody has ever succeeded in breaking through the hedge, so you won’t even have to try.!’ the people said. ‘Still I will try’, the prince bravely answered. And then, miraculously, the thorns turned away spontaneously. The way was clear for the prince.

The prince went through the hedge and arrived at the palace. ‘That’s strange’, the prince thought, ‘everybody is asleep!’ He wandered through the palace and went into the garden room. There he saw Sleeping Beauty and she was even much more beautiful than he ever could have dreamt. He couldn’t help kissing her. Thereupon Sleeping Beauty awoke and opened her eyes. At the same time the whole palace awoke. The King and the Queen, the courtiers, the servants and the guards. Everybody was rejoicing. The prince and the princess were married and they lived joyfully and fruitfully, very long and very happy.