What Do Fairy Tales Teach Us?

Stories Are Medicine

In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the value of stories, that they instruct us about life.  In the time when folk tales/fairy tales were passed from mother to daughter, the stories carried important lessons for young girls about a woman’s life, about, ” sex, money, marriage, birthing, death, and transformation” (Estes,p. 16). Dr Estes explained,“Stories are medicine….They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything – we need only listen.” (p.15 )*

The Loss of Teaching Folk Tales for Women

For centuries women’s experience has been defined by men in all forms of printed and visual media because as the writers, producers, and directors, men’s perspective controlled what images and stories reached the public domain.”  (The ABC Path toward True Wisdom, p.151)**

That means we don’t have the original folk tales or fairy tales that taught women about life.  Instead, we have the censored, edited versions published by men who were not privy to the secrets women told women.

From the 20th century we have Walt Disney’s colorful animated depictions of classic fairy tales that told us “happily ever after” meant being rescued by the prince.  We witnessed that fallacy with Diana and Prince Charles.

In today’s world the stories we sit listening to, spell bound by their imaginative special effects, come through movies and television – still mostly written, directed, and produced by men instructing us about life.

Recovering Our True Medicine

There is hope! Women have returned to sharing their stories in circle.  We gather and speak our truth, speak from our heart, and listen deeply to each other’s stories.  And our stories are medicine.  And we are healing.

Questions for discussion:

  • How did fairy tales, myths, fictional movies or TV shows expand or limit your understanding of a woman’s life?
  • Growing up, what fairy tale, myth, fictional movie, or TV show had the strongest impact on your definition of what a “happily ever after” life looked like for you as a woman?
  • If your life were told as a fairy tale, what would the “happily ever after” ending look like now?

To get the most from your Circle gathering, read the Circle Guidelines.

*Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run Withe the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, New York: Ballentine Books, 1992. P 15-16.

**The chapter reference for this Wisdom of the Feminine theme is from  The ABC Path toward True Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Trusting What She Knows in Her Heart Is True,  “X-rayed X’s” p. 151-155.

Permission to reproduce this post in it’s entirety is granted for use in privately hosted women’s circles and non-profit programs only.

For use in for-profit women’s circles and programs, written permission is required to reproduce any portion of this post.

©2019 Teresa Lampmann

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