Incandescence Transcendent: A Fairy Tale Anthology
Just a couple of days ago, as we were discussing the title for our upcoming fairy tale anthology, our amazing CEO mentioned to me that Joseph Campbell said that a function of mythological symbols is ‘transparency to the transcendent’ – to point beyond the symbols themselves to what is in our wider consciousness.
It got me thinking.
Mythology and, by extension, fairy tales, correspond with archetypal stories, legends, and fables older than time itself that have been a fundamental, integral part of our collective psyche since before actual recorded memory.
Mankind has always told stories; cavemen recorded theirs in cave paintings, preserved and interpreted thousands of years later. And even in those first recorded tales one can see and recognize elements distinctly similar to tales we’re all familiar with today.
Such tales, that have come to be referred to as fairy tales over the centuries, have been around much longer than we’ve actually been able to record them. Different cultures may have differentiated on a story handed down through the generations, but there will be aspects of it that will be easily acknowledged by anyone who comes across it, inevitable parallels drawn upon the similarities.
Fairy tales, I think, are indeed transcendent; even before they were recorded in writing, given a more ‘physical,’ fixed form in the immutable medium of the written word, they were there. Passed along through oral tradition, exchanged between different cultural groups and entire civilizations, altered as they went along because they were affected by the times and needs of the people who passed them on. But fairy tales and myths alike have never faded from memory, never disappeared and every new generation comes into contact with the same symbolic meanings.
I also think that it’s their undimmed, ever-present glow, their eternal incandescence which is the fire that has kept these stories alive. Fairy tales are always new to those who listen to them for the first time in their life; but they are also a luminous, bright presence in the lives of those who’ve heard them many times, who have had their lives brightened by the impossible story of a hero on an impossible quest.
For those who have wandered their garden, looking for fairies or sat by the beach daydreaming of mermaids and magical animals rising from the depths, fairy tales are kept alive, ever-breathing, ever-glowing by our own imagination and in return, they feed it as well, giving rise to more stories in the process. A perfect, transcendent, ever-incandescent cycle of inspiration breathing life to creation and vice versa.