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Simply... An Ancient Tale Of Fertile Autonomy


new internationalist
issue 235 - September 1992

An ancient tale of fertile autonomy
Illustrations by JIM NEEDLE

illustration by JIM NEEDLE Once upon a time there was a sorcerer who went from village to village disguised as an old beggar. His plot was to kidnap fertile young virgins and take them back with him to his palace where they would remain under his control. One day he kidnapped the eldest of three sisters by magically trapping her in a basket he carried on his back.

illustration by JIM NEEDLE Back at the palace he let her out of the basket and gave her a bunch of keys and an egg. He told her to take the egg with her everywhere she went - but on no account to use the smallest key which unlocked the door to a secret room. The sorcerer departed and the girl wandered throughout the palace, marvelling at the rooms filled with silver and gold.

illustration by JIM NEEDLE When she came to the door of the secret room she could not, of course, resist entering. Inside she found a bath filled with blood and dismembered limbs. She was so shocked by this that she dropped the egg in the bath. And she could not remove the bloodstains from the egg however hard she scrubbed.

As soon as the sorcerer returned he demanded to see the egg. When he saw the bloodstains - evidence of her disobedience - he told her: 'You have entered the room against my will. Now you must enter it against yours.' He dragged her into the room, killed her and put her in the bath. Then he set out for her younger sister - who suffered a similar fate.

illustration by JIM NEEDLE However, the third and youngest sister broke the pattern of his success. He managed to kidnap her. But instead of obeying him and taking the egg with her she hid it carefully - then set out to explore the palace and the secret room. She was shocked to find her dismembered sisters in the bath but having hidden the egg it could not fall and become bloodstained. Then, acting intuitively she put her hands into the bloodbath, drew up the pieces and laid them out in the right order. To her surprise - and joy - the pieces joined up and her sisters sprang back to life. illustration by JIM NEEDLE When the sorcerer returned the youngest sister showed him the unstained egg and then - with her sisters - escaped from the palace.

illustration by JIM NEEDLE And what's the moral of this gruesome tale? Well, like the youngest sister we have to work outside the rules laid down for us by the sorcerer. We have to live creatively and spontaneously by our own values and intuitions - even when we find ourselves within the walls of the sorcerer's palace. And of course we have to take great care of the egg, the symbol of fertility.



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New Internationalist issue 235 magazine cover This article is from the September 1992 issue of New Internationalist.
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