View Full Version : Dwarfs in Myth and Fairytales

Monday, September 3rd, 2007, 05:09 PM
In myth, as well as in fairy tale, symbols form the “backbone” of the story, whether intended or not. In any mythology, the events and characters depicted are not representative of actual events. Although they may be based on events that took place, that is not what is important. What is central to every mythology is the message that it is trying to deliver. It delivers that message through the use of symbols. These symbols are the aesthetic representations of psychological qualities.

Throughout human history, there has been a deep fascination with what it means to be alive. From the earliest days of our waking consciousness, we as humans have strived for an explanation of why we exist and how that existence functions. In the Hindu story of creation, the universe was but one man. This man realized that he was he and with this realization he became afraid, for he was all alone. But the fear departed when he realized he was all alone with no one to fear. He was without delight, so he created woman from himself. She wondered how he could unite with her if she was from he. She ran away to hide in the form of a cow but he became a bull. Then she became a mare and he a stallion, and so it went through all the forms of creatures. With a realization of the I, there was also the same with thou. The fear elicited by this duality, unique to the human species, is beautifully and hauntingly rendered in this creation story. It was the birth of the truly human aspect of consciousness.

Other animals on our planet also react to protect their individuality. However, for most of them this is simply learned behavior brought out over billions of years through the process of evolution. Humans are also a part of this process, but what sets them apart from most animals is an awareness of this learned behavior.

Animals inherit unconscious symbols, which are collectively developed within a species. In their most basic and reactionary form, these symbols are called “innate releasing mechanisms.” Animals instinctually react to the symbol regardless of previous personal experience with an object. This is a highly tested phenomena.

Humans have their own releasing mechanisms. Accompanying our highly developed consciousness, we are able to create symbols which function in much the same way. The personally derived symbols are not readily incorporated into the inherited symbol set so they must be passed down from generation to generation. However, each generation recognizes these symbols because they are vicariously understood, in the unconscious, within the context of a given society. This means that although they are symbols created for a particular society or civilization, they are also closely linked to those symbols that fit the universal requisites. That is they are a sort of bridge between what all humans can understand, because they are human, and are necessary for a particular local civilization to survive. In order to function properly a symbol set must fulfill the two requirements of satisfying the universal symbol needs of the human species and also the local details that can be understood from a conscious perspective. Humankind creates its own symbols in order to bridge the complex gaps between the unconsciousness, consciousness, and the world around them. Through consciousness they attempt to make sense of their relationship to the aspect of themselves that they could not comprehend without and its connection to the perceivable world.

We will be exploring not only the universal symbol which dwarfs represent in German mythology, and fairy tales, but also the local emphasis given in folk legends by German story-tellers. This localization is affected by, but not limited to, the history of a people, their geography and their religion. The dwarf in his aesthetic visible depiction is that localized creation of universal themes. So the dwarf is but a mask for psychological impulses. Without this facade, the intangible workings of our mind would elude our comprehension. To study the mythological dwarf is to learn aspects of ourselves. He is not a separate actor in the saga of human events but rather without him no human would be complete.

Source: The Journal of Germanic Mythology & Folklore (http://jgmf.org/), Fourth Issue Pages 93-95

Monday, September 3rd, 2007, 06:01 PM

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 02:02 AM

Would you or anyone else like to discuss this ? :D