“Once upon a time … ” – remember, as a child, in the evenings, our journey into the magic world began with these words. And we, with our feet on the sofa or the bed, were clinging to our father or mother, barely breathing, as to not miss anything, listening … And together with Gerda we tried to melt the icy heart of Kai; together with Cinderella dreamed of going to the ball and awaited the appearance of the Godmother; together with Belle of “Beauty and the Beast” tried to love the furry and frightening beast. And our favorite tales, we asked to be told again and again.
Today, many parents do not read tales and fairytales to their children because of various excuses – not enough time; and the modern life is such, that there is no time for magic; it is more important to teach the child to survive in this complicated world. If you ask today’s children, as to what their favorite fairytale is, most will keep silent. Many, instead of telling you the name of their favorite fairytale hero, will tell you the name of the character of a computer game …
Meanwhile, having been born in ancient times, before many other genres of oral and written literature, having absorbed all the wisdom of the people and the dream of a harmonious, creative life, the tale gives the child a more valuable experience than a normal conversation or an adult’s instruction. Thanks to it, the child learns that life is like a journey full of unexpected discoveries and adventures; that at any moment the world can speak, because it is – alive, so it is important to show care and sensitivity to everything around. With the aid of a fairytale, the child understands that the path of life is difficult, that it is not simple and smooth; that each test helps to become stronger; that all that is valuable is earned with difficulty; and that which is obtained freely and with ease can disappear just as quickly. Tales teach children that in order to make the right choices, it is important to have a loving heart and not a calculating mind. Fairytales also suggest that good always triumphs over evil. Tales teach the child to learn, to not only know himself, but also the world around him.
Therefore, children sometimes listen to the same tale for weeks, not allowing to change it or to miss a single word. It is a pity that adults, tired of repeating, dismiss such requests. When in fact, it is this fairytale that is now helping the child to understand something important to him at this stage in his life; to learn the necessary behaviors or to solve another vital task. Then, the child leaves this fairytale behind as a step in life, and moves on.
A meeting with a fairytale for children is of the greatest need and a source of joy. It is no coincidence, perhaps, that the most ancient method of practical psychology and one of the newest methods in modern scientific practice has been revived several years ago – tale-therapy. This word brings a smile to some, while surprising others. Some consider it an aid in the work of psychologists, others perceive it only as a naive system. But, after getting to know it closer, discover the endless possibilities of tale-therapy, the treatment of the soul with fairytales.
The fact is, vivid images of fairytales fill the unconsciousness, becoming a kind of repository for all kinds of life’s situations, ways of communicating with other people, examples for solving life’s problems and aiding the implementation of plans.
Although a child will not be able to take advantage of these treasures, if no one discussed these fairytales with him, but only reads or tells. However, even a simple reading is good – it gives at least some protection and support in life. So the knowledge of the world created by a fairytale would come to life, an adult should find a way to discuss what was read with the child, to compare the fantastic plots with stories of life. A child learns to act consciously, to see causal connections between events, to reflect about own purpose, and to discover own abilities and talents. “Is it important for my child? Isn’t it early for my child to think about such “serious” things?” – a parent may ask. It is important and not early. Moreover, it may be too late later. If we take a look around, we will see what destruction was brought on by adults obsessive with an illusion of impunity, who deny the “fairytale” laws of interaction with the world. Maybe fairytales are nothing by “nonsense” and “frivolity”, but they do not destroy the world, instead, they cry out to the light, creative side of the human soul. Therefore, the use of tale-therapy with children, adolescents and even adults is particularly relevant today. If only because it is necessary to stop the avalanche of destruction produced by man. In can only be possible, when humans return to their primordial “fairytale” state of perceiving the world.
Until 17th-18th centuries, fairytales and tales were not only told to children, but also to adults. During winters, perhaps, it was the main form of entertainment for the villagers. Back then, the tales were taken seriously and reverently. Listening to tales was a spiritual need. The wisdom, born in the far-distant past, has not lost relevance to the present day. Modern adults, burdened with conventions, stereotypes of logical thinking and “reasonable” lifestyle, need fairytales as much as children. Tales remove this “dark” layer, and it turns out that within the soul of an adult, lives a child – open, candid, full of wonder. Only, he hid behind tall mountains, behind distant seas, took refuge behind seven doors, behind seven locks.
Maybe it’s time to allow it to manifest? To release the creativity and to look at the world in a new way? It matters not how old we are, because we, as children, too, are waiting for a miracle. We believe that someone wise will tell us how to overcome difficulties and to resolve conflicts; how to be happy, fit, to find true friends and assistants. And the answer, like a thousand years ago, can be found in a fairytale.
Written by: Svetlana Liventseva
Translated by: Dmitriy Kushnir