14 March 2015


Jeri Studebaker: Breaking the Mother Goose Code: How a Fairy-Tale Character Fooled the World for 300 Years. Moon Books, 2015.

All of us are familiar with fairy tales, usually associated with a warm glow of childhood memories when we first heard them, and then heard them again and again. They are somehow imbued in our consciousness as enduring archetypes and metaphors for the underlying principles of life itself, such as the struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, and the quest for true Love.
In this easily readable and friendly record of her extensive research, American author Judi Studebaker takes us with her on her personal odyssey to discover who or what was ultimately behind the emergence of Fairy Tales in general, and Mother Goose in particular.

What if Mother Goose was actually the ancient European, Egyptian, or even Universal Mother Goddess in disguise?  The author eventually reaches just this conclusion which she intuited at the start of her interest in Mother Goose, but to her credit does it by following the admirable path of thorough research, historical verification, and the scientific method of testing her theory. It has to be said that Mother Goose appears to resonate more with Americans than those of us raised in Britain. What we call "Nursery Rhymes" here are often referred to as "Mother Goose Rhymes" over there. However, we are here dealing with matters far more serious than mere children's rhymes and stories, for there was a time in European history when holding ancient pre-Christian beliefs and practices, or even being suspected of them, could result in torture and death. To quote directly from the book: "...it became unsafe even to talk privately about pre-Christian religion - especially after the witch persecutions began. In fact, it got so bad that eventually a kind of mania settled over many parts of Europe. It seemed everyone suspected everyone else of being a witch."

The author goes on to explain, with several references to other researchers, that there were well-founded fears of those who might use black magic to harm others, but that "Europeans also believed in what are variously called white witches, cunning folk, healers, shamans, and several other terms designating people considered able to use magic in a positive way to satisfy a multitude of human needs."
In short, the fundamental message of this book is that Fairy Tales appeared in Europe at just the same time that Christianity was reaching its most aggressively Patriarchal guise. They were timeless allegories of of a long-lost civilisation that was Matriarchal in character, so they celebrate the female in her three main stages of Princess (virgin girl), Mother (adult woman) and Crone (woman having attained wisdom, knowledge and power, represented as a witch). In Fairy Tales, frogs may be princes in disguise and crones are princesses in disguise, teaching us not to judge by appearances and to have compassion for all our fellow beings, as far as circumstances allow. They are timeless repositories of wisdom, reminding us that beyond the mundane world there is a realm of magic and all possibility. Ultimately, the Goose represents the Goddess, the mystical divine feminine entity that laid the Cosmic Egg, all of Creation. --  Kevin Murphy


Phil said...

there was a time in European history when holding ancient pre-Christian beliefs and practices, or even being suspected of them, could result in torture and death

Is any of this documented? AIUI "the witch persecutions", as a single phenomenon, are a bit of a myth.

Athana said...

Hi, Phil,

It's all documented extensively. The persecution of so-called witches was a very real phenomenon.