As I work through the telling of one of my own little tales, Rumpelstiltskin arises in the story.
The artwork of Edward Gorey (a name fitting to be the modern illustrator for the Brothers Grimm) surfaces from the far reaches of my memories. I can still envision his rendering of the small and strange, troll-meets-gnome-like character of Rumpelstiltskin. The creature that came to the maiden and showed her how to spin straw into gold.
Yet there was a price for the secret of alchemy. She had three tries to guess his name or he would take her first-born child as his prize. It seemed he was going to win this wager after all, but his arrogance was his undoing.
It’s the Gorey scene of Stiltskin by the fire that made such an imprint in my childhood. It comes now to my mind’s eye when I sketch out a scene of my own, a time at 23 when I was deep in the forest, alone. In the fairytale the maiden’s servant had followed our gnome into the woods one night, where she saw him dance around the fire celebrating an early victory. He would get the maiden’s child because nobody knew his name was Rumpelstiltskin!
In my storyline, there is no troll (though I did have to cross a bridge) and no straw to be found. These past few days I’m wondering exactly how this little dude relates. I guess it is the writer’s job to attempt to weave the loose threads.
Right now it’s just filaments of themes: Elements and transmutation. Facing fear. Dreams and desires. The power of knowing a name. The elixir of life and the womb.
Who would have thought that such a small-fry in a jester’s hat could stir such pondering?