The Crystal Ball; Grimm Fairy Tale #197
Once Upon A Time there was a sorceress who had three sons, and they
loved each other dearly. But the old woman did not trust them and
thought they wanted to steal her power. So she changed the oldest son
into a eagle. He had to make his home in the mountain cliffs, and
sometimes he could be seen gliding up and down in the sky and making
circles. Thje socond son was changed into a whale that lived deep in
the ocean, and one could see him only when he sometimes sent mighty
jets of water high into the air. Both sons reverted to thier human
shape for just two hours every day. Since the third son feared that
his mother might change him also, this time into a wild animal,
perhaps a bear or a wolf, he sneaked away in secret. Indeed, he had
heard that at the castle of the of the golden sun there was an
enchanted princess who was waiting to be rescued. However, one would
have to risk one's life. Twenty-tree young men had already suffered a
miserable death, and only one more would be allowed to try to rescue
her. After that nobody would be permitted to come. Since he had a
courageous heart, he decided to search fo the castle of the golden
He had already traveled a long time and had not been able to find
it, when he got lost in a large forest and could not find his way out.
Suddenly he noticed two giants in the distance, who waved to him with
their hands, and as he approached them they said, "We're quarreling
over this hat and who should get it. Since we're each just as strong
as the other, neither one can defeat the other. Now, small people are
smarter than we are, so we want you to make the decision."
"How can you quarrel over an old hat?" the young man asked.
"You don't know the powers it has. It's a wishing hat. Whoever
puts it on can wish himself to be anywhere he wants, and within
seconds he'll be there."
"Give me the hat," the young man said. "I'll go off some
distance from here, and when I call you, run to me, and whoever wins
the race will get the hat." He put the hat on his head and went off.
However, he thought about the king's daughter, forgot the giants, and
kept going. Once he sighed with all his heart and cried out, "Oh, if
only I were at the castle of the golden sun!" And no sooner had he
uttered these words than he was standing on top of a high mountain in
front of the castle gate.
He entered the castle and strode through all the rooms until he
reached the last one, where he found the king's daughter. However, he
was horrified when he saw her: here face was ash gray and full of
wrinkles, and she had dreary eyes and red hair. "Are you the king's
daughter whose beauty is praised by the entire world?" he exclaimed.
"Ah," she replied, "this is not my real condition. Human eyes
can see me only in this ugly form. But look into this mirror so
you'll know what I look like. The mirror can't be fooled, and it will
show you my image as it truly is."
She handed him the mirror, and he saw the reflection of the most
beautiful maiden in the world, and he saw tears rolling down her
cheeks out of sadness. Then he said, "How can you be saved? I'm
afraid of nothing."
She replied, "Whoever get the crystal ball and holds it in front
of the magician will break his power, and I'll return to my true form.
But," she added, "many a man has gone to his death because of this,
and you, my young thing, I'd feel sorry if you placed yourself in such
"Nothing can stop me," he said, "but tell me what I must do."
"I want you to know everything," the king's daughter answered.
"When you descend the mountain on which the castle stands, there'll be
a wild bison at the bottom next to the spring. You will have to fight
it. And, if you should be so fortunate as to slay this beast, a
firebird will rise from it. This bird carries a glimmering egg in its
body, and the egg has a crystal ball as a yolk. However, the bird
will not let go of the egg unless it is forced to. And, if the egg
falls onto the groung, it will set everythin on fire and destroy
eveything near it. The egg itself will melt along wityh the crystal
ball, and all your efforts will have been in vain."
The young man descended the mountain and reached the sping, where
the bison snoted and roared at him. After a long battle the young man
pierced the bison's body with his sword, and the beast sank to the
ground. The firebird immediately rose from the bison and tried to fly
away, the the eagle, the brother of the young man, who flew through
the clouds, dived after the bird and chased it toward the ocean.
There the eagle hit the bird so hard with its beak that the bird was
forced to let the egg fall. However, it did not fall into the ocean
but on top of a fisherman's hut standing on the shore, and the hut
began to smoke right away and was about to burst into flames. Then
waves as large as houses rose up in the ocean, swept over the hut, and
vanquished the flames. The other brother, the whale, had swum toward
the shore and driven the water onto the land. When the fire was out,
the young man searched for the egg and was fortunate enough to find
it. It had not melted yet, but the shell had cracked open due to the
sudden cooling from the water, and he could take out the crystal ball,
which was undamaged.
When the young man went to the magician and held the ball in
front of him, the latter said, "My power is destroyed. From now on
you are king of the castle of the golden sun. You can also restore
your brothers to their human form."
So the young man hurried back to the king's daughter, and as he
entered her room she stood there in all her magnificent beauty, and
they exchanged rings with each other in a joyful celebration.
The above was quoted from;
"The Complete Fairy Tales of The Brothers Grimm"
An all-new translation of the famous 210 stories, plus 32 tales that
have never before appeared in English; Translated and with an
introduction by Jack Zipes.
Bantam Books, February 1987
ISBN 0-553-05184-9 $22.95us $27.95can Hard-Bound
P.S. If I get a good responce from this posting I will post further
manuscripts from the collection. They are very valuable to Pagans and
others and they are packed full of subliminal symbolism. They are