jorinda68-2 copy
Illustration by Adrienne Adams, 1968

Today’s tale comes from the Household Tales of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. “Jorinde and Joringel” is about the power of true love to conquer evil, a nice fairy tale theme.

Deep in the woods, a witch lived in a castle. During the day, she changed herself into a cat or an owl and at night took back her human shape. She could lure wild animals and birds to her before killing and eating them. If anyone came near her castle, they were compelled them to stand still until she released them. She turned innocent maidens who came near the castle into birds and caged them.

One day, Jorinde and Joringel, who had promised to marry each other, went for a walk in the forest.  They knew not to go to close to the castle, but they became lost after listening to the sorrowful song of the turtle-doves. They came too near to the witch’s castle; she turned Jorinde into a nightingale and fixed Joringel to the ground. Once she had carried away the bird, she freed Joringel.

Joringel was devasted. He begged for Jorinde’s return, but the witch told him he would never have her again. He wandered til he found a strange village where he found work as a shepherd.

One night Joringel dreamed of a blood-red flower, in the middle of which was a beautiful large pearl, and that it would break all the witch’s spells. He sought it for nine days, found it, and carried it back to the castle. He was not frozen to the ground when he approached the castle, and it opened all the doors. He found the witch feeding the birds. She was unable to curse him, and when she tried to take one cage away, he realized it was Jorinde. He touched the witch with the flower, and her evil magic left her forever. He touched Jorinde with the flower and she became a woman again.

We have to assume they did get married and live happily ever after. And the witch lost her magic, a fitting punishment. In the version I read, Joringel did not turn any of the other birds back to women, but I’m going to say that when the witch lost her power, all her spells were destroyed, including the ones that had transformed the girls into birds. That’s an odd hobby, by the way, collecting maidens you’ve turned into nightingales. At least she wasn’t too evil a witch, in that case she would probably have eaten them.

I’m sure there’s all kinds of symbolism that could be read into the “blood-red flower,” red being the color of passion or perhaps symbolizing Jorinde’s growth from young innocent virgin to a woman through her marriage to Joringel, but personally, I think it’s just a flower.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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