Folktales are rich with deeper
meaning and hidden symbolism. Every story paints a metaphorical picture of the
human condition, the problems we face and the journeys we take to bring
ourselves to our own “happily ever after”. Every telling guides the
listener through his or her own emotional and cognitive life and gives a new
perspective on who he or she is on the inside.
The best way to experience the deeper levels of a story is
to meet the characters on an emotional level, by imagining how it would feel to
be each character, which is something that children do naturally when they
listen. In this way, we can see that each story is a journey through the
emotions that occur within some aspect of the human condition. The audio
program Guiding the Journey: Using the Hidden Meaning in Folktales explains how
this process unlocks the hidden meaning of the tales and takes you through
three sample journeys of this type.
The story guides found here provide a shorter explanation of
the hidden meaning and developmental uses of the stories. They are meant to
help adults understand the symbolic level of the stories, which will help
adults choose when and how a story is best used. The information in these
guides is not meant to be shared with children. Children experience stories
through their imaginations as a fun, engaging experience. With story, they
learn without trying. When we expect them to pay attention to the story at an
abstract, intellectual level, we take away the fun and the magic.
And, of course, the symbolism that I describe for each tale
is only one way of looking at the story. Each storyteller brings a unique
symbolic understanding to a tale, just as each listener hears a unique message.
The Story Guides are meant only to show the depth of meaning that each tale
offers and to give a glimpse of the particular meaning that I give to a story.