…it happened one day that a young Prince who was hunting in the neighbourhood caught sight of the towers of the enchanted castle rising above the dense forest...
~ Sleeping Beauty, The Brothers Grimm
I didn’t think that the telling of the fairy tale, the reading of the fairy tale would have such an enduring impact, such transformative power that could last for over forty years.
When I was a little girl I never imagined that when I was in my forties I would still read fairy tales and that they would still transport me as they had when I was six years old.
I have thought long and hard as to why they still have such power and it’s for the same reason that existed way back when I had ribbons in my hair and polka dots on my shoes – fairy tales help us to believe that the world is better than it is.
There is so much injustice in the world. So much despair. So much grief. Both in our own little microcosms and way out there in the enormous, big badness of the world. Sometimes it weighs us down so much we are bent over as we walk.
The castle. My castle – is actually a church, perched up there among the clouds. The Hunter Baillie. But often when I see it I imagine it is a castle. I can see the princesses in there. The courtiers. Hand carved four poster beds, brocade, tapestries depicting woodlands and glades. Lutes, silk shawls, golden goblets. And roses, hundreds of roses in every conceivable colour growing through the windows, throwing the sunshine amidst the muted stone- cast light.
If my castle was really a castle I could be a princess way up there, right up in the clouds, looking out over the world, drinking in its postcard beauty. I wouldn’t be trapped in the tower by my evil stepmother. I wouldn’t be waiting and waiting for the handsome prince to come along and rescue me.
I would be noble and beautiful and brave. And if I wanted to change things – awful things, terrible things – I would have the power to change them. I could change them. And good would triumph over evil every single time.
In the right light, when I’ve been gazing at the clouds for too long and spots of sun turn my vision pink and gold, I see the roses entwine, climbing my castle. The wind flickers and a thousand rose petals spill out, filling up the sky, filling the pages of my books for half a lifetime.
It is my fairytale, in my heart, carried straight from childhood. I cannot imagine my days without it, drawing its fingers against the sky. My one and only. My vault of hope My magical, bewitching castle in the clouds.