The Three Snake-Leaves – Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Hello, darlings! It’s time for another Freaky Fairy Tale!

BETRAYAL! Betrayal most cruel! Frailty, thy name is woman! And as a woman myself, this story makes us look crazy, and I resent that! WE AREN’T CRAZY, YOU GUYS ARE THE CRAZY ONES!!! *coughs* Sorry about that. Let’s just start, shall we?


BEHOLD!  Day 1 + Day 2 + Day 3 + Day 4 + Day 5


Snake sliding over leaves

THE THREE SNAKE-LEAVES

[Original source] – I’ve added punctuation and fixed formatting here.

So, a father can’t take care of his only son anymore because he’s so poor, and the son decides to go seek his fortune. He’s sad to leave, but he knows that moving out will help them both in the long run. He decides to try his luck as a soldier, as apparently it’s a career in high demand.

At this time the king of a mighty empire was at war and the youth took service with him, and went out to fight. And when he came before the enemy, there was a battle, and great danger, and it rained shot until his comrades fell on all sides, and when the leader also was killed, those left were about to take flight, but the youth stepped forth, spoke boldly to them, and cried, “We will not let our father-land be ruined!”

Braveheart

“KILL ALL THE RUN-ON SENTENCES!”

Then the others followed him, and he pressed on and conquered the enemy. When the king heard that he owed the victory to him alone, he raised him above all the others, gave him great treasures, and made him the first in the kingdom.

Wow, I wish I’d been so successful when I first moved out!

The king had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she was also very strange. She had made a vow to take no one as her lord and husband who did not promise to let himself be buried alive with her if she died first…On her side she would do the same, and if he died first, would go down to the grave with him.

…”If he loves me with all his heart,” said she, “of what use will life be to him afterwards?”

This is what happens when you believe everything you read in “Twilight.”

This strange oath had up to this time frightened away all wooers, but the youth became so charmed with her beauty that he cared for nothing, but asked her father for her.

“But do you know what you must promise,” said the king.

“I must be buried with her,” he replied, “if I outlive her, but my love is so great that I do not mind the danger.”

RUN, YOU IDIOT! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! I can just imagine the king saying, “Really? You’re sure? Cuz, there’s no obligation. I know she’s my daughter, man, but really, I’ll give you a summer castle in Italy, you don’t have to do this.” *sigh* “Okay, but, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Well, I guess things worked out, cuz they had a big beautiful wedding and they lived together happily for a while, and then,

…it befell that the young queen was attacked by a severe illness, and no physician could save her.

Of course it did! Also, did the king die suddenly, how did she become queen??

And as she lay there dead, the young king remembered what he had been obliged to promise, and was horrified at having to lie down alive in the grave, but there was no escape. The [other?] king had placed sentries at all the gates, and it was not possible to avoid his fate.

Yeah, should’ve thought of that before! And apparently the king is still around, but they’re both called kings, so maybe they got their own kingdom? I have no idea.

As the day came when the corpse was to be buried, he was taken down with it into the royal vault and then the door was shut and bolted. Near the coffin stood a table on which were four candles, four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine, and when this provision came to an end, he would have to die of hunger. And now he sat there full of pain and grief.

Little Hermione says, "That's totally barbaric!"

He tries to ration out the food, but of course that’s not enough, and he feels himself getting weaker every day. I kinda hope they let him bring books with him, because otherwise he’s just staring at the walls, wishing he were dead anyway! But as he’s dying of boredom, he sees something.

He saw a snake creep out of a corner of the vault and approach the dead body. And as he thought it came to gnaw at it, he drew his sword and said, “As long as I live, you shall not touch her,” and hewed the snake in three pieces.

After a time a second snake crept out of the hole, and when it saw the other lying dead and cut in pieces, it went back, but soon came again with three green leaves in its mouth.

Here now, what’s this?

Then it took the three pieces of the snake, laid them together, as they fitted, and placed one of the leaves on each wound. Immediately the severed parts joined themselves together, the snake moved, and became alive again, and both of them hastened away together.

Well! Isn’t that fascinating! The young man is suddenly very hopeful and decides to try out these magical leaves on his dead bride.

So he picked up the leaves and laid one of them on the mouth of his dead wife, and the two others on her eyes. And hardly had he done this than the blood stirred in her veins, rose into her pale face, and colored it again.

Weeeellllll, looky there! Magic snakes, huh? There’s a lot of mixed symbolism going on here, what with snakes being identified with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, i.e. the devil. But the Nagas of Hindu and Buddhist mythology show that serpents can represent both evil and good. To many cultures, snakes represent eternity and were considered guardians of the underworld, “[and in] this role they could represent hidden wisdom or sacred mysteries” (MythEncyclopedia.com).

And, interestingly, because they shed their skin, serpents were seen as symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. Wow, the snakes fit perfectly symbolically in this situation on multiple levels!

“The ancient Greeks considered snakes sacred to Asclepius, the god of medicine. He carried a caduceus, a staff with one or two serpents wrapped around it, which has become the symbol of modern physicians” (MythEncyclopedia.com). Or wait, maybe that isn’t the Caduceus…this can get confusing, just know that snakes curling up sticks were a big deal in ancient Greece.

One Snake: The Staff of Asclepius, Two Snakes: The Caduceus of Hermes

I really should read into detail about The Staff of Asclepius vs. the Caduceus, it sounds nerdily interesting.

And in a story from both the Hebrew and Christian Bible, when the Israelites begged the Lord’s forgiveness after being stricken with snake bites, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived” (Numbers 21:4-9). Their pole sounds similar to Hermes’!

Lizzie "I have done the research!"

Anyway, the girl is scared and confused at first, but her husband encourages her, gives her some of the food, and they go to the door and call so loud that the king himself goes down to see what’s going on.The king is overjoyed that they’re both alive and well and welcomes them back home.

The young king, however, took the three snake-leaves with him, gave them to a servant and said, “Keep them for me carefully, and carry them constantly about you. Who knows in what trouble they may yet be of service to us.”

But a change had taken place in his wife. After she had been restored to life, it seemed as if all love for her husband had gone out of her heart.

Uh oh. Maybe something unnatural happened! Maybe the leaves brought her back to life but she is just a shell of the woman she was? Maybe the leaves gave her a new soul? Maybe she’s like a homonculous from “Full Metal Alchemist?” CURSE YOU, VILE MAGIC, we delved too deep and now you shame our human arrogance!

Or, maybe she’s just a heartless brat who got bored.

After some time, when he wanted to make a voyage over the sea, to visit his old father, and they had gone on board a ship, she forgot the great love and fidelity which he had shown her, and which had been the means of rescuing her from death, and conceived a wicked inclination for the skipper.

Wow, way to be grateful you horrible woman! And it gets worse: when her husband is asleep, she and the skipper grab him by his head and feet and fling him overboard!

Link throws the pig off the cliff

And I knew it was the perfect gif because it made me giggle.

 When the shameful deed was done, she said, “Now let us return home, and say that he died on the way. I will extol and praise you so to my father that he will marry me to you, and make you the heir to his crown.”

But the faithful servant who had seen all that they did, unseen by them, unfastened a little boat from the ship, got into it, sailed after his master, and let the traitors go on their way. He fished up the dead body, and by the help of the three snake-leaves which he carried about with him, and laid on the eyes and mouth, he fortunately brought the young king back to life.

Oh thank goodness! I was wondering why the young king didn’t hold onto the leaves himself, but it’s good he had that servant with him!

They both rowed with all their strength day and night, and their little boat sailed so swiftly that they reached the old king before the others.

That’s…kinda hard to believe that rowboat would out-sail a giant ship, but I’ll allow it. The king was shocked to see them there alone, but was even more shocked to hear what his daughter had done. But being a wise king, he hid the young king and the servant away so no one would find them, and they waited for the treacherous young queen to return.

Soon afterwards the great ship came sailing in, and the godless woman appeared before her father with a troubled countenance…”Ah, dear father…I come home again in great grief. During the voyage, my husband became suddenly ill and died, and if the good skipper had not given me his help, it would have gone ill with me. He was present at his death, and can tell you all.”

“So why weren’t you buried at sea with him, you inconsiderate little-!”

“What, father?”

“Nothing! Nothing…”

The king said, “I will make the dead alive again,” and opened the chamber, and bade the two come out.

When the woman saw her husband, she was thunderstruck, and fell on her knees and begged for mercy.

The king said, “There is no mercy. He was ready to die with you and restored you to life again, but you have murdered him in his sleep, and shall receive the reward that you deserve.”

Nostalgia Critic "Ooooh, burn!"

Then she was placed with her accomplice in a ship which had been pierced with holes, and sent out to sea, where they soon sank amid the waves.

But after his wife was drowned, the young king began acting strangely. He didn’t sleep at night, so his eyes were ringed and his face was sallow. He wouldn’t eat at the king’s table, but stayed in his room all the time. Soon, the servants started disappearing. By the time his father had guards force their way into his room, the leaves’ cruel regenerative capabilities had done their evil work. He was found eating the servant who kept the horrid leaves for him, and was shot with a crossbow, and the leaves were ripped up and tossed into the fire.

The End.

OKAY, I just made that last part up, but SERIOUSLY, it makes the story a lot creepier, doesn’t it??

So, a moral…it’s okay to do crazy, kinda stupid things because you’ll get exactly what you need and justice will be served?

Or not. Thanks for reading, guys! New Freaky Fairy Tales next week!

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Christina {PuellaDocta}

Christina is an artist and graphic designer, fantasy writer, and a huge geek. She chronicles her creative process--as well as her love for storytelling, the arts, tea, and more--in blogs, portfolio posts, vlogs and on social media. Read more about her here >>

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