Ruthless Mentor, Bladeless Talisman




While heroes almost always receive a sword (wand, lightsaber…) from their kindly old mentor, girls walk away with household objects. One message this supplies is that girls are not supposed to fight. All of the heroines accomplish their quests without violence, needing cleverness and fortitude more than Excalibur. Perhaps in the days of tales by the fireside, the girls looked on wistfully as their brothers rode off to war. “There’s magic in our lives, too,” their grandmothers would say. “We can disguise ourselves as men and pick up swords, be warrior queens like Mab and Atalanta, or we can follow our own path.” Actions in the so-called “women’s domain” frequently save the men and allow the heroines to accomplish their goals. There are lots of cups and cauldrons, rings and needles, all suggesting the womb of life with their openings. And lots of tools of perception like glasses and mirrors.

Feminine symbols:
amulet, apple, axe*, bag, ball, bird, black red and white**, bow,*** bowl, broom, butterfly, cauldron, cave, circle, cloak, clothing, comb, crown, cup, earth, egg, eye, flowers, forest, garden, girdle, grail, hearth, helmet, home, hoop, jewelry, keys, mirror, moon, mountain, needle, night, oven, ring, rose, sea, serpent, shield, silver, slippers, spindle, spiral, thread, tree, underworld, vase, veil, voice, wand, water, web, well.

*This is the double axe which resembles a butterfly. The butterfly, which emerges from its cocoon, is a strong symbol of feminine regeneration, like the serpent. Also, the double axe was used by the priestesses of Crete.

**See my page on the triple goddess for more on this.

*** Bow, shield, and wand can be symbols of either gender. Distance weapons like the bow or whip were popular with goddesses such as Artemis and Hecate. Shields could certainly be masculine, but many shields and breastplates bore protective symbols like the head of medusa, indicating female guardianship. Wands, though used for masculine dueling in Harry Potter, were originally used to intensify the power of one's pointing finger, and can thus be used by either gender. 

Read: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

            Sleeping Beauty and tales of type 410