As a side tangent, I have to say that I've always loved studying Native American spirituality. One of my favorite authors as a young adult was Canadian writer Charles de Lint, as many of his books fuse fantasy with Native American stories and legends. I don't want to hold any sort of "noble savage" stereotypes, but I really respect that fact that the stories represent cultures with a greater reverence and connection to the natural world. I'm also fascinated by oral traditions and I love how storytelling can be so valued by a culture and tales can be passed from generation to generation through repeated telling and memorization.
To summarize the story, it is the tale of a young girl who is abused by her relatives and more or less shunned by her village, yet turns out to be the only potential bride who can see the mysterious Invisible One. With echoes of Cinderella and Beauty and The Beast, I really liked this story of hidden beauty and finding a heart of gold in someone that others overlooked. I was a little shocked by the cruelty displayed in the story by the sisters to the Rough-Skin girl, but I was glad that at least one of them showed some mercy. I also really enjoyed the moral about the value of truth telling in when the Rough-Skin girl met the Invisible One's sister.
There was a very interesting level of mystique surrounding the Invisible One also. Not only did I find myself asking, why is he invisible? I though it was a creative twist that when the Rough-Skin girl is finally able to see him, she reveals, "His shoulder strap is...is a rainbow" and "His bowstring is...the Milky Way." This could be interpreted just as a fantastical detail or perhaps, the Invisible One is actually intended to be a God figure of some sort. I could also interpret the story to mean that on seeing him, the Rough-Skin girl has actually died and her further transformation, becoming the Invisible One's bride, is a metaphor for the afterlife.
That's me waxing philosophical, because I like the theory, but it doesn't really fit with the final line of the story:
"And so they were married. And from then on, Oochigeaskw had a new name: the Lovely One. Like her husband, she too had kept herself hidden, waiting for the right person to find her, and now that she had that person's love, she was hidden no more."So I would say then that the moral revealed here is the transforming power of love. I think the note about her name changing is rather profound as well. In reading from the Mi'kmaw Culture website, there is a direct connection between names and spirituality. About Spirit Names, the site says:
"According to the teachings, we each have a spirit name from the moment our spirit first comes into existence, and the name follows us from life to life, and back into the spirit world afterwards. For this reason, we are not 'given' a spirit name by someone, we can only be reminded of the name we already carry. It is possible, however, that a person's spirit name will be added to, depending on the roles and experiences that are given to that person."With this in mind, I would speculate that in this story, The Lovely One is probably the girl's original Spirit Name, where as Oochigeaskw (Rough Skin Girl) is the name that those around her gave to her after she was burned. Maybe the oldest sister was even jealous of the youngest girl's loveliness and thus set out to disfigure her. The Invisible One and the love he was able to show her, restored her true Spirit Name as it restored her hidden beauty.
What are your thoughts on this legend? Do you see something in the tale that I missed or do you think my interpretations hit the mark? Leave your thoughts below and check out Tif's post about this story as well. Got more to say? Link up with your own blog post celebrating Fairy Tale Fridays! Thanks again to Tif for hosting this meme and picking such a unique and interesting story. Next week's fairy tale: The Little Mermaid (And I'll try not to break out singing "Under da Sea"!)