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Book Review – The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose by Bernard Roger

July, 2019

Book Review
The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales
The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose
by Bernard Roger
Translated by Jon E. Graham
Pages: 308

“Once upon time” immediately places the reader in a mythical, magical world. Like other often-used phrases, storytellers use it to transition to a place where anything is possible.

Classic as well as little-known fairy tales are ripe with hermetic teachings of alchemy and Freemasonry. In this book, The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: the Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose, Bernard Roger, provides an exhaustive analysis to prove his point and deliver what the title promises.

Translated by Jon E. Graham, Roger demonstrates how hermetic ideas can be found in such popular fairy tales as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White, as well as the stories attributed to The Tales of My Mother the Goose.

These and other tales from around the globe contain symbols and secrets, concealed in “the language of the birds.”

The goose, he claims, hears the primal call of nature and was considered a messenger in multiple cultures.

Describing a legend as “the story of a fabulous ‘fact’ attached to a place – a nation, forest, lake, tree, spring, or stone – or historical figure,” Roger defines a tale as a “free traveler” found almost everywhere around the globe but having no clear date or place of origin.

“The Germanic Wotan corresponds exactly with he Scandinavian Odin, and he can also be compared to the Irish Baldor, king of the Fomorians, he of the dark powers who also saw with only one eye,” Roger wrote.

I am moved to pair that with something later in the book: “The woodcutter’s wife is a woodswoman, or wild woman, from the family of ‘wild men,’ ‘green men,’ and ‘woodsmen’ who were depicted in the Middle Ages as covered with hair and clad in leaves. This is a close relative to our probably tree-dwelling ancestors, whose instincts even today are probably responsible for the pleasure children feel when they climb trees, where they can dream for hours while sitting in the hollow formed by its branches – a secret world that adults have totally forgotten.”

To understand and appreciate this book, you must be very interested in the teachings and practices of the Freemasonry society, induction and alchemy, and have a basic knowledge of the concepts and practices. I was not prepared. Also, many examples Roger sites are from fairy tales I never heard of, and the pages are so thick with details, I sometimes found myself skimming.

There is still valuable knowledge for the beginner, such as how quests generally have happy outcomes as the seeker learns it’s the princess – and not the jewel, bird, key, flower or fruit – that is meant to be found, and that these quests correspond to alchemy practices

The six chapters cover the tales, the initiation, the stages, the door to the temple or V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the paths of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and the ultimate success. There are sections on the forest, the castle, riddles, impossible tasks and fighting dragons. Readers will learn the four essential factors of fate (the cause of the quest, assistants offered to him along the way, the object of the quest, and the place where it is found), the ritual for the 18th degree of Scottish Freemasonry and much more in-between.

The book gets a 3.8 out of 5 by 5 customer reviews on Amazon.

The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose on Amazon

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About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.