Sarah’s Slice of Life: The Mountain of Myth

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a princess imprisoned in a tower made of heavy stone. The princess had long, thick hair of gold, and every morning, she would gaze out from the tower to the world of trees and hills beyond. She would dream of a prince on a white horse, who would gallop forward to free her from her high prison and…

Do I even need to continue, or did the “once upon a time” immediately clue you in? I’m sure most of us can tell this story without hesitation, and we’d all say it probably includes a fight against an angry dragon or a spooky witch, followed by true love’s kiss and the inevitable wedding. 

Most importantly, it all ends with the customary “and they lived happily ever after.”

Why do we already know this story — the characters, the climaxes, the crowns and the capes? Because it’s a fairy tale, of course: a story that embraces wondrous magic, daring escapades and maybe even a few dragons. 

I confess I’ve always adored fairy tales. I read them all the time as a child, and even now, I still love stories with dragonslayers, princesses that turn into fairies and curses with green smoke.

However, society may tempt us into believing that fairy tales are nothing more than childish relics or a refusal to grow up. A story about a flying horse and a perilous quest? That’s frivolous, illogical and unnecessary, especially in a world that values pragmatic success over imaginative intangibles. 

We’re meant to outgrow fantasy and leave the dreamers in the dust, learning the hard truth that real life isn’t a fairy tale at all.

On the contrary, I believe that fairy tales — and all of fantasy for that matter — have a very real, very important place within ordinary life. Every day, here within this world devoid of mages and magic, fairy tales can offer us a profound sense of real-life truth.

C.S. Lewis was no stranger to the fantasy genre, and he holds the concept of myth in high regards. In his essay “Myth Became Fact,” he writes how these stories have the real power to illustrate moral clarity and exhibit God-ordained truths.

“Myth is the mountain whence all the different streams arise, which become truths down here in the valley,” Lewis writes.

We may not spend our days hunting for treasure or trying to break a curse, but these stories hit the core of what it means to be human by asking almost spiritual questions. Will good prevail? Will evil be defeated? Is there really such a thing as true love? What does it mean to live with daily courage?

These questions loom large in the human heart, casting shadows across our real, tangible world. Yet, fairy tales provide a way to understand the mystical in context of the ordinary. A marriage between rationalism and myth, as Lewis promotes, helps us to at least begin to answer these questions.

Fairy tales also allow us to embrace life with an imaginative welcome, which enables us to see the beauty in the mundane. Sure, we should approach life with a careful mind and logical responses, not only with a dreamy imagination bent on checking under every leaf for hidden fairies.

However, we should never exercise rationality at the expense of experiencing beauty. I love fairy tales because they feed into my sense of wonder for the world. Our world isn’t a fantastical one filled with talking creatures, enchanted woods or timeless realms, but that doesn’t make it any less magical.

Ultimately, fairy tales offer us a vital, nourishing element for the whole of the human experience. Whether fairy tales illustrate sacrificial love, daring bravery or the generosity of spirit, they can teach us the very real truths of God. 

They offer us a new way to see the ordinary world — with wonder, imagination and awe. Because of them, we can believe that good prevails, love is eternal and some things are worth dying for.

I think Lewis says it best in his acclaimed work of fantasy, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” as he champions the very tales the world wishes we would outgrow.

“Some day,” he writes, “you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

Tate is the Editor-in-Chief for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

Sarah Tate, Editor-in-Chief

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