Little Red Riding Hood

Once again, this week I found myself perusing Barbara G. Walker’s “The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” for ideas for my second “L” post. I ran across a very short entry on Little Red Riding Hood which greatly intrigued me.

Here is the entry verbatim from the book:

Fairy-tale heroine based on the Virgin aspect of the red-clothed Diana: in the tale, the usual trinity of maiden, mother, and grandmother. The Hunter was originally le Chasseur Maudit, or pagan Lord of the Hunt; while the man-eating She-Wolf or grandmother was a western form of the Kalika. See Werewolf.

This caught my attention. But the entry is so short! I am left with so many questions….

So I did my own brief research, and it got really heady really fast. There is also not a lot of information on the pagan aspects of Little Red Riding Hood that come up in your basic internet search, but what was there was fascinating to me.

I found that versions of the tale have been circulating orally almost since the dawn of man. Of course these tales had many forms, but some version of a young, virginal girl wearing something red, a child being swallowed alive, and a girl in the company of wolves has been around for many centuries. Perrault first put the story in print in 1697 and the more popular Grimm version was written in 1812.

So, this tale speaks to the triple goddess. Although, I am having a few problems speculating where the mother comes in. Riding Hood is obviously the maiden, and the grandmother is the crone, but whom or what represents the mother?  Red can be seen as Diana, who represents the hunt, the moon, and birthing in Roman mythology. Perhaps Red plays two roles in the tale, essentially that of the maiden who is moving to mother. Her emergence from the wolf (depending on what version you’re reading) could represent this transition.

Little Red Riding Hood also has a lot to do with wolves and wolf clans. Of course the image of the big bad wolf is very popular in many fairy tales, and humans’ history with the wolf is rooted deeply in the collective subconscious. Wolves represent mystery and fear of the unknown. They are slated as killers, yet there are also many tales in which a young child is cared for and reared by wolves.

And what of the huntsman? Our pagan Lord of the Hunt? Well reader I’m sure you can see how he has all kinds of symbolism swirling about him. He gives us the masculine in the story, and he’s also a sort of life-giver. In some weird way he represents rebirth because he frees the captives from the belly of the wolf, allowing the captives to be reborn.

All in all, this short blurb on Little Red Riding Hood really peaked my interest. I wish I had more deep thoughts to share on the subject, but that will have to be a major research project for another day. My goal was really just to share this notion on the symbolism of the tale and hopefully peak your interest and give you something to think about.

And a little side note, it’s things like this that serve as inspiration for my future choreography. I come across something that grabs my interest and then it stews in my head for awhile, and awhile can sometimes turn into years. Then at some point when the time is right I make a dance out of it. After this discovery about Little Red Riding Hood, I think I feel a dance coming on…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. etain1
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 22:20:31

    Very Interesting Post. You really did your homework on this one!


  2. SpiderGoddes
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 23:12:09

    I have that very same book, and use it to assist me in deciding about PBP posts as well!
    Awesome post!


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