A storytelling session - Bearskin, the French fairytale - Fairy Godmother/Witch?
In this version of the tale of Bearskin, written in 1710, Henriette Julie de Murat tells of a Fairy Godmother furious at being ignored and how she refuses to help and turns into a witch, only relenting at the very end when the whole thing has gone horribly wrong. The tale is rather outrageous and very funny but also extremely bizarre and fascinating. Here is a brief summary.
“A King and a Queen (unnamed) have lost all their children (they don’t seem to be that bothered by that) apart from their daughter (also unnamed). Princess lives very happily with her best “friend” Corianda in their own little house. No mention of marriage or such likes.
However, an ogres called Rhinoceros (or Trump in my version) comes upon the girl, demands to marry the Princess. King has to agree so does Princess as long as she can bring Corianda along. Much despair and despondency. Eventually Corianda asks Fairy God Mother to help. She refuses, furious that she was not called upon in the first place! In fact, she punishes the Princess. Much mayhem until finally the fairy godmother relents and saves the day.”
This is a highly unusual tale written by an extraordinary woman. Lover of women, wearer of trousers in the 18th Century, poet, writer and scandal maker! A great example of a women’s version of a traditional story with a very strong archetype of the Enchantress/Witch/Fairy Godmother.
Baya Salmon-Hawk works as a performance artist and storyteller all over Wexford bringing venues to life with her voice. From The Hook Lighthouse to the walls of Wexford Town, adults and children are entertained and sometimes startled by her tales.
Baya comes from a long line of Occitan Contairitz. When she was a little girl, her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother told her the stories of their Italian and Provencal ancestors, of the ancient Greeks, the proud Romans and her favourite, the passionate Celts. She has continued to carry on with the family tradition. She travels to national parks, famous houses, bars and restaurants to tell the stories of the Normans and Celtic ancestors, their struggles and their victories.
She has also helped venues to re-create the old Celtic festivals of Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughanasa and Samhain. She tells stories for families and neighbours, visitors and friends who gather to celebrate the passing of the year and live in rhythm with the seasons.