The other night, I had an astonishing dream of a sweet young woman who was a ewe. She had horns and blond, tightly curled hair. She wore a white shift, and she was seven or eight months pregnant. She had stepped out of a story that we had heard told by a king. I wanted to bring the ewe-girl back to the king, to let him know that she was real. I wanted him to see that what seemed to be a character in his fairy tale was now walking around in the world.

Myself and a few other people who had heard the king tell the story went to find him where he worked. We presented the ewe-woman to his assistants but they hadn’t heard the king’s story so they didn’t fully appreciate what a miracle she was. But people nonetheless gravitated to her, and they wanted to help her in various ways. She had no money or means. One person knew how to dress her in beautiful clothes, another person helped to arrange a place for her to live, and all the while we kept looking for the king. We never found him in the dream. But we had found one another, and as we rallied around our pregnant ewe friend, we discovered we had so much to give to one another. We had never experienced so much bounty.

I had the dream after going to see Dr. Martin Shaw tell the Norse fairy tale Valemon the White Bear. It was a very lively telling, and when I stood up at the end of his performance, I was dazzled by the images still sparking in me. I could hardly see for the stars in my eyes, and my heart was very happy. I had been given something nourishing at last, something that it would take my conscious mind months to unwrap. Many friends had come out for this communion of stories, dear ones I hadn’t seen since before COVID. Everyone seemed to have been traumatized in some way over the past three years, and Martin had delivered his stories as medicine; antidotes to depression and despair.

I felt at home in that Masonic Temple where we gathered. The place was full of people who were prepared to allow fairy tales into their hearts, and Martin Shaw is a faithful teller. He’s funny and outrageous and makes all sorts of references to popular culture and global insanity, but he’s reliable guide through the pathways and mysteries of the old tales. He sipped the wisdom in King Valemon the White Bear, and he gave us a big cup full of it.

I loved it. I just loved it so much.

The dream is the gift that tumbled out of the story for me. The ewe-girl, “You, girl!” is many things to me but above all, she is Innocence. There is so much nonsense whirring around us, and there will be more fake news and disinformation and scams and traps set for us in the coming years. We have to become clear about who and what we serve. And I serve the ewe-girl, the innocents who inspire humanity in you and in me. 

The dream also unlocked a memory. Once, when I was in my twenties, I camped by Lake Minnewanka near Banff, Alberta. We had a visitor to our campsite, a Bighorn ewe. She was sniffing around in the ashes, and so the next day, I thought I would pay a visit to her ‘campsite’. She and her lambs resided in a meadow on the flank of the mountain. They had a gorgeous view of the lake below, and I joined the herd in their alpine home. The ewe came over to me, and I sat very quietly as she untied my bootlace with her teeth.

It was a beautiful moment when I eased into it. I felt as if she were saying, “Take your shoes off, make yourself at home!”


If you’d like to further explore the theme of Innocence in fairy tales, check out Innocence on the WonderLit Story Finder.

Feature image: William-Adolphe Bouguereau,  (1825-1905)

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