Copyright © 2009 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved. From the Afterword of Undines: Lessons from the Realm of Water Spirits, available summer 2010
Seven Aspects in the Genre of a Modern Fairy Tale
Here, at the end of this book, I can now define the genre of the modern fairy tale. There are seven points. First, the spirits in modern fairy tales do not belong to a specific ethnic or national group. Instead, they have a global outlook. Their sphere of action is the entire biosphere.
Second, the kings and queens of the four elements are not creatures of imagination and so by definition inferior or of no significance to human beings. By interacting with them, we discover that they are more knowledgeable about nature than our scientists. Furthermore, they possess abilities and powers that we have yet to acquire in the near or far future. In this sense, they are our teachers. In terms of the elements in which they specialize, their actions and responses indicate that they are not less but more human than we are.
Third, unlike past writers who simply gathered existing folk tales into collections, I have had to travel at least half way to the Otherworld to get the best stories. It is possible to enter the realm of fairies, in this case, the realm of undines, and learn to act, perceive, feel, and think as one of these beings. The stories, then, include first-hand reports and recount the details of journeying between the realms.
Fourth, traditional fairy tales often take place “once upon a time.” By contrast, mythical time and history interact in modern fairy tales. Consequently, it is possible to find living human beings who have powerful connections and extensive experience with the fairy realms.
For example, some individuals are simultaneously active in both human and undine evolutions. Though they appear in human form, they possess the full powers and psychic abilities they either acquired or previously possessed when they sojourned in these other spiritual realms. Through interviews and careful listening, it is possible to observe through their experience wonder, awe, and beauty rising to the level of the sacred and divine.
Fifth, the genre of the modern fairy tale is genuine mythology. It asks these questions: Why are we here? What are the deepest purposes of life? What are our options?
The writer of a fairy tale, like the writer of mythology, finds himself in a position where he repeatedly encounters experiences that no previous systems of explanation can comprehend. So he tells a new story that in essence declares: Our conflicts can be resolved; in spite of the horrors and suffering, it is possible to walk the path of life in harmony and beauty.
For example, I ask the undine queen to share her secret desires and innermost dreams. If you ask this question to the right spirit in a magical realm, the answer inevitably produces a profound change in yourself. The story that results may offer a new definition of human nature.
Sixth, the fairy tale is a study of how human consciousness can be expanded. At present, we extend our perception of the world by using physical objects such as microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. We enhance our movements by using cars, trains, ships, and planes. To be more productive, we use laboratories, factories, mines, and refineries.
From the point of view of the kings and queens of the elements, there is nothing wrong with human science. The problem is that our consciousness operates within a narrow band of awareness. Our nervous system ends at the surface of our bodies. Our five senses are dependent on physical organs.
By contrast, nature spirits utilize energy fields to extend their nervous systems, their capacity for perception, as a means to directly interact with the physical world. For example, the undine queens identify their consciousness with the magnetic fields of the oceans and all the waters of the earth. Anything that water touches they can touch also.
Since undines specialize in love, empathy, and ecstasy, from their point of view, the human race is still asleep. Or, as one mermaid put it, “human beings are part dead.” She was not being sarcastic. She was describing the difference between how she feels in human form as compared to when she is a mermaid in the sea. By definition, then, fairy tales communicate new forms of perception in an effective and persuasive manner.
Seven, fairy tales not only outline new destinies for mankind, but they also warn us of possible dangers. For conscience to operate effectively, the five elements earth, air, fire, water, and akasha must be equally developed and in balance.
However, water, which supports love, feeling, and empathy, is profoundly weak in our civilization. What is perfectly natural for an undine or a woman with undine empathy—to sense instantly what anyone else on earth feels in this moment—is almost unheard of in our civilization.
One result is that when a scientist makes a breakthrough, offering mankind some new power, the technology inevitably falls into the hands of malicious dictators and dominating political regimes. This is a collective failure of conscience. It is an indictment of mankind.
Undine empathy enables individuals to discern immediately whether another person is healthy, loving, and harmonious or the opposite. For undines, we are all equally part of the magnetic field that encircles this planet. In the modern fairy tale, the myth of separation is overcome. We all share a collective responsibility for each other and for the planet as well.
In summary, in a traditional fairy tale, the elements of the story are treated as if the story is real, even though the tale is considered to be fiction. The writer makes up his own rules and the reader suspends belief in order to enjoy the story. In a modern fairy tale, you can “observe these things for yourself and draw your own conclusions.”
In a modern fairy tale, belief is never the issue. Though some individuals report these stories as first-hand experience, the heart of the story involves encounters with wonder, awe, bliss, and ecstasy. Along the way, we are offered suggestions on how to extend our perception and expand our consciousness.
In a nutshell, the undine queens are not less human. They are our teachers. All their powers and abilities are latent within us. The modern fairy tale tells us that nature still waits for us to discover its mystery and beauty.