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Coleman, S.M. (1939). The Myth of the Fairy Birth. Psychoanal. Rev., 26(3):301-314.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Review, 26(3):301-314

Original Articles

The Myth of the Fairy Birth

Stanley M. Coleman, D.P.M.

One of the main difficulties in myth interpretation depends upon the very nebulous nature of the material of which the myth is constructed. As a result of this quality it has been possible to see into the manifest story innumerable inner meanings. For example the guide book will explain that a certain legend has arisen in order to account for some noteworthy natural phenomenon, a secluded pool, cascade, cave or curious shaped rock. Then there is the historical tradition; the story becomes linked up with the name of some actual personage, Guy Fawkes and the autumnal fires, Blue Beard and Gilles de Raiz, Little Jack Horner and the avaricious steward at Glastonbury. As a rule the legend or custom is found to be far older than the historical figure with which it has become identified. There is also Liebrecht's ghost theory. He would explain all tales concerning supernatural beings as derived from the belief in revenants. Mac Ritchie and others see in supernatural folk the aborigines driven out by a conquering race. For instance the Celts, a people of large stature, subdued the small Iberians, who took refuge in the hills. The mythical faculty would soon make the Celts think of the “little, dark, weakly Iberians with their stone weapons and their underground dwellings, as a dwarfish, elvish, subterranean people and legend would continually decrease their stature and exaggerate their elusive remoteness.” (1) On the other hand the Iberians in their myths might come to regard the Celts as giants or ogres. Another group of folklorists see in these myths an attempt to explain the laws of nature in an animistic manner. The myth is found to symbolize the dawn, the spring and so on.

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