Brothers Grimm tale no. 31, and Aarne-Thompson type 706

A certain miller had little by little fallen into poverty, and had nothing left but his mill and a large apple-tree behind it. Once when he had gone into the forest to fetch wood, an old man stepped up to him whom he had never seen before, and said, “Why dost thou plague thyself with cutting wood, I will make thee rich, if thou wilt promise me what is standing behind the mill?” “What can that be but my apple-tree?” thought the miller, and said, “Yes,” and gave a written promise to the stranger. He, however, laughed mockingly and said, “When three years have passed, I will come and carry away what belongs to me,” and then he went. When the miller got home, his wife came to meet him and said, “Tell me, miller, from whence comes this sudden wealth into our house? All at once every box and chest was filled; no one brought it in, and I know not how it happened.” He answered, “It comes from a stranger who met me in the forest, and promised me great treasure. I, in return, have promised him what stands behind the mill; we can very well give him the big apple-tree for it.” “Ah, husband,” said the terrified wife, “that must have been the devil! He did not mean the apple-tree, but our daughter, who was standing behind the mill sweeping the yard.”

The miller's daughter was a beautiful, pious girl, and lived through the three years in the fear of God and without sin. When therefore the time was over, and the day came when the Evil-one was to fetch her, she washed herself clean, and made a circle round herself with chalk. The devil appeared quite early, but he could not come near to her. Angrily, he said to the miller, “Take all water away from her, that she may no longer be able to wash herself, for otherwise I have no power over her.” The miller was afraid, and did so. The next morning the devil came again, but she had wept on her hands, and they were quite clean. Again he could not get near her, and furiously said to the miller, “Cut her hands off, or else I cannot get the better of her.” The miller was shocked and answered, “How could I cut off my own child's hands?” Then the Evil-one threatened him and said, “If thou dost not do it thou art mine, and I will take thee thyself.” The father became alarmed, and promised to obey him. So he went to the girl and said, “My child, if I do not cut off both thine hands, the devil will carry me away, and in my terror I have promised to do it. Help me in my need, and forgive me the harm I do thee.” She replied, “Dear father, do with me what you will, I am your child.” Thereupon she laid down both her hands, and let them be cut off. The devil came for the third time, but she had wept so long and so much on the stumps, that after all they were quite clean. Then he had to give in, and had lost all right over her.

The miller said to her, “I have by means of thee received such great wealth that I will keep the most delicately as long as thou livest.” But she replied, “Here I cannot stay, I will go forth, compassionate people will give me as much as I require.” Thereupon she caused her maimed arms to be bound to her back, and by sunrise she set out on her way, and walked the whole day until night fell. Then she came to a royal garden, and by the shimmering of the moon she saw that trees covered with beautiful fruits grew in it, but she could not enter, for there was much water round about it. And as she had walked the whole day and not eaten one mouthful, and hunger tormented her, she thought, “Ah, if I were but inside, that I might eat of the fruit, else must I die of hunger!” Then she knelt down, called on God the Lord, and prayed. And suddenly an angel came towards her, who made a dam in the water, so that the moat became dry and she could walk through it. And now she went into the garden and the angel went with her. She saw a tree covered with beautiful pears, but they were all counted. Then she went to them, and to still her hunger, ate one with her mouth from the tree, but no more. The gardener was watching; but as the angel was standing by, he was afraid and thought the maiden was a spirit and was silent, neither did he dare to cry out, or to speak to the spirit. When she had eaten the pear, she was satisfied, and went and concealed herself among the bushes. The King to whom the garden belonged, came down to it the next morning, and counted, and saw that one of the pears was missing, and asked the gardener what had become of it, as it was not lying beneath the tree, but was gone. Then answered the gardener, “Last night, a spirit came in, who had no hands, and ate off one of the pears with its mouth.” The King said, “How did the spirit get over the water, and where did it go after it had eaten the pear?” The gardener answered, “Some one came in a snow-white garment from heaven who made a dam, and kept back the water, that the spirit might walk through the moat. And as it must have been an angel, I was afraid, and asked no questions, and did not cry out. When the spirit had eaten the pear, it went back again.” The King said, “If it be as thou sayest, I will watch with thee to-night.”

When it grew dark the King came into the garden and brought a priest with him, who was to speak to the spirit. All three seated themselves beneath the tree and watched. At midnight the maiden came creeping out of the thicket, went to the tree, and again ate one pear off it with her mouth, and beside her stood the angel in white garments. Then the priest went out to them and said, “Comest thou from heaven or from earth? Art thou a spirit, or a human being?” She replied, “I am no spirit, but an unhappy mortal deserted by all but God.” The King said, “If thou art forsaken by all the world, yet will I not forsake thee.” He took her with him into his royal palace, and as she was so beautiful and good, he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her to wife.

After a year the King had to take the field, so he commended his young Queen to the care of his mother and said, “If she is brought to bed take care of her, nurse her well, and tell me of it at once in a letter.” Then she gave birth to a fine boy. So the old mother made haste to write and announce the joyful news to him. But the messenger rested by a brook on the way, and as he was fatigued by the great distance, he fell asleep. Then came the Devil, who was always seeking to injure the good Queen, and exchanged the letter for another, in which was written that the Queen had brought a monster into the world. When the King read the letter he was shocked and much troubled, but he wrote in answer that they were to take great care of the Queen and nurse her well until his arrival. The messenger went back with the letter, but rested at the same place and again fell asleep. Then came the Devil once more, and put a different letter in his pocket, in which it was written that they were to put the Queen and her child to death. The old mother was terribly shocked when she received the letter, and could not believe it. She wrote back again to the King, but received no other answer, because each time the Devil substituted a false letter, and in the last letter it was also written that she was to preserve the Queen's tongue and eyes as a token that she had obeyed.

But the old mother wept to think such innocent blood was to be shed, and had a hind brought by night and cut out her tongue and eyes, and kept them. Then said she to the Queen, “I cannot have thee killed as the King commands, but here thou mayst stay no longer. Go forth into the wide world with thy child, and never come here again.” The poor woman tied her child on her back, and went away with eyes full of tears. She came into a great wild forest, and then she fell on her knees and prayed to God, and the angel of the Lord appeared to her and led her to a little house on which was a sign with the words, “Here all dwell free.” A snow-white maiden came out of the little house and said, “Welcome, Lady Queen,” and conducted her inside. Then they unbound the little boy from her back, and held him to her breast that he might feed, and then laid him in a beautifully-made little bed. Then said the poor woman, “From whence knowest thou that I was a queen?” The white maiden answered, “I am an angel sent by God, to watch over thee, and thy child.” The Queen stayed seven years in the little house, and was well cared for, and by God's grace, because of her piety, her hands which had been cut off, grew once more.

At last the King came home again from the war, and his first wish was to see his wife and the child. Then his aged mother began to weep, and said, “Thou wicked man, why didst thou write to me that I was to take those two innocent lives?” and she showed him the two letters which the Evil-one had forged, and then continued, “I did as thou badest me,” and she showed the tokens, the tongue and eyes. Then the King began to weep for his poor wife and his little son so much more bitterly than she was doing, that the aged mother had compassion on him and said, “Be at peace, she still lives; I secretly caused a hind to be killed, and took these tokens from it; but I bound the child to thy wife's back and bade her go forth into the wide world, and made her promise never to come back here again, because thou wert so angry with her.” Then spake the King, “I will go as far as the sky is blue, and will neither eat nor drink until I have found again my dear wife and my child, if in the meantime they have not been killed, nor died of hunger.”

Thereupon the King travelled about for seven long years, and sought her in every cleft of the rocks and in every cave but he found her not, and thought she had died of want. During the whole of this time he neither ate nor drank, but God supported him. At length he came to a great forest, and found therein the little house whose sign was, “Here all dwell free.” Then forth came the white maiden, took him by the hand, led him in, and said, “Welcome, Lord King,” and asked him from whence he came. He answered, “Soon shall I have travelled about for the space of seven years, and I seek my wife and her child, but cannot find them.” The angel offered him meat and drink, but he did not take anything, and only wished to rest a little. Then he lay down to sleep, and put a handkerchief over his face.

Thereupon the angel went into the chamber where the Queen sat with her son, whom she usually called “Sorrowful,” and said to her. “Go out with thy child, thy husband hath come.” So she went to the place where he lay, and the handkerchief fell from his face. Then said she, “Sorrowful, pick up thy father's handkerchief, and cover his face again.” The child picked it up, and put it over his face again. The King in his sleep heard what passed, and had pleasure in letting the handkerchief fall once more. But the child grew impatient, and said, “Dear mother, how can I cover my father's face when I have no father in this world? I have learnt to say the prayer, 'Our Father, which art in Heaven,' thou hast told me that my Father was in Heaven, and was the good God, and how can I know a wild man like this? He is not my father.” When the King heard that, he got up, and asked who they were. Then said she, “I am thy wife, and that is thy son, Sorrowful.” And he saw her living hands, and said, “My wife had silver hands.” She answered, “The good God has caused my natural hands to grow again;” and the angel went into the inner room, and brought the silver hands, and showed them to him. Hereupon he knew for a certainty that it was his dear wife and his dear child, and he kissed them, and was glad, and said, “A heavy stone has fallen from off my heart.” Then the angel of God gave them one meal with her, and after that they went home to the King's aged mother. There were great rejoicings everywhere, and the King and Queen were married again, and lived contentedly to their happy end.

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Notes

There are a number of version of this fairytale in different cultures. In some of them there isn't a devil character, rather, the miller loses his wife and the daughter assumes the tasks of the mother in looking after the father. When the daughter comes of age the father insists she take on the sexual duties too and the daughter refuses - as in the Xhosa version. The father then cuts off the daughters arms (not just her hands).
In a Russion version there is no father but the maiden and her brother are living together. The brother marries and through events - as it happens in fairytales - the malicious actions of the brothers wife who despises the sister cause the brother to chop off the sisters arms at the elbow as in the Russian version. Interestingly, this version the sister gives birth to a son with golden arms from the elbow down.

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Commentary

The character development and configuration of the tale:
- daughter/maiden, father, mother, devil
- maiden, angel, king, gardener
- maiden, king, mother-in-law, son
- maiden, son, mother-in-law, devil, king
- maiden, son, angel
- maiden, son, king

From this there is already an indication that this fairytale is about a feminine journey primarily. Although there is a strong masculine account it stems from and orbits the maidens journey. I would say therefore that this tale has something to say about the individuation journey of a woman and engagement with her animus, and primarily with the father or key masculine influence in the development of the woman - as for e.g. in the case of the Russian version where it is the brother who plays the masculine antagonist role. The father or brother being a significant influence on the female animus view. This is shown too in the Xhosa version where the sexual theme is brought in to play. This may have been too graphic or inappropriate for a western version, and shows the more primal element of the conflict and development between the feminine and the masculine role development within the female psyche. This points towards Freud's Oedipus complex too (in the sexual narrative) - the fathers desire to sleep with the daughter.
The journey shows how the familial masculine (and the reciprocal feminine) development can stunt the individual psyche, and the path taken to breakaway and find a more personally developed, balanced masculine role and thus psyche.
This being said, there is also scope and message here for the masculine - father (or brother) - in the first instance. The tale opens with the miller and his state of mind/being and from this there is also a message to be considered and applied to a male individual.

A certain miller had little by little fallen into poverty, and had nothing left but his mill and a large apple-tree behind it. Once when he had gone into the forest to fetch wood, an old man stepped up to him whom he had never seen before, and said, “Why dost thou plague thyself with cutting wood, I will make thee rich, if thou wilt promise me what is standing behind the mill?” “What can that be but my apple-tree?” thought the miller, and said, “Yes,” and gave a written promise to the stranger. He, however, laughed mockingly and said, “When three years have passed, I will come and carry away what belongs to me,” and then he went. When the miller got home, his wife came to meet him and said, “Tell me, miller, from whence comes this sudden wealth into our house? All at once every box and chest was filled; no one brought it in, and I know not how it happened.” He answered, “It comes from a stranger who met me in the forest, and promised me great treasure. I, in return, have promised him what stands behind the mill; we can very well give him the big apple-tree for it.” “Ah, husband,” said the terrified wife, “that must have been the devil! He did not mean the apple-tree, but our daughter, who was standing behind the mill sweeping the yard.”

The story opens with the miller having nothing but his mill and the large apple-tree behind the mill. The mill is no longer profitable. A mill is an interesting aspect to the tale as it generates currency or energy with the help of nature. I assume it is a water mill, although the tale does not say - as opposed to, for e.g. a mill wheel being driven by horse power or by the energy of people turning the wheel. Harnessing the power of the water flow the mill turns and grinds. So it is a work in harmony with nature, leveraging the flow of water to produce currency, i.e. grind the corn, sell the corn. It is a work that requires upkeep and investment to build, install and maintain the mill. It is the work of hands, the labour of consciousness with the ego - the harnessing of nature in a symbiotic relationship - not damaging nature or the flow of natural energy. Nature will run its course, i.e. the water (unconscious energy) and with some effort the water can be either guided or used in place when the mill is built.
So we could surmise that the flow of natural energy - the flow of water - has stopped, and thus the mill is no longer working, or the miller has stopped maintaining and investing in the upkeep of the mill and it has fallen into disrepair. Water too represents the unconscious, and the flow of water in nature the stream of unconscious energy flow. Either way, the synergistic relationship of nature and human - physical work, is no longer in place and the harmony of this relationship is no longer there - hence the poverty. Psychologically speaking, the poverty would speak to the unconscious currency, or unconscious flow of energy that is halted, the psychic development has stopped for some reason. This would seem to focus the story on the miller and his psychic development, but psychologically speaking I think it fair to say this points to the masculine, animus development within the female protagonist (the maiden) psyche.
That said, there has been a fruitful collaboration between nature and man to a point as highlighted by the apple tree. The apple tree is large and I would take this to highlight health of the apple tree - it is strong and big. The apple too conjures up connotations of the Christian garden of Eden in which the apple was the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. A symbol of the bringing to consciousness of the first man and woman. With this relation, and the heavy Christian tone of the angel and pray we see later in the tale, it is fair to bring the apple tree into focus as a key aspect and symbol of the fairytale.
The tree too is a symbol of the Self in Analytical Psychology:“

Cf. CW 13, Section V 'The Philosophical Tree' § 304 - 482

From this the apple tree shows a healthy psychic development through the mill (= relationship between flow of unconscious energy and the physical interaction of consciousness, work). It stands behind the mill and from this we could say it is as a result of the mill from a symbolic point of view. There is health and vitality in the apple tree. So the tree heralds the enlightenment - coming to consciousness - potential (as in the garden of Eden), but also the conflict and destruction of the journey that comes with the further development of consciousness. We are optimistic though as the tree is healthy and big.
Further, in this first paragraph, we notice the little girl was behind the mill at the time of the deal, so she is placed with the apple tree 'behind the mill'. This brings them together I think, and therefore brings the maiden into the protagonist position: the young maiden with a strong healthy Self symbol in the tree, performing her chores diligently (sweeping the yard) - using her hands. All this sets the scene nicely.

It is worth mentioning at this junction the archetype of 'the old man', or the spirit in fairytales as described in CW9i.

It is very often at this time - when the unconscious energy has stopped flowing - that the devil makes his move.

The miller takes a walk into the woods to 'fetch wood' and the mercurial figure of the devil appears. Here the devil asks the question “Why dost though …”. The question that as Jung writes is necessary to bring the situation into scope. The question precedes the fulcrum where everything kicks off. The devil offers him wealth for 'what is behind the mill' and the miller accepts the deal paying no mind to the sacrifice of the apple tree for which he thinks the devil is bargaining.
The devil is the animus shadow figure. Psychologically there is a complete lack of consciousness, or awareness of the shadow figure. The enters the the woods - the unconscious territory, but completely oblivious to what he is doing. He is unaware of the self or rather, the value of the tree - symbolically speaking. There is a basic and unsophisticated participation mystique here - the miller doesn't even know that it is the devil and so shows very little to no conscious discernment of what is going on.

At this point it is easy to apply the tale to the male psyche, and certainly it is applicable to both I think. For a man, the view of his daughter and the unmalicious confrontation with the shadow that leads him to hurt his daughter in a cowardly fashion - this is not because he doesn't love her, he is unaware, unconscious.
From the female perspective, the animus energy identified with the father has run its course and must now be renewed or rather, it needs to develop…and so the story continues.

Looking at it from the view of the maiden as the protagonist in the tale, the masculine development identified with the father (the miller) has run its course and done all it can for her. Any further healthy development with the father animus as valence will not be possible. There needs to be a death here, a closure to the father complex. The devil will return in three years. This is curious, three is one less than four, a complete and whole number in analytical psychology. As we read later in the tale, there is the seven years the maiden spends in the woods, the seven years the king goes in search of her - always slightly not complete (where four or eight is complete). Jung talks of the difficulty in going for three to four, or seven to eight as a step to completeness. We are not able to integrate the unconscious wholeness fully. When the unconscious wholeness arrives - as it has in the apple tree - the unconscious will seek to bring it back in, the mercurial figure working selfishly in opposition to take back.

Also, von Franz says:

So we see the 'three' here and what is happening within the unconscious.

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The miller's daughter was a beautiful, pious girl, and lived through the three years in the fear of God and without sin. When therefore the time was over, and the day came when the Evil-one was to fetch her, she washed herself clean, and made a circle round herself with chalk. The devil appeared quite early, but he could not come near to her. Angrily, he said to the miller, “Take all water away from her, that she may no longer be able to wash herself, for otherwise I have no power over her.” The miller was afraid, and did so. The next morning the devil came again, but she had wept on her hands, and they were quite clean. Again he could not get near her, and furiously said to the miller, “Cut her hands off, or else I cannot get the better of her.” The miller was shocked and answered, “How could I cut off my own child's hands?” Then the Evil-one threatened him and said, “If thou dost not do it thou art mine, and I will take thee thyself.” The father became alarmed, and promised to obey him. So he went to the girl and said, “My child, if I do not cut off both thine hands, the devil will carry me away, and in my terror I have promised to do it. Help me in my need, and forgive me the harm I do thee.” She replied, “Dear father, do with me what you will, I am your child.” Thereupon she laid down both her hands, and let them be cut off. The devil came for the third time, but she had wept so long and so much on the stumps, that after all they were quite clean. Then he had to give in, and had lost all right over her.

The chalk circle is a symbol of wholeness, of the Self. The girl has now shifted her masculine identification to God, to the imago dei . The figure of God a symbol of the Self too. She is 'pious' and fears God. This could be seen in reality as a commitment to the church, or a higher cause/charity commitment. So the devil goes through the miller to get at her as she remains pious and focuses her energy on the God figure. The devil has three attempts to get her - resonating with the three years, and the triune theme already mentioned. When the devil is unable to get her he gets the miller to chop off her hands.
The hands are a symbol of the work mentioned above, the mill that that would need to be fashioned to work with the unconscious energy, the conscious will and understanding to do the work - the ego. She has been 'ego castrated' in a sense and left by the devil to the care of her parents. It is interesting at this point too that the constellation of characters / figures is the same: the miller, his wife, and the daughter, only now presumably they remain within the deal, i.e. they are still wealthy. So it is interesting, the sacrifice that was made is the nascent ability of the new wholeness, chopped off before it could develop any further. The father animus has stunted the development of the daughter. This is important because an alternative would have been for the father to sacrifice himself to the devil - as the devil threatened - leaving the daughter and mother with the mill and wealth and presumably the ability to get on and use her hands. Only the father could was cowardly and unable to sacrifice himself - he is not heroic at all. In an alternative version of the tale the father might have sacrificed himself and the maiden would have gone in search of his salvation and found him somewhere perhaps.
So psychologically speaking, the daughter is captivated by her animus as identified with her father - a father complex. Where the animus represents the rational decision making, ego aspect of the female psyche, she is stuck and unable to think for herself.

The miller said to her, “I have by means of thee received such great wealth that I will keep the most delicately as long as thou livest.” But she replied, “Here I cannot stay, I will go forth, compassionate people will give me as much as I require.”

She makes the right decision - the animus has acknowledged the great wealth they still have, and that she could stay home but she choses rather to go out in to the world. Many woman would stay home and rely on the father to look after them.
This would align with a father complex where the girl relates to and idealises her father as the source of her unconscious currency.

Thereupon she caused her maimed arms to be bound to her back, and by sunrise she set out on her way, and walked the whole day until night fell. I find it curious that she bound her maimed arms to her back. I'm guessing this tells us that she did not leave anything behind so to speak - she gathered up everything and left to find her own energy.

Then she came to a royal garden, and by the shimmering of the moon she saw that trees covered with beautiful fruits grew in it, but she could not enter, for there was much water round about it. And as she had walked the whole day and not eaten one mouthful, and hunger tormented her, she thought, “Ah, if I were but inside, that I might eat of the fruit, else must I die of hunger!” Then she knelt down, called on God the Lord, and prayed. And suddenly an angel came towards her, who made a dam in the water, so that the moat became dry and she could walk through it. And now she went into the garden and the angel went with her. She saw a tree covered with beautiful pears, but they were all counted. Then she went to them, and to still her hunger, ate one with her mouth from the tree, but no more. The gardener was watching; but as the angel was standing by, he was afraid and thought the maiden was a spirit and was silent, neither did he dare to cry out, or to speak to the spirit. When she had eaten the pear, she was satisfied, and went and concealed herself among the bushes. The King to whom the garden belonged, came down to it the next morning, and counted, and saw that one of the pears was missing, and asked the gardener what had become of it, as it was not lying beneath the tree, but was gone. Then answered the gardener, “Last night, a spirit came in, who had no hands, and ate off one of the pears with its mouth.” The King said, “How did the spirit get over the water, and where did it go after it had eaten the pear?” The gardener answered, “Some one came in a snow-white garment from heaven who made a dam, and kept back the water, that the spirit might walk through the moat. And as it must have been an angel, I was afraid, and asked no questions, and did not cry out. When the spirit had eaten the pear, it went back again.” The King said, “If it be as thou sayest, I will watch with thee to-night.”

Firstly, a couple of points to note about the events in the garden:
She encounters the garden by night - a reference to the unconscious. The garden is full of fruit trees covered with beautiful fruit, another image resonating with the garden of Eden, or the garden of Hesperides. The fruit has been counted, so there is a completeness about the whole picture, no more no less, it is not random. The garden is surrounded by a moat filled with water - all of this a clear picture of an encounter with the unconscious landscape.
She eats the pear; In Greek and Roman mythology, pears are sacred to three goddesses: Hera (Juno to the Romans), Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), and Pomona, an Italian goddess of gardens and harvests. In Europe, it was customary to plant a fruit tree for each child, an apple tree for boys and a pear tree for girls. The pear is sometimes used as a symbol of the womb and used in slang to describe the figure of a woman.

So the daughter comes in to the garden and eats a pear like an animal would since she has no hands. The king is a new animus figure/energy that she has not encountered. It is worth noting that in many ways, the king at this point - since we don't know what he's like - is no different from her father: he has lots of money and a beautiful fruit tree. Only the scene is slightly evolved simply because it is not her father, and the garden it protected. The angel helping here is the unconscious psychopomp. She would not have been able to cross the moat to get to the fruit otherwise - her guiding energy remains with the God figure.

When it grew dark the King came into the garden and brought a priest with him, who was to speak to the spirit. All three seated themselves beneath the tree and watched. At midnight the maiden came creeping out of the thicket, went to the tree, and again ate one pear off it with her mouth, and beside her stood the angel in white garments. Then the priest went out to them and said, “Comest thou from heaven or from earth? Art thou a spirit, or a human being?” She replied, “I am no spirit, but an unhappy mortal deserted by all but God.” The King said, “If thou art forsaken by all the world, yet will I not forsake thee.” He took her with him into his royal palace, and as she was so beautiful and good, he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her to wife.

Here we see the daughter replace her animus energy - the king is kind and loving. He has silver hands made for her. These are a bit like the expression 'golden handcuffs' only they're not golden. However, the maiden still does not have her hands back. The alchemical tone here too is clear, the work is not complete - the gold has not been achieved. It is very easy to think of this as a happy ending and so it might be for many people. However, as a journey of individuation it is not complete. As already mentioned, in many ways this situation is no different than the daughter living with her parents. As we read shortly the situation is the king, his mother and the daughter - no different to the father, mother and daughter. The father had lots of money too from the deal he made with the devil - he was rich. He too promised to look after the daughter. So in many ways, the daughter has simply replaced the father animus at this point for the king animus, but they are the same, only now she is not as pathetic as someone still living at home and she has silver hands, and a loving husband. She is safe. The shadow figure has not been integrated though and the devil remains at large - and as will see, continues to play a role. I like the role of the devil here in relation to mercurius and the spirit in fairytales when Jung says:

…and below from CW13 where the Mercurial figure is more like a process.

After a year the King had to take the field, so he commended his young Queen to the care of his mother and said, “If she is brought to bed take care of her, nurse her well, and tell me of it at once in a letter.” Then she gave birth to a fine boy. So the old mother made haste to write and announce the joyful news to him. But the messenger rested by a brook on the way, and as he was fatigued by the great distance, he fell asleep. Then came the Devil, who was always seeking to injure the good Queen, and exchanged the letter for another, in which was written that the Queen had brought a monster into the world. When the King read the letter he was shocked and much troubled, but he wrote in answer that they were to take great care of the Queen and nurse her well until his arrival. The messenger went back with the letter, but rested at the same place and again fell asleep. Then came the Devil once more, and put a different letter in his pocket, in which it was written that they were to put the Queen and her child to death. The old mother was terribly shocked when she received the letter, and could not believe it. She wrote back again to the King, but received no other answer, because each time the Devil substituted a false letter, and in the last letter it was also written that she was to preserve the Queen's tongue and eyes as a token that she had obeyed.

It is interesting here if we consider the King's position for a minute:
He leaves his wife, the Queen in the hands of his mother, and tells her to write to him should anything happen. This again elucidates the state of things as not as developed as they may have appeared. The young queen still does not have her own hands - perhaps that's why she couldn't write the letter herself. In many ways we're back at the start, the mother left to look after the young girl, the King (= father) heading to battle (= the woods) to encounter the shadow by way of war ( = the devil). The constellation is not too far off. There is some progress though, as the young queen has given birth to a boy.
The birth of a child is good in that - psychologically - it shows the potential for rebirth in a stagnant situation and here the devil shows himself again. The mercurial figure of the devil is now the instigator of her development whereas before he was the instrument of her demise - but all the while he is 'seeking to injure the good Queen.' Notwithstanding the Christian influence, there are some interesting comments on Mercurius that help explain this paradox of the devil intending ill, but in fact saving…

I think this is important to note, that the devil does not leave her alone - it may seem like a good place to find peace in the loving arms of the king, with silver hands and new child but it is not what the unconscious wants. It brings in to question the objectives of the devil from the first encounter - from an objective standpoint we must admit that the devil (although portrayed in the tale as evil, even by namesake) was rather the unconscious energy needed to drive the individuation journey forward as it is doing now, and not necessarily evil per se …for as in the last paragraph it is this disruption by the devil replacing letters that creates the disruption to further the process.

The boy baby is a positive sign, see CW9i, the Phenomenology of the spirit in fairytales:

See too end of §397 in CW9i where Jung mentions the enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil, or what evil may be necessary to produce good. I think of this in terms of the young baby and how it plays a major role in this part of the story to bring about the next phase of development. Also, how it is related to the positive animus in the maiden, as mentioned in CW9i, §396.

The tongue and the eye's are interesting - these too are related to the ego consciousness, the ability to speak and see.

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But the old mother wept to think such innocent blood was to be shed, and had a hind brought by night and cut out her tongue and eyes, and kept them. Then said she to the Queen, “I cannot have thee killed as the King commands, but here thou mayst stay no longer. Go forth into the wide world with thy child, and never come here again.” The poor woman tied her child on her back, and went away with eyes full of tears. She came into a great wild forest, and then she fell on her knees and prayed to God, and the angel of the Lord appeared to her and led her to a little house on which was a sign with the words, “Here all dwell free.” A snow-white maiden came out of the little house and said, “Welcome, Lady Queen,” and conducted her inside. Then they unbound the little boy from her back, and held him to her breast that he might feed, and then laid him in a beautifully-made little bed. Then said the poor woman, “From whence knowest thou that I was a queen?” The white maiden answered, “I am an angel sent by God, to watch over thee, and thy child.” The Queen stayed seven years in the little house, and was well cared for, and by God's grace, because of her piety, her hands which had been cut off, grew once more.

The mother-in-law here reacts not unlike the mother at the start - she is mindful of the daughters position, as the mother-in-law here is trying to protect the maiden. Interestingly too, the mother at the start is a passive participant in the tale yet she is reactive to the error of the miller in as much as she rightly points out the sacrifice of the daughter in the devil's deal, she does not question or challenge the actions of the miller. So the mother-in-law here too does not question the actions of the son/king but, she does do something about it to avoid killing the maiden. There is growth here, however small. The feminine remains strong and you feel that the apple tree is still there in a strong symbol of the Self.
The hind is sacrificed in her place. Getting a little poetic, the hind is symbolic of the girl in the garden eating fruit as a deer would without hands. So there is death here.
Here the queen meets the angel again in the forest. Over seven years she regains her hands. It is interesting that the number seven appears. In the beginning it was three years, now seven years. There is the sense of the evolving circular motion of growth, death and rebirth. The king, as we will see also travels for seven years neither eating nor drinking. Here the animus figure is evolving. Fasting would imply an inner strength. The tale does not say so but perhaps this is his assimilation of the shadow figure.

At last the King came home again from the war, and his first wish was to see his wife and the child. Then his aged mother began to weep, and said, “Thou wicked man, why didst thou write to me that I was to take those two innocent lives?” and she showed him the two letters which the Evil-one had forged, and then continued, “I did as thou badest me,” and she showed the tokens, the tongue and eyes. Then the King began to weep for his poor wife and his little son so much more bitterly than she was doing, that the aged mother had compassion on him and said, “Be at peace, she still lives; I secretly caused a hind to be killed, and took these tokens from it; but I bound the child to thy wife's back and bade her go forth into the wide world, and made her promise never to come back here again, because thou wert so angry with her.” Then spake the King, “I will go as far as the sky is blue, and will neither eat nor drink until I have found again my dear wife and my child, if in the meantime they have not been killed, nor died of hunger.”

Thereupon the King travelled about for seven long years, and sought her in every cleft of the rocks and in every cave but he found her not, and thought she had died of want. During the whole of this time he neither ate nor drank, but God supported him.

At length he came to a great forest, and found therein the little house whose sign was, “Here all dwell free.” Then forth came the white maiden, took him by the hand, led him in, and said, “Welcome, Lord King,” and asked him from whence he came. He answered, “Soon shall I have travelled about for the space of seven years, and I seek my wife and her child, but cannot find them.” The angel offered him meat and drink, but he did not take anything, and only wished to rest a little. Then he lay down to sleep, and put a handkerchief over his face.

There is a resonance here with her journey in that God supported him, in the same way she turned to God. So his identification with the other is to a higher power, i.e. the Self psychologically speaking, and not with her, as it is now with her as she is in relation to the other , the imago dei . Here again the king travels for seven years. At the last hurdle he is offered food and drink but declines.

Why did he put a handkerchief over his face? The word 'kerchief' originally referred to a piece of cloth or material used to cover the head (not specifically the face though). Why would he cover his face - perhaps to avoid the light so he could sleep? Perhaps the story is saying that he is not to be recognised in the home of the house of the angel. However, we see next that the Queen was in a different room, so any danger of him being recognised was not immediately there. That said, there does seem to be a moment when the angel may proceed with reuniting the couple, he refuses food, sleeps and covers his face. We then see that the handkerchief falls from his face when she enters the room with the child….and his face is revealed. Only now the 'discovery' of the father - the king - is through the child, his narrative, as we'll see him question the queen about his fathers identity. So the child now takes on the role of being the 'voice' so to speak of bringing them together.

The handkerchief may have a projection element to it:

The handkerchief given over makes me think of what it is for, to cover the head, to mop and 'hold' 1 of the 4 humors = phlegm, the temperament of calm, dependable, determination through difficult situations. Perhaps it has come time for him to do away with it as his journey ends?
The handkerchief on his face also reminds me of St. Veronica, shown here in the Rogier van der Weyden, Crucifixion Triptych: ca 1445. The right panel shows St. Veronica and the handkerchief she gave to Jesus with his face imprinted upon it.

Crucifixtion Triptych

Thereupon the angel went into the chamber where the Queen sat with her son, whom she usually called “Sorrowful,” and said to her. “Go out with thy child, thy husband hath come.” So she went to the place where he lay, and the handkerchief fell from his face. Then said she, “Sorrowful, pick up thy father's handkerchief, and cover his face again.” The child picked it up, and put it over his face again. The King in his sleep heard what passed, and had pleasure in letting the handkerchief fall once more. But the child grew impatient, and said, “Dear mother, how can I cover my father's face when I have no father in this world? I have learnt to say the prayer, 'Our Father, which art in Heaven,' thou hast told me that my Father was in Heaven, and was the good God, and how can I know a wild man like this? He is not my father.” When the King heard that, he got up, and asked who they were. Then said she, “I am thy wife, and that is thy son, Sorrowful.” And he saw her living hands, and said, “My wife had silver hands.” She answered, “The good God has caused my natural hands to grow again;” and the angel went into the inner room, and brought the silver hands, and showed them to him. Hereupon he knew for a certainty that it was his dear wife and his dear child, and he kissed them, and was glad, and said, “A heavy stone has fallen from off my heart.” Then the angel of God gave them one meal with her, and after that they went home to the King's aged mother. There were great rejoicings everywhere, and the King and Queen were married again, and lived contentedly to their happy end.

Why does she 'usually' call her son Sorrowful? The tale does not imply that it is the child's name, but that she calls him that for a reason. Interestingly the Catholic Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are:
- The Agony in the Garden. Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin, Uniformity with the will of God
- The Scourging at the Pillar. Fruit of the Mystery: Mortification, Purity
- The Crowning with Thorns. Fruit of the Mystery: Contempt of the world, Courage
- The Carrying of the Cross. Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
- The Crucifixion. Fruit of the Mystery: Salvation, Forgiveness
These resonate in some way with the journey the maiden has experienced - to Salvation. So the child, so called (but not named) represents the Salvation of the journey in some ways. The implied next stage (per the Rosary mysteries would be The glorious mysteries ) would be an evolution of consciousness and a fruitful synthesis of the feminine: Glorious Mysteries :
- The Resurrection. Fruit of the Mystery: Faith The Ascension. Fruit of the Mystery: Hope and desire for ascension to Heaven
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Mystery: Holy Wisdom to know the truth and share with everyone, Divine Charity, Worship of the Holy Spirit
- The Assumption of Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Happy Death and True Devotion towards Mary
- The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance and Crown of Glory, Trust in Mary's Intercession

I find it interesting that the child in taking on the narrative does not identify with any earthly father, but has been weened on the Imago Dei as with the Queen's identification of the masculine. Here the child is well an truly connected to the mother figure and her ideals.
The mother recognises the King immediately highlighted by the fact she tells the child to go cover his fathers face again when the kerchief falls. Why does she do that? The King also doesn't recognise her…so it is the little boy and the father king who are 'in the dark' as to what is going on.
The Queens hands have returned to her via her 'sorrowful' journey and the grace of God - so returned via a higher-power. This is important. The second tenet of AA goes:
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Where the first reads…
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Although I don't think this tale relates to addiction there tenet highlights the relinquishing of power to something greater - the Self, i.e. God. It is from this source that restoration comes, where the energy for her identity, her ego ability is restored - not from her doing directly, she cannot create her own hands again. She could at best create metal hands, or have them created for her…but to replace her ego, she needed to give over to a higher power, to the unconscious energy of the Self.

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