|see more of Merle Pace's magical work in her Etsy shop MerlePaceArts|
|1945 Andersen's Fairytales|
|illustration of the Snow Queen by Arthur Szyk|
When I was a child I was given a old copy of "Andersen's Fairytales", circa 1945, with illustrations by Arthur Szyk. I was enchanted---and slightly shocked, because if you have read any of Hans Christian Andersen's unaltered fairy tales then you know that they can be quite visceral. "The Little Match Girl", "The Red Shoes" and "The Fir Tree" all made quite an impression on me. By far, though, my favorite story was, and still is, "The Snow Queen". The mystical journey undertaken by the girl, Gerda, vastly appealed to me and the Snow Queen was such an enigmatic character. When she appeared in the Narnia stories as Jadis, the White Witch, I was further delighted---and the two characters melded together for me. So much so that when I recently reread the old Andersen story I found myself asking "where is the faun and the turkish delight?".
Much later, as an adult, I purchased these gorgeous Folio editions of Andersen's stories:
Andersen and C.S Lewis cemented the Snow Queen archetype in our modern minds, but of course the character is no doubt based on older stories, such as those about the Norse goddess Skadi, and maybe also the goddess Hel, a ruler of the Norse afterlife.
Another manifestation of the snow goddess that I am very fond of is theYuki-Onna of Japan. She is beautiful, with long black hair, white skin and blue lips, but is ruthless and capricious. If you can get a chance to view the 1960s Japanese movie Kwaidan, which consists of four ghost stories, including "The Woman of the Snow", I urge you to see it. It has a very otherworldly quality achieved through painted backdrops, interesting lighting and haunting, spare music. The Yuki-Onna also appears in Akira Kurosawa's film Dreams.