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Mythological Creature, the German Alp Demon – Why are German Folk Tales so dark? Snapshot GRIMM – with a Harry Potter FAN-FICTION Writing Prompt

The Grimm Brothers – Photo Credit: https://tinyurl.com/y5us2w44

According to Biography.com, despite the fact that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are often associated with Snow White and Rapunzel, the brothers didn’t actually write any of those stories. In fact, the stories existed long before the two men were born in Germany in the mid 1780s. The fairy tales, were part of a rich oral tradition − passed down from generation to generation, often by women seeking to pass the time during household chores. As industrialization took root, local traditions changed and scholars, like Jacob and Wilhelm, began a quest to save the stories from extinction. They interviewed relatives and friends, collecting whatever tales they could, sometimes embellishing them (although they insisted they did not). In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm published the stories as part of a collection titled Nursery and Household Tales, or what is now referred to as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Jacob and Wilhelm faced deportation and bankruptcy.

In 1830, King Ernest Augustus demanded oaths of allegiance from all professors in Gottingen, a university city where Jacob and Wilhelm taught Germanic studies. The brothers refused to pledge to the king and, along with five other professors, the “Gottingen Seven” were made to leave the city. Jobless and branded as political dissidents, the brothers were forced to borrow money from friends as they worked on their story collection.

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales” was a publishing blockbuster. 

The Grimm’s collection of fairy tales was in its 7th edition when Wilhelm Grimm died in 1859. By that point, the collection had grown to 211 stories and included intricate illustrations. Jacob − who had lived with Wilhelm and his wife − died in 1863. According to biographers, Jacob was deeply distraught after the death of his brother, with whom he had held a close bond throughout his life. Some claim their collection has only been outsold by Shakespeare and the Bible.

The Alp, German vampire elf – Photo Credit: https://tinyurl.com/y46g4qop


Why are German Folk tales so dark? According to denofgeek.com, look at what was happening in Germany at the time. We will continue to talk about the Grimm brothers here, because they are easily accessible, and well documented story tellers. Their work is a snapshot of their time and place, as well as all that preceded them through the oral tradition. Let’s be honest though, there is a definite cultural tone to the work.

It sounds like a kind of whimsical project, fairy tales, but actually the Grimms’ work was part of a wider political movement in Germany. The country was split into 200 principalities, and many people – including the Grimms’ law professor, Friedrich von Savigny – wanted to see them united as a single nation. To that end, many writers and thinkers were turning to traditional folk tales to explore (or maybe define) a kind of German national identity.

The theory was that these stories, passed down from one generation to the next, would contain the collective hopes, fears, and morals of the German people. The Grimms weren’t the only ones putting together collections of folklore, but it’s their work that became the best known.

-denofgeek.com

German folklore, according to Wikipedia, is folk tradition which has developed in Germany over a number of centuries. It shares many characteristics with Scandinavian folklore and English folklore due to their origins in a common Germanic mythology. It reflects a similar mix of influences: a pre-Christian pantheon and other beings equivalent to those of Norse mythology; magical characters (sometimes recognizably pre-Christian) associated with Christian festivals, and various regional ‘character’ stories

Continental Germanic mythology is a subtype of Germanic paganism as practiced in parts of Central Europe during the 6th to 8th centuries, a period of Christianization. It continued in the legends, and Middle High German epics of the Middle Ages. Traces of these stories, with the sacred elements largely removed, may be found throughout European folklore and fairy tales.

“Nachtmahr” (“Night-mare”), by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802), Photo Credit: https://tinyurl.com/yxq54gd9

An Alp (plural Alpe or Alpen) is a supernatural being in German folklore.

Not to be confused with the similarly named Alp-luachra, the Alp is sometimes likened to a vampire, but its behavior is more akin to that of the incubus. It is distinct from both of these creatures in that it wears a magic hat called a Tarnkappe, from which it draws its powers. The word Alp is the German form of the word that comes into English as elf, both descended from Common Germanic. It is also known by the following names: trud, mar, mart, mahr, schrat, and walrider. Many variations of the creature exist in surrounding European areas, such as the Druden and Schratteli, or Old Hag in English-speaking countries.

Writing Prompt – THE HAT

The Alp wears a magical hat called the Tarnkappe- let’s… for the purpose of sparking our imaginations…. make this the back story of the SORTING HAT from Harry Potter.

The Alp is sometimes likened to a vampire, and is malevolent, so the calibration for SLITHERIN comes easily for this hat. What must the hat have seen?

How does the hat have the range of feeling necessary to calibrate and sort ALL of Hogwart’s houses? Especially the benevolent ones?

How did the Alp lose the hat? How did it end up at Hogwarts? Fan fiction this one out guys. There are so many places to go with it.

If you find this fun and interesting and decide to expand on this story- let me know how this story continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

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5 thoughts on “Mythological Creature, the German Alp Demon – Why are German Folk Tales so dark? Snapshot GRIMM – with a Harry Potter FAN-FICTION Writing Prompt”

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