June 26, 2022

"Several years back, you offered a stunning reading of the Rapunzel story. You looked at the beginning, in which a pregnant woman..."

"... so craves the parsley growing in a witch’s garden that she steals some, and the witch punishes her by taking her baby. The baby grows up to be Rapunzel, the girl with long hair who is locked in a tower. I’m thinking of the story now because our Supreme Court seems poised to strike down Roe v. Wade."


Warner answers:
Yes, I had read a book called “The Poison Principle,” by Gail Bell, whose grandfather was guilty of murder by poison. The author mentioned in passing that parsley was an abortifacient, and a poison in great quantities. This struck me as an absolute bolt of lightning. It’s not unusual for fairy tales to not make sense—it’s part of their charm, part of their power. But, in this case, why would the mother crave this particular herb and then apparently not mind giving her child away? So that’s how I worked it out: that the story showed a buried lesson, about both the need for abortion and the dangers of seeking or getting one. And, of course, you have the witch, too, who perhaps offers an insight into women who are childless and want children. So the story presents a double meeting of the need. 

28 comments:

Nancy said...

I call bullshit. Rapunzel is not parsley and is not poisonous and is not and abortifacent. It's the German name for a salad green aka mache.

Rockport Conservative said...

If you study herbs and herbal books, you will find many give a warning not to be given to pregnant women. I have always considered that a hint as to how to use them as an abortifacients.

pj said...

Granted that I'm not a folklorist, but I have never once heard a Rapunzel, or any Arne-Thompson 310 story that spoke of parsley. It's occasionally salad greens but nearly always ramps (no, not those ramps, but these). Can anyone point me to a relevant literary analysis, or better yet, a primary/secondary source?

Yancey Ward said...

Who knew people went to Scarsborough Fair for abortions.

Joe Smith said...

What, no hand-forged scissors and hand-operated brain-sucking pumps 200 years ago?

They were so backwards and we are so advanced...

Mary Beth said...

The mother in the story wanted the plant (different versions vary) to eat, not make a tea from. It's a stretch to say she wanted it in order to rid herself of her pregnancy. She would have had to eat massive quantities for it to work. Oh, wait, it didn't. I don't recall any of the versions of the story where she was happy to give the child away.

You could just as easily say that she craved it to soothe digestion because she had pregnancy-related nausea.

rhhardin said...

Parsley Sunsets

from Latin abortus, past participle of aboriri "to miscarry, be aborted, fail, disappear, pass away," a compound word used in Latin for deaths, miscarriages, sunsets, etc.

Bonkti said...

"Parsley" was the story's original title, but it was thought easily confused with Parsifal. But is really about parsley.

tim maguire said...

Fairy tales are full of horrifyingly bad parents, of children who come to horrible ends, often for vague, casual, or insignificant reasons. It's quite a stretch to say Rapunzel is a story about abortion, especially when looked at in its entirety, but it's crazier still to use it as a positive take on the importance of abortion. If you're going to use it for abortion at all, why doesn't it make more sense as a warning--stay away from the parsley?

Kate said...

Many a woman has ingested pennyroyal and delivered a full-term baby. I also call bullshit. She craves "rapunzel," a German name for a vegetable, not an herb.

Every little thing is going to be some important reference to abortion for the next six months, isn't it?

wildswan said...

Women will go down to Illinois. Abortion mills will line up on the border with Wisconsin. Then those women will come back up here and start going to Wisconsin hospitals with septic shock and all the other hidden-till-now consequences of abortion. We can then collect accurate statistics on how many women suffer dangerous infections from Illinois abortionists. And bring lawsuits against the abortionists. You see, abortionists are the only medical specialists who frequently operate on the site of an infection. Abortionists go ahead in the presence of an STD and then issue antibiotics and leave the women to the ER at the hospitals for any further needed care.
This is similar to the danger from parsley and all other herbs. Unless they cause the dead child to be completely expelled, it will rot inside and cause an infection. That's why in a DIY abortion, you have to look at the expelled product and make sure that the arms and legs and head and hands and feet and torso are all there whereas in an abortion clinic they do it for you.

Lem said...

Looked up Genius lyrics for the song Scarborough Fair

Each paragraph of the song repeats the second sentence, and also the main meaning of the song, which is found in the herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme. Historically, these herbs possessed the following symbolic meanings:

Parsley took away bitterness. Sage represents strength and wisdom. Rosemary symbolizes memory and faithfulness. Thyme was for courage.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Pretty sure:
1: It was Cale lettuce and cabbage
2: That the witch came and TOOK the daughter, the mother didn't just give her away

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

Groucho Marx said it perfectly: “That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever hoid.”

Dustbunny said...

In every version I’ve read it was rampion the mother craved not parsley.

rcocean said...

Oh God. The downside of Roe being overturned. Look for the MSM and all the SJW's to give us ENDLESS stories about Abortion rights. Constant, endless, and never ending.

Out with Transgenders. In with sad women having unwanted kids due to the EVIL Republicans. The new media narrative, the current thing. All lapped up by the soccer moms and liberal bourgoise.

Buckwheathikes said...

Aren't you on vacation, Ann?

Relax. Enjoy the fire. Revel in the sunrise moments and sunset dreams.

In 4 days, the abortion stuff will be done with. We've been programmed to not have attention spans.

dbp said...

I read many of the Grimm's Fairy Tails as a kid and remembered the vegetable as parsnip. Just to be thorough, I looked it up and the plant was Rampion. The leaves are described as earthy and somewhat onion-like. The root is also edible and similar to the taste of radish.

All I can take from this, is that either Waldman or Warner are probably finding hidden meaning in myths, which is hidden because it it non existent.

dbp said...

"This species was once widely grown in Europe for its leaves, which were used like spinach, and its parsnip-like root, which was used like a radish.[3] The Brothers Grimm's tale Rapunzel took its name from this plant."

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campanula_rapunculus

gpm said...

>>In every version I’ve read it was rampion the mother craved not parsley.

Me too. "I want/need a salad of rampion from the witch's garden." And the mother didn't do it, she made the father do it. I don't recall the mother ever giving up the child willingly but rather the witch demanding the child in recompense.

--gpm

Lance said...

So Warner found a hidden meaning where none existed, the same way Warren found a hidden right where none existed. Nice.

Bunkypotatohead said...

Abortions should be safer in the herb garden, as opposed to the back alley.

Candide said...

It is a slow weekend, so I followed this lead to diverse collection of tales in the genre of “the Maiden in the Tower” from many times and different countries. Those stories cover almost all vicissitudes of human female existence, from early childhood to onset of maturity, to romantic involvements and consequences thereof, and to the very old age. There are numerous fascinating sites relaying different versions of this story. And yet, all we talk nowadays is about abortion…

Tom T. said...

When I was young, every restaurant put parsley on the side of our plates. We threw it away.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Wiki: Petrosniella

"Petrosinella" is a Neapolitan literary fairy tale, written by Giambattista Basile in his collection of fairy tales in 1634, Lo cunto de li cunti (The Tale of Tales), or Pentamerone.[1]

It is Aarne–Thompson type 310 "the Maiden in the Tower", of which the best known variant is "Rapunzel", and it is the earliest recorded variant of this tale known to exist.[2]

Plot
A pregnant woman steals parsley from the garden of an ogress (orca) and agrees to give up her child when she is caught.

lonejustice said...

Parsley is the main ingredient in tabbouleh, a middle-eastern salad, along with tomatoes, bulghur, scallions, olive oil, and lemon juice. My wife and I love it.

Parsley is easy to grow in the Midwest. When it's not in season, we get it at the grocery store. We usually buy the store's entire amount, and then get some weird looks from the cashier.

Anthony said...

Probably not terribly apropos, but I once spread fertilizer all over a planter bed and a few weeks later the thing was covered with parsley. Which irritated me, but, oddly, I ended up popping out there quite often to grab some and use it in cooking. . . .guess I'd just not bothered before when I didn't have any handy.