Fairy-Tale Files: Circle of Salt

Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors, readers, editorial assistants, or contributors.

Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors (or, in this case, contributors!).


 

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In the Grimm Brothers’ story “Maiden without Hands,” a miller inadvertently sells his only daughter to a wizard (or the devil, depending on which version you read) that he meets in the forest. On the day the wizard comes to collect her, she makes a circle of salt in the yard, stands inside it, and then he is unable to touch her and she survives another day. As is the way with fairy tales, this logic is never explained and so immediately accepted as an obvious truth.

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In the 1993 film Hocus Pocus, while Max, Allison, and Dani are on the run from a trio of witches—the Sanderson Sisters—they also employ this circle-of-salt tactic. Witty Allison even embellishes its professed protective powers, telling Max that it shields against “zombies, witches, and old boyfriends.” (If only!)

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A less witchy, but very familiar salt circle: the salted rim of the classic margarita glass. Over at Beyond the Shaker, they say there are two reasons behind this tradition. One, it’s sexy. Two, the salt serves to absorb the shock of the tequila and the sting of the lime—another protective barrier. Makes you feel just a bit warmer and fuzzier taking that next sip, doesn’t it?


This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Ochre Issue poetry contest winner and Emerald Issue contributor Lindsay Lusby.