There are perhaps no words more enchanting, whimsical and promising than “Once upon a time.”
As Gemini author and academic Jack Zipes maintains, “Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.”
In conjunction with the Spring Equinox, World Storytelling Day on March 20 celebrates our grand tradition of subjugating horrors into happily ever after through oral tradition and the world making power of the written and spoken word.
Many of the tales we know and venerate today are credited to Aesop, a Greek slave and storyteller who used oral tradition to create ethical guidelines for his fellow man.
OG fairy tales were decidedly darker than their Disney versions would have you believe; full of allegory and cannibalism, gruesome death and unheeded warnings. Rife with symbolism and archetypes, fairy tales share much common ground and stardust with astrology. In honor of we World Storytelling Day, we bring you a list of the zodiac signs as fairy tales.
In the Major Arcana of the tarot, Aries is associated with the Tower card and in terms of the physical form, it is the sign that rules the head and hair. In kind, in the story of Rapunzel, a beautiful girl is condemned to a tower with little more than her hair for company. Aries is ruled by Mars and at their best embody the archetype of the fearless hero and reckless romantic, thusly, the prince that rescues Rapunzel is undaunted by heights and witches and like most Aries folk I know, is more than comfortable with a little hair pulling.
Beauty and the Beast
Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of love, beauty and valuables. Hedonists at heart, Taurus folk are built to indulge and run the risk of equating good looks with strong character and ugliness with deficiency. True to this, the curse that affects the Beast is put upon him as punishment for his superficiality and libertine nature, the cardinal sins of a low vibrating bull. Taurus lords over the second house of values and possessions and the witch in question conflates this meaning when she transforms the prince’s servants into household objects and symbols of aristocracy.
Taurus is loyal AF, a quality made manifest in said servants who go hard for the prince in spite and because of his difficult nature, see the fisticuff stance of the candelabra and the scalding tea spitting tea pot. Taurus is a sensual homebody who lives to curate a dinner party, and loves to get all dressed up to not leave the house, a real “be our guest” vibe. In terms of flora and fauna, Taurus is represented by the rose a bloom that serves as the curse count down in this story. The lessons of self-love and treating people not as possessions but autonomous entities are essential to the Taurus trajectory, and ones that the Beast and Bell embody in their slow love story.
Clever, curious, aces at word play, smart enough to get someone else to do their work, prone to exaggeration and breaking plans and promises, much aligns between the story of Rumpelstiltskin and this mutable air sign. Gemini, symbolized by the mortal and immortal twins Castor and Pollux, represent the dual nature in all things and all people. In this way we can read Rumpelstiltskin and our heroine, the miller’s daughter as two sides of the same coin and a complete representation of Gemini energy which at its most base is the trickster thief and at its highest expression is the cunning, clever messenger.
Cancer rules the fourth house of roots, home and ancestry and is governed by the moon, the luminary that represents the divine feminine and the archetype of the mother. In kind, variants of the Cinderella story, which is among the oldest and most universal of all fairy tales, include both a wicked stepmother and a magical mother. As a precursor to the fairy godmother character, some versions see Cinderella aided by an animal incarnation of her dead mom and/or an enchanted tree that grows from her grave. In all of these tellings, the common thread is a matrilineal legacy and a reverence for the magic born from it.
The Frog Prince
Ruled by the sun, the power color of Leo is gold and this story begins when a princess loses her gilded ball in a woodland pond. Leo is unquestionably the most regal sign in the zodiac, and the one that expects to be recognized as such. In kind our frog protagonist, in spite of his humble form, demands the royal treatment, pillows and a place at the table if you please. To quote my incredulous Leo sister, “Don’t you know who I am?!”
Leos are masters of PR and in the OG telling of the tale, the prince was returned to human form not by a kiss or a pillow nap but by the princess hurling his sentient, amphibian body against a wall. The narrative glow/pucker up is in keeping with the leonine style of romantic rebranding. Leo rules the heart and in the Grimm’s fairy tale version of the story, the frog prince is attended to by a loyal servant who has three iron bands fixed around his heart to prevent it from breaking under the unbearable sadness of his prince’s plight. When the frog prince returns to his mortal coil, the servant’s joy causes the bands to break and the servants heart to be free. Leos feel a similar joy when they hear applause, someone follows their advice and/or impromptu dance circle forms around them.
Little Red Riding Hood
In terms of the physical body, Virgo rules the bowels and in some versions of this fairy tale, our fair Little Red is swallowed whole by, and later cut free from the belly of, the hungry wolf. In the major arcana of the tarot, Virgo is associated with the Hermit card which features a hooded figure that holds the lantern of enlightenment. If we view the tale of Little Red Riding Hood as one of retreat, initiation and consciousness through trial, she is the hooded feminine hermit and a force for awakening.
The Princess and the Pea
Libra is the sign of scales and balances and represents the seventh house of partnerships. Great at mirroring others and maintaining enviable skin, natives tend to be diplomatic, pleasant, terminally indecisive and highly adaptable to shifting social dynamics and personal expectations. “The Princess and the Pea” is a tale of a mommas boy prince who searches the world over unable to find a suitable wife. One rainy eve, an alleged princess comes a rapping on the castle door seeking shelter from the storm.
Ruled by Venus, Libra is a natural host, willing to open the door and ready the guest room even if there’s a strong possibility they’re being grifted. The princesses ability to sense the pea amidst a fat stack of mattresses speaks to the Libran ability to intuit when things are out of alignment. Of course there’s the very real possibility that the princess was never really a princess at all and instead a highly skilled social climber who used charm, sensitivity, worldly wiles and an ability to meet expectations in order to get ahead. Apropos of this, Libras are aces at velvet handed, or mattress stacked manipulation, so smooth you barely notice it’s happening.
Scorpio rules the eighth house of sex, death and regeneration and Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale that invokes all three of these themes. A curse is put on a newborn babe, set to enact itself when she crosses the teenage threshold of sexual maturity. By fairy dust, death becomes a century of sleep that can only be cured by a mouth kiss from the right suitor. A Scorpio’s favorite sin is wrath and preferred modality is transformation, making Maleficent’s hex and Aurora’s awakening well suited to the tides of this fixed water sign.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Sagittarius is the good time rolling, dice throwing/dicey decisions, I’ll be back on top even when I’m bottoming out, put ten on the ponies, gambler of the zodiac. Enter handsome Jack, ready to bet the family cow on a sketchy handful of magic beans. Buoyed by dumb luck and aggressive optimism, the wager pays off as it so often does for the archers among us who count abundant planet Jupiter as their governing luminary.
Three Little Pigs
Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign ruled by stern Saturn, planet of lessons and legacies, the hard way and the right way. In kind, The Three Little Pigs is a parable about the importance of diligence, hard work and building a strong and lasting foundation while illustrating the dire consequence of the short cut. Capricorn is symbolized by the sea goat, a creature who too has hairs on their chinny chin chins. Capricorn is a cunning and vengeful sign (add link when live) so it tracks that this holy trinity of piglets would boil and eat the wolf that had sought to make them his supper. Come at me.
The Ugly Duckling
Aquarius is the sign that is not like the others. Ruled by Uranus, the Aquarius archetype is that of the outsider and the other who must overcome doubt in order to fulfill their weirdo water bearer destiny. This trajectory can easily be seen in “The Ugly Duckling” whereby a fledgling swan, surrounded by ducks, believes himself to be inferior. The energy of Uranus encourages radical individualism in service of the collective and the moral of the story and this fixed air sign, is that fitting in is futile and belonging to yourself is the only happy ending. Add to this that both swans and Aquarians are other worldly and difficult to manage.
The Little Mermaid
Pisces is ruled by Neptune, named for the god of the sea and represented in look and lording over by straight up zaddy King Triton in “The Little Mermaid.” Pisces is the zodiac sign willing to go to the greatest depths and rockiest shores in the name of love. Sacrificial AF it tracks that Ariel would be the sort to trade her clearly superior fish tale and operatic voice for mute bipedalism. Sigh. Pisces sees the beauty in all things, even and especially trash humans and dumpster treasures; beckoning both broken people and bent forks.
Astrology 101: Your guide to the stars
Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girls guide” to strip clubs and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.