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Red Cap Commentary

Little Red Riding Hood or Red Cap's stand-out attire seems often to be explained away as a fashion of the times. But if one looks at other tales one will see a red cap worn by magical persons. The piper in the Hamelin story is sometimes given as wearing a red cap. In Jack and the Beanstalk, the fairy who informs Jack of his history wears a red cap.

Little Red Riding Hood became a story eventually for moralizing on young women gone astray (off the path) and eaten up by greedy wolves. Many will say that's about all there is to that and to read anything else into it is in error, and some will say that the moralizing was layered over something else. Where the red cap is present, I do think there's more at play.

And isn't there with the suggestive lycanthropy reminding of wolf cults just as Bearskin revivifies ancient memories of bear cults?

The ending of the huntsman liberating Red Cap and the grandmother from the belly of the wolf is by some given as referring to regeneration. The huntsman splitting open the wolf and seeing the red cap, and then out popping the girl, well, who wouldn't see regeneration?

But what of the tri-fold female here--the grandmother, the mother and the daughter--and the goddess archetype? In another version, Red Cap eats parts of her grandmother left out by the wolf. When she asks about the rice, he informs her those are her grandmother's teeth, and they are.

I've always had a problem with the huntsman as liberator, it seeming a little too easy and it striked me as conventionalizing perhaps something more intricate. And I do think the wolf as predator male is also conventional moralizing and denies something deeper. For which reason I have here, Red Cap and the grandmother, yes, eaten by the wolf, but liberating themselves from the stomach of the wolf...and then keeping the wolf's pelt as a cloak. That is the way it is with shape-shifters, such as Bearskin. They wrestle with the sympathetic animal figure, they overcome certain aspects, they win other aspects and become adorned in them, partaking in the positive powers of the then brother or sister animal, that dimension of brotherhood or sisterhood being lost in many of the tales in domiance-oriented culture.


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