The Fairy Tale Atlas

Fairy tales as road maps to transitioning terrain


The Fairy Tale Atlas is a twelve-week online course run by Dr Joanna Gilar. It is an exploration of the fairy tale and its resonance and ramifications in today’s changing world.

It is very difficult, in our rapid world, to hold space to encounter, process, and digest stories, even stories endemic to our culture. The course is an introduction to talking with fairy tales. It aims to hold a conversation both about and with the old tales, and think about telling and re-telling tales in ways that speak to both their and our complexities, and explores their ancient and modern role in guiding us along the map of life on earth.

The course is relevant to anyone with a genuine interest in fairy tales, whether long time folk reader or curious beginner. No previous experience is necessary, but a willingness to take fairy tales seriously in their dual complexity of light-hearted entertainment and sacred art is vital. Relevant for teachers, storytellers, artists, parents or readers, it is a course that provides space for you to think differently, creatively and independently about these ancient building blocks of folk culture, and opens a door to fluency in the language of the fabulous.


Course Content


The course will take the form of an in-depth exploration of five of our culture’s best known fairy tales, from Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty to the Frog King. Each fortnight will be focused on close discussion of a particular tale. We will explore historical and cultural variants of the story as well as its psychological and mythological interpretations. Yet rather than considering the fairy tale as artefact, the central question of the course will be learning how each story can locate us – guide us in living more deeply and carefully within the complexity of our enchanted world.

The fortnightly modules will follow the pattern below:

1) Cinderella and Intimate Kin

2) Sleeping Beauty and Wild Sleep

3) Rites, Rituals and Little Red Riding Hood

4) Waste, Water and Wonder in the Frog King

5) Eating the Woods with Snow White


Course Structure


The course is deliberately planned to provide space and time to consider the tales in their depth and complexity.  Every fortnight, you will receive a set of materials on the particular story, including downloadable material and recommended further reading. You will also receive an email every week with creative and reflective exercises.

The course will also include invitation to a private Facebook group for discussion of all course materials and reflections. This will allow interaction between participants and space to share responses to and experiences of the stories, and is thus a significant part of the course. (Pleae note that if you do not have Facebook it is still possible to complete the course, but sadly you will miss out on a significant amount of discussion. Currently, Facebook is the best option for a free and rich discussion space, although we respect the decision of anyone who would rather not take part.)

A weekly 60-minute webinar session will provide space for two seminars on every story; each seminar will be part lecture, and part discussion forum, and will take place on weekend afternoons. They will be available online for anyone who cannot take part.


Dates, Payment and Enrolment

The autumn 2018 course will begin on 21st September and end on 10 December, and group size is limited to 16 participants. PLEASE NOTE THIS COURSE IS NOW FULLY BOOKED.

The total cost for the ten week course will be £195. Course fees can be paid via PayPal, or via bank transfer. If you would like to join the course, please make a non-refundable deposit payment of £50 using the PayPal button below; alternatively, if you prefer, you can make the full payment. (If you would prefer to make your payment by bank transfer please email Joanna: joanna[at]thehedgeschool[dot]org.) The remainder of the fee will then be invoiced to you and it must be paid in full before the course begins.

You do not have to have a PayPal account to make this payment; anyone can pay using a credit or debit card; PayPal will also take care of any currency conversion for you. If you do already have a PayPal account, please ensure that the email address associated with it is up to date, as this is the only way we have of getting in touch with you.

If you have any queries about the course or about your payment, please do not use the contact form on this website, but contact Joanna directly: joanna[at]thehedgeschool[dot]org.

Image: ‘And Gladdens the Day’ by Lucy Campbell:

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