The Typology of Initiatory Journey (in the Romanian Folktales)

by Mihai-Andrei Aldea

translation by: Sorina Gheorghe


The Typology of Initiatory Journey (in the Romanian Folktales)………………………………………………. 1

The Typology of Initiatory Journey (in the Romanian Folktales)………………………………………………. 2

  1. The Initiatory Journey – Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………… 2
  2. The Initiatory Journey in the Romanian Fantasy Folktales……………………………………………….. 8

II.a. The Extraordinary and the Estrangement……………………………………………………………………. 8

II.b. A Brief Attempt at Drawing a Typology……………………………………………………………… 10

II.c. The Results of the Research……………………………………………………………………………… 17

II.d. A few supplementary observations…………………………………………………………………… 17

Notes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 19

Selective bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 21


I. The Initiatory Journey – Introduction



The present study originated as a PhD essay, the concise version being first published on-line in “The Romanian Magazine of Ethnohistorical Studies” in October 2007 [1]. The romanian version was published than in “Puncte Cardinale”, Jan.-Jul. 2008. The subject exceeded its initial secondary role within the initiatory journey and acquired, step by step, a status which imposed special attention. As one will see, the reasons are numerous. The research, which is to a great extent a pioneering work, is necessarily limited to the Romanian fantasy folktale, any further studies on the subject having as a requisite a serious scientific research.


From a researcher’s perspective, the initiatory journey seems a paradoxical subject, not just in itself, but also regarding its status among the cultural inquiries. On the one hand, there are many debates about the journey and the initiation, and the initiatory journey itself. On the other hand, genuine studies about the initiatory journey are extremely difficult to find. There are, as known, a series of collateral researches about some forms of initiation as well as about some aspects of the rites of passing (which are simultaneously initiation rites). Certainly, however useful these researches are, they are still far from being a well-organized theoretical framework, an instrument of study, a referential analysis, such as the ones given for the fantastic tale by Vladimir Propp (and Claude Brémond) [Propp, 1970:XV and XXXIII].We could by no means find such references for the initiatory journey. Actually, even when one speaks about the initiatory journey, the researchers’ attention, and implicitly the research, is focused on other aspects, and first of all on the initiation itself.


The climax of this paradox is provided by the contradiction between the reality of the research and the statements which have apparently no connection to reality, but are nevertheless pertinent from a certain perspective. For instance Ioan T. Morar wrote the following in June 2007, in a commentary to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi:


The initiatory journey was, throughout the history of culture, the basic matrix of thousands of creations, collective or individual. In other words, one is faced with a well-trodden path [2].


But from what point of view does Ion T. Morar make this unequivocal statement? From a literary point of view!


As a writer, [continues the author of the above-mentioned paragraph] one gives the measure of one’s originality when it seems that ones’ initiatory path does not encounter, at too many cross-roads, the other travelers’ initiatory journeys.


Consequently, “the well-trodden path’’ that concerns the initiatory journey represents in this case its usage in the literary work, its existence as a basic matrix of ’’thousands of collective or individual creations’’. Well, it is precisely this reality, this normal and general presence of the initiatory journey that deterred it, strange as it may seem, from an in-depth research in itself. When discussing the initiatory journey, one had a presumed knowledge of the subject. The objects of dispute centered mainly over the initiation and its meaning, form, rite, and possible ontology. Amazingly, this very interest in the initiation made the journey itself unnoticeable, although an initiation without a journey cannot actually exist, be it physical or towards the ’’place of the heart’’! Moreover, this transition to the background takes place notwithstanding the numerous references to the initiatory journey, despite its multiple conjunctions with different aspects of social life.

Many famous writers adopt this involuntary and reflex classification of the initiatory journey exclusively as subordinate to the initiation. Arnold van Gennep gives a structure of the rites of initiation and talks about rites of separation which partially apply to the act of going on a journey as well. In a similar category are Van Gennep’s rites of return which can also be connected to the initiatory journey [Van Gennep, 1996:31, 43, 76, 162, 167]. All these rites, although useful when making analogies and deductions, are parallel to the subject matter.

On the other hand, in his classic History of Beliefs and Religious Ideas, as well as in other works, Mircea Eliade also discusses the initiation, but not the initiatory journey as a fact or a phenomenon. Even the role of the journey in the process of initiation is only stated without being analyzed. Eliade’s perspective is shared by other researchers, whether they are Romanian or not.

In Basmele Românilor [Romanian Folktales] Lazăr Şăineanu mentions only briefly and contextually the journey, without a further analysis. The chapter Ciclul interzicerilor (The Cycle of Prohibitions) [Şăineanu, 1978:216 ff.] lists a series of journeys: that of the hunter’s son, of the shunned son, of the brave man with a fairy horse, of the young shepherd and so on. However, they are all analyzed from the perspective of the prohibitions, of the taboos or impediments which occur and of the effect of infringing them or of trying to do so. From this perspective, surely, the journey in itself is no longer of interest and it is easily overlooked. Moreover, the only journey which is presented as such in the quoted work is the journey of death [Şăineanu, 1978: 581-589] which only has a diminished initiatory meaning and is not further analyzed in itself.

Nevertheless, Şăineanu gives us a valuable starting point in understanding the initiatory journey in the chapter “The Fantastic Scenery of Folktales”. In this chapter, the description of “the hero of the folktale” covers all the aspects, starting with his appearance, continuing with his relationship with others, and naturally, the obstacles he has to overcome. Certainly, thereafter this inquiry goes further, investigating the tests and ultimately the journey also classical study, lacks a proper research framework regarding the hero’s journey in the fantastic folktale.[4] Pages 36 and 37 contain a short typology of this type of journey, which could be of assistance for an extended research. We shall return to this typology later on.

Before doing so, we have to go back to Mircea Eliade, in order to analyze his assessments and his commentaries. In his History of Beliefs and Religious Ideas, he studies for instance Gilgamesh’s adventures, which fit almost entirely the pattern of the initiatory journey [Eliade, 2000:59-61]. Nevertheless, in the following pages (61-63), his interest turns exclusively towards man’s relationship with the divine, focusing on destiny, on the (un)intelligible and the (misunderstood) divine Providence. Similarly, when he mentions the calling of Abraham [Eliade, 2000:114], Eliade’s only focus is on the specific nature of Abraham’s relationship with God, mentioning in a concise and elusive manner the journey itself – be it considered initiatory or not. We could make the same observation concerning the Exodus from Egypt [Eliade, 2000:117-119, 120-121].

A similar case is Leto’s journey, in search of a peaceful place to give birth, also only indirectly reminded, and so is the case with her son Apollo’s journey to the Hyperboreans [Eliade, 2000:172-173]. Even in the subchapter concerning the Greek heroes, their journeys are only mentioned, without being analyzed, although they are considered decisive [5]. What comes as a shock to us is the fact that this happens to Hercules as well, although the author states that Hercules has acquired the divine status following a series of initiatory trials from which he came off triumphant, unlike Gilgamesh and others alike who have failed [Eliade, 2000:184-185]. This ’’series of initiatory trials’’ is actually a part of a vast system of journeys of initiation, whose importance in itself seems to have eluded our famous Orientalist scholar. Actually, we ought to make a digression in order to remind the reader that from the death of his family until his deification, Hercules experiences a permanent and complex initiatory journey, on his path to virtue. This aspect is worth being remarked and examined.

Reverting to the studied work we should mention that the journey of Zarathustra [Eliade, 2000:194 and 196], Mithras’s journeys [Eliade, 2000:206], the soul’s Zoroastrian journey after death [Eliade, 2000:208-210], the prophet Elijah’s terrestrial and celestial journeys [Eliade, 2000:216-217], Jeremiah’s departure to Egypt [Eliade, 2000:221], the enslavement of the Jews and their journey with Ezekiel [Eliade, 2000:222-223] are only reminded. Just a few words are mentioned about Lycurgus’ amazing journey in pursuit of Dionysus and the recurrent journeys and disappearances of the latter and his followers are also only shortly mentioned [Eliade, 2000:226-233].

In all of these cases the initiatory journey is not seen as a phenomenon in itself, or, better said, it is not studied as a phenomenon, although it is present as one! And if in all these cases the overlooked study of the journey as a phenomenon can be explained by the author’s more bookish, and theoretical approach towards the analyzed religions, the approach towards Buddhism seems to be quite astonishing. Indeed, knowing that M.Eliade was – at least for the most part of his life –a genuine practicing follower of Buddhism, Yoga and Hinduism, it comes as no surprise that Siddhartha’s journeys until reaching the status of Buddha and later on, present a special interest. This would have been an expected starting point for a study concerning the initiator journey. Sadly, the author limits his study with describing the journeys of the future Buddha in an equally circumstantial manner [Eliade, 2000:280-284 ff.], focusing on completely different aspects, other than what the journey represents in itself, especially from an initiatory perspective.

To sum up, the same “beholden” mentioning – if one may refer to it in this manner – is to be encountered whenever Eliade refers to the phenomenon of the (initiatory) journey in the quoted work. This is certainly unfortunate, giving that from the examples presented so far alone, the possibility of an outline on the subject – the journey and its sacred function, can be inferred, whether it is an initiatory journey for the one who undertakes it, or a journey meant to initiate the world (missionary).


Nonetheless, consulting Eliade’s work is of great use in our endeavor. In the aforementioned examples we can observe, first of all, the important distinction between the types of sacred journey:

the journeys which have as purpose the initiation of the hero and, respectively,

those whose aim is the initiation of others by the hero (of course, the hero could be human or not, depending on the case).


The third category that necessarily occurs is that of the double purpose of the journey, namely the hero’s initiation and, as its consequence, the expression of some superior truths in a form accessible to people. For instance, such a journey is that of Abraham and his descendants, a journey through which the characters involved gain access to a deeper knowledge of the laws and of Yahweh’s will, with the sharing, in various forms, of this knowledge to other people (Genesis 12-21 for Abraham and 22-50 for his descendants).


We are again forced to make a parenthesis. It is, of course, to be expected that almost each journey should have to a certain degree a double role; yet we can and we must make a distinction between these three fundamental categories by considering the journey’s obvious intention and its effects.

Therefore, in the present study, we shall name the aforementioned categories as follows:

  1. a) personal (or, in some degree, individual) journeys of initiation,
  2. b) missionary journeys of initiation and
  3. c) complete journeys of initiations.


For the last category we initially intended to use the term journeys of initiation with a miscellaneous role (or function). However we have abandoned it, due to its extreme ambiguity: as we shall observe later on, every initiatory journey has a series of secondary functions, excepting the primary role or function of initiation. Therefore the use of the term “miscellaneous” would have been dangerous in this context. In contrast, the term “complete” covers the type in discussion, not just as a random name, but also as meaning.

If the world is divided in sacred and profane, and the first two types of journeys of initiation imply a passing and a communication from one place to another, the third type of initiatory journeys has a complete purpose, actually implying all the essential significances of the relationship between the two sides of life. It represents the most complete type of the initiatory journey, from any perspective of the initiatory purpose.

Naturally, the moral purpose of the initiation may differ: there can either be an initiation in good or in evil. This fact exceeds the dimension of the journey’s purpose of initiation – more pragmatic, we have to admit, questioning the very purpose or role of initiation itself, therefore it is better not to analyze this moral distinction at this point. We have contented ourselves by observing, if we might say so, that type c) is the most complete considering the journey’s purpose of initiating. Indeed, by being initiatory both for the hero and for the ones around him (in different areas), this journey could be seen – we repeat, from the perspective of its function to initiate – as complete.


Another (brief) discussion can take place over the name of missionary journeys of initiation. Indeed, at first sight one might object to this expression due to the relationship between the initiation, seen as a mysterious doing, and mission or missionary activism, seen as an act of (great) public revelation. The contradiction is only apparent. Not all which is revealed is understood. Christianity warns us that “many are to be called, but only a few are to be chosen” (Matthew 20.16). In Zarathustra’s legend, as in Buddha’s or Mahomet’s, preaching is greeted with mistrust or even hostility [Eliade, 2000:194, 280-284, 515-519 ff.]. The answer given to Alexander the Great, who is upset about the publishing of the pieces of knowledge that ensured his superiority, is that they have been indeed published, but not made public. Thus the distinction between the existence of the information and its real understanding is shown, the latter being the real initiation.

Therefore, the initiation through a mission, although being offered to everybody, is not accessible – or at least not completely, depending on the case – to everybody. It requires certain conditions, in the lack of which it tends to have a contrary effect or no effect at all. Also, be it received by one, a few or by thousands of listeners, it remains an initiation, a passing towards superior levels of knowledge, understanding and living, levels until then vaguely or not in the least known, little or not at all accessible.

So, we shall keep the primary division of the initiatory journeys in the three aforementioned categories: personal initiatory journeys, missionary initiatory journeys and complete initiatory journeys.


Notwithstanding the considerable importance of this first form of systematization, it remains, of course, insufficient for a proper observation of the initiatory journey as a phenomenon. Consequently, here we are faced with the calling and the temptation of exhaustivity, of the extended and intensive study of some broad areas of literature, in order to see the types, structures, functions and so on, of the initiatory journeys. Due to the framework of our study, and the common norms of such a research, we will content ourselves with a short enquiry on the initiatory journey in the Romanian folktale, by using the equivalent of a sociological poll. After all, it is precisely what Propp has done in his famous Morphology of the Folktale, which has the Russian folktale as its basis. As we well know, this (de)limitation has not diminished the value of the study, which has remained to this day of a great importance to the literary critique, ethnology and Folkloristics. Such delimitation of the researched area allows a bigger seriousness of the method, although it also implies the recognition of the inherent limits of the conclusions (which, from our perspective, is actually a gain).


Before making this effort, we think it necessary to make a final parenthesis. We would like to focus our attention on the well-known phrase of “civilizing hero”, a phrase easy to be put in connection with our subject. Although the civilizing hero undertakes an initiatory journey, his name, to our mind, contradicts the essence and the sense of folklore, including those of the initiatory journey. More precisely, he comes into being as a result of a revolute era of Folkloristics dating from the beginning of the modern era, as Cocchiara has well observed, when certain prejudices were put forward, and, so to speak, naturalized. In a way in this same spirit of the “good savage”[7], Van Gennep names those who have cultures in which the sacred is above the profane “semi- civilizations”, setting those cultures on an inferior position compared to the “civilized” ones, in which the relationship is reversed [Van Gennep, 1996: 7-8, 15-17]. But the initiatory journey represents in itself the very access to the superior sacred, its recognition and veneration, irrespective of the fact that the sacred is classical or reformative for the culture amidst it manifests itself. Maybe the most classical example of “civilizing hero” and apparently rebelled against the sacred, Prometheus himself is observed by Mircea Eliade and other commentators as having quite an opposite activity: he tries to bring more sacredness to humankind than the Gods command or, from another perspective, to uplift people faster than they were allowed or just to limit the distance between gods and humans [Eliade, 2000: 165-167]. In all of these alternatives Prometheus may appear anywise, but never as an “over-thrower” or a “despiser” of the sacred. Therefore, no matter how paradoxical he may seem, he is not actually a civilizing hero (at least not in the sense that Van Gennep – and others – accept and advocate). He [Prometheus] acquires these capacities only from the Renaissance onwards, following a pedantic (and political) reinterpretation that takes no notice of the ancient realities, but the Renaissance and modern aspirations for worshipping the profane and for the emergence of independence from the transient. Consequently, in our study we shall avoid the formula of “civilizing hero”, which seems to us improper for the very least.

Let us mention that it is common sense to regard the limitation of civilization, and implicitly that of civilizing, to the “technological” (fire, wheel, ploughing, metallurgy and so on) as an obsolete perspective that is today even considered racist. Nowadays the cultures and civilizations are no longer classified as “superior” or “inferior” by judging the degree of technological development, and if they are it is the result of a narrow perspective, which is sometimes due to an error of expression, objectivity, or to manifest racism. Therefore, the matter is extremely delicate, and the only convenient solution is our omission of the term “civilizing hero”.


We shall also avoid a discussion over the initiation, even as a preamble or a parenthesis. In accordance with Mircea Eliade, Cl.-H. Rocquet pointed out that no religion exists without initiation [Eliade, 1990:132]. This fact opens up such a vast area, that even without the super positioning with the theme of the initiatory journey we get to lose ourselves in an extreme vastness. As our purpose is clear – that of obtaining a typology of the initiatory journey – it is necessary to renounce, as much as possible, to the hermeneutical effort and to focus on that of systematization, which may be even less attractive, but absolutely necessary for a coherent and objective exegesis.

Presently, we shall only mention two fundamental aspects. Firstly, the fact that the initiation is actually an access to the mythical, the symbolical and the sacred [Eliade, 1990:132, 135] and secondly, the fact that the first definition of the initiatory journey is to be found in its purpose: offering the initiation. The initiatory journey, obviously, is that journey through which the initiation is offered and received. This definition and distinction between the initiatory journey and the utilitarian journeys, for instance, is fundamental and should be stressed, although it may seem a truism. As a matter of fact, the purpose will be the fundamental criterion in realizing the typology of initiation.




II. The Initiatory Journey in the Romanian Fantasy Folktales


II.a. The Extraordinary and the Estrangement


In this part of our study we wish to clarify the term extraordinary, a term employed in our research, and simultaneously observe the estrangement, a fundamental element of the initiatory journey.

We use the term extraordinary repeatedly in our study, firstly as a noun and secondly as an adjective. But what does this extraordinary mean in the framework of our study? Well, we could say that in the folktale the “out of the ordinary” or “out of daily occurrence”, “out of the natural” is not limited to a simple quantitative accumulation. Instead, even when it seems to do so, it always implies a quality leap as well. The well-known Romanian-folk character Thirsty is such an example. At first sight, he is a personification of a human attribute (the thirst), a simple accumulation of quantity. What can be easier than to go from “I am so thirsty!” to “I could drink a bucket of water!”, both very common expressions, and from this to “I could drink the whole well!” – just an exaggeration that can be found in colloquial speech. And the result is something which at first resembles Thirsty’s special power – or ability – to a great extent. Nevertheless, there is an extremely long way from saying “I could drink the whole well!” to the fact actually becoming real. Any Romanian, be he a peasant or a city dweller, knows very well the limits of one’s capacity of swallowing. Thirsty implies the fulfillment of a funny or exaggerate assertion, but this can be obtained only through a qualitative leap. Let us also consider the fact that Thirsty, swallowing the water from the wells, ponds and even rivers, continues to walk the same as the rest of the people, notwithstanding the obvious acquired mass. Moreover, when in need, he is capable of pouring back the water which he had swallowed, in quantities which are also diluvial [Călinescu, 1965:56-58]. The qualitative leap is obvious and manifests itself on more levels, but the limitation of the character is a lot more amazing. It seems obvious that, as long as he can carry within himself “the water from nine mills” for instance, he must have a (physical) strength to match it. However, this strength never manifests itself. For a simple quantitative accumulation, Thirsty should have been exceptional from a physical point of view as well, but he usually appears as a normal person. Therefore, his capacity of swallowing and keeping the water inside his body proves to be a special power, we might even call it an (transcendent) endowment or gift, and not only the manifestation of a quantitative cumullation. We have given this example in order to show that the extraordinary which we are talking about manifests itself through a change of the common laws. This change may represent an endowment or a holy gift (which are, in this case, one and the same thing), it may be the result of an “evil doing”, of sorcery, of a devilish intervention, or it may represent the entrance (or the sign of the entrance) in another realm. In all of these cases, the hero is able to enter what we call the extraordinary, through the contact with a person, an object or a different territory.

It is worth mentioning that Şăineanu, for instance, observing this extraordinary as phenomenon, was brought to calling the extraordinary objects used by heroes “all sorts of talismans” [Şăineanu, 1978:37]. This naming is obviously incorrect. The talisman is a magical object which one wears for good luck or protection and which is obtained following the performance of a magic ritual (sorcery, spells, magical inscriptions with runes or other similar signs and so on). On the other hand, in the Romanian folklore, “the traditional peasant sandals”, the “fur cap”, the “whip”, the “money belt” and other similar objects, given as examples by the quoted author, manifest the same extraordinary extrapolation of their role in the same manner as the thirst in Thirsty’s case. It is another phenomenon, which cannot be integrated in the essentially different category of the magical. We must recall the fundamentally lack of performance in the case of these objects. Without a performance – be it at the making or the consecration of the objects or at their usage – it is unsuitable (and atypical) in the least to talk about magic or talismans. Therefore, among other things, we have preferred the far more advantageous and entitled term of extra-ordinary, which characterizes without asserting a certain value (magical, non-magical and so on).

Another example of extraordinary, which can by no means be classified as magical, although it belongs indispensably to the miraculous, is that of birth gifts, which many heroes possess.


There were two brothers. One was named Siminoc [Xeranthemum] and the other Busuioc [Basil]. Wherever Busuioc [Basil] set foot, there would be sweet basil coming out, wherever Siminoc [Xeranthemum] would step, there would be xeranthemum coming out. [Ispas, 2005:7].


Such an endowment is not magical, as long as the performance is missing. But, of course, it belongs to the miraculous.


In many cases the demarcations magical / miraculous / haric and so on are very difficult to be made and need a serious and extended research. This is yet another reason why we have chosen a term which, from this point of view, is neutral, covering all the alternatives of “unnatural” situations (natural being seen from the perspective of the tale or the culture which uses the tale).


Another element of the initiatory journey which we think necessary to mention is the estrangement or alienation. This is a phenomenon which surely deserves an extended analysis, both from the perspective of the initiatory journey (seen as a phenomenon) and from that of the initiation itself. It is enough, though, for our study, to observe the phenomenon and trace out its main forms of presentation.

We believe there are three different forms of estrangement in the Romanian fantastic folktale.

The first form is the indifference. In this case the hero does not manifest any empathy towards his birthplace, which he is hastily willing to leave permanently, in most of the cases [8]. This estrangement does not seem to be as willful /deliberate as it is fated. The hero does not seem to fit in the world he was born in, but in another one, which he has to find.

The second form of estrangement is the banishment. In this case, the separation and the solitude are unintentional and the result of a mistake or injustice. Either way, it becomes a reality through the pressure of external powers. Nevertheless, it is possible for the estrangement to become permanent, and if so, the hero weds in a faraway land, where he or she becomes a king or a queen and so on. Sometimes the parents take part in the action (like in Love tastes like Salt /Love’s taste is salty) in order to recognize the hero’s merits or to repair some mistakes from the past. In other cases, the estrangement is absolute and the parents are not even mentioned. However, there are plenty of cases when the banishment is followed by a return and the mending of an injustice caused by the hero or by his family. The return is always done on another level, thus delaying the hero’s recognition by his family and endowing him with a superior status in comparison with the previous one.

The third form of estrangement is the necessary estrangement. Concerning this last type, we are no longer dealing with the indifference of the hero towards his birthplace or his family, nor with banishment due to an injustice or a personal mistake. The necessary estrangement occurs in the rescue of a parent, a wife or a sick child, in order to fulfill a particular wish or task (for instance Prâslea) and so on. It is a self-chosen form, a trial or an initiation through which one accedes to a better state, through which evil is defeated and so on.

Apart from these fundamental formulae of estrangement, the phenomenon remains typical for any journey, particularly for the initiatory journey. If one could easily distinguish oneself as being special within the premises of one’s home, the estrangement verifies this position and refutes or reinforces it accordingly. For instance, the elder sons who prove to be unworthy are thus set among the ordinary people, a fact which triggers a bad behavior, which is unacceptable for a genuine hero. On the other hand, he who proves to be worthy, the one who proves to be special even among strangers, acquires a far more superior status in comparison to his or her initial one and accedes to a clearly superior level. From this point of view, the estrangement occurs as an essential factor of the initiation (and of the initiatory “choice”) and also as a fundamental and ubiquitous element of the initiatory journey [9].




II.b. A Brief Attempt at Drawing a Typology


Due to the fact that our typology is to be applied to the literary Romanian folklore or, to be more precise, to the Romanian folktale, we must certainly make use of Lazăr Şăineanu’s famous study, The Romanian Folktales. This monumental work represents our analysis material. As to the method, excepting those which have already been shown in the previous section and the specifications which follow, we think it necessary to mention Propp’s importance. His method of analysing and “decomposing” the folktale was our source of inspiration for the present typology. We have observed that a series of methods used by the Russian folklorist in the Morphology of the Folktale could be applied to the initiatory journey. The result is a methodical model which we consider scientifically well-founded, efficient and at the same time easy to use in subsequent analysis.

We must also specify the necessity to avoid making a simplistic typology based on an alleged topographical criterion. Limitations such as “short journey” and respectively “long”, “upwards” or “downwards” and so on may be useful within the limits of a literary analysis, but they become utterly insufficient and even inapplicable for another level of research (ethnological, folkloristical). As we shall see, the “short” or “long” distance is a deceitful criteria, mainly because a nearby forest, a valley or a nearby plain are frequently gateways to other worlds. What really matters is not the length of the journey in measurable units, but the purposes of the journey, these being the only ones capable of defining the journey from a real perspective. Eventually, this fact is much more than normal: we are talking about journeys of initiation which have a precise purpose not steeple chases or physical trainings, for which the distance would indeed become a fundamental criteria (along the type of terrain and other related conditions).


Our first stop in Lazăr Şăineanu’s work is at the short listing of journeys of the good hero presented at pages 36-37.

Firstly the author offers the reader the type of the journey in “search of destiny”, becoming “Prince Charming” in a “thick forest”, which actually represents another realm. Later on, we shall return to the notion of “realm”, extremely important both in the Romanian folktale in general, and especially for the initiatory journey, as we shall see.

The second type observed by Şăineanu is that of the “far far away” journey to the “other side”, also known as “The Black World” – in contrast with this world, “The White World” – and which has different features and images from those which are common to the known, normal world. Other extraordinary worlds or other realms are those of the aerial, celestial and paradisiacal worlds- found through a tree, mountain, bird and so on. However we are bound to notice that the generalization of the terms “Black World” or “White World” represents an error of the quoted author. To begin with, their usage is limited geographically and especially regarding its meaning and frequency. Secondly, “The Black World” is a name usually given to a specific “other world”: Hell, to be more precise. Although many Romanian folktales present a more or less perceptible descent into Hell, this does not become a rule, not for the fantasy Romanian folktale, nor for the sense of the term “the other world” or “the other realm”.

A third type of journey is presented by Şăineanu very abruptly, without any further ado, as if standing to reason: that of looking for a lost, kidnapped or vanished person or relative. In some folktales this is the only type of journey that occurs, in others it represents just a step. This type of journey is also an initiatory.

The fulfillment of a task (or duties) becomes the fourth category of initiatory journeys which we can identify in the aforementioned pages. Certainly, the author does not see those categories from an initiatory perspective, but from that of the folktale’s hero, or, better said, from the perspective of the hero´s duties, powers and actions. At any case, the categories nevertheless exist and form the first references for a typology.

By mentioning the characters’ various attempts and extraordinary achievements, as well as their companions and the objects which helped them, the aforementioned author goes from the journey with the purpose of fulfilling some tasks to considerations on time in the Romanian folktale. Although we are compelled to focus our attention on time, as well as on the realm, we shall do so after having tried to identify more types of journeys based on Şăineanu’s work. Despite its obviousness, we mention the fact that whilst Lazăr Şăineanu constructs his typology of the Romanian folktale on motives [10], our typology of the initiatory journey must be centered on functions.

The reasons for such an approach are numerous. Firstly, because the motivation is extremely important for any initiation and implicitly for the initiatory journey. Secondly, because there are types of journeys with a similar development of the story line, but whose functions fundamentally differ. This differentiation has significant effects on the purpose and the subsequent development of the folktale. Thirdly, we use the functions as a criterion because a typology of the initiatory journey cannot be efficiently organized on other grounds. The distance, for instance, as we have shown, cannot be used efficiently as a criterion. As we shall see, a journey can take place from one room to the next (it is the case of prohibitions), from the palace to a nearby field or forest, from one village to the next, from one country to another or over the distance of seven seas and lands. Not only is it difficult, but also subjective and irrelevant to define these journeys based only on distance. After all, the initiatory journey, whether far or near, has the same characteristics and functions, but the estrangement and the extraordinary are far more important than the distance, which is more of a narrative pretext. This is also relevant when we try to use time as a typological criterion. From the very beginning formula of the folktale (see Şăineanu1978:142-146), one can observe that the storytellers place everything in another time. Its characteristics somewhat vary, but its capacity to avoid common delimitations is essential. This marks a fundamental difference between the folktale and the legend, where one tries to define a certain historical time more accurately. This fact excludes the possibility of using time as a functional criterion for the Romanian fantasy folktale, even for the subject which captures our attention. When compared to distance and time, the function of the initiatory journey seems like an axiological, defining, scientific and efficient criterion, the most suited for a well-organized typology.


As one can easily see, there are three main levels in which we can sort the functions attributed to the initiatory journey.

The first level, which is axiological, is that of the function of initiation itself. All the journeys of initiation have this function, defining through themselves the studied category.

The second level is that of the three big divisions which we have deciphered in the previous chapter (the personal journeys of initiation, missionary journeys of initiation and complete journeys of initiation) and which result in the first dividing or classification of the initiatory journeys . This division is made according to the direction of practicing the function of initiation.

The third level is that of the secondary functions, which we do not venture to call pretexts, because in numerous cases they are very important and only rarely do they have the status of pretexts. We have found four secondary functions so far [11] – which may have, of course, numerous alternatives –, however we shall see that there are others as well. It is normal to try to detect those other alternatives before further analysis and observations (such as those regarding the way in which the secondary functions occur and are structured, or those concerning time, the realm and the structure of the initiatory journey and so on).


Turning to Şăineanu’s Romanian Folktales section dedicated to the Romanian folktale, we come across the initiatory journey right from the very start. It occurs as a fundamental element in the Cycle of Abandonments [Şăineanu, 1978:165 ff.]. The characteristic element of this cycle is the “abandonment (temporary in most cases) of the loved one as a result of a mistake”. In all of the three types presented by Şăineanu [12] the journey is the key to solving the problems. At first sight, this type of journey appears to be a form of the function of finding a relative/lost person, a function which we have mentioned above. Yet another function occurs in this case, that of expiation (or atonement). Indeed, particularly in the case of the two first types, and also repeatedly in the case of the third one, the journey has an obvious function of atonement of the mistake or the sin which caused the separation (or the abandonment). Such examples are abundant, and we quote the first one specified by the aforementioned author, that of the woman who is cursed as a result of wrongdoing to her husband. The woman pays for her mistake with the efforts and the torments of a journey. We are therefore confronted with another secondary function of the initiatory journey, that of expiation or the atonement of the sin or mistake. This expiation is simultaneously an initiation, because it is not only meant to make someone cover a debt (mistake, sin), but also to transform the not only the one who was in error but also the recipient of his wrongdoing into different persons, capable of liberating themselves from the initial condition in order to stay together.

However, we must mention the fact that the expiation in case A, that of the woman who makes the mistake, is very different from other atonements or forgiveness presented in the Romanian folktale. The main difference is given by the huge dimension of the expiation compared to the visible dimension of the mistake. So as not to insist too much on this type, we express our belief that such an exceptional expiation – or exaggerated, we might say – is due to the exceptional nature of the hero. This nature does not only imply the hero’s augmented exigency, but also an equivalent level on the partner’s side. If this equivalence is absent, it must be won through an initiation which is as tough as it is efficient.

Once completed, the expiatory journey proves to be liberating for both spouses because, apart from the immediate curse and its obvious consequences, it seems that the one who leaves is also faced with an unhappy or even restless condition until the denouement of the folktale [13]. This type of journey, with the double function of recovery and expiation, proves therefore to have a highly initiatory power [14].


Going further with the quoted anthology, the initiatory journey is to be also found in the cycle of the woman-plant, the Daphne type [Şăineanu, 1978:203 ff.] [15]. This journey belongs to the type of journey in search for a relative or a lost person, either kidnapped or vanished.

Nevertheless, the alternative The Three Pomegrenates [Şăineanu, 1978:211 ff.] presents a special case. The journey of the male character has two fundamental forms: firstly that of a pretext, and secondly as the search for an extraordinary person. The last form is a completion of the function which we have initially remarked as the search for an extraordinary place. This function can therefore acquire the form of a search for a person or, as we shall see, of an extraordinary object. On the other hand, the journey as ‘’pretext’’ cannot be considered initiatory. Or at least it cannot be considered initiatory from the very beginning or as intentionality. Hence, from the moment of encounter with another realm, it becomes an object or an extraordinary person, who trigger the transition from ordinary to extraordinary, from profane to initiatory. This is a fact worth being observed, because it provides a particular structural alternative of the initiatory journey.

The most attractive aspect offered by the Three Pomegranates type of folktale is the girl’s or the fairy’s journey. Born by exceptional means and surviving thanks to her sisters’ sacrifice, she is immediately abandoned by the hero, under the pledge of protection. Obviously, a journey is dangerous, especially for someone who is basically a new-born, but the abandonment is far from being a reasonable solution. The effect is, of course, adverse: inexperienced, the girl is killed by the agent of evil (a gipsy woman or an ugly and evil woman-servant) who tries to substitute her. What follows is a special initiatory journey, many times in a seemingly confined space, sometimes in a larger area, which is characterized by polymorphism. Successively, the girl (the fairy) turns into a bird or a fish, then in a tree, and then becomes herself again, either by burning, either by the effects of a wooden object, such as a tree. In some alternatives other polymorphisms also occur. Other alternatives of the tale however choose to do without the polymorphism, and the journey becomes the type of searching for a lost person, in this case the groom, the chosen one. Certainly, we are less concerned with these last alternatives, due to the fact that the ‘’polymorphous’’ journey actually marks the appearance of another type of the initiatory journey, that of rediscovering the form. This rediscovery is performed through repeated rebirths, which are typical for the initiation, and through a confusion of form, not of essence. It is noteworthy in this case the fact that the agent of evil recognizes the essence of Goodness, represented by the girl, irrespective of its form, while the groom is incapable of doing so. The loss of form together with life, or as a form of diminishing the effect of death, often occurs in the literary folklore. In legends, as well as in folktales, we can find rocks, mountains, trees or rivers which used to be human beings. We cannot analyze this subject here, but we think that in the case which we have observed the transformation is meant to mark the female character’s confusion, her lack of experience, removed by the polymorphism which offers her different perspectives on life and herself as a human being. She can therefore distinguish the things which are essential from those which are formal. Through the effect which the initiatory journey of rediscovery of form has on the groom, we can enclose this journey in the larger class of complete journeys of initiation. Our assertion is based on the one hand, on the fact that the girl rediscovers herself at a higher level, gaining the necessary experience to live in a world she initially knew almost nothing about, and, on the other hand, on the fact that the groom also comes to see reality as it is, surpassing the delusion produced by appearances. This last effect materializes itself without the groom ever having taken part in an initiatory journey, but by his initiation through the means of another person’s journey, which represents a classical form of missionary activism. To conclude, The Three Pomegranates folktale gives us an example of complete initiatic journey, having as secondary function the recovery of form.


Therefore, six secondary functions of the initiatory journey have been identified so far: the function of rediscovery of form, the function of expiation, the function of looking for a person / lost relative, the function of looking for an object, place or extraordinary character, the function of fulfilling some tasks or duties, the function of discovering one´s fate (the “search for destiny” – seen as a purpose, not as a person- the search for a job, for “a place of one’s own” and so on). A seventh function – although it hardly seems to hold such a status- would be a pretext journey, from which emerge other journeys or adventures that bring the initiation about actually.


The folktales from the cycles of prohibitions, forbidden places and forbidden room also belong to the journeys that aim to find a certain place [Şăineanu, 1978:216-238]. In the case of these three cycles, the journey in search for a place, which is extremely short, it’s merely a preamble to the search for the missing person. Therefore, it is a form of pretext journey and a good example of the difficulty to eliminate this type from the category of initiatory journeys. Although the journey in search for a place has no direct initiatory role or a proper initiatory function in itself, it nevertheless represents an opening towards initiation. Such ambiguous situations, although they do not become a majority, are quite frequent.

Turning to the chapter entitled “The cycle of vows” [Şăineanu, 1978:239 ff.] in the aforementioned study, we can observe the existence of two large types of the initiatory journey. In the Jephta type of folktale [16], we are dealing with a journey of expiation (of the vow) combined with the finding of the lost person. This doesn’t mean we are confronted with a case of ambiguity like the ones mentioned above. Whereas the very belonging of the journey with a pretext function to the initiatory journey is unstable, in this case there is no such dilemma. It is actually a combination of two different functions, which leads to the emergence of a new status, of another story line and so on. This is a proof that the systematization we have suggested is efficient in detecting the structure of the initiatory journeys even in complex forms of epical manifestation.

In the Promised Fairies type of folktale, which is the second type that belongs to the “Cycle of vows” [Şăineanu,1978:247 ff.] [17], the function of finding a person or an extraordinary place is the one which occurs at first [18], followed by the function of looking for a lost person (parents, family, sometimes even birthplaces [19]).

The Metamorphosis Cycle [Şăineanu, 1978:257 ff.] is a return to the polymorphous journey, yet from another perspective. In The Three Pomegranates, for example, the lack of experience, the she hero’s disorientation and the necessity of rectifying these lacks form the basis of the polymorphous journey. However, in the Metamorphosis Cycle we are dealing with another phenomenon: a means or a way of survival through metamorphosis. Apart from this distinction – which is subtle enough – we consider the distinct presence of another function of the initiatory journey, that of salvation, to be essential in this llows the same pattern, thus becoming the eighth autonomous type of function of the initiatory journey. We must point out that an initiatory journey with a function of salvation is not always solely concerned with the rescue of the hero, in many cases also including the rescue of other persons by defeating the evil pursuer [20]. Certainly, other alternatives of the initiatory journey, such as the the completion of tasks and, respectively, the rediscovery of a person, occur in the Jason type of folktale, in which a young man ends up as the slave of an evil person.

In this type of folktale, these alternatives are subordinated to the journey of salvation, as smaller parts of this journey, or, if we might call them so, useful digressions (collateral journeys). Naturally, their presence is justified also on an ideative or axiological level, because the salvation and the expiation imply a certain sacrifice, represented by the aforementioned secondary journeys. Moreover, there is also an esthetical and epical function provided by these “collateral journeys’’, which enrich the folktale and enhance the suspense.

The Cycle of infernal descents [Şăineanu, 1978:281 ff.] or ”descents into Hell’’ if we might call them so, apart from the type already mentioned of the searching function (of a person, a lost relative or an object and so on), presents the new type of punishing function held by some of the journeys of initiation. Actually, the hero leaves to find the thief who had stolen the golden apples [Şăineanu, 1978:288 ff.] not just simply to meet him, or for the recovery of the apples, but in order to punish that evil person, usually by killing him. This punishment frequently overlaps the function of rediscovery, but it nevertheless occurs independently as well. Following the function of salvation, this function of punishment represents the ninth type of secondary functions of the initiatory journey.

The fact that the author considered the inclusion of ‘’the particular case when the hero, instead of descending into the realm of the dead, climbs up in the air in order to save the girl who had been kidnapped by evil spirits’’ [Şăineanu, 1978:302] as natural, deserves our special attention. Actually, this inclusion has been made based on the same criterion which we have also used in the present typology: the purpose of the journey. Following a topographical analysis, the folktale in question could have been included in the Cycle of Aerial Ascensions. However, due to its meaning or its purpose, it was classified under another category. This fact confirms with great authority the criterion we have chosen for this typology, a criterion which precedes the ending of the research which, in our opinion, will represent the decisive argument.

            The Cycle of Aerial Ascensions and The Cycle of Accounts [Şăineanu, 1978:302 ff.] present alternatives and combinations of the types of the secondary functions we have already mentioned above. For instance, Pustiu the Little Shepherd and the Tree with no Peak [Şăineanu, 1978:306] starts with a journey in search for the fruit of the giant tree. When the little shepherd, Pustiu, arrives on another realm, he is faced with some tasks, on the land which belongs to Gheshperitza. The distance between her house and the field and the vineyard seems small. As we have seen, it is not the length which is essential in the folktale. In Pustiu’s case as well, the length of the journey is replaced by the difficulty of the tasks. Once the endeavors are over, their place is taken over by running and metamorphosis, the journey becoming thus a journey of salvation.

Another alternative, of the blade of grain, presents the journey of discovery of another realm [Şăineanu, 306-307]. This alternative is however followed by some journeys of request, which can hardly be considered initiatory journeys. At the most they can be introduced in the category of pretext journeys. They actually create the possibility for the old woman’s attempt at becoming a She-God, an attempt which leads to her punishment. In this case we are dealing with an unsuccessful initiatory journey, with an extremely obvious role of setting an example.

Rather unexpectedly, Şăineanu also includes the folktale in which Wind, Hoarfrost and Frost are brothers-in-law in the type of “animals-in-law”. Apart from any commentaries on this matter – which are obviously to be found outside the framework of our study – it is however clear that in this sub-section of Şăineanu’s anthology the main initiatory journey is that of finding a relative (the wife), or that of completing some tasks (for further reference see [Şăineanu, 1978:310-311]).

In the Cycle of Accounts [Şăineanu, 1978:312 ff.], two types can be distinguished. The first one is Andromeda, in which there is only – at the most! – the pretext journey (by means of which the rescuer appears) and, possibly, the journey of finding a lost person (the rescued beautiful lady). The second type is Danaë, in which more types of initiatory journey are to be found, all of which have already been presented: the pretext journey, the expiatory journey, the journey of “rediscovery” and so on).


An obvious complexity of the types of initiatory journey is also to be found in the Cycle of Heroic Deeds [Şăineanu, 1978:321 ff.], yet with the occurrence of a new function, which we have already mentioned in connection with the expiatory function, but as its revealment and not as a function in itself. This is the function of humbling, which we come across in the folktales where the positive character, endowed with a high social status, is forced one way or the other to become a servant, his servant taking his place and trying to kill him under the pretext of various tasks. We have likewise mentioned the biblical case of Nebuchadnezzar, but this is far from being a single case. The quoted author explains: Prince Charming in an inferior person´s service brings to mind the heroes from the Greek legends, who work for other persons. Hercules was Eurystheusslave, Perseus was in King Polyctet’s service, Poseidon was in Laomedon´s and Apollo in Admet´s. Similar to Romanian folktales, the disguise is only temporary and the hero’s superior origin comes out even more enlightened [Şăineanu, 1978:323].

We dare to assert that it is not just a matter of superior origin, but also a matter of becoming, of bringing up to date and deepening of an innate superiority.

As for the rest, the already known alternatives for the initiatory journey occur in the aforementioned section, such as the journey in search for an object or an extraordinary person, the journey in order to find a person, the journey of accomplishing the tasks and so on occur.

The Cycle of the Warrior Maiden [Şăineanu, 1978:344 ff.] remains, from the typology of the initiatory journey’s perspective, in the area which we have already defined. The same observation is also valid for the three brothers, for the two brothers, for the grateful animals, for the treacherous woman, the incest cycle, the stepmother cycle and so on. In all of these folktales we are dealing with various occurrences and combinations of the aforementioned types of initiatory journey.

The Cycle of Fatality [Şăineanu, 1978:510 ff.] deserves a special explanation for some of the readers. The journeys from this cycle have a special feature, because they represent a flight from destiny or a search for it. Nevertheless, apart from this epical theme, the types of journey are generally the ones we have mentioned: of expiation, of search for an extraordinary object and so on. Moreover, even the search for destiny or the flight from it meets the criteria of the aforementioned type of rediscovery of purpose. The same observation justified also for the “journey of death’’, which we have already discussed.


II.c. The Results of the Research


We now put an end to our research by admitting that our attempt was short and limited and by drawing the necessary conclusions.

Fistly, we observe the fact that the types of the initiatory journey are rather limited. Even if other types may be discovered later on, and by this we do not mean sub-types or alternatives to the ones we have already mentioned, but autonomous types, it is our belief that their number is not so large. Even if the Romanian Folktales, Lazăr Şăineanu’s remarkable work, can be completed nowadays, it is extensive enough to guarantee a coherent and sufficiently accurate vision over the general aspect of the Romanian folktale for the researchers. Therefore, the typology of the initiatory journey in the Romanian folktale, elaborated based on Şăineanu’s work, benefits from the same presumption of fidelity.

Secondly, we must remark the natural and highly interesting phenomenon of functions that intertwine in the initiatory journey, a phenomenon which needs a separate study, that would surpass by far the limits of our research. This intertwinement occurs in numerous folktales, not just by superposition, but also by succession. The transition between one function to the other is sometimes abrupt, but most of the times it is natural. In any case, this intertwinement provides, on the one hand, the quality of the narrative development, including the necessary and captivating ‚”twists” of the presented events, and on the other hand the normality necessary to the development of the initiation and the fulfillment of many purposes of the folktale.

Thirdly, we shall conclude this subchapter with the summary of the types of secondary functions of the initiatory journey:


  1. the function of searching for an object, place or extraordinary character;
  2. the function of looking for a missing, kidnapped or lost person /relative;
  3. the function of fulfilling some tasks or favors;
  4. the function of discovering the purpose;
  5. the function of expiation;
  6. the pretext function (which is not as neutral as it seems; it is actually a triumph of the Sacred over the Profane)
  7. the function of recovery of form;
  8. the function of salvation;
  9. the function of punishment;
  10. the function of humility.


Alongside these secondary types, we have also mentioned the unsuccessful initiatory journey, which serves as an example or as a term of comparison in some folktales or anecdotes. Such a case is the story of the three brothers, two of which fail in their journeys, the third one being the only one who succeeds. In our opinion, the latter type, although connected to the initiatory journey, cannot belong to the proper initiatory types, because the very purpose of the initiatory journey is missing: the initiation does not occur, the journey fails.


II.d. A few supplementary observations


If in the former sections we have made an attempt at creating a typology of the initiatory journey in the Romanian folktale, in this section we shall dwell upon suggesting a structure of the journey.

As far as we could see, the main parts of the initiatory journey in the Romanian folktale are:

  1. The preparation (the introductory part)
  2. The beginning (which could lie under the sign of a vague, incomplete or incompletely understood extraordinary);
  3. The discontinuance or the entrance in the extraordinary;
  4. The adventures or the extraordinary;
  5. The tragic or the death;
  6. Success, the rescue or the finding;
  7. The crowning or the rewarding of the hero (or heroes, depending on the case, whether they are positive or negative characters, male or female);
  8. The end (the last consequences of the journey).


Some parts may be omitted when more initiatory journeys occur in just one folktale, or when some of the functions are being listed. For instance, when the hero in search for his bride is put to different tasks, each of them representing a journey in itself, parts a., b. and c. are usually omitted and many times parts e., g. and h. as well, because they are set aside for the folktale as a whole. Consequently, they occur as parts of the folktale, if need be/in case of need as parts of the main journey, but never in a journey of attempts.

However, we feel that it is our duty to underline the fact that this classification of the initiatic journey is temporary. It is due to be completed- by us and by other authors- as further research on this topic will be carried out/undertaken.

One last observation concerns the importance of the initiatory journey in the majority of folktales: once the journey has ended and the last problems are solved, the folktale ends and, with it, the reader´s interest for the heroes. The only interesting/noteworthy thing about these heroes seems to be the initiatic journey, which represents the essence of their lives. The rest is just common and transitory.











2”From Yann Martel, life as a raft’’, article published on 13.06.2007 on Cotidianul website,

3 For instance, the “pious tourism” is named, nothing more, nothing less than…. initiatory journey! This is the way that Elena Nicolae proceeds in ”Journeys of Initiation”, in an article issued on 15.05.2007 in <<Money Express>> (according to­tice.html). Considering this fact, is it still necessary to remind the reader how many thousands and millions of articles, essays, literary and philosophical critiques talk about the initiatory journey without the benefit of a systematical framework?

4However , it is necessary to mention that it is the first “typology“ of the journey which we could find and which still represents a Romanian priority in the extensive field/area of Ethnology and Folkloristics.

5’’The heroes’ birth and the childhood are unusual… They are abandoned shortly after their birth (Oedipus, Perseus, Rhesos and so on), they are nursed by animals, spend their childhood travelling in faraway lands, they distinguish themselves through countless adventures (particularly/specially through warrior and sport deeds) and celebrate sacred weddings…’’ [Eliade, 2000:182].

6Let us remind the reader that Jesus Christ the Redeemer said: preach upon the housetops (Mt 10.27), and Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (Mt 7.6). It is similar to the phenomenon of receiving the same message in a completely different manner, depending on one´s capacity to gain access to the initiation.

7Which refers to the idyllic and obviously inaccurate representation of societies and cultures considered primitive at the end of the XVIIIth century and the beginning of the XIX th century.

8In some cases, like in Youth Without Old Age and Life Without Death, the hero, indifferent to his birthplace and family, suddenly starts missing them, a longing which is proportional to his radical parting and indifference.

9It even comes down to the phenomenon in The White Moor and other similar folktales, in which the hero-known as the son of emperor X-is “disguised” as a servant, he is additionally estranged, if we may say so. However this fact paves the way to other journeys of initiation, which endow the hero with a status far higher than that which had been foreseen/forecasted/expected.

10This can be confirmed in the content of the mentioned study and in the author’s declarations (for instance Şăineanu 1978:161-162).

11 In search for one’s fate/destiny, in search for a place or (as we shall see further on) an extraordinary object, in search for a lost person and, respectively, the fulfillment of a/some tasks.

12 A. The woman makes a mistake, her husband leaves her, she sets out to find him, she finds him and they make up. B: The man makes a mistake and the woman (fairy) leaves him, he sets out to look for her, finds her and they make up. C. Prince Charming steals the fairy’s clothes while she is bathing and marries her; she finds her clothes and runs away; Prince Charming sets out to look for her, finds her and they make up.

13 This thing can be deduced/inferred from the wickedness of the woman whom the fugitive husband is bound/constrained/forced to have as wife until his real wife fulfils her journey, as much as, for instance, from the fate of the fairy who was kidnapped by the dragon and so on [Şăineanu, 1978:166, 186 ff.].

14 A fact which actually corresponds to the classical Christian thought, where becoming humble through trials and reprimands or scolding play a key role and have an exceptional efficiency (see Isaiah, chapter 53, or Jews, chapter 11 and 12). Moreover, this relationship between mistake and expiation is a real paradigm for the relationships between God and The Chosen People, between God and the faithful. The level of harshness of the reprimand is proportional to the level of a person´s knowledge and power (in accordance with Luke 12, 47-48). Daniel, chapter 4 is a case of expiatory initiatory journey deprived of/devoid of/lacking in any other secondary function. This chapter tells us how Nebuchadnezzar is sentenced to losing his reason and to wonder seven years with the beasts in the fields as a result of his arrogance, lack of faith and gratitude towards God. After the deadline, his senses are restored, along with his Kingdom, and Nebuchadnezzar seems to have become wiser through God´s reprimand.

15Whilst in the former /previous/preceding cycle the hero’s temporary abode was in an animal cover/layer, this time the fairy temporarily lives in a plant (tree, fruit) [the Daphne type] and goes through three adventures: a) The fairy lives happily and innocently in a tree; b) loved by Prince Charming, who initially abandons her, she loses her immortality ; c) disguised as a monk, she finds him again and they usually get married [Şăineanu, 1978:203].

16The Jephta type consists of the following adventures: a) The father promises (particularly unconsciously) his child to a demon; b) at the settled time he tries to take him away from the Demon; c) and finally he succeeds in acheiving his goal by different means [Şăineanu, 1978:239].

17The type of the promised fairies features the following adventures: a) to render the child silent, the mother promises it a fairy in marriage; b) when he is old enough to get married, he sets out to look for the fairy and he finds her; c) sometimes, after a happy life that lasts for centuries (which seem like moments) in The Land of Immortality (name given by Şăineanu), Prince Charming goes back to see his parents and finds his death [Şăineanu, 1978:239].

18 In the bohemian version presented by the author we are however confronted with a pretext – journey, like in the Tyrolean version. Thus/hence in the bohemian tale, the shepherd is looking for a sheep, and he ends up in the magical cave by chance. In the Tyrolean tale a similar pursuit in search for a sheep brings the shepherd to the “delightful garden’’ [Şăineanu, 1978:247-248.]

19 Such a longing/earning does not suit the hero type at all, a type so little inclined to nostalgia and drawn /driven towards the distant/remote/far off distances ever since childhood.

20We refrain ourselves with difficulty from making a digression on the theme of Evil´s journey. Such a journey exists, in the obvious pursuit of the good heroes, and in other cases, such as the daily journeys of the dragon. Due to the fact that these journeys, which deserve a serious research, represent a parallel subject to our study, we content ourselves with recording them.

21This is a normal/natural reflex of the peasant or shepherd, who know that the difficulty of a journey doesn´t lie in its length, but in the events which occur along the way, whether they are good or bad, numerous or scarce.





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The Typology of Initiatory Journey (in the Romanian Folktales)

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