More Castles with Emily Randolph-Epstein: My Life as a Fairy Tale Character

If you are subscribed to my monthly newsletter you’ve seen a few snapshots of Mark and me touring castles in Germany and heard what I thought about cruising. If you are not a subscriber, you can sign up here, or read the wonderful post below about someone else’s experience of the castle tour.

My over-simplified view is that castles were built atop hills across Europe for two main reasons: 1) power base 2) safety. Defensible structures of stone, with 360-degree visibility, allowed the Haves to protect their Have nots without risk to their own possessions.

Thus in this European descendant’s unconscious, castles are the ultimate symbol of safety. We can lock up the most precious things in castles, and be warned if any monsters are coming to try to take them away.

It also explains why castles are filled with gloriously pretty things. Never underestimate the fact that throwing gold on everything is an overt way to shore up your power base: Don’t cross me, or I’ll use the gold on this statue right here to hire someone to ensure you don’t wake up tomorrow.

Once a person is safe, they want to be comfortable. They prefer warm tapestries to cold stone walls; plump cushions in colors that put them at ease, and of course the Got Mad Skills craftsmen want to serve and impress the Haves. With the power and the safety of King of the Hill comes a lot of people who want to shelter with you.

So touring castles to soak in the comfort, history of power struggles, and a deeply inspiring architecture, can have the effects described beautifully by today’s featured blogger, Emily Randolph-Epstein. In My Life as a Fairytale Character, Emily does a superb job of capturing more about the tour I was on with her, and what it feels like to return home if, like me, you’re a filthy liberal snowflake.

Because frankly, for me, touring castles was like a more fun version of stopping by an open house for a property I know I can’t afford. I admire and romanticise the inherent lifestyle I don’t have, won’t have, and wouldn’t choose to have unless all my Have Nots would fit and be just as protected.

Emily alludes to a difficult fact, and like her, I’m also struggling with days where a defensible castle, filled with loved ones, sounds like a reason to book group fares and file emigration paperwork. Sadly, that’s not the sort of fairytale I’m in. My country is a scary place for people I love right now. I do not have a castle on a hill to retreat to, so it is time to figure out what “fighting the bad guys” looks like for me. It is a different, but equally important part of the fairy tales: Ensure that evil does not prevail.

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