A lot of my childhood in Finland was spent in my grandmother's house. Her presence in my life has left beautiful marks and in many ways she was one of my most cherished friends. Whenever I stayed with her overnight, I always asked for a certain story at bedtime. It was a volume of a cartoon magazine, possibly from the early 40s or 50s. She had been reading it to her three children already. The story was called Moon Princess. We were reading it for years, until I got to the age that bedtime stories just weren't part of the routine any longer. Then, after two decades with her, I moved abroad. Still very close to her despite the distance, we occasionally reminisced about Moon Princess together, even tried to search for the magazine but couldn't find it anymore. When she passed on ten years ago and the family was sorting through her belongings, I was slightly hoping that Moon Princess might magically turn up... Similarly, when my grandfather passed on a year ago and the house needed to be cleared for sale, I had a little hope that perhaps Moon Princess might be found... But no, no Moon Princess, sigh. By now, I had forgotten all the details of the story, just remembering that it was about a young brave girl going on a long arduous journey to save the Moon. The story was about the fight between light and darkness, very archetypal and symbolic. Instead of any details, all I remembered was how utterly important this one single story had been to me for many, many years.
Then, earlier this summer I received a message from my aunt. She had come across a box, that had needed sorting out - one of the last remaining ones from my grandparents' house. She had found Moon Princess. Together with another favourite volume of the magazine, Hidden Jewels, which I always chose after the Moon Princess if it wasn't too late to read another story. Oh joy!
I've now had these fraying, old, worn magazines for a few weeks, but didn't want to read Moon Princess until the moment would be just right... It would wait. It was too precious to hurry. Almost like it wasn't even particularly important to remind myself of the details in the story, because even if those were forgotten, somehow the story has always lived on in my innermost workings... difficult to explain but it's the only way I can express it.
Then, tonight, our daughter was immensely sad as she searched everywhere and couldn't find her beloved diary. I joined the search and we exhausted ourselves, still not finding it. We even went looking in my studio as there were no other places left to look! I saw the Moon Princess on the corner of my desk. It had been patiently waiting. We sat together, and I read the cartoon story to her. It was a welcome break. But more than that, it totally blew my mind. Like I said, I had forgotten every single detail... What did I now read in this most meaningful story of my childhood? A tribe chieftain's brave daughter, called Hina, wore a sacred stone around her neck, and when others tried to tell her not to proceed on her journey, she explained that the stone will protect her and give her the strength to do what she must. Perhaps my brain had forgotten the details, but the story clearly has been alive within me throughout my life journey! And now I have come to know many, many brave "princess Hinas" all over the world, each wearing their own unique Spirit Carrier stone, hopefully supporting them in whatever is required on their own journey. It's a happy, magical thought.
My next task is to carefully restore the disintegrating paper and mend the tears in this precious old magazine, to perhaps make it last a couple of more decades... Good that I still have many of the required tools and repair papers left from my bookbinding years. It might be lovely to one day read the story to my own grandchild.