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Cinderella's Name

Herbert Dicksee - "Cinderella"

Extracts from :

Harold Bayley

The lost language of symbolism

An inquiry into the origin of certain letters, words,

names, fairy-tales, folklore, and mythologies


"It is proverbial that the Spirit of man is a candle of the Lord, and it is claimed for Wisdom that the Light which cometh from her shall never go out. In some versions of Cinderella, the heroine is concealed for the sake of her safety in a large silver candlestick. This candlestick is bought by a prince, who is astonished to find that it opens and contains a lovely girl. In the accompanying design the future of this Virgin of Light constitutes the candlestick.

Another version of Cinderella represents her as being hidden for the sake of safety within a golden chest. Servants spying through the keyhole see the incomparable maiden, and, determining to sell her, they hawk the case and its contents throughout the world. Many are ready to buy the attractive box, but none is willing to make an offer for the girl, and the servants, therefore, throw her into a briar-bush.

"Wisdom,” says Solomon, "is glorious and never fadeth away. Yea, she is easily seen of them that love her and found of such as seek her. She preventeth them that desire her in making herself first known unto them. Whoso seeketh her early shall have no great travail, for be shall find her sitting at his doors."

A Corsican version of Cinderella represents the heroine as being no larger than one's little finger and so tiny as hardly to be perceptible. A passing prince hearing the sound of her exquisite singing vows he will marry the unknown singer, but, Whence comes the voice ? The answer is, “She is not distant, the beautiful maiden, she is here at thy feet.’' Compare this dimitiutive Cinderella with the passage from a Vedic Te Deum,

“The Spirit dwells ever as inward soul, an inch in stature within men's hearts."

In Brazil the story of Cinderella is known as "Dona Labismina". According to this version "Labismina" is the name of a snake which was coiled round the neck of the heroine when she was born, but subsequently lives in the sea and plays the part of fairy godmother. It is obvious that the name is a form of the old french "L'Abysme".

The Great Abyss, the Mother Serpent of unrevealed Wisdom, who dwelt in the primeval and unfathomable ocean. "The Goddess Hathor" -— sometimes regarded as identical with Isis and at other times as her mother — “appears,” says Mr Weigall, "sometimes as a serpent and sometimes she is the fairy godmother.”


The syllables Ella occurring in Cinderella, are the Greek Ele, which means shiner or giver of light. Ele is the root of Eleleus, one of the surnames of Apollo and Dionysos. It is also found in Eleuther the Son of Apollo, in Helios the Sun, and in Selene the Moon. The name of Juno Lucina — i.e., Juno in her aspect of Light-Giver — was Eleutho.

The Hellespont takes its name from Helle, a maiden who fled from her father's house to escape the oppression of her mother-in-law, but fell from a cloud into the sea and was drowned. This Helle must be a relative of Helios the Sun, and her drowning is probably a poetic account of the sun sinking into the sea.

In Finland Cinderella is known as “Beautiful Clara". Clara is derived from clareo, "I shine", and means bright, shining, clear, brilliant to the sight. In Bologna the Cinderella is named Zizola evidently a derivation from Ziza, which was one of the appellations of Isis.

In Jutland Cinderella is named Lucy, from lux, light. Lucy, derived from the same radical as Luna the Moon, and Lucifer the Light-Bringer, means “a shining child born at sunrise or daybreak."

It is thus seen that the popular names of Cinderella are as recondite and significant as the classic word Psyche of Greek myth. Psyche, who has much in common with Cinderella, means Breath or Soul, and by almost general consent Psyche is regarded as symbolic of the soul spark prisoned within the material body.


In Cataloxia Cinderella is known as “The Fire Blower" on account of her occupation, and in Jutlanu she is called " Whipper of the Ashes,” to whip meaning to stir up or poke.

It would thus seem that Cinderella, the bright and shining one, who sits among the cinders and keeps the fire alight, is a personification of the Holy Spirit dwelling unhonoured amid the smouldering ashes of the Soul's latent, never totally extinct, Divinity, and, by patient tending, fanning them into flame."

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