Thursday, 12 January 2012
ONCE UPON A DREAM; Key to the Kingdom
Even more romantic is the thought that these are the keys to a ladies boudoir; a place of rest and retreat when life gets too much; or a gilded box containing a princess tiara, or a queen's crown. They might be the keys to a secret passage leading discreetly up to my lady's chamber...and during a dance at a masked ball she slips them into the pocket of her lover...but two of the guests are wearing the same mask! Did she give her keys to the right man?!
Keys hold a very special place in British folklore; people once believed that to hide a key in a baby's cradle would prevent the child from being snatched away by fairies and a changeling left in its place. As the fairy folk cannot abide iron the key was a form of protection. We see echoes of this tradition in the key shaped rattles and teething toys sold in baby stores; and in the tradition of giving a young adult a decorative Key to the Door on a special birthday such as their 18th or 21st - again this is a gift of protection. To hang a key which fits no lock in your home by the main door to your house is also a protection ritual, said to keep the house safe... house number plates often feature a key design, keeping this old magical tradition alive.
Keys can unlock mysteries, hearts, kingdoms and magical realms. Skeleton keys unlock everything. The humble key is often taken for granted, thrown quickly into a handbag or pocket, with little thought for the fact that it is upholding the security of your home while you go about your day. Car keys unlock freedom and independence. While modern keys might not be as pretty as those pictured here, they are just as magical. Next time you find an orphan key at the back of a drawer which fits no lock that you know of, instead of throwing it away, thread it on a pretty ribbon and hang it up as a decorative item of magic and mystery...or hunt through antique stores to find a special decorative key. Maybe you've found the key to the kingdom of a magical land...maybe one day you will also find the door to this enchanted realm...and then you will be glad you kept that useless old key!