|The Little Match Girl
told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD in Women Who Run With the Wolves:
Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, pp 319--320.
|There was a little girlchild who had neither a mother nor a father, and she lived in the dark
forest. There was a village at the edge of the forest and she had learned that she could buy
matches for a half-penny there, and that she could sell them on the street for a full penny.
If she sold enough matches, she could buy a crust of bread, return to her lean-to in the forest
and sleep there dressed in all the clothes she owned.
The winter came and it was very cold. She had no shoes, and her coat was so thin she could
see through it. Her feet were past the point of being blue, her toes were white; so were her
fingers and the end of her nose. She wandered the streets and begged strangers, would they
please buy matches from her? But no one stopped and no one paid her any attention.
So she sat down one evening saying, "I have matches. I can light a fire and I can warm myself."
But she had no kindling and no wood. She decided to light the matches anyway.
As she sat there with her legs straight out in front of her, she struck the first match. As she did, it seemed
that the cold and the snow disappeared altogether. What she saw instead of swirling snow was a room, a
beautiful room with a great dark green ceramic stove with a door with iron scrollwork. The stove emanated
so much heat it made the air wavy. She snuggled up close to the stove and it felt heavenly.
But all of a sudden the stove went out, and she was again sitting in the snow, shivering so bitterly the
bones in her face chimed. And so she struck the second match, and the light fell upon the wall of the
building next to where she sat and she could suddenly see through it. In the room behind the wall was a
snowy cloth covering a table, and there on the table were china plates of the purest white, and on a
platter was a goose that had just been cooked, and just as she was reaching for this repast, the vision
She was again in the snow. But now her knees and her hips no longer hurt. Now the cold was stinging
and burning its way up her arms and torso, and so she lit the third match.
And in the light of the third match was a beautiful Christmas tree, beautifully decorated with white candles
with lacy ruffs, and beautiful glass ornaments, and thousands of little dots of light that she couldn't quite
And she looked up the trunk of this enormous tree, that went higher and higher, and stretched farther and
farther toward the ceiling until it became the stars in the heavens over her head and suddenly a star
blazed across the sky, and she remembered her mother had told her that when a soul dies, a star falls.
And out of nowhere her grandmother appeared, so warm and so kind, and the child felt so happy to see her.
The grandmother picked up her apron and put it around the child, held her close with both arms, and the child
But the grandmother began to fade. And the child struck more and more matches to keep the grandmother with
her ... and more and more and more ... and together she and the grandmother began to rise together up into the
sky where there was no cold and no hunger and no pain. And in the morning, between the houses, the child was
found still, and gone.