There’s a very old Scottish fairy tale called “Tam Lin” about a man who gets captured by faeries, much to the dismay of his beloved, Janet. Janet learns that the faeries intend to make a sacrifice of him and that the only way to save him is to stand at the crossroad at midnight on Halloween and take hold of him as the faerie court passes by on their way to make the sacrifice. “You must spring upon me suddenly,” Tam Lin tells her, “Then seize me quick, and whatever change befall me, for they will exercise all their magic on me, cling hold to me till they turn me into red-hot iron. Then cast me into this pool and I will be turned back into a man. Cast then your green mantle over me, and I shall be yours, and be of the world again.” Janet does as he tells her. The faeries turn Tam Lin to ice, then fire, then an adder, a dove, a swan, and finally, a hot iron sword. Janet steadfastly holds Tam Lin through all his changes, waits for the moment of iron, and then plunges him into the water and covers him with her mantle. And so, the story tells us, “Tam Lin was Janet’s forever.”
I’ve been keenly reminded of this story lately at nighttime when putting my son down to sleep. He arrived late to the rolling-over party just a few weeks ago at ten months old, but in the span of two weeks this has led to crawling, standing, and now cruising, so life has become suddenly much more exciting for our little boy. Much more exciting than bedtime and sleep.