When growth doesn’t occur, what is the purpose of life? This might be one of the questions that Goethe’s fairy tale might prompt us to consider. It is difficult to imagine. Experience should lead to change of some sort or of some magnitude.
The Giant is introduced as one who lives off the land. We find him in a cooperative effort with a boy at the river — the Giant lending his shadow for the boy to stand upon in order to fish in the deeper waters. The fish that are caught are shared with the Giant. But that is the extent of the Giant’s coverage in the fairy tale. At the end he arrives at the temple where he doesn’t fit in. He ends up being frozen in place, serving as an unusual sun-dial.
As an astrological symbol, consider the Giant as a natal chart. It has all the components of any other natal chart. Everything is there although arranged in a unique placement. That natal chart is said to be “potential” waiting to be filled. What if the natal chart’s potential is never filled? What if the chart was frozen in time, impervious to the planets as they move through the sky? If no experience enters into the natal chart, there can be no change.
If there is no change, or very little change, what is the purpose of life? The Giant in this story is a “caution” to avoiding change. Do we, like the Giant, just want to mark time? Goethe’s fairy tale, the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, has much to teach us.