Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Philosopher’s Stone

The Philosopher's StoneThe Philosopher’s Stone

In India there is a large tree. Its branches spread across the sky. The branches are so large that each of them are made up of other trees. In the very top of the tree there is a castle. In this castle lives a man, who is the wisest man in the world. In the castle he has a book. In this book are written all the truths of the world. He knows much about the world an all its inhabitants.

The one thing that isn’t in the book is what will happen after he dies. The man has heard this is in the Bible, but the man wanted to read it in his book of truth.

The man had five children. Each child had a special strength relating to one of the five human senses. The man had told his children about the Philosopher’s stone. It was made of all that was true, and good, and beautiful.

Each of the children thought it would be a good thing to go out into the world and find the Philosopher’s stone. One by one the children went out. The four oldest children were boys. The first had the gift of sight, but while his gift did help him find his way in the world, snares were put in his way by the evil one. He was soon lost to the world. The second son had the gift of hearing. He thought this would serve him well, and it did, for a time. The evil one also put snares in his way. His songs were corrupted. The third has a good nose, which served him well, for a time, but, he too, was also corrupted by the evil one. The last son went out and had a good sense of taste, which served him well, but in the end, he was also corrupted.

The last child, a girl, knew she must go out into the world and search for her brothers and the Philosopher’s stone. She was blind though. She could not see at all, but had a wonderful sense of touch. She sent four leaves from the tree out into the world and used a special thread she had woven herself to find her way. She tied one end to the tree so she could always get back home.

The girl went out, but soon had a vision. She saw her brothers. She saw the world and the evil one’s plans. She saw him try to destroy the tree, but it would not be destroyed. Her four brothers were carried home by the birds and her leaves. She was carried back as well. With her she also brought some dust and in the dust was the word BELIEVE. She had believed and so too must her brothers and father.


I am not quite sure where the Philosopher’s stone comes to be mixed with Christian belief. Maybe it has a basis somewhere. The tree spoken of does have some significance. There is a concept called the Tree of Life. There is also the Tree of Knowledge. The Tree of Life is mentioned in the Bible. Adam and Eve were barred from partaking of it after they had eaten of The Tree of Knowledge.

This tree sounds pretty darn impressive.


This man, and his sons, lacked faith. The man didn’t want to believe what religious teachings said about the after life. He wanted to know for sure. The sons didn’t have enough belief themselves, but also believed they were incorruptible. They misplaced their faith. This wasn’t without reason. Why should they believe they could be corrupted? Their father was pious. They had never really known corruption. Surely, they would recognize it and avoid it.

But, the evil one is skilled, he can corrupt things without us even realizing they’ve been corrupted. These brothers thought they were above it all because they were so righteous; they weren’t above it. Nobody is above it. No matter how pious and how pure we may be, we are still subject to temptation. Each of the brothers started out with good intentions and noble plans, but as corruption wormed its way into their lives, it became more and more difficult for them to remember their plans and to find their way home.

It took a blind girl, who was apparently less subject to corruption because she could not see, and also because she kept herself attached to home, to rescue her brothers.



Weigh In

Do you think that even if the father believed that the children still would have went out into the world?

Do you think that the daughter remained uncorrupted because she couldn’t see?


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