Want Nothing When You Negotiate with Aliens: The True Story of the Frog Prince

A Cautionary Tale of Overweening Want

While looking up the story of the frog prince, I was surprised to learn that it appears as the first tale in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This story makes simple the first principle of negotiating with others of unknown power or agenda: Check your own vulnerability to manipulation, by first checking yourself to see you want nothing. Can you walk away from an unsatisfactory deal? If you are able to see what might entice you to make a disadvantageous deal, look at what you think you must have, what you think you want–is it a true need?

To see what might entice you to make a disadvantageous deal, look at what is being offered–is your domain secure without this novelty? When the novelty wears off, will you find you have traded your independence for it?

This character, the frog prince, has fascinated me. A person in the disguise of a repulsive creature. When I immerse myself in the midst of this story–what would you do if you met a frog who promised to bring you back your beloved toy–I find myself in the position of a human speaking with an alien. When I look long and hard at the spoiled, ignorant princess and the talking frog, I see humans in the face of the encounter with alien intelligence. I can see us humans as this young and foolish, this distracted with playthings, this aimless and self-indulgent (given that we would we trade the purity of our air and water to go follow our personal ambitions).

I was also surprised to see how nearly as often as the story of the frog prince is told, it includes the magical transformation in the happy ending. The fact that the encounter with aliens is a real possibility for us requires us to think it through and not rely on magically happy endings to resolve our dilemma.

Not a Fairy Tale

I propose we keep the suspense in the story. How about we throw out the magical ending? What if everything does not end up happily ever after? I propose a cautionary reading of the story of the princess who kissed a frog. I propose we read the story as if we do not know how it will turn out in the end, and then to see if we have a picture of the encounter between humans and aliens.

lost ball

One fine evening a young princess put on her bonnet and clogs, and went out to take a walk by herself in a wood; and when she came to a cool spring of water with a rose in the middle of it, she sat herself down to rest a while. Now she had a golden ball in her hand, which was her favourite plaything; and she was always tossing it up into the air, and catching it again as it fell.

     After a time she threw it up so high that she missed catching it as it fell; and the ball bounded away, and rolled along on the ground, until at last it fell down into the spring. The princess looked into the spring after her ball, but it was very deep, so deep that she could not see the bottom of it. She began to cry, and said, ‘Alas! if I could only get my ball again, I would give all my fine clothes and jewels, and everything that I have in the world.’

Don’t bet the jewels on a lost toy

Whilst she was speaking, a frog put its head out of the water, and said, ‘Princess, why do you weep so bitterly?’

     ‘Alas!’ said she, ‘what can you do for me, you nasty frog? My golden ball has fallen into the spring.’

     The frog said, ‘I do not want your pearls, and jewels, and fine clothes; but if you will love me, and let me live with you and eat from off your golden plate, and sleep on your bed, I will bring you your ball again.’

     ‘What nonsense,’ thought the princess, ‘this silly frog is talking! He can never even get out of the spring to visit me, though he may be able to get my ball for me, and therefore I will tell him he shall have what he asks.

     So she said to the frog, ‘Well, if you will bring me my ball, I will do all you ask.’

     Then the frog put his head down, and dived deep under the water; and after a little while he came up again, with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the edge of the spring.

Underestimating another, you don’t trust your own words or what you hear

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As soon as the young princess saw her ball, she ran to pick it up; and she was so overjoyed to have it in her hand again, that she never thought of the frog, but ran home with it as fast as she could.

     The frog called after her, ‘Stay, princess, and take me with you as you said,’

     But she did not stop to hear a word.

     The next day, just as the princess had sat down to dinner, she heard a strange noise – tap, tap – plash, plash – as if something was coming up the marble staircase, and soon afterwards there was a gentle knock at the door, and a little voice cried out and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’

  Then the princess ran to the door and opened it, and there she saw the frog, whom she had quite forgotten. At this sight she was sadly frightened, and shutting the door as fast as she could came back to her seat.

     The king, her father, seeing that something had frightened her, asked her what was the matter.

     ‘There is a nasty frog,’ said she, ‘at the door, that lifted my ball for me out of the spring this morning. I told him that he should live with me here, thinking that he could never get out of the spring; but there he is at the door, and he wants to come in.’

     While she was speaking the frog knocked again at the door, and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’


     Then the king said to the young princess, ‘As you have given your word you must keep it; so go and let him in.’

     She did so, and the frog hopped into the room, and then straight on – tap, tap – plash, plash – from the bottom of the room to the top, till he came up close to the table where the princess sat.

     ‘Pray lift me upon chair,’ said he to the princess, ‘and let me sit next to you.’

     As soon as she had done this, the frog said, ‘Put your plate nearer to me, that I may eat out of it.’

     This she did, and when he had eaten as much as he could, he said, ‘Now I am tired; carry me upstairs, and put me into your bed.’ And the princess, though very unwilling, took him up in her hand, and put him upon the pillow of her own bed, where he slept all night long.

     As soon as it was light the frog jumped up, hopped downstairs, and went out of the house.

     ‘Now, then,’ thought the princess, ‘at last he is gone, and I shall be troubled with him no more.’

     But she was mistaken; for when night came again she heard the same tapping at the door; and the frog came once more, and said:

‘Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.’

There is a stranger in the house

Now here let us change the ending to this story, to leave the outcome unknown. Now it’s a different story, not the one where the frog magically is transformed into a prince. Now there is an intruder in the house, and he arrived by invitation, however thoughtlessly that invitation was given.

Here is where I see the parallel with our openness to the forces from beyond our solar system. Are we prepared to make that deal, trading away our security for a trinket?

The trickster

The fairy tale was a simple fantasy of rescue. As such, it’s ridiculous, but it does give us some idea how we could have nurtured such fantasies of magical release.

I find it better to read into it a warning: Let go of playthings, rather than to let an intruder get his foot in the door.

The frog interloper has come to represent in my mind the motif of the trickster. That trickster will test the character of his potential victim, a con man looking for an easy mark. We can recognize the charlatan when we determine who is only out for his own advantage. Interactions with this character will be purely transactional–“What can you do for me?“–and conditional. No matter how desirable what the trickster offers, if we allow ourselves to be enticed, we are entrapped, in over our heads because we underestimated his cunning and had no idea his ambition.

How to recognize when the deal is too good to be true

We can recognize the con job when we observe our own willingness to compromise, to go into denial or disassociation, when clarity of thought is overcome by obsessive compulsion to have what we want. That is, we must first check for our own liability before we assess the opposition.

There is a happy ending

The fabulous frog prince, of course, represents our primitive self, our origins in the mud and the remnants of primal survival mechanisms still embedded in our consciousness. The self we’d rather not acknowledge.

If we can look at a frog and remember how we humans in our past might once have resembled amphibians with or without legs, we can see the primal instincts that drive every living creature are the same–throughout the universe, I say. These instincts driving all living creatures are the fundamental needs for security and provisions. Our sophisticated brains still have their primitive wiring, where the instincts for self-preservation still do keep us alive.

The transformation of the frog into a prince is the adoption and ownership of the reptilian (amphibian) self, the primal, egoistic, callous and cunning self. To own this aspect of self is to take responsibility for it, to be the captain of the ship of self where the mind is first mate, able to take orders and report objectively.

This is the answer to the dilemma of how to negotiate with an unknown entity. First, have your own ship in order, in order to keep pirates at a safe distance.

The world is ripe for visitation. You are vulnerable to persuasion and manipulation. You have not established your rules of engagement nor have you built your boundaries to space. All native peoples must do this in their respective worlds. It is part of their essential responsibility in order to provide stability and security. And you must learn to preserve your resources so that your self-sufficiency can be maintained in the world. For this will be of essential importance in determining the kinds of choices you will have in the future and the prospects for humanity’s freedom and sovereignty in this world.

Life in the Universe, Chapter 14: Your Relationship with the Greater Community
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Mary Sagar

Editor on https://www.newmessage.org/wiki and http://extraterrestrial-wiki.com/

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