All right, you little monsters. since conversation got a tad…interesting….over in the comic this week, here’s a fairy tale with some actual sexy stuff in it to keep you busy.
This version of the Ballad of Tam Lin holds some lovely Beauty and the Beast parallels – In this cover of the child ballad, a bored Janet summons Tam Lin through the theft of a red rose from Carterhaugh, but she doesn’t cower before the Lord who claims them as his own –instead she tells him she goes where she wants and picks roses if it pleases her. This answer seems to please Tam Lin, as well, and soon Janet is pregnant with his child.
Janet’s father is weak but kindly. When he realizes his daughter is with child, instead of shaming her, he quietly takes her aside and asks who the father is, so he can make sure the man does right by her. But Janet doesn’t need pity. She tells her father that it’s none of his men, and if she got herself into trouble, she’ll get herself out of it, too. She goes back to Carterhaugh and begins uprooting Tam Lin’s roses, apparently to obtain the root and induce a miscarriage. Tam Lin appears, disturbed either by the mistreatment of his roses, or the mistreatment of his unborn child, and demands Janet explain herself. Janet baits Tam Lin, saying that if he were a proper gentleman they could raise their child together, but he isn’t, and she wont be saddled with it. Tam Lin rises to her challenge and declares that he will become not just a gentleman, but Janet’s husband and true love, and a proper father, if Janet can “hold him tight and fear him not” through a series of monstrous transformations. In the end, Janet ultimately wins him his humanity and brings him home.
This version is interesting, too, in that it leaves out the fairy interference and the tithe to hell. Tam Lin is presented as "a wild shade", but independent rather than enslaved to a fae lover. His transformations are limited to wild wolf, wild bear and bold lion, and don’t include the burning brand that Janet is required to symbolically drown in order to retrieve her lover’s humanity.
Tam Lin is a fascinating folk tale, and one I come to like more and more as I get older. It’s one a of several that feature a haughty, active heroine rescuing a lover who initially seems competent but is ultimately revealed to be in thrall to dark forces. Despite being pregnant, single and mortal, Janet goes storming angrily to the rescue, and reclaims not just Tam Lin’s humanity, but his mortal soul.