The Lyrist and the Fairies ( Traditional Cretan folktale)
Από Sasha Chaitow
According to legend, anyone wanting to learn to play the lyre properly, goes to an empty crossroad at midnight, and carves a circle into the ground with a black-handled knife. He sits inside it and begins to play. Soon, fairies appear all around him. They do not mean well, because they want to silence him. Since they can’t enter the circle, they try to lure him out with sweet words and songs and every kind of temptation. But, if he is wise, he turns his heart to stone and keeps playing. «But you can’t play,» they say to him when they see their efforts going unrewarded. «Why are you wasting your time trying to play?»»That’s what I learned, that’s what I play,» replies the lyrist, «What do you care?»»Oh, but we don’t,» they chime, «we just want to teach you how to play properly, to play so that even the rocks will dance for you.» And they keep imploring him to leave the circle. He pays no attention. A little later, they ask him only for the lyre. He passes it to them, taking care not to let his hand or any other part of his body outside the circle, because it will be cut off, or he will go mad. Then one of the fairies takes the lyre, plays breathtakingly for a few moments, and returns it to him angrily. «Take it. You don’t trust us enough to leave the circle, and you expect us to teach you?»The lyrist ignores them, and keeps playing badly. The fairies keep trying to trick him into putting his hand outside the circle. Finally, when the cock crows, so that they not be caught by light of day, they ask him to give them anything he chooses, so that they can teach him to play. He pushes the tip of his little finger just past the border of the circle, and they cut it off right away.
But, they don’t trick him. In a few moments, they teach him to play just like then, and then they vanish.
That is why, when a good lyrist is paid a compliment, sometimes says: «Oh, you think? I learned to play at the crossroads….»
Traditional Cretan folktale. Source: http://www.stigmes.gr/gr/grpages/articles/stavrodromi.html%5D.