The Singing Tree

An Alchemical Fable

By Bruce Donehower

“The Singing Tree can’t be put down; it is immediately engaging. This is a first-rate work, witty and observant and with a central character one can’t help but believe in and care about, a work that is genuinely of and for the Imagination. It is an ecological story, a coming-of-age story, a time-travel story, a philosophical story . . . And it stays with me into sleep, during sleep, on waking up, it is still unfolding . . . “
— Professor Jane Hipolito, California State University, Fullerton (from her review of the first edition, 2006)

When Hannah’s father leaves to discover the last unknown country in the world, Hannah finds her life changed forever. Seven years pass without any news. Then, on the day of her thirteenth birthday, Hannah receives a mysterious gift. To understand the gift’s meaning, she must undertake a quest. Only when she meets a Master of Memory and the Master’s strange apprentice who teaches her the art of hovering does she find her way to the Singing Tree, the key to the riddles of her destiny.

“In this new edition for 2021 from Sage Cabin Publishers, I have revised and completely re-written large sections of the 2006 edition, which is still available. I began this book in September 1982 after encountering anthroposophy through the teaching of Rene Querido at the then existent Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA . . . ”
— Bruce Donehower, from the Introduction. Read more of the Introduction by clicking this sentence

about us

Sage Cabin Publishers

Sage Cabin Publishers, established March 2021, is an imprint whose mission is to make available to a general readership inexpensive or free editions: translations, reprints, essay collections, literary criticism, novels, and poetry – works that align with the secular humanist literary tradition such as that tradition has developed since the time of Petrarch. We take as inspiration the writings of Goethe and Novalis. May the reader flourish!

“Friends, the soil is poor. We must scatter abundant seed to ensure even a middling harvest.”

— Novalis

To read more about the impulse behind Sage Cabin Publishers, visit The Literary Arts website.

Current Titles

The Fairy Tale

“For those whose acquaintance with Goethe’s The Fairy tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily is through the 1832 translation by Thomas Carlyle, Bruce Donehower’s new translation will be a breath of fresh air – contemporary, accessible and inviting. Donehower’s Afterword views the tale genially under the sign of friendship, and provides the reader with welcome permission to stop mining the text for significances, and just to enjoy.”
— Fred Dennehy, actor, playwright, and Classholder for the New York City branch of the School of Spiritual Science

Goethe’s Fairy Tale is “the archetypal seed” of the anthroposophical movement.
– Rudolf Steiner

“The Fairy Tale came to birth as a result of the friendship between Goethe and Schiller, and friendship is a dominant theme in the Tale. Schiller was the first and primary audience for the work. As is well known, it was the friendship between these two individuals, Goethe and Schiller, that inaugurated the period in European literature known as Weimar Classicism.”
— From the Afterword “Goethe in Paradise.”


Chapter One

“Once upon a time… When did it happen? When did it not happen?… there lived a farmer who did pretty well for himself. He had land and money, and his neighbors gossiped and called him rich.

But despite all good fortune, he felt unhappy because he had no children with his wife.

Often when he went to town with the other farmers, the other farmers teased him and said mean things because they thought it was queer that he had no kids.”

The Fairies

“Ludwig Tieck reveals how the Goetheanism of the first half of the nineteenth century was mirrored in a receptive personality; how something like a memory of the great ancient periods played into the modern age; periods in which mankind, looking up to the divine-spiritual, strove to create, in the arts, memorials of the divine-spiritual.”— Rudolf Steiner, The Arts and Their Mission, Lecture IV, 1923

“Tieck shows us how the philosopher can inspire the artist.”— Rudolf Steiner

Appearing for Advent, 2021

The Changeling

The word for “fairy tale” in German is Märchen, but Märchen also means simply “tale.” It is hard to find an English term that is equivalent to Märchen. Our group struggled with the term “fairy tale,” which often is taken to mean “a whimsical story for young children.” We, on the other hand, approach “fairy tale” in the spirit of German early romantics such as Novalis and Ludwig Tieck — writers who saw “Märchen” as high expressions of poetry and literary art.

— Bruce Donehower. Read more about how the Literary Arts Section works with Fairy Tales by clicking this sentence.

One of the most arresting statements made by Rudolf Steiner about the fairy tale is that “fairy tales can help counter illnesses.” We find this statement in the book The World of Fairy Tales.

“Fortunate is the individual who experiences in proper mood these wonders during childhood, for such tales may accompany her throughout her lifetime, much in the manner of a helpful angel.”
— Rudolf Steiner (paraphrasing a statement by Wilhelm Grimm)

“The Märchen is the touchstone of poetry . . . everything poetic must be like a Märchen. The poet worships chance.”
— Novalis

Other books by Bruce Donehower

SancXtuary: A Novel

Tracker-poet Mingo Aihouauk has a problem. Sister Hettie Starkey, shaman and devoted housewife from Tonawanda, New York, has summoned him to Niagara where an unsolved murder’s got Hettie’s husband, New York State Park Ranger Raymond Starkey (soon to retire), thoroughly skunked…

The Birth of Novalis

This book offers, for the very first time, a reliable and lucid translation into English of the most important primary sources pertaining to the biography of the German Romantic poet-philosopher Novalis.

The Birth of Novalis… the title of which recalls the outworn image, actually dismantles the Novalis legend. This invaluable biographical collection concentrates on the engagement to Sophie von Kühn, from the poet’s meeting with the twelve-year-old to her excruciating death at just fifteen. … The diaries are filled with references to social events, to conversations, meals, walks, and so on. There are also some fairly frank notes on his sexual activity, what Novalis calls ‘the satisfaction of my fantastical desires.’” ― The Times Literary Supplement


Grandfather tells Miko the tale of King Winter kidnapping the daughter of the Sun and Moon, and little Miko decides that he must venture out into the snowy night to investigate the endless darkness.

 Review from Amazon (a reader):

“A friend of a friend recommended the book. The action moves like a movie–it kept my son’s attention beginning to end when I read it to him and it’s one of his favorites now. Highly recommended for reading aloud. I enjoyed it as much as my eight-year-old.”

“Highly recommended”

— NY Times Book Review


“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe