I’ve been interested in the deeper meaning behind Fairytales for a long time. It must be a combination of a lifelong interest in writing (did you know I have a degree in Professional Writing with a minor in English Literature?) and an obsession with the shamanic art of reading sign and symbol. Deep Dives at Women Gather-in is the job that has been waiting patiently for me to accept, for a long time.
We kicked off the Deep Dive series with the story of the Three Bears, mostly because I’d never come across anything written about Goldilocks in terms of psychotherapy or mythological meanings. (I’m not very good at doing the same thing as everyone else!) As I found, there is a small amount published, but without a Clarissa Pinkola Estes chapter to back her up, Goldilocks has kind of been left out in the Woods, so to speak. I knew the stuff of magick and dreams was hidden in this story, and it just needed some careful paring and preening to find them.
Here is what I do when I study any story or myth to find it’s deeper meaning :
1. Find as many different versions as possible
2. Research their origins – go back as far as possible
3. Pull it to pieces, including language, characters, symbols, repetitions and that which is missing or has been lost
4. Sort the significant motifs
5. Read the symbols and signs
6. Restory a dreamtale that suits my findings
Traditional fairytales are entertainment laced with teachings, indicating that which is expected, appropriate and necessary for the continuation of community and happy lives in general. Once stories of the countryside, passed on for millennia from tribe to tribe, full of pagan-ness and wildness and symbol, are now clean versions of themselves. Old Wise Women became evil step-mothers, headstrong Maidens at the cusp of adulthood became infantile pretty girls, and every one can be saved by a kiss from a handsome prince…
In order to uncover and excavate the meaning of the stories we have left, it helps to have an understanding of the symbols that have been used as tools for communication since the beginning of time. Noticing when techniques are used over and over in a story can tell us that a symbol is very significant. Asking why and how allows us to see the story with new eyes, as well as a deeper recognition of how we related to the story as a child : Why does the story choose a spindle to prick her finger? Why are there three billy goats? How did the story change over time?
The purpose of restory-ing fairytales into dreamtales is not so much about righting what has been lost (although I do like that very much). This work, rather is about finding the age-old dream in the text and then finding our Self inside it.
Stories have been with us forever.
The ancestors of our modern day fairytale stories come from a time when people were as Manda Scott names them, Dreamers, Singers, Warriors, and Weavers. Words had importance. Stories were not written, yet the symbols ran deep, repeated again and again by those who told the stories, and woven into the telling for a specific purpose. Now, as we explore the elements of fairytale on our own modern psyche, we must not forget that this is where our stories have their roots.
Different people find different realities in the same tale, because we each come from different experience. When working a dreamtale we must ask, “Who am I in this story” as well as “Who in my life have I made into the characters in this tale?” When we are able to answer these questions truthfully, the process of Self Crafting can unfurl, and the result is often completely unexpected.
The girl who chose to enter a house of Bears.
In the story that has become “Goldilocks” I found so many significant dream lines that I was truly surprised. Everything in that story, even the gentrified version we have today, has a reason for its place : entering the house in the Woods, the bowl of porridge, the chair, the bed, the Bears, and the window she dived from. This girl made a whole lotta choices, and everyone of them was her own. Can you name another fairytale heroine who has done the same?
Goldilocks has been described as spoiled and finicky, AND she has been described as curious and adventurous. How we view her, colours the story and creates a filter in which to read it by. What did you think of Goldilocks when you were a child? Was she stupid or bold?
And then, there’s the Bears. Were you, like Goldilocks frightened of the Bears, or did you want to stay with them forever?
Which of the bowls of porridge would you choose? Do you prefer the hard chair, or the soft chair, or do you choose exactly what you want, even if the world crumbles under you? What do you think and feel toward Goldilocks when she breaks the chair?
Do you see how pulling apart the tale allows you to find your Self? If you are playing the role of the girl in your life, how you feel about Goldilocks eating all the porridge does matter. It is not simply a story that you read as a little kid. The myths of our childhood roll into the beliefs of our grown-up life. Who have you been being? And who have you given the role of the Bears to?
When I facilitate the process of re-storying a fairytale, the purpose is to allow you to know the tale better AND to know your Self within it. The dream is your essence and how you relate to the world around : all of your ordinary and non-ordinary realities included. When you find out who you are Being within the confines of the story, it is no longer a tale that is “off with the fairies”. It becomes a “dreamtale” understood for the benefit of You. It’s a process of Self Crafting. Where every step of the process is your own, and you get to choose how it ends.
There is so much I could say about the tale of The Three Bears, but by doing so I would be taking away your chance to explore it for You. Please know that the presentation and process that I gave at Women Gather-in in September 2016 is currently being prepared to be available as a workbook at the Institute. In the meantime, I invite you to join us for the next Deep Dive, where we will be dreaming Red Riding Hood. October 16th at The Place in The Wilde, Mongarlowe.
All details of upcoming Women Gather-in events are found on the Institute Calendar