Fairy tales and myths fascinate me, as I know they do many writers. These stories after all, are often our first segue into the world of fantasy, lore, and legend. They are also our link to ancestors and even the archetypes buried in our psyche. Jung was of course, famously fascinated by them.
Fairy tales are often our link to each other. They slip in under the radar because we initially see them as childlike or even somewhat innocent. Underlying these seemingly simple stories is a large pool of untapped potential, both in the stories they relate and in what our favorites say about us.
I have a family member who loves Snow White. She has often been compared to the princess because of her dark hair and pale skin. I also think, she likes the fact the princess is adored for her domestic abilities and simple existence. She is not a domestic goddess by any stretch, but I think she would like that kind of existence and would like to be appreciated for it. Not really my cup of tea.
I have always been partial to Beauty and the Beast, and of course, that says tremendous things about me and my desire to “fix” things by seeing the person underneath. This has gotten me into trouble because either what I thought I saw was merely my own projection, or the person didn’t want things “fixed” the way I thought they could be. My arrogance or misplaced desire to help got in the way.
Of course, maybe I want someone to “fix” me in some ways. Not the core basic ideas of me, I think those are okay, but the nasty, niggling, self-sabotaging habits that I can so easily succumb to on my own. For someone to want to take that kind of interest in me, to support me, and want to connect, that’s the stuff of fairy tales in many ways.
Lately, I’ve been actively searching through many myths to better understand archetypes and I came across Estes’ description of Bluebeard from her book Women Who Run with the Wolves. She tells the story of the man who hoodwinks the youngest sister into marrying him, places limitations on her being, and then when she tries to break from them, threatens to kill her as he has killed his previous wives. She is saved by her family and he is killed.
Estes uses this to describe the men or circumstances in our lives who have held us back or held us down, keeping us from achieving our true potential. And while I believe I have given away some of my power in the past to men or to the ‘shoulds’ I believed I was supposed to be fulfilling, I see another description of Bluebeard that makes sense for me personally. Bluebeard could represent depression.
There is of course, the color reference. There are the limitations depression places on our esteem, confidence, and dreams. There is the tremendous amount of energy it sucks from our lives. And there is the overbearing, bellowing nature of the voice of that disease, seeming to yell in our faces about how we are not worthy, we should know our place, and we cannot hope to overcome. Depression can feel fifteen feet tall.
So, what does Estes recommend? Your family, loved ones, supportive people, or even your own inner reserves must find a way to metaphorically kill Bluebeard. Medication, therapy, support groups, alternative medicines, self-care, all work to ‘kill’ depression, or at least bring it down to its ‘bones’. And then, the energy in these bones can be reincarnated back into our creative and healthy selves. That doesn’t mean depression won’t come back, it is just a way to possibly picture things to gain some control.
Last night as I lay awake thinking about this story, I couldn’t help but repeat to myself. “I am taking back the energy you have sucked away from me.”
I pictured a ‘Bluebeard’ head, frozen on my wall, and from his mouth spewed all the energy my depression has sucked away from me over the years. I pictured all that energy flowing into my chest and back, my gut, my heart. I am taking it back. My meditation practice has been helping with the ability to picture and focus on these ideas.
Does that mean I bounded out of bed this morning with oodles of pizzazz and vigor? Not quite, but it helped. The self-talk is a continuation of my affirmations of my locus of control. I don’t believe we can control many things, but there are things we can choose to have an effect upon. How I choose to respond to everyday occurrences, whether it is a day of quiet work, or a day of many errands, is in my locus of control. How I greet anyone who comes through my realm of influence, is in my locus of control. How I choose to view any situation and frame it within my larger world picture is in my locus of control.
Those fairy tales will get under our skin every time. We can pretend to brush them off as if they are the stuff of childhood and play. But at their heart, they represent so much more. What is your favorite tale, myth, or legend? Did you love the tales of Camelot? Pirates? Boys that never grew up? Princes and princesses? Dig a little deeper and you might find out something about yourself you never knew before.