Monthly Archives: October 2017

Do not hide your Light!

 

‘Knowledge is the light of life. It is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it. The true light has always been in the world and it illuminates every person born into the world. It was in the world and the world is living  only because it had that light of knowledge within itself, but the world did not hold on to it.
It revealed itself to its own, but its own did not keep it. Only the ones who understood the knowledge, they alone were given the opportunity to become like it, by virtue of their belief in its essence. Those who believed in the fact that life is based in knowledge did not become the sons of the flesh, but became sons of knowledge.’[1] So wrote Tolstoy in his truly insightful book on the gospel.  Jesus said “You are the light for the world, so do not hide your light, but show it to people. After all, having lit a light, no one puts it under a bench, they put it on the table so that it shines for everyone in the room. Likewise, you must not hide your light, but you must show it in your actions, so that people can see that you know the truth. And, seeing your good works, they will come to understand your heavenly father.”[2]

In the fairy tales we have been delving into, the Feminine is constrained into hiding her light. She is ‘enchanted’ into wearing a frog-skin, or she is hidden in the depths of the ocean (of the unconscious). The hero’s quest is to find her, but the Feminine herself has her own quest to make her light shine forth. She must ‘get rid’ of her frog skin, and gain the ‘knowledge’ (enlightenment) to become the Queen she really is.

In a recent discussion on ‘From Lucifer to Satan’, at the Melbourne Jung Society, Lucifer as the Angel of Light, holds our awareness of our beauty, pride and our sense of being special. We have been taught that Lucifer is the fallen angel, but Lucifer is only ‘fallen’ when the ego grabs our concept of beauty and pride within ourselves. The shadow side of Lucifer can be narcissism and inflation – thinking of ourselves as being more important than we are. Lucifer is the light bringer – where the mind splits into opposites, the Light brings together the opposites into unity. Lucifer is in effect, the masculine Venus, or Freya, (Goddesses of Love, Light, and Beauty).

It is so easy for the feminine in the patriarchy to hide herself: to wear the frogskin. We can very often see this in the body language. Hunched over, head down, trying to disappear; to not be noticed. Our gaze is directed to the ground, rather than to the heavens. Raise your gaze, so that the world can see your beautiful eyes. Raise your gaze so that you can see the magnificence of the mountain tops. It is as if we have been enchanted, as it says in the frog princess story. The mind reflects the body and the body reflects the mind. Our training and our practice in the spiritual realm allows us to become aware of our beauty, and to be proud of what we have achieved. As Tolstoy shows us, to show our light in our actions, so that people can see the Truth.

The collective shadow is Satan, who stands as an accuser, tempter, and transgressor. Satan deflates our sense of importance and reminds us that we are frail corruptible flesh. It is Satan who prevents us from shining our Light. But he tempts us to move from austere self-sacrifice to the joy of earthly pleasure. He undermines obedience with a call toward self-reliance and a disregard of laws and conventions.

In his reflection on the life of Jesus, Tolstoy shows us a Jesus who went beyond the laws and conventions of his time, to teach the fulfilment of the eternal law, of the mystery of the other inner realm. Jesus defines his own spiritual laws most beautifully in the Beatitudes.[3] The shadow of Satan is unrestrained selfishness and power over others.

There is a very beautiful quote, by Marianne Williamson, often wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’[4]

It is interesting to note that the fathers of both the Princess Vassilisa (in the Frog Princess) and Princess Zezolla (in Cenerentola) can also represent the patriarchy. It is the patriarchy which is not in relationship with the Divine Feminine, and sees the feminine as a young maiden, or virgin. For the feminine to disengage herself from this misunderstanding, is a momentous task and why it is so remarkable that Princess Zezolla achieves this.

 

 

[1] Tolstoy, Leo. The life of Jesus. The Gospel in brief. Translated by Dustin Condren. Harper Perennial New York 2011

[2]ibid p 4

[3] ibid p 37

[4] Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love, HarperCollins, 1996

Trust No-One!

Nawab’s reply to my last blog has really shown the difficulty of the descent into the ashes and the hardship endured for spiritual purposes.

He wrote:- ‘Another way of seeing the death of Zezolla’s mother is: the birth of the independence of the soul, no longer tied to the Source from which we come. Then the descent into the ashes is a perfectly clear picture of every soul’s descent into the world of hard labour and limitation. What makes Zezolla remarkable is that her exile becomes her apprenticeship, and she becomes able to reclaim her royal nature. The ancient Hindus called hardship endured for spiritual purposes ‘tapasya’, meaning purification by fire, and it was the practice of some yogis to go and sit among the cinders of the cremation grounds as a way of mastering themselves.’

The apprenticeship is difficult, and it is a long one. It is not something that can or should be done quickly – it needs patience and Perseverance. The purification by fire is also painful – we see this in the fairy tales we are studying.

The longing for the Divine Sophia or Source which we have ‘lost’ is both painful and yet drives us on the do the Inner Work. The longing that we have for the Divine Source, points us to the Goal of our journey.

When Petru returns from the Fairy of the dawn with the magical water of life, the Goddess warns him:

‘Beware of your life; make friends with no man, do not ride fast, or let the water go out of your hand, believe no one; and flee flattering tongues. Go, take care, for the way is long, the world is bad, and you hold something very precious.’

Having achieved some level of insight or enlightenment, we begin to see the world and the people in it acting and reacting from ego. It reminds me of the old Indian legend where a young man asks his Teacher to show him a clear vision of the world as it is. When the cover was lifted from his eyes, he saw every human being with the face of some animal, except one, the Teacher himself. All these animals are within us, so we recognise them in others. This can cause us to react to these aspects of ourselves in others in a very harsh way. Our task is to master these ‘animals’ by the practices we are given by our Teacher; but it can make the spiritual life a very lonely one. Who can we trust?

The animals which Prince Ivan meets in the story of the Frog Princess, are aspects of himself which he does not like and immediately wants to kill them. We repress the parts of ourselves we do not like or want. Often they are not negative but powerful and fierce, like the ferocious bear. Girls especially, are not encouraged to nurture this in themselves. I certainly repressed this side of myself. Similarly the speedy and tricky hare, although an aspect of the Great Mother, is not honoured. So it is with all the animals that Prince Ivan encounters. But the all animals  beg him to spare them, as they will be useful in his journey later. When we have mastered our inner animals, we no longer fear them and can use them appropriately. We can also have compassion for others who are held captive, or in thrall to them.  These aspects are in control rather than the person. We see this in the addictions and in the violence, which beset us.

We need a Teacher for this work – a Being who knows and understand the path, who has fought his or her own demons, and who can mirror back to us, these ’animal’ aspects of ourselves, and guide us towards mastery. We are given practices, just as Cenerentola was given by the Dove of the fairies, so that slowly, over the years, we can re-claim our royal nature.

 

From Princess to Queen: the evolution of the Feminine.

In an earlier Blog, I posited the notion that the Princess Zezolla had brought about her own ‘descent’ to the cinders, in the story of Cenerentola.  Her act was similar to the act of burning the frogskin, in the story of the Frog Princess. Zezolla had in fact ‘burned’ her previous life as a princess, to sit amongst the ashes of this life, to quietly work on herself, amongst the cinders.

Someone in a recent workshop, was very disturbed by this and really disliked and resented the princess for, using, manipulating, and even tricking the men in her life, like her father, and even the servant of the King, so as to promote her own evolution.

This caused some interesting discussion in the group and, so I would like address this and  delve more deeply into this topic, as it is in fact very important.

In the opening scene of the story, Princess Zezolla is mourning the death of her beloved mother. Her father the prince adores her and sees the world through her eyes only. This is a telling phrase – for it is not appropriate for a father and a prince to see the world from the vantage of his young daughter, who represents his soul. He no longer has a mature and evolved feminine side or soul.

This would appear to reflect an aspect of the patriarchy which sees the feminine as young, childlike, and virginal. It is not fashionable to be rounded and voluptuous of body; women try to look like young girls, even when they could be grandmothers. This really infantilises the feminine and is open to issues of power and control of the feminine by the masculine.

It reminds me of a male friend who used to smile benignly at my interest in mysticism and the inner life. I was metaphorically patted on the head and told to go out and ‘play’. It was patronising, and the relationship could not sustain this attitude. The patriarchy is afraid of a fully evolved and powerful feminine, like the Goddess Freya, or even Hestia.

So there is something in the Prince (Zezolla’s father) who allowed the glorious feminine side of him to die. In this way Zezolla ‘lost’ her mother. The only thing for her to do was to disallow her father to ‘use’ her in this way, by  projecting his ‘soul’ onto his daughter.

Thus Zezolla persuaded her father the prince, to marry her nurse / governess – this would seem to be an appropriate match for him, given his level of evolution. He was not up to marrying a princess, although a prince should really marry a princess. Perhaps this is also a reflection of the patriarchy.

Zezolla, in truth, has ‘burned’ this part of her life, so that she could be free to develop and evolve in her own way, to become the Queen she really is. This is her way of burning the frog-skin.

All characters in this story are aspects of the one, of Zezolla herself, and so of us all. The feminine must not be seen and related to as a young, innocent girl, to be bought off with trinkets, lovely food and pretty clothes. Neither must the feminine in us be used, like the trophy wife in the Frog Princess story. The frog-skin, in the life of a virgin daughter must be totally disposed of – burned, so that she can sit amongst the ashes or cinders, in the central hearth or heart, as ‘Cenerentola’, totally herself, without pretences, without airs and graces, in mastery of her self, her ego. In this way, by doing her daily practice, which was given to her by her Teacher – The Dove of the Fairies, she becomes Queen and is recognised as such by the young King. Note that she becomes a Queen in her own right and not simply because she has married a King.

The masculine must not be allowed to dominate and control, and take over the process, as the young prince did, in burning his wife’s frog skin, in the story of the Frog Princess.

 

 

The Centre of All – in Cenerentola

Robert Johnston has given a beautiful image of the sacred quest by way of describing the Grail Legend. The Grail castle is much like the shining white castles which are talked about in the fairy tales. It is the central sacred place. Contained within is Holy Grail – a goblet which is never empty. When we drink from the Grail cup we experience the ‘water of Life’, enlightenment! We could see the beautiful white castle in the Fairy of the Dawn, as the Grail Castle.

The hero often discovers the Grail Castle in his teens, as a peak experience which cannot really be described. He is not quite ready to answer the Grail question and so must find the Grail castle again in middle age. He will be only be admitted to the Grail Castle when he correctly answers the Grail question: ‘Whom does the Grail Serve?’ The sacred water of life is the goal of so many quests. Johnston has said that men must quest for the Grail castle but women live in it. Thus the quest for soul and the sacred, is quite different for the Feminine.

In the story of Cenerentola, this is evident. The Centre is the central hearth which was in ancient times the shrine of Hestia, the first born of the Olympian gods and goddesses and the chief of the goddesses in ancient times, but now is practically unknown.  In Hestia’s time, every household’s hearth was Hestia’s shrine and the implications of this are fundamental to the understanding of this story.

The symbolism of the hearth should not be overlooked; it becomes the realm of Cenerentola. The central hearth also had a ritualistic focus for government and was served by the most powerful state officials. It was the Centre of All, of everything.

Hestia was the virgin goddess of the hearth, and of architecture and the right ordering of domesticity, the family and the state. It is said that both Apollo and Poseidon vied for her hand in marriage, but for her to choose one over the other would have meant war, so she chose to remain a virgin and serve her brother, Zeus, in his household hearth.

Peace became one of Hestia’s major attributes. Her name means the Essence, the true nature of things. We see that Zezolla’s descent to the hearth and becoming Cenerentola really means that she is now, quietly and unobtrusively in the service of the feminine, of Sophia / Hestia and the inner life and mysteries.

It was Hestia’s traits, not her actions that most defined her, Hestia was gentle, mild, forgiving, peaceful, serene, dignified, calm, secure, stable, welcoming and, above all else, well-centred, the guardian of inmost things. She was non-judgmental and forgiving, her “unconditional love” and calm acceptance inspired the love and trust of others in return.

Dependable and caring, Hestia was always there for others and helped them to manage their lives, which were certainly more exciting than her own. The circle symbolized Hestia as the ‘complete’ goddess, the goddess who was whole, ‘one complete within herself’. Hestia was, not only psychologically ‘centred ‘, but also representing the centre, the centre of the home and family, the city, and even the world itself.

The little date tree is also a symbol of the Centre; its trunk being like the Qutub in the centre of All, the pillar of Wisdom. The date palm, represents the Centre within the Centre. It was here beside her date tree, that Cenerentola did her spiritual practices, and cared for the ‘tree’ itself. Caring for it was part of her practice. Weeding, watering, polishing its leaves – it was a reflection of her inner life, and it was her practice.

The little palm tree at the centre of All, was the Wish-fulfilling tree of the stories, and it is when we are in our own Centre, and centred that we have our deepest wishes and prayers fulfilled.

 

Why is the Witch so scary? The Wicked Witch vs the Witch as Teacher

I have been asked how come the witch as a Teacher does not appear in most fairy tales. It is a good question. The stories I have used in my book have been carefully chosen as spiritual teaching tales. They are very ancient and seem to have retained their original purpose and meaning, although hidden. The witch or Baba Yaga featured in these stories is a powerful and wise teacher, who must be approached with respect. The Teacher only ‘helps’ when she knows that the seeker is genuine, dedicated and truly on the inner path (the journey of enlightenment).

The Fairy (according to Wikipedia) is a type of mythical being or legendary creature in European folklore, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural, or preternatural. In many ways the fairy and the witch fulfil a similar function in fairy tales. The Dove of the Fairies (in the story of Cenerentola) is a powerful, loving and wise teacher.

In the more modern version of the tale (as Cinderella), the Dove of the Fairies becomes the fairy God-Mother. This is rather misleading, as it gives the impression that to become an evolved ‘Queen’ is just the result of the waving of a magic wand. Cenerentola, in the original story, is given a little date tree which she must nurture and this is her daily practice. As a result of this practice she becomes and is recognised as a Queen. The inner work still has to be done, even though it may seem like magic.

But the scary witch who frightens children is also a powerful archetype, but quite different to the Witch Teacher. There was no doubt in my mind as a five-year-old child, that my heart had been stolen by the wicked witch, and replaced by an icicle, just as in the story my father used to read to me, or should I say, tried to read to me. I just could not bear him telling me this tale (The Blue Pearl by Kathleen Fidler). It was written in the 1940s and was perhaps a manifestation of what happens to the ‘good mother’ in war time.

I find it interesting that in Cenerentola, the good and loving mother had ‘died’, and the step-mother and her daughters became ‘wicked’ in the Cinderella version of the story. In truth, they were not wicked as such but simply not ‘wise’. They were outer directed materialistic women of the world, rather than deeply mystical or spiritual. The step mother did her best, as do our own mothers, but that was not enough for Cenerentola. Perhaps this happens at a certain stage of our childhood, when we realise that our mother is only human, with her own failings. For someone on the inner path, this is not enough, especially when the outer mother has been traumatised or damaged in some way, and we are unable to connect with her.

It was only while writing The Weaving section of my book, that I really understood my mother’s difficult journey and how this impacted on my own. She had been abused and traumatised while escaping Hitler’s Vienna with my Jewish father and must have suffered from PTSD as a result. She was highly anxious and nervous. Children become self-aware at around five years of age, so it no surprise that this is when the wicked witch manifests, as a frightening aspect of mother. At that time, my mother took me through post war Europe (1948) from N. Ireland to Vienna. This was a long and difficult journey – crossing of the Irish Sea, and the English channel, as well as numerous train journeys across borders. My only memory is of dark, cold and fear, waiting on platforms for trains that never seemed to come. My mother must have been terrified, but she felt compelled to visit her much loved sisters and brothers in Vienna. Without my warm and loving father, my mother became the witch who stole my happy heart. These insights have resolved so many things for me and I now feel very sorry for my poor mother, who,  like the step-mother in the story, she did her best for me.

Eventually, after much searching, I found my own Teacher and followed my path. It takes a Witch to master a Witch.