Saturday, June 30, 2012

Allerleirauh: Leaving the Father's House

The Transformation of the Feminine

            The fairy tale states that it is this princess, this daughter without a mother, who must solve the problem.  The princess represents the new, emerging feminine consciousness, an evolution in the form of the eternal feminine principle, who is Lady Wisdom.  Just as humanity is hopefully evolving into greater consciousness, Divine awareness enlarges as our own consciousness deepens.  In fact, Jung believed that the Divine needs humanity's capacity to know It in order to know Itself.16  With the development of this new feminine consciousness will come a deepening and enrichment of the images of the Divine in both its masculine and feminine aspects. The princess brings new energy and passion to life, and a new connection to spirit as well. 
            This princess has no mother, only a father who falls passionately in love with her; not seen for herself, but valued for his expectations of her.  Having no mother cuts her off from her feminine roots and feminine nourishment.  Many women I know have felt this in their own lives.  How many of us have fervently worked to ensure that we are nothing like our mothers!  This princess, like us, has to get her nourishment from the Father's spirit, collective masculine ideals, and her personal father.  The spirituality of the feminine principle and its mysteries are lost to conscious life.
 The princess takes on the life of masculine spirit, so of course her father is enchanted with her!  Men seem to want a woman who meets their own anima projections.  It keeps them in control.  Robin McKinley’s DeerSkin makes this part of the tale very concrete, for the father will have his daughter, whether she will have him or not.  He brutally rapes her.  We women know, however, that there are many forms of rape, and this fairy tales speaks to all forms: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  But all forms of rape injure our spirit, and women have to find healing before we can be free of the father, free from being ‘owned’ and free to make choices about our bodies and our lives. 
            But this princess, perhaps because she is a father's daughter, cannot be so easily overpowered by his demand.   After all, she's learned so much from him.  Although she looks very much like her mother, she is both like and unlike her.  She probably has the same strong spirit as her mother, for she stands up to the king without fear.  But she is not her mother, and she knows that something is wrong that her father should love her so.  She very rationally decides on a course of action that she believes will defeat his purpose. 

Transforming Consciousness
To turn her father aside from this unholy marriage, she demands three marvelous dresses and a fur mantle.  Clothes, dresses, and shirts can hide the true personality, as in the case of certain uniforms: nurse, policeman, doctor, or priest.  This is when clothes represent the persona, the mask with which we meet the world.  But clothes can also symbolize an attitude which we try to incorporate and then manifest to the world.   When we’re teenagers, we need to dress ‘just like everyone else’ so we can feel comfortable with our peers.  As we mature, we choose clothes that fit our individual style, so that what we wear says something about who we are at a glance.   Psychologically, this often means finding the right mode of expression, or the right type of consciousness with which to meet a situation.  In this story, these three dresses have a cosmic significance, and represent different ways of knowing, or different types of consciousness, which the Woman of Revelation integrates.  The price of her father's passion is the possession of all the knowledge of his kingdom. 
Today’s women have taken our political freedom and learned all there is to know about the world.  We excel in business, science, the arts, sports, and politics.  And yet, the ‘patriarchy’ is still alive and well in Russia as well as in the Middle East, in South America as well as in the United States, in Africa as well as in Asia.  The old order of the patriarchy makes a show of giving women equality – like the dresses given by the Father – but in both subtle and overt ways, women have to emulate the prevalent masculine viewpoint to win acceptance and validation.  There is still very little respect for or even understanding of a truly feminine standpoint.  The real freedom for women comes when we live in our mantle of furs and reclaim our wildness and our instinctual knowledge of life.  That is when women can truly claim these three dresses as our own.

All the Riches of the World: The Four Types of Consciousness
These three dresses and the mantle of furs symbolize different types of consciousness, just as their colors represent the differentiation of light.  They represent the four-fold aspect of our nature:  physical, psychological, imaginal and spiritual or our body, our individual ego consciousness, our unconscious imagination and our spiritual consciousness.  When Allerleirauh appears in each of dresses, she is manifesting the image of the Woman clothed with the Sun, standing on the Moon, crowned with Stars.
The golden dress of the sun symbolizes the solar, masculine, left-brain consciousness of our culture, which likes to differentiate one thing from another.  It is our psychological consciousness.  The solar principle is a strong, fiery, life-giving force.  It is concerned with logos, the Word spoken before the beginning of the world.  It is our ability to name a thing, which helps us understand its nature more fully. It represents our rational mode of consciousness, in that it brings the possibility of seeing, with great clarity, causes and effects.  It stands for the principle of order, of differentiation, of individuality.17   It can also be death-dealing, like the Sun in the desert, for cold rationality can objectively look on death and destruction without qualms.
            The silvery dress represents the lunar, feminine principle.  Lunar, right-brain consciousness supports the claims and needs of the reality of life.  It is a consciousness attuned to rhythm, tides, needs and the feeling side of life.18   It is a receptive consciousness, ready to listen, wait, trust, take in and yield to situations, and to allow things to happen in their own time.  It nourishes and embraces all things, for like the moonlight, it blurs distinctions and gathers together disparate elements.19   In its highest form, it is the imagination developed to its fullest.
            These two types of consciousness see the world through different eyes, and as the scientific study of the brain shows, both types of consciousness are available to us.  As stated before, most of us have overdeveloped our solar consciousness at the expense of our imaginal, lunar consciousness.  Getting these two dresses represents developing the ability to use both types of consciousness, to see with both eyes.
            The dress of the brightness of the stars relates to the divine dimension of life and is concerned with mystical vision.   Stars symbolize the spark of divinity within humanity.  Paracelsus, the famous medieval alchemist, states that within each of us is an 'astrum' or star, which drives us towards great wisdom.20   This divine image within each person is comparable to Jung's concept of the Self.  Jung says that Paracelsus "beholds the darksome psyche as a star-strewn night sky, whose planets and fixed constellations represent the archetypes in all their luminosity and numinosity."21    The archetypes within and the patterns of stars without combine to help us find the meaning of our lives and our place in creation.  The star dress represents our relationship to the Divine, to the ground of our being.  This dress is very much present in our society, for it is made up of all the accumulated spiritual wisdom of all times and ages, and it is available to us in books, through yoga and meditation practices, from spiritual gurus and teachers, and most directly through our own inner work.  Many people who are seeking this kind of personal connection to Spirit are trying to live in their star dresses. 

Leaving the Father’s House
               When the princess gets ready to flee from her father, she puts these three dresses into a nutshell.  This symbolizes the fact that she must take the essence of each type of consciousness with her, reduced to its essential state, for the image indicates a dark, enclosed, germinating place.  This image of germinating is repeated a second time when Allerleirauh falls asleep in the tree, and once more in the tale in the image of the closet beneath the stairs, where no daylight enters.  This is where Allerleirauh sleeps and lives; this is where her new life is enclosed and germinating.  
        Like Harry Potter, we have to accept that we might go through a time of being marginalized for our attempts to find our own power.  Harry is given the room under the stairway because his aunt and uncle will not admit that he is a wizard.  But it also becomes his own special sanctuary where he can dream.   There is a sense of interiority, of going within, that is needed for this task, for the princess' task is this: to take these dresses and make them her own.  They must grow within her so that she can express them in her life.  They cannot be 'things' that she knows about or 'puts on'; she must integrate them so that they are expressions of her essential being.  These three dresses will bring her Wisdom.
This occurs in a woman's life when she finally realizes that she is responsible for her own life.  Women need to understand that it is our values that make us who we are: we have to work to live by them, taking responsibility for how those values shape our life and also accepting how they shape the world we live in.  It is the only way to learn how to listen within for the voice of Wisdom.   This, of course, is the hard part, and the rest of the fairy tale speaks of how this must be accomplished.  The princess must live in the mantle of furs.
When we take responsibility for our lives, we begin to listen to ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I love this fairy tale and I'm glad you've written about it. The three dresses are so beautiful! Interesting articles..