I have been fascinated by fairy tales all my life. Growing up in Germany before the time of daily television and Walt Disney, I spent many hours every day reading, and the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Andersen were among my favorites. Although I could not put it into words at that time, I always felt on a deep, emotional level: All these abandoned, mistreated, or spellbound heroines and heroes, they are like me! And they do finally find their real homes and are happy, don’t they. So there is hope…
Right at the beginning of a traditional Tale, the heroines or heroes are in big trouble: They are, for example, kicked out of the house by their parents, fall victim to an evil stepmother or a terrifying non-human entity, are bullied for being different, find themselves in acute danger, or they have to solve a problem nobody can solve. In other words, they are isolated from the protective tribe everybody else seems to belong to. In fact, isolation is the most obvious characteristic of any fairy tale or mythic heroine or hero.
However, they all succeed in getting the job done, or they are acknowledged for who they really are, and then they live happily ever after, right?
How come? How do they manage that? And why do other people (like their brothers and sisters) miserably fail trying? What makes them so special?
I always have been intrigued by that. It is a pesky problem for the rest of us who are stuck in the dark woods, keep being spellbound by an evil witch, or can’t get away from being bullied by a bunch of stupid ducks.
Since there is evidence that in the “real” world the simpleton with the good heart usually does not get rewarded, and many monsters continue to live happily in their castles, we have to ask ourselves: What world are we talking about when it comes to Fairy Tales and myths?
And so we discover that it all only makes sense when we perceive fairy tales on a metaphorical level, when we understand them as road maps on our emotional healing and Spiritual journey. If we do that, everything falls into place and makes perfect sense. From the psychological and spiritual perspective, fairy tales and myths are about the universal human journey per aspera ad astra, to the stars through hardship. They are blueprints for the soul’s journey towards higher awareness, divine love, and truth.
Can there be a higher purpose for any spoken or written expression?
Painting by Betty Moore-Hafter
If we grew up in an atmosphere of disconnection, loneliness, severe neglect, or active abuse, we will always agonize over the question: Why? Why has this happened to me? There can be many answers to this, like social circumstances beyond control, the unhealed emotional history of the parents, or the belief in karma coming from past lives. I don’t know about you, but reasons like that never quite satisfy me. They might explain the situation perfectly, but they don’t provide healing for the deeply wounded heart.
So why, why, why have our fairy tale heroines and heroes been singled out, ripped out of the comfort of a loving and protective family and community? Why have they been thrown into the dark and scary woods, ridiculed and shamed; why do they have to tend to pigs for seven years, or kneel in the ashes in the kitchen while everybody else is having loads of fun?
The answer to this can only be given in a spiritual context: From the perspective of your eternal soul, there is only one thing that counts: consciousness – the expansion of consciousness.
We can grow spiritually in many ways, and not all of them are painful. However, being kicked out of our comfort zone is a time tested tool of emotional evolution since it really gets the job done, sooner or later.
Thus, from a spiritual standpoint, our Fairy Tale Heroines and heroes must be uprooted, separated from the tribe, set apart, made very uncomfortable, because they need to get going, they need to move, they need to find their true home, their spiritual home.
Again, what makes our winners so special? Fairy tale heroines and heroes who get it all at the end, usually have certain characteristics in common: humility, kindness, compassion, courage, honesty, trust, non-violence, endurance, and patience, Or to put it all together: They are heart – centered. Other than that, they are not “special” in any way. They are not smarter, stronger, or more competitive – quite in the contrary. They often are the “stupid” one in the family. Even if they happen to be a prince or a princess, they want something more essential from life than privilege and luxury.
There is one feature that gives the ones with a pure heart an invaluable advantage: They attract helpers and gifts wherever they go. From fairies, dwarves, birds and trees to relatives on the other side, crystals and planets – it seems that the whole universe conspires to make it happen for somebody on a Spiritual Journey. Because of their special characteristics, the fairy tale heroines/heroes live in a state of grace that connects them effortlessly with everyone and everything at the right moment.