About Anne-Marie Wegh

De auteur van dit boek, Anne-Marie Wegh, woont en werkt in de veertiende-eeuwse Sint Bonifatiuskerk in Horssen. Hier begeleidt zij onder andere retraites. In haar boeken combineert zij haar kennis van beeldtaal in het algemeen en haar eigen spirituele ervaringen met de beeldtaal van de bijbel en die van andere wereldreligies.

Snow White and the Seven Chakras

Snow White and the Seven Chakras

Not many people realize that the bedtime stories that our parents read to us when they wanted us to fall asleep were actually supposed to wake us up. Snow White, Cinderella, the Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood, all those centuries old stories are metaphors for a spiritual awakening. The poor orphan with the evil stepmother, the prince and princess without kingdom, the lost child in the dark forest; that’s us. And all these stories want to teach us about the way back to our actual home, to God.

Even less people are aware that the symbolism of these fairy tales usually refers to the kundalini-energy, the mysterious primal force that “slumbers” in our pelvis, and which nowadays is commonly associated with eastern traditions. But also our western mythology, legends and folklore incorporate very often kundalini-symbolism.

Let’s, for instance, have a look at a story that everybody knows: Snow White. Her name refers to the working of kundalini-energy: the purification of a person at the physical, spiritual and emotional levels. Only with a pure heart may we enter through the gates of the Kingdom of God.

The evil stepmother

When Snow White is born, her mother, the queen, dies. Her father remarries, but with a nasty woman who envies Snow White’s beauty. She concocts a plan to kill her. The “evil stepmother” occurs in many fairy tales. She represents the “material world,” which isn’t our real “mother.” An interesting fact is that the word “material” derives from the Latin word for mother: mater. Our real home is in the divine dimensions. The human who incarnates on earth is an “orphan” under the control of the “stepmother” who has her own (egoistic) agenda.

The seven dwarfs

The evil queen orders a hunter to kill Snow White. But he is unable to go through with it and abandons her in the dark forest. Lost and alone she wanders about until she finds the house of the seven dwarfs:

She saw a little house and went inside in order to rest. Inside the house everything was small, but so neat and clean that no one could say otherwise. There was a little table with a white tablecloth and seven little plates, and each plate had a spoon, and there were seven knives and forks and seven mugs as well. Against the wall there were seven little beds, all standing in a row and covered with snow-white sheets.
Because she was so hungry and thirsty Snow-White ate a few vegetables and a little bread from each little plate, and from each mug she drank a drop of wine. Afterward, because she was so tired, she lay down on a bed, but none of them felt right — one was too long, the other too short — until finally the seventh one was just right. She remained lying in it, entrusted herself to God, and fell asleep.

The seven dwarfs represent the seven most important chakras of our body. Snow White who eats of all seven plates and drinks from all seven mugs is a depiction of the kundalini-energy which flows through our spinal cord past these seven chakras. The round shape of the plates and mugs corresponds beautifully to the “wheel-shape” of chakras. Then the tale shows how the kundalini withdraws in the pelvis, at the lowest chakra. This is the seventh bed in which Snow White goes to sleep.

She is allowed to live with the dwarfs in exchange for cleaning the house (kundalini-purification) while they go out into the mountains to dig for gold (i.e. God) during the day. But her peaceful existence is short lived. The evil queen learns that Snow White is still alive and heads out to kill her yet. The story now teaches us that vanity – one of the qualities of the ego – keeps the kundalini “asleep.” Whoever is focused on him- or herself and the enticements of the material world gains no access to the divine.

The poisonous apple

Disguised as an old peddler woman, the queen seduces Snow White into buying a waistband, which she subsequently straps so tight (“wanting to be slim”) that her breath fails her and she falls to the earth “as if dead.” But when the dwarfs come home they revive Snow White by releasing the waistband. Then the queen tries it using a poisonous comb (“wanting to be pretty”), which causes Snow White to collapse. Again the dwarfs manage to bring the girl back to consciousness. The third attempt of the wicked stepmother is successful. This time she uses a poisonous apple:

“From the outside it was beautiful, white with red cheeks, and anyone who saw it would want it. But anyone who might eat a little piece of it would die.”

The apple refers to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. This “forbidden fruit” symbolizes the sensual temptations of “the world.” After they eat of it, Adam and Eve are driven out of Paradise (i.e. the connection with the divine is severed).

The glass coffin

The dwarfs place the (seemingly) dead Snow White in a glass coffin:

“Snow-White lay there in the coffin a long, long time, and she did not decay, but looked like she was asleep.”

Within most people the divine may lead a slumbering existence but can never die, tells us this image. In our pelvis, near the sacrum, the kundalini patiently awaits until the spiritual seeker is ready to embark on the long journey of purification and healing. She awakens by herself in whoever leads a God-centered life, despite his or her religious conviction or culture, to help create the right circumstances for the “sacred marriage”: a merger of the internal masculine and feminine, after which a unification of the person with his Creator occurs.

In the story a prince appears who falls in love with Snow White. This occasion marks the beginning of the phase of kundalini-awakening. He takes her with him, coffin and all:

“The prince had his servants carry it away on their shoulders. But then it happened that one of them stumbled on some brush, and this dislodged from Snow-White’s throat the piece of poisoned apple that she had bitten off.”

The brush symbolizes the spinal column through which the kundalini flows up to the crown chakra. The glass coffin in which Snow White lies depicts a “transparent” ego, which has been purified by the kundalini-energy.
Joyfully, the prince asks the awakened Snow White to marry him:

“I love you more than anything else in the world. Come with me to my father’s castle. You shall become my wife.”

The castle of the father (the Father) of the prince symbolizes the Kingdom of God: the abode of the person who loves the divine more than “anything else in the world.”

The red-hot shoes

Beautiful is the closing symbolism of the fate of the evil queen. When she appears at the wedding of Snow White and the prince, a nasty surprise awaits her:

Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead.

The dancing queen is a metaphor for internal kundalini-activity. The working of this energy is commonly depicted as a dance. The mother goddess Kali from Hinduism, for instance, which also symbolizes the kundalini, is usually depicted dancing.

Around her neck she wears a necklace of bloody severed heads; trophies of all egos which she has destroyed with her gyrating arms and legs.

The red-hot shoes which the queen is made to wear refer to the purifying effect of the kundalini-fire. Her death represents the death of the ego that is focused on the material; an event that is inseparably connected to the sacred marriage.

Alchemy

The fairy tale of Snow White invites us to take the path of inner transformation – the way of the tenacious alchemist who in his solitary laboratory tries to transform lead into gold. It’s a metaphor for the process of spiritual growth during which the earthly within the person is transformed into the divine. In its description of Snow White, the story subtly refers to the tradition of alchemy: a complexion white as snow, lips red as blood and hair black as ebony wood.

Nigredo (black), albedo (white) and rubedo (red) are the three phases of the alchemic process. Nigredo, the first phase, occurs when the world has lost its shine and a process of deconstruction of the “old person” begins. In the story of Snow White this phase is imaged by the fearful wandering of the girl in the dark forest, searching for a new house. Albedo is the phase of purification. This process is symbolized by Snow White’s cleaning of the house of the seven dwarfs (chakras), when they are in the mountains looking for gold. In the final phase, rubedo, the merger of opposites transpires, which in the story is depicted by the marriage of Snow White and the prince.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

What this fairy tale is telling us, via the magic mirror of the evil queen, is: don’t concern yourself with your exterior but rather focus on your internal world, because what lies hidden therein is thousands of times more beautiful than all the other on earth!

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Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2017

By |2018-10-02T07:47:55+00:00November 30th, 2017|Paravisie, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Snow White and the Seven Chakras

The Glass Slipper of Cinderella

The Glass Slipper of Cinderella

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm which we all know so well – Snow White, Cinderella, the Sleeping Beauty – were not invented by the two brothers but are ancient folk tales which they merely submitted to writing. These are stories which commonly also circulated in other parts of the world, sometimes in a somewhat different form, but with strikingly abundant similar symbolism. From this we may deduce that we are dealing with esoteric knowledge, which throughout all cultures and times has existed in an underground fashion, and which was passed on via folk tales.

I suspect that the Grimm brothers have not been aware that many of the fairy tales which made it into their books are about a kundalini-awakening; a term that hadn’t yet been introduced to the western world in the 19th century. Like Snow White, the story of Cinderella is about spiritual transformation with this mysterious energy source in the lead role.

The tree, the dove, the fire and the marriage

This story makes use of a number of universal symbols which are used time and again when the kundalini-process is expressed in images: the tree, the white dove, the fire and the marriage. The tree symbolizes the spinal column via which the divine energy (fire) flows from the pelvis to the crown. The dove symbolizes a completed process. The marriage represents the merger of the masculine and the feminine within a person into a unity, at the level of the sixth chakra, because of which the door to the divine opens.

We see these images – in a stylized form – also in the caduceus, the classic kundalini symbol of Greek mythology. The staff of the caduceus represents a person’s spinal column and the two wings the expansion of consciousness which is the result of a kundalini-awakening. The two serpents represent the two energy channels in our body, which connect us to the duality, including the masculine and the feminine (yin and yang in Taoism). The merger of these energy channels at the level of the forehead is called the sacred marriage.

Let’s have a look how all this plays out in the story of Cinderella. Just as in the story of Snow White, the mother of Cinderella dies and her father remarries a true wretch. In fairy tales the evil stepmother usually represents the “material world.” This interpretation is confirmed by the etymology (the origin of the word): the word “material” comes from the Latin word mater and means mother. We are born here on earth, but our true home is in the divine dimensions, is the underlying message of this story.

Sleeping near the hearth

The stepmother locks Cinderella in the kitchen where she is forced to perform heavy labor:

In the evening when she had worked herself weary, there was no bed for her. Instead she had to sleep by the hearth in the ashes. And because she always looked dusty and dirty, they called her Cinderella.

The literal meaning of her original German name Aschenputtel is “she who blows into the ash to reignite the fire.” It’s a beautiful and striking name that puts us on the right track to the deeper meaning of the story. The hearth is the smoldering kundalini fire in our pelvis.

The image of the incarcerated Cinderella, sleeping by the smoldering hearth, symbolizes the kundalini-energy which no longer flows freely through our spinal column but “sleeps” at the level of the sacrum, as a consequence of our incarnation on earth.

The mean stepsisters

Cinderella has two stepsisters. They represent the two energy channels (nadis) in our body, which are called ida-nadi and pingala-nadi in the Yoga tradition, and which let us experience the material world and its duality. “They were beautiful, with fair faces, but evil and dark hearts,” tells us the story. A life focused on material things may seem beautiful on the outside but is soulless and empty.

The branch and the hat

Daily Cinderella goes to the grave of her mother and weeps bitter tears because she is so unhappy.

One day it happened that the father was going to the fair, and he asked his two stepdaughters what he should bring back for them. “Beautiful dresses,” said the one. “Pearls and jewels,” said the other. “And you, Cinderella,” he said, “what do you want?” “Father, break off for me the first twig that brushes against your hat on your way home.” So he bought beautiful dresses, pearls, and jewels for his two stepdaughters. On his way home, as he was riding through a green thicket, a hazel twig brushed against him and knocked off his hat. Then he broke off the twig and took it with him. Arriving home, he gave his stepdaughters the things that they had asked for, and he gave Cinderella the twig from the hazel bush.
Cinderella thanked him, went to her mother’s grave, and planted the branch on it, and she wept so much that her tears fell upon it and watered it. It grew and became a beautiful tree. Cinderella went to this tree three times every day, and beneath it she wept and prayed. A white bird came to the tree every time, and whenever she expressed a wish, the bird would throw down to her what she had wished for.

Beautiful how the tree as metaphor for the kundalini process is worked into the story! Cinderella asks for a gift the branch that brushes against her father’s hat, a reference to the “kundalini-tree” which grows in our head. The hat which is knocked off represents the opening of the crown chakra.

Cinderella plants the branch on the grave of her mother. Many traditions view the kundalini-energy as feminine; as a goddess, or as “God the Mother.” Our pelvis is the grave in which this energy lies “buried.” Because of the tears of the mourning girl, the tree begins to grow. What is required to awaken the kundalini is a sincere longing for God; homesickness for the place from whence we came. Sorrow due to life on earth – however bitter this may seem – is nutrition for the kundalini-tree.

The white bird in the tree represents a completed process. Everything Cinderella asks for the bird throws down; we receive whatever our hearts desire when we persevere and accomplish the process of transformation until the complete end.

The king’s son

Also the story’s ultimate marriage to the prince is filled with beautiful symbolism. Cinderella wants to attend the ball which the king organizes in order to find a bride for his son. But she is only allowed to come along when she has extracted the lentils from the ashes that her stepmother has thrown in. Cinderella implores the birds to come to her aid:

The girl went through the back door into the garden, and called out, “You tame pigeons, you turtledoves, and all you birds beneath the sky, come and help me to gather: The good ones go into the pot, the bad ones go into your crop.” Two white pigeons came in through the kitchen window, and then the turtledoves, and finally all the birds beneath the sky came whirring and swarming in, and lit around the ashes. The pigeons nodded their heads and began to pick, pick, pick, pick. And the others also began to pick, pick, pick, pick. They gathered all the good lentils into the bowl.

Sorting out the “good lentils” refers to the inner purification that is required for the sacred marriage; a purification which is achieved by the kundalini-energy (the birds).

Then the stepmother says that she still can’t go to the ball, because she has no suitable clothes. Cinderella goes to her mother’s grave, where this time again the white bird helps her by throwing down a beautiful gold and silver dress with matching slippers. This dress represents the “garment of light” which is formed under the influence of the kundalini-process. By this imperishable body of light we attain immortality, the ultimate spiritual destination of human beings.

The charmed prince

The prince is rather charmed with Cinderella, but three times (the festival lasts three days) she eludes his attempts to take her home – the first time by climbing in a pigeon coop and the second time by climbing up a pear tree. Both the pigeon coop and the pear tree refer to the spinal column, with the kundalini-energy flowing within. The third time Cinderella escapes the prince she loses one her shoes:

The prince picked it up. It was small and dainty, and of pure gold. The next morning, he went with it to the man, and said to him, “No one shall be my wife except for the one whose foot fits this golden shoe.”

The shoe of Cinderella is supposed to tell us something about her ego: small and of gold. In another version of this tale, recorded by the French author Perrault, the shoe is made from glass. This refers to a “transparent” and purified ego (as does the glass coffin of Snow White).

Who fits the slipper?

The prince sets out in search of she who fits the shoe. The feet of the stepsisters of Cinderella appear to be much too large. One stepsister cuts off her toe and the other her heel to deceive the prince but they are betrayed by the white doves at the grave of Cinderella’s mother: Rook di goo, rook di goo! There’s blood in the shoe. The shoe is too tight, this bride is not right!

When it appears that Cinderella does fit the shoe, the delighted prince takes her along. At that moment two white birds fly toward her and settle on Cinderella’s shoulders: “one on the right, the other on the left, and remained sitting there.” The doves to the left and right of Cinderella’s head symbolize the two wings atop the caduceus: the kundalini-process is completed. The story ends as follows:

When the wedding with the prince was to be held, the two false sisters came, wanting to gain favor with Cinderella and to share her good fortune. When the bridal couple walked into the church, the older sister walked on their right side and the younger on their left side, and the pigeons pecked out one eye from each of them. Afterwards, as they came out of the church, the older one was on the left side, and the younger one on the right side, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye from each of them. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.

During the wedding ceremony the stepsisters position themselves to the left and right of Cinderella. That is supposed to invoke the image of the two energy channels – the ida-nadi and pingala-nadi – which run on both sides of the spinal column. The sisters are blinded by the white doves: the awakened person becomes “blind” for the earthly.

The moral of the story

When the stepmother and stepsisters in us remain in control, Cinderella remains locked in the kitchen. In other words: if we live our lives focused on material things and the desires of the ego, then the kundalini-energy remains asleep near our sacrum.

Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2017

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By |2017-12-01T09:29:16+00:00November 30th, 2017|Anne-Marie, Paravisie|Comments Off on The Glass Slipper of Cinderella

To find God you must first kiss a frog!

To find God you must first kiss a frog!

Many familiar fairy tales are about a kundalini-awakening. That is remarkable because these recorded folk tales stem from a time at which this Eastern concept had not yet entered the Western collective consciousness. But even though nowadays the kundalini has become part of spiritual jargon, particularly because of an increased interest in yoga, this mysterious source of energy is still largely regarded as something exotic and pertaining to the ascetic yogi who performs complicated exercises (kriyas) in order to awaken this serpentine force in his pelvis.

Who develops an eye for it will begin to see that the holy writings and iconography of virtually all religions and spiritual traditions contain references – usually cryptic – to a divine fire in our pelvis (near the “sacrum,” or sacred bone!). These clues that were left by initiated and mystics add up to the message that at our incarnation into the material world we were given a divine pilot light, which can lead a person to a next step in the evolution, when brought to ignition; a possibility to the broadening of our consciousness that exceeds our imaginations, a potential of immortality.

Special exercises are generally not required to awaken the kundalini. Much more important is a pure lifestyle and a sincere desire for God. And a willingness to face whatever is stored in the subconscious. This latter is what the familiar story of the frog prince discusses.

The golden ball

The story begins with a princess who drops her golden ball into the water:

In the vicinity of the king’s castle there was a large, dark forest, and in this forest, beneath an old linden tree, there was a well. In the heat of the day the princess would go out into the forest and sit on the edge of the cool well. To pass the time she would take a golden ball, throw it into the air, and then catch it. It was her favorite plaything. Now one day it happened that the princess’s golden ball did not fall into her hands, that she held up high, but instead it fell to the ground and rolled right into the water.

All elements of this fragment point toward kundalini-energy. The tree is the quintessential symbol for the spinal column through which the awakened kundalini flows up to the crown. The water well beneath the tree represents the divine energy itself. The golden ball which the king’s daughter throws in the air near the well depicts the rising motion of the kundalini. Both the circular form and the gold of the ball refer to the divine.

The princess drops the ball and it disappears beneath the water; the kundalini-energy withdraws into the pelvis. She cries bitter tears and is inconsolable. Then from the water emerges a frog, which offers to help her. But he wants something in return:

The frog answered, “I do not want your clothes, your pearls and precious stones, nor your golden crown, but if you will love me and accept me as a companion and playmate, and let me sit next to you at your table and eat from your golden plate and drink from your cup and sleep in your bed, if you will promise this to me, then I’ll dive down and bring your golden ball back to you.” “Oh, yes,” she said, “I promise all of that to you if you will just bring the ball back to me.”

Kikkerkoning

The princess, however, does not keep her promise. When she has her ball back she abandons the frog at the well. The next day he knocks on the door of the palace but the princess won’t let him in. When the king learns what has happened he instructs his daughter to keep her promise. Reluctantly she opens the door for the frog.

The animalistic within a human being

The frog represents all the qualities, proclivities and urges that we prefer to deny we have. Commonly these are aspects of our animalistic nature; think of aggression, jealousy, greed, lust and egoism. An often reoccurring central theme of all writing on the kundalini-mystery is the victory over animalistic instincts and the rerouting of these energies toward the realization of our divine potential.

Kikkerkoning

One of the pitfalls on the spiritual path is to deny or suppress urges which don’t match the ideal image we have of someone who is holy or enlightened. These energies of our “lower” or earthly nature, when purified and sublimated, can actually help us realize the higher. Better yet: without these primal forces the gates of the Kingdom of God remain closed. That is what this story wants to show us.

The frog which rises from the water (the subconscious) symbolizes the emerging awareness of these “shadowy” aspects. But awareness alone is not enough. The frog wants to be a playmate to the princess and wants her to love him, or else she won’t get her golden ball back. If we want to find God we must embrace and love our own “unattractive” aspects. The frog also wants to eat from the princess’ plate and sleep in her bed. These are images of integration; the lower nature must be absorbed into the energy of the complete person.

Frog turns to prince

kikkerkoning

She picked him up with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and set him in a corner. As she was lying in bed, he came creeping up to her and said, “I am tired, and I want to sleep as well as you do. Pick me up or I’ll tell your father.”

With that she became bitterly angry and threw him against the wall with all her might. “Now you will have your peace, you disgusting frog!”

But when he fell down, he was not a frog, but a prince with beautiful friendly eyes. And he was now, according to her father’s will, her dear companion and husband. He told her how he had been enchanted by a wicked witch, and that she alone could have rescued him from the well, and that tomorrow they would go together to his kingdom.

Once (integrated) in(to) in the bedroom, the frog changes into an attractive prince, with whom the princess subsequently marries. The marriage represents the unification of the human person with God – the so-called “sacred marriage” – during which the masculine (the prince) and the feminine (the princess) unite within a person.

In the original version of this tale the princess throws the frog against the wall. This was in later versions amended to a more animal-friendly alternative: the princess kisses the frog.

The awakening of the heart

Then follows a beautiful and meaningful finale:

The next morning, just as the sun was waking them, a carriage pulled up, drawn by eight horses. They had white ostrich feathers on their heads and were outfitted with chains of gold. At the rear stood the young king’s servant, faithful Heinrich. Faithful Heinrich had been so saddened by his master’s transformation into a frog that he had had to place three iron bands around his heart to keep it from bursting in grief and sorrow. The carriage was to take the king back to his kingdom. Faithful Heinrich lifted them both inside and took his place at the rear. He was filled with joy over the redemption. After they had gone a short distance, the prince heard a crack from behind, as though something had broken. He turned around and said, “Heinrich, the carriage is breaking apart.”

Kikkerkoning

“No, my lord, the carriage it’s not,
But one of the bands surrounding my heart,
That suffered such great pain,
When you were sitting in the well,
When you were a frog.”

Once again, and then once again the prince heard a cracking sound and thought that the carriage was breaking apart, but it was the bands springing from faithful Heinrich’s heart because his master was now redeemed and happy.

The white horses which bring the lovers to the kingdom of the prince (i.e. God) represent the purified (white) animalistic energies. The ostrich feathers on their heads have the same meaning as the wings of the mythical horse Pegasus: the sublimation (spiritualization) of the earthly. The gold chains with which the horses are hitched refer to the divine.

The driver of the carriage, the faithful Heinrich, refers to the person in whom this transformation takes place. The breaking of the three iron bands around his heart symbolizes the full (three) opening of the heart chakra, when the unification with God takes place. The person is released from his earthly constrictions. A tremendous bliss flows through his being. The spell of the witch (the illusion of the Maya) is broken.

norwegian mythologies

Freya

This fairy tale has clear roots in Norwegian mythology. The linden tree (by the well) from the story has a sacred status in the Celtic and Germanic tradition. The mother-goddess Freya (hence our word “Friday”) was thought to live in this tree. Like many mother-goddesses from other traditions (Kali, Vajrayogini, Aphrodite, Isis, Inanna), Freya personifies the kundalini-energy. She represents the feminine aspect of the one God, living in the spinal column (the linden tree) of a human being.

What doubtlessly played a role in selecting the linden tree is that the seeds of this tree come with an elongated wing that causes them to spin on their way down. It’s the same kind of motion that the kundalini makes on its way up along the spinal column.

According to the myths, Freya wanted at all cost to own a special chain named Brísingamen. To get this chain she had to sleep with four hideous dwarfs who created it. This story line is similar to that of the princess who has to share her bed with a filthy frog.
The four dwarfs too symbolize our earthly (lower) nature: in Norse mythology four dwarfs with the names North, South, East and West, stand on the four corners of the world to support the heavenly ceiling. The precious chain depicts the seven chakras through which the kundalini flows and which the kundalini-energy activates. It’s a beautiful metaphor for a kundalini-awakening!

In the fairy tale the royal carriage is drawn by eight horses. In Norse mythology, the prominent deity Odin moves about on an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. The eight legs symbolize de merger of two forces (horses): of the masculine energies and the feminine energies into one (kundalini-)superforce.

The moral

The fairy tale of the frog prince aims to demonstrate that the way to God is not a matter of transcending the earthly, but cuts straight through the mire of our human nature. Pseudo-holiness is a big pitfall on this way!

This article was published in Paravisie magazine (July ’17)
Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2017

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By |2017-11-30T13:37:41+00:00November 24th, 2017|Anne-Marie, Paravisie|Comments Off on To find God you must first kiss a frog!

The spiritual path, captured in folk tales

The spiritual path, captured in folk tales

The six dead spouses of Bluebeard

Many folk tales are about a way back to the place where we come from: the Kingdom of God. In order to return to our true home a number of difficulties must be conquered. Who isn’t careful will be eaten by a witch, an ogre or a big ferocious wolf. Perhaps you have already been eaten?

Hansel and Gretel

The story of Hansel and Gretel is about each of us. The image of a brother and sister, who are abandoned by their parents and get lost in a great dark forest, is a metaphor of a person (internally divided in a masculine and feminine side) who wanders the earth separated from God.

The children face starvation, but just in time they arrive at a shack built from ginger bread, cakes and candy and they immediately begin to nibble. They seem saved but then it appears that they have been lured into a trap by an evil witch who captures them and wants to eat them.

The house of candy represents the lures of this world. Who is singularly focused on earthly pleasures and chooses for sensory delights, the story admonishes, will be ‘captured’ by material things and die in a spiritual sense. Fortunately, the children manage to liberate themselves just in time and with their pockets full of pearls and gems (spiritual wealth) from the house of the witch, they return to their father (i.e. God).

Tom Thumb

Another danger on the spiritual path hides within people themselves. The story of Tom Thumb, a boy the size of a thumb, tells of the adventures of our divine self during our time on earth. Multiple versions of this story exist. In Charles Perrault’s version, Hop-o’-My-Thumb gets into a row with a man-eating ogre, who wants to eat him. In fairy tales, an ogre commonly represents our ego, which compromises our divine nucleus.

Hop-o’-My-Thumb outwits the ogre and purloins his seven-league boots (seven chakras) and treasures. With his pockets and boots full of (divine) gold he returns to his parents (God).
In the version of the Brothers Grimm, Tom Thumb’s life isn’t threatened by an ogre but by a cow and a wolf. He end up in the stomach of the animals but manages to free himself in the nick of time. Ferocious animals are a reoccurring theme in folk tales. They represent in general our lower, animalistic nature which has to be subdued if we want to return to the Kingdom of God.

Being captured in a stomach, as Tom Thumb was, additionally refers to a focus on gratification of the (under)belly. In terms of chakras, this is about the energy of the lower three chakras.

The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids

Also Little Red Riding Hood is eaten by a wolf, just like the seven goat kids, which were emphatically warned by their mother who had to leave on an errant. In both stories the wolf feigns an identity that differs from who he really is. In Little Red Riding Hood he dresses up as the grandmother of the girl. In the story of the seven kids (chakras) he whitens his paws with flour and alters his voice. Because he is not directly recognized as wolf he is able to overcome his victims and devour them.

This depicts not seeing the danger of yielding to our urges and drives. These stories aim to warn us for wasting our life energy (which flows through the seven chakras). We require these primitive forces to realize our higher nature. This is also the theme of the familiar story of the murderous Bluebeard.

Six dead wives in a basement

The new bride of Bluebeard discovers to her horror that her husband keeps the corpses of her six predecessors in a room in the house. A grizzly tale that’s not suited for young children, with the same meaning as the story of the devoured goat kids. The six wives represent the six chakras which are “killed” by animalistic urges: hair (a beard) represents the animalistic. At the seventh chakra (wife) a transformation takes place.

The color blue refers to the spiritual. This story wants to show us that our animalistic forces have to be “spiritualized” (transformed). The imagery that is used to this extent is as hilarious as fitting and symbolize a kundalini awakening. When Bluebeard finds out that his seventh wife has discovered the corpses and wants to kill her too, she asks him for fifteen minutes to pray. Meanwhile she sends her sister Anna to the top of the tower to see whether her two brothers are approaching:

“Sister Anne,” she said, “go up, I beg you, to the top of the tower, and look if my brothers are not coming. They promised me that they would come today, and if you see them, give them a sign to make haste.”

Her sister Anne went up to the top of the tower, and the poor afflicted wife cried out from time to time, “Anne, sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?”

And sister Anne said, “I see nothing but a cloud of dust in the sun, and the green grass.”

In the meanwhile Bluebeard, holding a great saber in his hand, cried out as loud as he could bawl to his wife, “Come down instantly, or I shall come up to you.”

“One moment longer, if you please,” said his wife; and then she cried out very softly, “Anne, sister Anne, do you see anybody coming?” And sister Anne answered, “I see nothing but a cloud of dust in the sun, and the green grass.”
“Come down quickly,” cried Bluebeard, “or I will come up to you.”

“I am coming,” answered his wife; and then she cried, “Anne, sister Anne, do you not see anyone coming?”
“I see,” replied sister Anne, “a great cloud of dust approaching us.”
“Are they my brothers?”
“Alas, no my dear sister, I see a flock of sheep.”
“Will you not come down?” cried Bluebeard.
“One moment longer,” said his wife, and then she cried out, “Anne, sister Anne, do you see nobody coming?”
“I see,” said she, “two horsemen, but they are still a great way off.”

“God be praised,” replied the poor wife joyfully. “They are my brothers. I will make them a sign, as well as I can for them to make haste.”

Then Bluebeard bawled out so loud that he made the whole house tremble. The distressed wife came down, and threw herself at his feet, all in tears, with her hair about her shoulders.

“This means nothing,” said Bluebeard. “You must die!” Then, taking hold of her hair with one hand, and lifting up the sword with the other, he prepared to strike off her head. The poor lady, turning about to him, and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to afford her one little moment to recollect herself. “No, no,” said he, “commend yourself to God,” and was just ready to strike.

At this very instant there was such a loud knocking at the gate that Bluebeard made a sudden stop. The gate was opened, and two horsemen entered. Drawing their swords, they ran directly to Bluebeard. He knew them to be his wife’s brothers, one a dragoon, the other a musketeer; so that he ran away immediately to save himself; but the two brothers pursued and overtook him before he could get to the steps of the porch. Then they ran their swords through his body and left him dead.

Sister Anne who runs up the steps of the tower represents the kundalini-energy which rises from the pelvis through the spinal column. The two brothers of the woman represent the two energy channels ida- and pingala-nadi, which run along the spinal column. When these two channels merge at the level of the forehead, the ego (Bluebeard) dies and the sacred marriage takes place: man is reunited with his Creator (Bluebeard’s wife obtains all his riches and marries another man).
This story is often explained as a warning for the consequences of curiosity, because all trouble begins when Bluebeard’s wife uses a key that her husband had strictly forbidden her to use: that of the little room at the end of the corridor on the bottom floor.

That the woman can’t control her curiosity is rather a positive aspect of the story. The room at the end of the corridor (spinal column) on the bottom floor (the pelvis) is the place where the kundalini is “imprisoned.” Opening this room symbolizes the beginning of a kundalini-awakening, and all uncanny events that follow are positive images of the process of transformation.

Conclusion

If we want to find God we must relinquish our attachment to material things and sensory gratification. We must recognize the wolf for what it is, a dangerous predator, and not let it into our house. The ego must make way for Tom Thumb. No small task, but the stories are unanimous about what awaits us: great wealth and a long and happy life!

This article was published in Paravisie magazine (September’17)
Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2017

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By |2017-11-30T13:41:19+00:00September 11th, 2017|Anne-Marie, Paravisie|Comments Off on The spiritual path, captured in folk tales

The illegitimate twin of the Sleeping Beauty

The illegitimate twin of the Sleeping Beauty

The fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty, or Little Brier-Rose, has undergone a remarkable transformation over the centuries. What started out as a story for adults, complete with a rape of the princess while she slept, has been cast into the feel-good variety of the Brothers Grimm, suitable for children. Let’s first have a look at the chastened interpretation of the Grimm Brothers. Then we’ll review the symbolism of the more obscure original.

The storyline is simple and the meaning not difficult to unravel. A young princess pricks herself on a spinning wheel and falls asleep. Everybody in the palace – the king, the queen and the entire entourage – also falls asleep. After a hundred years the Sleeping Beauty is woken with a kiss from a prince. The lovers marry and they live happily ever after.

The royal daughter

A king and his queen represent in fairy tales nearly always the divine: the Kingdom of God, the place where mankind came from and for which our soul ever yearns. We are all called to restore the broken connection with our true home during our life on earth. Fairy tales show us the process of spiritual growth which is required for this.

In our pelvis, at the level of the sacrum, is situated a source of energy of divine origin. Eastern traditions call her the kundalini-shakti, in Jewish mysticism she is called the Shekinah and Christianity speaks of the Holy Spirit. Many spiritual traditions see this energy as the feminine aspect of God. In myths and legends she is often a goddess, queen or princess.

As long as a person is focused on earthly pleasures and satisfying the senses the kundalini-energy will lead a “slumbering” existence. A desire for God and a pure lifestyle causes this energy to awaken, after which an intensive process of purification commences, which ultimately results in a merger of the inner masculine and feminine: the so-called sacred marriage. Then the doors of the Kingdom of God open and the person is reunited with his Maker.

In fairytales we meet the sleeping kundalini-shakti in the form of Snow White who is laying in coma and of Cinderella who is locked up in the kitchen by the smoldering fire. In this fairytale she is depicted as a sleeping princess: Little Brier-Rose.

The spinning wheel

One day the princess wanders about the palace:

She walked around from one place to the next, looking into rooms and chambers as her heart desired. Finally she came to an old tower. She climbed up the narrow, winding stairs and arrived at a small door. In the lock there was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open. There in a small room sat an old woman with a spindle busily spinning her flax. “Good day, old woman,” said the princess. “What are you doing there?” – “I am spinning,” said the old woman, nodding her head. “What is that thing that is so merrily bouncing about?” asked the girl, taking hold of the spindle, for she too wanted to spin. She had no sooner touched the spindle when the magic curse was fulfilled, and she pricked herself in the finger. The instant that she felt the prick she fell onto a bed that was standing there, and she lay there in a deep sleep.

The tower of the palace symbolizes a person’s spinal column. The winding stairs represent the spiraling motion which the kundalini-energy makes when it awakens and rises. Many traditions depict this as a winding serpent which climbs up the spinal column.

The old woman with the spinning wheel represents “mother time” who spins the “thread of life.” The prick from the spindle is a metaphor for the incarnation of a human being in the material world. The connection with the divine is at that moment severed: the divine princess falls asleep in our pelvis.

The 100 year sleep

When the kundalini sleeps the entire person exists in “sleep mode,” that is a state of spiritual unconsciousness. The story depicts this by having all people and all animals in the castle fall asleep as well. Even the fire in the hearth (i.e. the kundalini-fire) dozes off.

Round about the castle a thorn hedge began to grow, and every year it became higher, until it finally surrounded and covered the entire castle. Finally nothing at all could be seen of it, not even the flag on the roof.

The palace drops from sight: the divine exits the frame of reference. Many princes try to reach the sleeping princess but fail to break through the thorny hedge. This symbolizes that he divine is not easily reobtained. The kundalini awakens only when the time is right, when the spiritual seeker has performed the necessary labor. In the story we see that after precisely 100 years (the number 1 represents the divine), the final of many princes who made an attempt walks effortlessly through the hedge:

When the prince approached the thorn hedge, it was nothing but large, beautiful flowers that separated by themselves, allowing him to pass through without harm, but then behind him closed back into a hedge. In the courtyard he saw the horses and spotted hunting dogs lying there asleep, and on the roof the pigeons, perched with their little heads tucked under their wings. When he walked inside the flies were asleep on the wall, the cook in the kitchen was still holding up his hand as if he wanted to grab the boy, and the maid was sitting in front of the black chicken that was supposed to be plucked. He walked further and saw all the attendants lying asleep in the hall, and above them near the throne the king and the queen were lying. He walked on still further, and it was so quiet that he could hear his own breath. Finally he came to the tower and opened the door to the little room where Little Brier-Rose was sleeping. There she lay and was so beautiful that he could not take his eyes off her. He bent over and gave her a kiss. When he touched her with the kiss Little Brier-Rose opened her eyes, awoke, and looked at him kindly.

The kundalini-symbolism is obvious: high in the tower (the spinal column) the merger of the masculine and feminine (the kiss) takes place, after which the sacred marriage follows:

And then the prince’s marriage to Little Brier-Rose was celebrated with great splendor, and they lived happily until they died.

The X-rated version

The oldest written version of Little Brier-Rose stems from 1632 and was called Sun, Moon and Talia. In this story the father of princess Talia deposits the sleeping body of his daughter in the forest. It’s a rather curious course of events but symbolically it matches seamlessly the interpretation of the fairy tale. The dark forest represents “the world”; the spiritual darkness into which man incarnates.

During a hunt, a nobleman finds the princess and rapes her. Nine months hence she delivers twins, which are named Sun and Moon. This bizarre storyline recounts the energetic process in a person after his birth on earth. Sun and moon represent the two energy channels which are called ida-nadi and pingala-nadi in the Yoga tradition. These energy channels run along our spinal column and represent the duality within a person: the masculine and feminine, warm and cold, light and dark, and so on. The sun and the moon (the active and the passive) are two classical symbols which express this duality.

Forest fairies place the twins at Talia’s breasts. This image depicts how the kundalini-energy flows away via the ida- and pingala-nadi, instead of rising up through the spinal column, hence keeping the person captured within duality

But now too all ends well. When after a few months the nobleman returns to the forest to have his way with Talia once more, he finds her awake. Talia marries him (the sacred marriage) and they live long happily ever after, together with the twins. They are now one family, which symbolizes transcended duality./p>

Rapunzel

Wie de vertaalslag van de symboliek in sprookjes eenmaal te pakken heeft, ziet veel overeenkomsten in de verhalen wereldwijd.

When we get the hang of the symbolism in fairy tales we recognize the similarities in stories worldwide.
The fairy tale of Rapunzel, for instance, uses similar images as the story of the Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel is locked in a tower by a witch. A desirous prince climbs up via the braids of the girl, which she hangs out the window – a graceful metaphor for the kundalini-energy which flows upward through the spinal column and results in a merger of the masculine and feminine at the level of the forehead (the sixth chakra).
When the witch finds out about this secret meeting, she cuts off Rapunzel’s braids (the kundalini withdraws into the pelvis) and exiles her to a wilderness – an image that, like the dark forest, symbolizes life on earth.
The witch awaits the prince in the tower and startles him, which causes him to fall into a brier and become blind. He roams the earth until he finds Rapunzel again. By that time she’s given birth to their twins.
The blindness of the prince depicts becoming blind to the enticements of the world, which is required for the sacred marriage to transpire. The twin that Rapunzel delivered has the same meaning as Talia’s twins.
This time too the story ends with a royal wedding and a long life happily ever after (with God).

The moral of these stories

Man is a sleepwalker who takes life on earth much too serious and fairy tales too little. It’s time for the reverse!

This article has been published in Paravisie magazine (May 2017)
Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2017

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By |2017-11-30T13:43:50+00:00May 22nd, 2017|Anne-Marie|Comments Off on The illegitimate twin of the Sleeping Beauty