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.
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!