How we Heal.

People often say in despair of their lives that you cannot go back and change the past. My reply is always the same, what heals is not that we can change the past but that we call it by the right name. A story that exemplifies this is ‘Rumplestiltskin’, a tale of  love’s triumph over tyranny.

It starts out with the Miller boasting to the King that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Now, why would he do that? What’s going on here?

”Unless he seeks it in himself, a man’s feminine counterpart is to be found in his mother, sister or daughter’. (Jung 1983).

In the absence of a Queen of Heaven, an inner image of Anima, he finds Her radiance in the eyes of his now divine daughter, whom he idealises out of all existence. He thinks its love but actually its unconscious worship  to the point of parody and depersonalisation.

You could say that the backlash for Yahweh breaking his ex-wife Sophia up in three and casting her into the sea, waaay bakkina day…

the whore of babylon incident….?

the very same….


…….waaay back before the Beggining, is that he, Yahweh, does something similar to himself and to Patriarchal Consciousness in the process. It also broke in three.

And regressed.

The first piece of Yahweh is symbolised by the apparently benevolent, wide-eyed Miller, but this weak father clearly has his own interests to the forefront, a handy foot in the door at the Castle where there is somehow already a tacit ‘understanding’ with the wicked king rooted in his underlying attitude that even loved Others are somehow still a means to an end.

The Miller hands his daughter over to the wicked king, the second fragment. He demands she spin the straw into gold on pain of death. The degree of depersonalisation is increased along with a corresponding loss of his own capacity for internal dialogue or reflection. She is now openly chattle and he is officially a tyrant. Consciousness is diminished. As soon as she ceases to be a ‘thou’ he cannot say ‘I’. He goes for bling over relatedness.

But the third aspect, Rumplestiltskin, is a whole new level of nightmare. He agrees to spin the straw into gold first for jewels but ultimately wants her un-born child….

Rumplestilskin has gone over to the dark side. He’s a creature possessed. The power of life and death over the Queen are not enough. He wants to break her spirit too.

At first, the Queen agrees to Rumplestiltskin’s advances and is seduced by the promise of an easy life. Like the ancient story of Sophia unearthed at Nag hammadi, which tells the story of a Queen being victimised, made a slave/whore to men and how she redeemed herself…

…for this is what our brave queen does. She changes her mind and goads Rumplestiltskin’s pride, getting him to agree that if she can find out his name she keeps the baby.

Directly, she dispatches her Faithful Riders to every corner of the kingdom to find ol’ Rumple’s name.

As my boy would say, ‘she becomes good’.

The birth of the child has awoken a new value in the queen. The child is the new value. It also represents “a more complete picture of the Self” CG Jung and a vision of the “whole person in their pure individuality” ibid – unfractured, unscattered, unbroken.

Wherever you find love there will be cavalry, warriors that still work for the Missus. The Queen’s Faithful Riders are aspects of the Self still connected to the Principle of Relatedness. They go out to the four farthest wild and tangly corners of the kingdom in the service of the Child. And even though they are in despair they go out, like Grail  Knights, in search of the malady in the land.

”Our excessive civilisation is the neurosis of our time,” C G Jung

The queen realises that she will do anything in order to protect the new life of her child. She redeems her situation by entering willingly into her own suffering on the understanding that the suffering is the new love that she feels.

”My arguement with psychoanalysis is the pre-conception that suffering is a mistake, or a sign of weakness, or a sign of illness, when in fact, possibly the greatest truths we know have come out of people’s suffering. Arthur Miller.

So despite her slim chances and it being the end of all she knows, she says,

‘I will do it anyway.’

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Rumi

And actually its her awakened love for the child and faith that there is some ground of Being, not to be discovered as such but remembered, something long forgotten, something mysterious that the Faithful Riders give their all to find.

Its this discovery of doing what she must do gladly that redeems suffering and brings about the synchronistic event that saves the day. When she gets in line with her purpose, the Universe gets behind her.

”The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no-one could have dreamt would come their way.” Goethe.

She is saved because she makes peace with her suffering, not for the promise of some gain but because she is impelled by love.

And not because anyone taught her that.

But because it rose up unbidden in her own soul.

It seems like a fool’s errand but there’s a certain magic incured in life when self preservation ceases to be your priority and in the last moment, the secret is discovered by the strangest co-incidence.

Rumplestiltskin is found by one of the riders dancing about his fire singing his name out loud! ”, “tonight tonight, my plans I make, tomorrow tomorrow, the baby I take. The queen will never win the game, for Rumpelstiltskin is my name’…

Naming something means an end to being unconsciously identified with the other. So then it has no power over you. It’s like saying the Emperor is naked.

And so the queen manages to guess correctly. Rumplestiltskin stamps through the floor in fury and is never seen again.

“Names have a sort of influence, words are apotropaic. When you can name a thing the patient is half liberated. Hence we have the healthy effect of name-giving to help abolish a thing” CG Jung

We might ask along with Shakespeare’s Juliet…

”What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet..”

but that would be to forget the meaning of Romeo’s name and the significance it then places upon their tryst.

Something common to the Miller, the King and Rumplestiltskin is their sense of entitlement. A title is a special kind of name, or one that enobles a name out of  allthe mire and constraint that suck others down into the mud, especially useful when there is very little life between serfs and barons.

In such a world, names become synonymous with qualities, with archetypal associations to honour and virtue, all of which then excuses you from abiding by the actual law so long as it is in the Name-of-Something.

Names are symbols. They mean more than they denote. A contemporary example is the emphasis Mr Trump made on things having his name on them and that this in itself guarenteed their success and intrinsic value.

So roses by another name really do smell different and what you call things is incredibly important. They can shape the quality of your life.

In a nearby village there is a shop keeper who spends most of his time on the pavement outside his establishment defying the elements in t-shirt, bermuda cutoffs and tennis sneakers. Through wintry gales and horizontal sleet he endures. Nothing can tempt him from his summer holiday. The harder it rains the more fierce becomes his heav’n-cast looks of defiance.

I understood it all when I overheard him refer to where we live as, ‘the arse end of nowhere’. The beautiful and remote coast of North Devon, a place that many would give their right arm to call home, is suddenly shmeered in colonic bile  rooted in confrontational entitlement which meant not only that he could not enjoy our rural idyll appropriately dressed, but that he had to have his knee caps chafed raw every winter to air the feeling that life should be different.

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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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