This is part of my folklore + myth series “The Story Threads” where we look at various tales, lore and myth, remembering the wisdoms they hold, and how they can whisper us into more love, more light, more insight in our every day lives. Previously, we’ve discussed The Snow Queen, Sedna, Cinderella, Snow White, Skeleton Woman, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Gift of the Magi, and Wild Marriage.
Last time in my article on Eros and Psyche I wrote about the importance of trusting the sacredness in the unfolding of the unknown and breathing life into our soul’s desire. In a way, this is the path of love and what better representation of that than through one of my most favourite tales of all time, The Sleeping Beauty.
Hans Christian Andersen famously said, “Life is the most wonderful fairy tale of all,” and that’s absolutely true! This is what fairy tales actually do – they take life itself and shape ancient wisdom into words and symbolism that guide us to reach parts of our psyche that our soul recognizes and awakens. And there is much to learn if we have the eyes to see beyond the veils.
The Sleeping Beauty has enchanted the hearts of many of us, children and adults, for generations. There is a reason why it has withstood hundreds of years, and that reason lies in its spiritual intent. Beyond the themes of patience, integrity, true love and kindness of heart, there is an underlying thread of the soul’s path towards self-realization and sacred union, including the concepts of soul’s destiny, reincarnation, esoteric symbolism and secrets from the feminine mysteries.
Fate and The Spinning Wheel
Sleeping Beauty personifies the human soul. The ancients associated spinning of the wheel with the spinning of destiny. How much of our life is destined versus co-created/free will? She was destined to fall asleep – and yes, some things in our lives are beyond our control. But the question is – how do we create the best of what we can which is in our control? As she was growing up, she chose each day the kind of woman she wanted to be – carrying the spirit of generosity, kindness and purity of heart beyond the wishes of the fairies. Every day we make a choice on the kind of person we want to be – through our actions and words. Too often we might focus on what’s written in stone – and yet we should instead focus on how we make the most of what we already have control over – which is only ourselves.
We are weavers and spinners each day – weaving and spinning threads into meaning and pattern – pulling silkworms from our hearts and wombs as women – and shaping it into being through our lips, hands and feet.
No matter how hard the King tried to prevent the curse of his daughter going into the forbidden room – she still went in. Now, from a psychological perspective we can say that the fobidden room was the unconscious/shadow part of Sleeping Beauty. Based on Jungian Psychology, we all have shadow sides and it poses a threat to our “reality” as we uncover our shadows and may be really hurtful to our ego as we face our suppressed truths, for example. Yet the more we shed light on our shadows, the more aware and conscious we are – thereby living more fulfilled and truthful lives.
“When will my daughter waken?”
“I don’t know,” the fairy admitted sadly.
“In a year’s time, ten years or twenty?” the Queen went on.
”Maybe in a hundred years’ time. Who knows?” said the fairy.
“Love,” replied the fairy. “If a man of pure heart was to fall in love with her that would bring her back to life!”
“How can a man fall in love with a sleeping girl?”
Yeah. Exactly. How can a man ever fall in love with a sleeping girl? But this is referring to the states of consciousness. He is awake symbolizing his integration to his divine masculine energy. He knows who he is; he stays true to who he is. The inner desire within his psyche calls him forward to find her; to integrate the anima with the animus. He is no longer satisfied with the material world around him and goes on a quest for deep spiritual fulfillment. When he is awake – he will recognize the awake elsewhere.
When both of them start vibrating on the same consciousness level – is when they can unite. They are already together and one with each other – they just need to both realize it and awake to it in their own time. When the divine masculine and the divine feminine merge – is the sacred union. This is our universe.
“I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” ~ Song of Songs 6:3
She is Him. He is Her. They are already one in spirit, and the physical is only a matter of time. The divine feminine conceives in darkness, in passivity – where as the divine masculine penetrates through life with the clarity of his sword of integrity. As positive (masculine) flows towards negative (feminine), the masculine gives and provides while the feminine receives and conceives through the womb.
The sleeping beauty is our true Self before it is re-awakening.
The story has a connection to resurrection and reincarnation. Her sleep symbolizes her maturing into the next phase of her life/consciousness; the maturing from adolescence into adulthood; the awakening from innocent girl to sexual woman. Psychologically, her long sleep portrays her “going within” to explore and reconnect to her Self again – as she has just experienced some kind of ego death faced with the evils of the world trying to harm her.
Sleeping Beauty is not a passive character – she is actually going through her own transformation, which as many of us know, happens on a deep hidden level within ourselves.
She is, in truth, continuing to draw people to her even in her sleep – as the beautiful spirit of hers, of love, kindness and purity, is stronger than “death”. Her spirit continues to live and ultimately bethrowns any curses – because she is of pure love and true beauty.
The fate of Sleeping Beauty goes beyond the prediction of her sleep; it lies in the cycles of life as we progress through its consciousness levels; it reminds us that life continues and goes beyond curses, fairies and spindles.
Now when we talk about reincarnation, we also need to remember that there are far more spirits around than those who are given the opportunity to be born. It takes a long time to be born – you’ve prayed for this for a long time even if it doesn’t feel that way – and it’s an honour – because only through this human body can we actually experience ourselves through the physical senses – and only through this realm can we grow our spiritual understanding (because we have a mind) thereby raise our vibration, so that we then move back into a better state of consciousness on the other side. In fact, we are born into the exact bodies we need to experience whatever it is we wanted to experience in life. There is a reason and purpose for each little part of you – whether we realize it or no. The humility in this deserves to be treasured.
When we refer to reincarnation – it is usually believed that we are all born in the same soul groups of family together to work through our karma. There is no mistake you are born into the exact family and location. Ancestral karma is very complex – but suffice it to say, we all carry the karma and unresolved issues of parents, grandparents, great grandparents etcetera. It is up to us to break those patterns and heal ourselves and our families.
Through reincarnation – we are being given the opportunity for our souls to continue and improve our relationships towards inner peace and deeper connection. This karmic arrangement is shown through the whole castle being put to sleep under the spell as well – so that they continue together afterwards.
The fairies divinely orchestrate life through the prince, servants and animals placing many seemingly small coincidences and signs along the way – for the Prince to find his way to her.
The Feminine Mysteries
When we think of love, there are two aspects of it: the masculine and the feminine. The masculine aspect of love is the word, the initiation, the penetration, the seed – it is a man saying “I love you.” The feminine impulse is the longing, the yearning, the calling in towards herself the man of her heart, the pulling in the tides, the filling of her cup, of her womb – it is the “I am waiting for you.”
And then, there is the symbolism of the sleep, which actually holds within itself one of the great secrets of the feminine mysteries and the ancient priestess mystery schools. In fact, we see the beautiful pattern of sleep in many myths and tales – Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Alice in her garden. We also have the Goddess of love herself Venus falling asleep in her lush garden of eternal spring, also known as the Sleeping Venus, where she sleeps and dreams of love, symbolizing her power not as the act of love but as the recollection of it.
In all these myths and tales, a time comes when the heroine falls asleep. This symbolized that there will always come a time in humanity when the feminine mysteries and the divine feminine will come to a temporary close, a resting phase, a quietness, a sleeping – where humanity will have to live from what was already established from her divine love.
And then, she awakens. By a kiss. By a true love’s kiss. This kiss is the breath of life, the union – it is the divine masculine force activating her, so that her love is carried forward again, into a new state of evolution.
A lot of female initiates and priestesses throughout history, and still today, are guided by their higher masculine influences – while the males are closely guided by their higher female aspects of themselves. There is always a pull towards union. In practical terms, women are guided to reconcile with their fathers or father figures, while men – with their mothers or mother figures; this is what creates inner balance, harmony and speeds up the individual’s spiritual growth. And in mysticism, you will see female initiates devoting towards a male deity or God – and for all women actually, it is always best to choose to marry a man who they respect, trust with their life, and can look up to for guidance. This is why in astrology, Jupiter is the man you should marry. As for men, think of history and the sacred mystical texts: Templars and the knights of high honour always worshipped a Goddess such as Venus or Aphrodite – they devoted their life at her feet.
In other words – they both activate one another. This is the beautiful eternal dance of the lovers, the yin and yang, the seed and the womb, the surrender and repulsion, the marriage made in the heavens long before the human word.
So when the feminine falls asleep – it is not inaction, it is not passivity – it is a needed phase of reintegration, of resting, of relaxing, before the next initiation takes place towards a higher soul evolution, on both the individual and collection level.
It is also a remembering.
A major part of the feminine mysteries is remembering. It is a quietness, a listening to the voice from a time before time beyond time. It is a reconnection. Remembering love, heart and higher wisdom.
Family and Support
The story is also about support and family. Sleeping Beauty was able to be who she was because of the support of her family and loved ones. In fact, each character in the tale has someone they can rely on. We can talk all about independence in our modern world – but the reality is we all need support – we all need someone – and this is a most natural thing – to feel a sense of support and belonging.
It is, in fact, that healthy dependence creates true independence.
The story reminds us of the importance of family and the strong foundations we need; of love and kindness that are the true beauty in life. It reminds us that in times of distress and hardship, we need true love to surround us and people we can depend on. The King and Queen have each other and their daughter – they share a longing and love for her. The fairies also have each other. The only one who doesn’t have a companion is the bad witch – and her inability to love and be loved is what externalizes this lack as evilness to harm others and rob them of love as well. At the core of her, all she wants is that sense of belonging – and the only way for her to feel a connection to “others” is if she makes them feel as she feels – empty and sad. In this perverted manner – she will feel like she is not alone because she’ll subconsciously share this with others.
It is in fact she that hasn’t come to terms with her oppositing sides within her – she hasn’t forgiven and accepted herself – and instead uses this to harm others. She feeds her bad side and light hurts her eyes; kindness and love hurt her because she doesn’t feel kindness and love for herself. She hasn’t reconciled her sense of abandonment, unlovability and powerlessness – and so she uses evil curses to feel more powerful and feared which she associates with “loved” – as only then she gets attention from others.
From a psychological perspective, she hates herself and rejects herself – portrayed by her rejecting others and hating others, perpetuating her belief of abandonment and self-imposed prison. When she harms them – they “hate” her which makes her feel more seen, less alone. She replays her old wounds through harming others and seeing them suffer – to face her own projected pain; to face her own weakness and powerlessness reflected through them. Unfortunately, it is only her hating herself which is the biggest tragedy of the story.
Our ancestors have said this for a long long time: family is not just something meaningful – family is everything. And I do believe that in our modern world today, this is of great significance – because we need to build strong foundations in our family unit that would provide the support and protection for our wellbeing. This is where true prosperity and true love lies; these are the foundations that real kingdoms are built upon.
The love union between the Sleeping Beauty and her prince at the end is the reason why the entire kingdom awakens. This reminds of yet another truth that our ancestors knew of: The true love of two people isn’t only for their benefit – it helps and inspires the entire community. Love and healthy relationships build the foundations of values and support upon which we can all thrive. Such love creates a foundation that is ultimately unshakeable no matter what else happens from the outside. When people are in loving relationships, nothing can destruct them – and it’s as if fear and doubt disappear as well. A true love union, inspires and lights up the worlds of everyone else in the community also. And an entire kingdom awakens of such love. Because love is the most powerful force of all.
True Love’s Kiss
It takes someone of such high consciousness himself to be able to follow the desire and call of his soul – to follow that instinct toward something he has no idea what it is; to fight dragons through enchated forests, to struggle with thorns and bushes – just because he is called to do that; to go into a castle for a leap of faith to kiss a girl without having any validation or reward – just because he feels it.
He did what he did because of his heart and integrity.
He was able to see beyond the veil and trust the sacredness of the unfolding unknown.
What will or will not happen is irrelevant. What the future holds or doesn’t hold, should not matter. The future is not ours to know and the sky doesn’t always give us her secrets. It is about walking the road. Knowing ourselves and what we believe in – is what shapes our destiny. What we do should be decided based on what we value and our intent – regardless of the outcome. Intend love. Intend harmony.
Wherever love beckons me to go – I will go; I will follow it. Because love is worthy. It is not there to please me or make me happy always – it is there to grow me, expand me and transform me. Wherever love destines me to go – I will go; I will follow it. Because love means everything. Because love is everything.
It takes a real prince to go after his true soul’s desire regardless of what will happen. He symbolizes the archetypal masculine energy that is in complete balance to its counterpart divine feminine. And he kisses her. And she awakes because she recognizes the true love kiss; because only the courage and purity of true love can wake us up from the harm someone has caused us.
“Oh, you have come at last! I was waiting for you in my dream. I’ve waited so long!”
The story resolves, the curse is broken – when the Sacred Marriage is complete, when the male and female in their divine beauty and completeness have joined back together in their cosmic union; one that was both predestined and chosen by Self.
Love is transcendent. It goes beyond the physical; it goes beyond death. Love reincarnates as love. And it all starts from within – as we ourselves marry our two opposing parts within us.
The Sacred Union is our prophecy of love in this life.
This is a story of love. This is a story about family and honouring those who support us in life.
This is a story of patience waiting for faith – through a prayer, blessing, whisper and sound. This is about the entire universe conspiring for our wellbeing and destined meetings, and yet it is us walking the way and making our own choices.
This is a story about checking into our heart and doing what is true for us, regardless of what others think; to stay true to our values and breathe life into the desires of our human soul.
There is beauty in waiting for your heart’s desires. There is a beauty in knowing the cycles of our land, and the cycles of our life; to trust the unfolding of our life; to trust the sacredness in the unfolding of the unknown.
Sleeping Beauty knows true love, true soul union – and she waits for someone worthy of her love.
Sleeping Beauty knows that the most beautiful of all is our true Self – beyond the gifts, beyond the external beauty – is the awakening of our true Self and following the kindness and purity in our heart.
Sleeping Beauty knows that even when we wake up from our transformation; from the pain and harm someone has caused us – we can still keep our innocence and tenderness, and continue life with love.
Sleeping Beauty knows that true love is the most powerful force of all. Because it is.
And as Charles Perrault wrote at the end of The Sleeping Beauty:
Many a girl has waited long
For a husband brave or strong;
But I’m sure I never met
Any sort of woman yet
Who could wait a hundred years,
Free from fretting, free from fears.
Now, our story seems to show
That a century or so,
Late or early, matters not;
True love comes by fairy-lot.
Some old folk will even say
It grows better by delay.
Yet this good advice, I fear,
Helps us neither there nor here.
Though philosophers may prate
How much wiser ’tis to wait,
Maids will be a-sighing still —
Young blood must when young blood will!
Much Love & Peace,
Cover Art by Maxime Simoncelli.
In-Text Art of the Sleeping Beauty from my book by illustrator Christian Birmingham.
All rights reserved by the artists.
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