Magic only comes from within.
In poetic style similar to ancient mysticism, fairy tales are just symbolic allegories built on the theme of the soul’s path towards self-discovery and unity. The well known tales of The Sleeping Beauty (which I discussed in my previous post), Snow White and Cinderella, are based on folklore and we’ll find many versions of them throughout the world, throughout many cultures. Such tales carry the same symbolism – and are based on ancient wisdom and esoteric knowledge. Before there was time and language – there were symbols – and this is how our ancestors, including philosophers and alchemists, shared knowledge.
Like the web of wyrd – everything in our world is connected but translated into its own language resonant of the land and people. In fact, if we dig in deeper – we’ll find that all mysticism, religion, philosophy and science is connected; we’ll find that no matter what field of belief you follow, we’ll be led to the same understanding. It’s incredible how everything lines up perfectly – whether through numerology, palmistry, astrology, tarot, shamanism or even psychology.
Fairy tales carry this deep symbolic language – one of the drumming of the human heart and imaginative theatre of the mind – as they reach the inside corners of our psyche (if we allow them) to make sense of what was maybe unknown and unseen, as we recognize parts of us outside of us.
Fairy tales remind us of the important primordial widoms of life passed down to us from our ancestors – if only we have the eyes to see.
What are some common esoteric symbols? In Cinderella for example, the tree symbolizes The Tree of Life, the glass slipper is the purified ego and the fireplace is the Kundalini energy.
The slaying of dragons (or anything else for that matter) is the metaphorical overcoming of our lower selves such as hatred and anger – a sacrificial death in a way, to finally integrate the Self. The saving of the virgin maiden – is the poetic sublimation of our sexual energy. And I am sure we all know what the sacred marriage symbolizes at the end.
Aside from all the symbology however, Cinderella is a take that holds much importance particularly for our modern world – and this is what I want to delve in deeper today.
Rags to riches? Marry a prince? No. This is not what this story is about.
Cinderella is a story about the importance of staying true to ourselves despite our circumstances.
No matter what happened to her and how she was treated, she remained true to herself and her heart – she never lost herself amidst the circumstances surrounding her; she was still herself in the ashes as she was in the expensive clothes; her kind hearted self treating all and everyone with grace, elegance and forgiveness. Her stepmother and stepsisters tried to be something else – fitting clothes and shoes which never fit them, talking and acting in some fake manner and adorning themselves with anything possible yet not even knowing what they truly liked or wanted.
Cinderella reminds us that we can have the life that we wanted as long as we don’t betray our deepest true heart’s wishes.
But here is where things get tricky. Sure, we can be ourselves and stay in our truths all we want – but the reality is that if we are not given the opportunity and safe environment to reveal our true self – it’d just stay hidden in the ashes.
Poverty, aloneness or some prince were never Cinderella’s problem – in fact, these were the least of her “worries”. It was the envious environment with the women in the story that caused her to retreat in ashes each night. And this in many ways reflects what society has become – there is so much shaming going on in our modern world. Calling a woman anorexic just because she is thin is just as mean (and incredibly hurtful) as calling an overweight woman fat cow. Calling a woman dumb blond is judgmental and hurtful (and shallow-minded). Saying you are all mighty spiritual (and talking about oneness) while talking crap about other’s beliefs and disrespecting others – is not so spiritual and open-minded after all, is it? The point is – judging others based on looks, race, beliefs or popularity is still judgment. Not need to be mean to each other – when we don’t like someone, just move away.
Women empowerment is about us as women supporting each other instead of shaming each other. I’ve never seen so many women shaming other women. It horrifies me that women shame stay-at-home moms and call them lazy or unambitious – what kind of a world is this? It is the same idea with racism – racisim is prejudice against a race – it is not race specific. There is so much bias, ignorance and hypocrisy going on.
Why are people who know all too well how it feels to be bullied, bully others? When would we start looking at ourselves? How much wisdom do we miss out on, when we only listen to the minor gods with popularity status? What about the wisdoms that those in the ashes can gift us – does wisdom equal followers on social media? Does quality equal followers? One day my book was number 1 on The Best Seller’s List – and then it was in the hundreds’ rank – it’s the same book. How we “value” others is just a reflection on how we value ourselves – and what is of value to us (money, status, kindness etcetera).
If we truly cared about women empowerment – then we shouldn’t be hateful towards others. I’ve seen some of the most hateful comments come from women who define themselves as feminists. That’s fucked up.
In the story, the bad stepmother can only resonate with what she has inside of her – so she was incapable with ever resonating with Cinderella’s kind heart.
We can’t make someone see love if they have no love inside of them.
But no matter our circumstances in the past and in childhood – it is only our decision what kind of people we choose to be each day. We’ve all had shit happen – but that’s no excuse to mistreat other people. When we cause someone harm and pain – that’s our responsibility and there is no excuse – and we are just as bad as those who hurt us too.
Cinderella is a story about how we deal with everyone and everything when it frustrates us, limits us and even harms us. In times fo conflict, bullying and betrayal – is when we find out who we truly are and our actions then define us. It’s always easier to be hurtful and do as has been do to us as well.
The Supportive Environment and Unhiding Our Beauty.
The Godmother doesn’t make Cinderella anything other than what she already is. The clothes she gives her neither conceal not disguise her – they just show her as she really is.
Many of us women hide our beauty because we live in an envious world. We suppress our desires and creative expression because we’ve been suppressed for too long, because we’ve been ridiculed and criticised and probably never even learned our worth. Be more confident, be more expressive, have more self-respect – sure, but when we don’t grow up in such an environment we don’t learn that do we?
The Godmother shows her full unconditional support for Cinderella – in a kind of parenting style where she stands strong in who she is and supports the girl’s desires, pleasures and wishes. She gives her the opportunity to express herself safely. The Godmother doesn’t gift her anything new – she only sets the stage for the girl’s inner beauty to express itself to the outside world.
The Godmother sees Cinderella for who she truly is and accepts her for who she truly is. She doesn’t try to change her – she only helps her reveal herself in a safe supportive environment. She teaches her that she too has the right to see herself as a desirous and worthy to to get what she wants – and so Cinderella goes after her desires.
On the other hand, the stepmother doesn’t accept her daughters as they are. She keeps trying to change them, to mold them into something that would fit her own narrative and understanding. She keeps trying to make them into something else and basically perpetuates the idea that they are not worthy of what they want and that they are not enough as they are. She is constantly critical and wants everyone to fit into her own twisted idea of what’s good and beautiful.
In a way, we can even say that Cinderella’s biggest fear wasn’t the satisfaction of her own desires, but the envy from others if her desires were satisfied. And so, she just kept herself hidden in the ashes. Not because she didn’t know who she was – but because she was perfectly aware of her environment; because she feared the envy and harm that she constantly endured for just staying true to herself.
Cinderella never rejected who she was despite everything – but that was the only way she could preserve and protect the purity of her heart. It’s not that she didn’t try to express herself or reveal herself – but every time that she did, she was smashed and ridiculed and criticized. The fact that she still preserved her true self despite it all – is her immeasurable beauty. And yet when we are not given the support, we just can’t really shine can we – no matter how true to ourselves we remain.
Why are investigative journalists in jail – when the only thing they ever did was just show us the truth; albeit uncomfortable truth? Yes, I am talking about Julian Assange. Is that a warning to all of us to keep quiet – to only reveal as much as it fits someone’s narrative?
When someone’s truth collapses our own rigid versions of reality – do we have the ability to accept it and acknowledge it as their own without being triggered?
How many times do we reject someone’s true self when it doesn’t fit with our own narrative; with our own desires or projections of how they should be?
How capable are we to handle the actual true selves of others without wanting to change them? How capable are we to hold space for others when they don’t behave in the way we want them to? How capable are we to solve our relationships into inner peace; to just accept each other and support our individual creative expressions?
In a world of robots and herds – being real, being human is attractive.
The greatest secret of magic is this – magic only comes from within. We can never get something which is not within us already. What the Godmother gives Cinderella is something she already possesses inside of herself – she just reveals her beauty and purity of heart – which is more majestic than all the diamonds in the world. She marries the prince because only a true prince is worthy of her. No amount of changing who we are on the outside can ever attract (and more importantly, keep) true love if we don’t already have that true love, that inner beauty within us. No amount of plastic surgery and expensive adornments can mask the ugliness inside people.
The prince was not attracted to her clothes – but to her grace, kindness and gentleness. This is why he fell in love with her. And this is what made her the right one to become Queen.
This is common in all other tales as well. In Sleeping Beauty, Charles Perrault writes that the prince was charmed because of the manner in which Sleeping Beauty spoke to him; he fell in love with her because of the kindness with which she spoke to him.
Cinderella always treated everyone with kindness – her stepmother, stepsisters, the animals – big or small never mattered – she selflessly wanted to make others feel good about themselves and treated everyone with respect despite how they treated her. She even helped a lost scared mouse find some new clothes! She carried herself with grace. Grace is the rare quality that makes a Queen. Despite rags and ashes, despite being harmed and screamed at, she showed her true character in the way she reacted in these situations – which is when we ourselves see our own true characters and what we’re made of.
And it wasn’t that she didn’t stand up for herself – she did many times – but eventually she realized that not all battles have to be fought because there is no point; there wasn’t any reason for her to argue back to people who just wouldn’t understand as it wouldn’t change anything anyway. Sometimes in life we need to remember that strength comes from discerning what’s worth fighting for – and when. And despite it all – she never bowed down to her circumstances, rejecting her desires and wishes – she remained with faith, courage and she remained unmistakably herself.
In a way maybe she always understood the cycles of the land, and of life – that we would not be denied what we are meant to experience; that we would not be denied our wishes. Believe, believe.
Cinderella wants us to know to stay unmistakably true to ourselves and our heart; that we can preserve that beautiful spark inside of us despite our circumstances. But she reminds us of the importance of support; to surround ourselves only with those that truly allow us the space to reveal ourselves freely and safely; to dance freely and safely dusting off the old ashes because we all deserve and are worthy of having our needs and desires met. All of us. So dance reader, dance.
Much love & peace
Cover art by Maxime Simoncelli sylfvr.fr
In-text art features my fairy tales book illustrations by Benvenuti & Sulamith Wülfing