Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies about fairytales is that we were never taught how to understand them properly.
Mythologically. And, psychologically.
This lack of proper story training makes it rather more difficult to understand the stories constantly playing out around us... and inside of us.
Do you know an archetype when you see it... or feel it?
Snow White's story is a complex one, and experts, which I am not, might say it's missing many pieces. Especially in the context of the "cleaned" versions in circulation today.
Is Snow White simply the innocent, ahem... "victim", who eventually survives the atrocities attempted by the "evil" stepmother, with the dwarves serving as her helpers and guides along the way? And of course, the prince her ultimate saviour?
Or is this story much, much deeper, explaining the different parts of our psyche and how they must be integrated in order for us to find a sense of wholeness and maturity?
Or even, fortification.
If you've been around here reading my mythological reflections for a while, you ought to know that I'm going to embrace the latter!
What if the wicked woman represented a dark, sometimes devouring force that we all have inside of us:
It doesn't necessarily want us dead, but it can't have us thriving, because that would make it irrelevant.
The mirror... you might think of as conscious awareness. Gathering reflections from the world around us; sometimes showing up as optical illusions, and sometimes painful realities.
Snow White herself is a naive young woman, who is immature and does not yet understand the real dangers of being in the world.
Not yet whole; undeveloped.
As she was thrust into the uncertain world, the ego thought it had gained immortality by consuming her heart-perhaps her true self.
But it was fooled.
By who? I invite you to ponder what this Huntsman might represent...
And then she meets 7 helpers. Not by accident, with this number often connected to wholeness.
7 days of the week...
7 colours of the rainbow...
Once those 7 aspects have been integrated into her psyche, she becomes a mature woman.
She becomes "awakened" to the realities of life with all its complexities.
Somehow that battle with the ego served to catalyse her self-actualisation.
And what about this prince who saves the day you ask?
I'd caution taking this as evidence of patriarchy embedded in our fairy stories.
What else could it mean?
We don't really know whether it was true love's first kiss that awakened Snow White. It could have been the result of one of the dwarves almost dropping the coffin on the way to the burial site the prince had prepared, with the jolt dislodging the chunk of poison apple and waking the woman from her sleep.
Depends which version you read. Whatever version you pick up, I invite you to ponder this:
What emerges for you when you realise that all these archetypal parts fit together inside of one common character - you?
You are the innocence.
You are the ego.
You are the saviour.
You are the wisdom, the playfulness, the joy, the non-doing, the discernment, conscience, the potentiality.
You are the awareness.
Are you, like me, still going through seasons of contending with that relentless wicked (wo)man inside of your head as you integrate the necessary parts for the next stage of your life?
Are you presently awakening to the next iteration of you? Whatever you do, please don't wait for that prince(ss)! That's a sure sign you're missing the point.
And remember, these stories generally tell themselves multiples times in one lifetime, not just once.
It's just if we told them that way, it would become too complicated.
It's already hard enough.
That's why we must go one page at a time.