Returning home after a day out attending a wonderful and creative presentation by film maker and Jungian analyst Sarah Gibson (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/re-enchantment/), on the impact of fairy tales on our psyche and their hidden meanings, I wondered how the story of Hansel and Gretel has played out in my own life.
When I think of my childhood and how I used to hear my parents arguing behind the closed door of their bedroom, I can relate to the terror that Gretel felt as she lay in her bed. Unlike Gretel, I had no brother to reassure me that God was taking care of us and that we would be alright, and I would sometimes lie awake for hours wondering what I could do to make things right, and would pray for the pain and fear to go away.
Like Hansel and Gretel, I found myself feeling abandoned in a forest of emotions, lost and hungry for reassurance from my father and affection from my mother. When I felt alone with my imagination I would turn to the animals and they would guide me. Like Hansel and Gretel, have been seduced by the longing for sweetness in my life, and paid the price when I have given into the darkness, the Dark Mother, within me. As a woman growing older each day, there have been days when I have longed to be young again, to devour the child within and purify myself with childhood innocence, stolen from me so long ago.
Like Gretel, for a long time I felt powerless as a female, and looked up to the males around me as being superior and relied on them for leadership. And like Gretel, there came a stage when I had to step up and take command, and find a way to overtake and transform the darkness within me into light, resilience, and self-empowerment. And, again like Gretel, I had never, until recently, felt like I had been nurtured by my mother, nor did she hold space for me to birth the Sacred Feminine Within me, for she was facing her own demons.
The next day:
I awoke this morning, the day after the workshop, and it seemed so clear to me – as I revisited the story of Hansel and Gretel – this time rising higher, with the view of the eagle, and looking down on it as an overall story of my healing and rebirthing of the Sacred Feminine Within, and deeper commitment to the path of the Sacred Way. This is what I discovered:
For Me: (The Step)Mother and Father represent the Adult/Parent in me – a somewhat ‘unconscious’, unenlightened being with the logical, compliant, masculine, provider part of me seemingly in union with, but at the same time conflict with, the fearful, self-centered, feminine part of me, concerned with survival and determination to get ahead. I recognize these parts of me where I am right now, and in the past when in my marriage. The two parts that argue with each other whether or not to abandon my spiritual path (represented by the journey of the children – Hansel and Gretel) as it simply does not ‘provide’ what I need to physical survive at times. Based often times solely on faith and hope, and listening to inner guidance, my dedication to a path of service has not always been financially beneficial and has been filled with challenges. Certainly there have been many times when I have felt abandoned, and even forsaken, by The Divine.
The children, representing the innocence of the divine sacred masculine and feminine energies within me, are always listening to me – and when I have been in the Unconscious Father and Mother who choose to abandon the spiritual path in order to survive in the physical, practical world, no doubt they have been fearful that I will abandon them too, and there are no doubt times when I have.
There have been times when I have taken the innocent me into the forest and left her there in the darkness, believing that if I only put my past childhood wounding behind me and get rid of my child-like fear and get on with my adult life – all will be ok, I will survive. However, my conscious journey has shown me that it is not possible to abandon the Inner Child and get away with it – for the Inner child carries both the fear and the faith that will assist me to not only survive, but also to thrive.
AND so –the innocent Hansel and Gretel set off into the dark night, guided home by the pebbles in the moonlight, only to discover that they were to be abandoned once more by the Mother and Father – and this time, without any pebbles to help them find their way home. Setting out into another dark night, still with the light of the moon, whom I like to see as the Ancestral Grandmother - Inner Wise One, to guide them, they continue to have faith that God will take care of them.
There have been many times, when I have been lost in the darkness that have I heard my Inner Child remind me that God loves me, and it is this unwavering faith that has not only led me back to the light, but has taken me there through even greater darkness that has been disguised by apparent wealth and abundance. At first, on encountering the witch’s delicious ginger bread house, the children are insatiable in their hunger and cannot get enough of the sweetness of life. The adult part of me feels the child’s delight and emerges from the house as the Dark Mother – Witch, wanting to take the innocence of the child’s connection with bounty and harvest, and to devour the sweetness of their innocence and trust for herself. Again, driven by the need to survive, the children cunningly find a way to deal with the darkness that continues its threat to overtake them, this time succeeding in destroying The Dark Mother-Witch. In doing this, may we ask “are they no longer innocent; have they have somehow succumbed to the darkness – fighting back and overtaking it, to find themselves now in possession of the Witch’s stash of jewels and gems?”
This time, however, the children are more connected with nature, and they have learned how to ask for help from nature. The dark journey has shown them how to use their instincts, and their intuition, and they find their way home, still with complete innocence and trust that their father will take them back and love them. When they return home, there is no mother to greet or betray them. Somehow, “Woman” has completely disappeared – the burning of the Dark Mother – complete.
One may ask – What of the Divine Feminine? What of the Great Mother? Where is she in the story? Has Gretel transcended somehow through her rejection of the Great Mother? Is she ready to take on the adult-mother role most likely expected of her in a household of those times? These questions continue to fill my mind. Perhaps another night’s sleep will reveal the answers (LOL).
In my own journey, when I have abandoned my Inner Child to the darkness, and then reconnected with my faith in God through her persistence to fine a way to the light, there have been times when I have used my enlightened state to turn back once more to the material world, searching for the treasures it offers, knowing I can have the best of both worlds. And when I have not kept the balance, one way or the other, the journey into the dark has begun once more. For me – burning the Dark Mother – Witch has not worked – it has postponed the inevitable.
Instead of burning the Dark Mother – Witch, I have found a deep connection with her and with my Whole Self through my willingness to embrace her and validate her pain, her journey of fear and darkness; for was she not once an innocent child herself overwhelmed by life’s challenges? When I discovered that my deepest wounding around my heart came from my incapacity to love myself because I never truly felt loved by my birth mother, I set out on a journey to heal my child’s heart, and the gift that came was being able, for the first time, to be know that I truly loved my birth mother unconditionally. This transformation of love energy came about by surrendering into the womb of our eternal Mother Earth - Gaia. Setting out to complete 100 visual mandalas to assist this process, at the 56th mandala my re-birthing of the Sacred Feminine came about, and I felt a profound shift in my energy field. In the mandala, as my Sacred Feminine broke through, whole and complete, she was assisted into the light by the ancestral Grandmothers and Grandfathers, represented in the drawing as great trees, and the light was the light of the Divine Father – Father Sun.
I say – re-birthing – for it is clear now that I have always had the Sacred Feminine within me, as I have always had my Childhood Innocence. However, I have at some level chosen to go through the labor of life to re-discover these sacred parts of myself, and the journey and discovery continues.
During my struggle, like Hansel and Gretel, I felt abandoned by the masculine, by my father, however it was more than that. At times I felt forsaken, abandoned by the Heavenly Father, as one struggle after another presented itself to me. And yet like Hansel and Gretel, I never gave up my faith in my father, or the Heavenly Father, and eventually it was my discovery of the healing power of Father Sun, as a divine representative of strength, guidance, and light, that I was able to heal and grow and expand.
It is the energy of Father Sun that connected me with the power of acceptance and unconditional love, and the capacity to validate myself and the affect the many traumatic experiences I had as a child had on the healthy growth of my ego. Through this validation, I was able to find my way home to the arms of my own father, a few years before he died. In those precious years, I was able to return my father’s unconditional love, to accept and validate him for who he was, and to finally stop condemning him for his weaknesses and the abandonment by him I felt as a child.
A wise old man once taught me that we have a choice to carry the burden of resentment and blame. He told me that peace of mind was our choice, and that there is no need for forgiveness if we learn not to condemn in the first place. When he told me this, I felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders as I finally let go of a lifetime of pain and heaviness in my heart space.
Like Hansel and Gretel, once I found a way to transform the darkness, I was richly rewarded with treasures that cannot be bought. Where the children used the oven to burn the witch, I offered the darkness to the womb of the earth, and the fire in her belly, and asked for all darkness to be transformed to light. I eventually learned how to do that for myself as I chose to see everything around me through a different lens, reframing my experiences. The witch’s companions no longer scared or threatened me. The spider was no longer venomous, instead it was a symbol of creation, and its web reminded me that I have an important part to play in the weaving of creation. The raven, while still a symbol of magic, also heralded nature’s law, and a determination to bring balance and strength into my life. The bat no longer represented death and a quest for revenge, instead it heralded the possibility of rebirth and the capacity to find my way without having to visually see where I was going.
The insights I have gained from the challenges of my life cannot be bought or sold. They are priceless and while my journey ahead is unknown, it is a whole lot lighter since I have found union within myself. Now, when faced with a challenge, I ask myself, “will my choice lead me towards union, or will it cause separation?”, and then I know which direction to take.
For me, my deep connection with Mother Earth and Father Sun has allowed me to fully birth my Sacred Feminine from within. The full retrieval of my innocence is still in process, however every day I grow closer to accepting and loving myself unconditionally. When I look in the mirror I cannot help but smile, and more often than not I see an innocent child’s reflection for a split second, as she smiles lovingly back at me.
In conclusion, there is nothing lost that cannot be found within, and when we finally get that, the rewards are immeasurable. Like Hansel and Gretel, my innocent, unwavering trust that all is perfect and divine, and that I am ok, has sustained me through the most difficult times in my life. I will never abandon my Inner Child again, for she has never abandoned me, and is finally feeling what it is like to be in union with the whole of Self, transformed through self-love. Nor will I abandon the Great Mother, nor the part of her in me that is the Dark Mother who is lost and in fear of survival.
Looking again now at my mandala, I can see a breast emerging from the earth – Mother’s earth’s breast that continues to feed us all. We are her children – and we cannot abandon her in these dark times when she screams in pain from all the dark and desperate energy we have spilled over her, and all the energy and life we have taken from her.
I urge each and every one of you not to abandon the Great Mother right now as she reaches out to her children. There is no doubt that she will survive, unlike the mother figures in the story of Hansel and Gretel. There is no space now for separation – we have come too far on the journey. There can only be union and communion, if we are to find our way out of the dark woods into the light, and finally find our way home. At the same time, there is a knowing inside of me that it does not matter what we do – the door to ‘Home’ will always be open, for the love of The Divine in unconditional. At the same time, I also have a knowing the way we choose on the path home is important to our next step in the journey – the journey of the Great Mystery.
This knowing urges me every day to step up and out to be the best person I can be, to live consciously and respectfully, with resilience and trust, in gratitude, love and joy always.
Blessings to all of you, and may you walk ‘awake’, in beauty, trust, and love always, and in all ways.