Saturday, November 17, 2007

dragons as princesses

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

-Rainer Marie Rilke


I'm taking a wonderful workshop this fall that has to do with using fairy tales in psychotherapy and sandplay therapy. Yesterday we discussed the fairy tales we each selected at the beginning of the workshop - the one fairy tale that resonated with us at this point in our lives, or at any point.

My immediate thought was The Princess and the Pea. I discovered yesterday that my memory of the tale was very different than the actual tale. I had forgotten that the Prince was looking for a "real" princess, and that his mother, the Queen, had instituted the peas (not one, but three) beneath the stack of 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds as a test to find the true princess - the one sensitive enough to feel the peas.

I had forgotten that the real Princess shows up at the palace gate in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, and that she is put to bed on top of the stack of mattresses and peas. When she awakens black and blue she is announced to be a Real Princess and marries the Prince.

Part of my work at hand is to discover the meaning of this fairy tale to me personally. Why did I immediately think of it when asked about a fairy tale?

I'm looking at the characters in the tale as aspects of my self. The Prince is the masculine energy and the princess feminine. The Queen mother is a sort of taskmaster and manipulator who devises tests and determines results.

I'm still working on it. I suspect the key has to do with the quest for something Real and the extreme sensitivity - how to transform that into power without turning black and blue in the process. The marriage would be the union of masculine and feminine into wholeness.

What is YOUR favorite fairy tale? Or the one that comes to mind first when you read this?

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