About Fairy Tales, Archetypes, Shoes, and Alternative Endings
As a Jungian analyst, I usually use a classic fairy tale as an archetypal story that maps to a personal story that is being played (and re-played) in a client’s life. As we know most of the problems that we face in our life have been already faced and resolved by others and are pretty much recorded within our collective unconscious. But the goal is to find a “right” archetypal story that matches our individual, personal myth.
So, we pre-determined that “Cinderella” was a favorite fairy tale of a woman that I have been consulting. After a few sessions, we were able to see the repeating patterns in her life. But that’s not what I’d like to share here.
After we told and re-told the story for many times and found some answers on how to resolve issues here and there, I felt that we’re coming to the final realization, so I asked my client: “Now, since you feel a strong objection to living this myth, would you like to retell the story in a different way, with an alternate outcome?” That question came as a surprise to my client as she wasn’t ready for it… yet. She asked me if I can help her with it. And I said that she has to come up with an alternative by herself. But as a reward, after I hear her new story, I would gladly share mine. So, later, after some contemplation and “aha” moments, my client came up with an alternative version of the “Cinderella” story. And we both liked it – very much! But she won’t let me off the hook that easily and asked my personal version of the story. So, here is my alternative version of Cinderella story that I retold to myself some years ago:
The story would be the same as a classic one until fairy Godmother asks Cinderella if she wants to go to the ball. In a classic story, Cinderella said: “Yes”. In my personal story, Cinderella said “No”:
“Would you like to go to the ball, my dear child” – asked fairy Godmother.
“O, dear Godmother” replied Cinderella “Thank you, for your kind offer! But, instead, if you agree, I would really love to go with you and learn everything that you can teach me and just like yourself, I too want to become knowledgeable, and wise, and own my life.”
Fairy Godmother couldn’t say “No” to a girl who insisted with so much effort. So, she agreed to take Cinderella as her apprentice and promised to teach her arts of magic, reveal secrets of nature, become independent… and such.
“Yes, my child!” said fairy Godmother excitedly “If you wish to go to my dwellings and learn the art, I’ll take you with me”
Then she waved her magic wand and suddenly in her hands appeared a beautiful pair of black high-heeled shoes, black dress, cape and a pointy hat.
She waved her wand again, and suddenly Cinderella started to spin around herself. A few seconds later, fairy Godmother looked at Cinderella and smiled: “I’m a sorceress, my dear child, and as an apprentice sorceress, you’ll need to be dressed in clothes that match your new status”
The new dress was made from lightest cashmere decorated with inserts of Venice black lace with sparkling gold beads and it fit Cinderella’s body perfectly. To her surprise, high heeled shoes had an excellent fit and they were so comfortable to walk. The cloak was made of the finest velour decorated with silver stars and crescent moons. Fairy Godmother also gave her a pair of beautiful black gloves decorated with ruby-colored embroidery. When Cinderella looked in the mirror, she didn’t recognize herself anymore. Instead of a poor cinder girl, who allowed everyone to order her and manipulate her, there stood a young woman, an enchantress – ready to become a powerful sorceress, just like her fairy Godmother – the One who completely owns her true power! And gold carriage took them both away! The End.
There are some symbols in the story, such as alchemical – ruby, gold, silver… there are also stars, the moon, and some others. But there is an emphasis on shoes, specifically high-heeled shoes. And here is why:
When I was 10 years old, I fell and injured my left leg. The injury was really bad and I was close to losing leg up to the knee. But thanks to the talented young doctor, my leg was saved. Although, no one could tell if nerves and vessels that were fixed by a doctor would function properly. I was facing hard and painful years of recovery. However, I was determined that I’m not only going to walk, I would walk straight without limping. And yes, nowadays I do walk straight without limping, and I always wear high-heels. And to the questions like “How can you walk on those heels every day?”. My answer is always: “Easy”.
To me personally, shoes with high heels represent the following: ability to walk straight, will-power (I had to do some painful exercises in order to “work-out” those muscles), determination, power of the mind over body… and most importantly that if I am able to walk straight on high-heels with such injury, then I can do ANYTHING.
So, that’s the alternative Cinderella story that I created.
Now, there would be questions such: “how about happily ever after” and the whole prince/princess thing. Well, in my personal story, my Cinderella wasn’t going to become a princess and marry a prince (who, BTW, according to classic fairy tale expressed narcissistic qualities). The goal of my Cinderella was an individuation process, deep connection with her inner divine power (fairy Godmother and willingness to live and learn from her). Once she owns her power, if she wishes so, she would meet someone as powerful and as strong as herself. But that’s another story…
Bottom line is, once we discover our archetypal story, we then can retell it in a different way thus creating an alternate outcome.
© Rita Digilova, 2015