The Fairytale

Though fairytales sometimes get a bad rap for being idealistic, they always include villains, blood, tricks, battles and poison, juxtaposed to qualities like love, wit, courage, perseverance and vision. “Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor,” says German Professor Jack Zipes, who studied fairytales.

The story of the cinder girl, or girl of the ashes, or Cinder-ella, for example, is estimated to have its origins in a Greek version told as early as 7BC. You’ll find a version of the story in many cultures. 

Ella’s story begins with a joyful life with her loving father. Her name is later sarcastically revised to cinder-ella when she is forced by her jealous stepmother, after her father passed away, to work and tend the fires for heat and cooking, the cinders of which dotted her hair, face and clothes.

Let’s lay this fairytale next to the way we create our lives from vision, intention, and a quantum perspective and see what the metaphors mean to you. In this story, there’s joy and stability, then there’s a crisis (father dies) leaving her with her stepmother and stepsisters. As her life begins to shift, she keeps dreaming and believing in its goodness. 

Then, things get worse. The crises deepens. This is often the way we wake up to something greater in our lives. A crisis small or large happens. A loss. Or we lose our passion to set us in a new direction. 

Despite the difficult days of life with bitter, hateful step mommy and stepsisters, the cinder girl is still running off the joy and love of her father as well as her natural childhood wonder. That is, until she is denied the possibility of attending the Prince’s ball (a greater reality). 

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” 
~G.K. Chesterton

Until this moment, she hasn’t realized how much of her humanity has slowly been syphoned away. But when her stepsisters rip apart the dress, once her mother’s that she has adorned for the ball, while her stepmother says nothing, she’s crushed.

Now she is faced with the undeniable and stark reality of her current circumstances, including who her stepmother really is. What do you suppose she feels here? 

“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” 
~ W.H. Auden

So many metaphors. That is the point of a fairytale, that you throw yourself in and connect with what it means for you at any given time. When you do, you gain or nugget of insight, or many, for your life to be inspired and strengthened forward. Life is always speaking to you and will use any means to do so.

What character(s) do you see yourself in? How do the events and circumstances symbolize your own experience? What do they teach you of perspective, hope, vision, loss, power, and letting go, for example?

The happily ever after of fairytales isn’t about a literal prince and princess per se, though it could be about the love of your life. Nor is it blind to the villain. Every protagonist on their hero or heroine’s journey goes through some growth in awareness of the darkness that really exists and what they must do to walk through the fires and reclaim their life from its grip. 

Life can knock the snot out of us sometimes. The villains of stepmothers, dragons, and wicked witches, may look more like bosses, the economy, ex’s, disease, pandemic, narcissists, bankruptcy and traumas of all sorts.

“Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality — for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it wisely.” 
~ Terri Windling

When the cinder girl runs to the garden crushed and weeping, she isn’t asking herself why she attracted a wicked stepmother, a classic new age b.s. question that keeps people from healing all kinds of things. She seems to radiate a deeper responsibility and power for her life. She’s simply feeling and realizing the cruelty of her stepmother. Tired of being kind, perhaps, and getting the opposite in return.

As her feelings move through emotion, it creates an opening for a greater possibility–que the fairy godmother.

Cinderella remembers what it is to be happy. She’s been there before. What she must discover is what it means to be happy Now

The moment in the garden is the moment when one reality is ending and another is beginning, or showing up; when the work of her previous imagination is revealing the fissures she has created for her current reality to fall away; when all feels lost, or all hell breaks loose; when the villain amps up their tactics and you hear inside you, “enough.” When you finally see the proverbial coal on your face in the mirror and know that’s not who you are, but your new reality hasn’t quite taken physical form.

Like the balm of insight that come from a meditation, a mentor, or a trusted friend, (or a day on the lake) the fairy godmother lovingly turns the cinder girl’s shreds of dress into a stunning gown, a nearby pumpkin into the carriage, the goose into the footman and so on with the instructions that she must be back home by midnight when the magic spell ends. 

You know the story, Cinderella rides in her carriage to the ball, is the only woman the prince dances with, the prince is immediately enchanted and thinks she seems familiar (from an earlier “chance” meeting in the forest), while no one else recognizes her. Before you dismiss this as fluff, consider this as the metaphor of your future reality taking shape while you become “big enough” to receive it. 

As she runs down the stairs to meet her midnight deadline, she loses one of her glass slippers. In a meditation class years ago, we used to practice “leaving something physical” in our new envisioned reality and watch for it to show up in our current one validating our work in creating a new experience and the experience of the physical and non-physical worlds as one. 

Mine was a gold coin, something odd and rare enough that I could believe if it showed up. Sure enough, it leapt off the page of a magazine I happened to flip through on my flight home. You gotta love this stuff.

Likewise, our futures begin to take physical form as we invest in them with our vision, feelings, and knowing—as well as our transformation toward them. The glass slipper is a metaphor for her new future taking form and finding its way to her.

Meanwhile, back in the attic and among the cinders in the days that follow, old reality seems to continue as usual except that a physical element, her glass slipper, remains in her new reality and has caused a major fissure in the old one. She also now knows what her and the prince share even if she doesn’t know what’s going to happen. This is something like the feeling we get when we know we already have what we desire, even when it hasn’t physically arrived yet.

It is decreed that every woman in the kingdom must try on this slipper so that the prince may find the love of his life. While the stepmother is lying to the prince’s right-hand man that there are no other women in the house to try on the slipper, Cinderella’s singing (unaware the men are there) travels from a small open window in the attic to the men below. Her and her new reality have now come together.

The teachers of the ages have hidden truths in stories, fairytales and allegories so that “those who could hear would hear and those who could see would see.” (And those who couldn’t, didn’t.). When we listen to these stories and fairytales, our minds get nuances of truth, understanding, greater possibility and wisdom between the lines and metaphor that words cannot describe directly. They communicate a vision that we might dismiss in mere words, but will receive in metaphor. And they reveal the conditions necessary for that vision to come true.

“If you happen to read fairy tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other–the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition. This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales.” 
~G.K. Chesterton

As we grow up, we realize the villain isn’t nearly so obvious as horns, tails, poisoned apples and wicked stepmothers. They are hidden in happy, successful, good looking people and situations as much as the foreboding ones. That our happily ever after isn’t pretend, or fluff. It is a place that is ever-evolving, often requiring powerful choices of us in order to abide in its integrity and the expansion of our lives. And that the fairytale isn’t about believing in something that isn’t true. But about giving us the opportunity to have eyes to see and ears to hear a greater reality beyond where we now are. To live by an ever-expanding truth of what is possible.

Here’s to more of you in the world ❤️


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