I couldn't resist posting the above illustration by T. S. Hyman, one of my all time favorite illustrators, though it refers to the story Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The Queen sits at the winter-window and wishes for herself a transformation; the creative issue of an inner daughter that results from the alchemical process of nigredo (black), rubedo (red) and albedo (white). Since this aprticular reference to the alchemical colors is so well known in my culture, I like to point it out periodically in my writing. Just in case anyone though the stories were obscure, the magic hidden. It's not; the magic is everywhere. It's only the ability to understand it that's slipped into obscurity, though I have no way to know how common magical wisdom has been in any particular place and time. I write a little about this in the Fairy Tale intro (click here) on this site, and of course in my book, Poetry in Motion.
The obvious longing and contemplative mood of the queen in this painting describes perfectly the yearning to fulfill our destinies, to find our ways to some kind of inner unity and wisdom. It's the same longing we encounter in romantic love, the same longing the two sisters, the Dreadful Wind dark one and the fair one, have for the miller's son. I mentioned already that Eros is the holy magnetic power we experience between lovers, but it's there in any intimate moment. Eros is the yearning for oneness, for unity, and the experiencing of it, too. We could say that, as they both had love of the miller's son, they both, being two sides of one person, longed for the intimacy and unity that beckons in infatuation and indeed any attraction. When we look at this process as an inner event, it's a move toward wholeness, embracing the "other", the opposite. We could think of it as a yearning to unite our dark and our fair selves, or to unite our masculine and feminine selves.
And watched her as she floated down, O...
And she floated down to the miller's pond, O the wind and rain...
Dead on the water like a golden swan, O the dreadful wind and rain...
In the case of the miller, there's a little complication that points to a specific issue being addressed in the story; the possible misuse or obstruction of water element which is archetypally feminine (for revelation on the word "archetype" go here). There's water element in the song title's rain here, too. In a simple story like this, water element is most importantly carrying the job of grieving, also (since it's water element) archetypally feminine. In traditional cultures, women carried the job of grieving, as well as committing most of the services needed in order to both support the dying and the bereaved, especially mourning. Crying is something that comes naturally to many of us, and it is a way of both honoring loss, honoring our now broken connection, and "turning the wheel" in the sense of helping us to process the loss. And we all have much to mourn, since loss is an endemic human experience.
Here's the rubedo, the red, the emotional suffering represented by the blood dripping from the fiddle bow in the little poster I'm featuring in this interpretation. Here it is again; I've got a larger version on the first blog of this series on the cruel sister song Dreadful Wind and Rain.
Here are some ancient Egyptian mourners:
And in fact the dark, seemingly jealous one pushes her sister into the river, ditches the fair persona. The one that's been developed, created, conditioned for life in the topside world, is goin' down! What will that look like? Countless scenarios, of illness, depression, hopelessness, anger, addictions, the suffering of ended or unrequited love, destructive relationships. There could be an actual death of a loved one or loved ones. It will be something you fear, avoid, dread, the blood on the bard's fiddle bow. Thus the "dreadful wind and rain". Notice in both of the alchemical pictures I used in the last post there's a storm.
The fair one, the everyday consciousness, is going to be transformed in this storm. Likewise, our woundings, the things that cause psychological suffering for us from our past, often were formed during some kind of storm, not during peaceful and joyous moments. In the film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, one that I review in my book, the devilish Tony is found hanging on a bridge during just such a dreadful wind and rain. Our pain is what's going to be shifted, or our relationship with our pain. Change usually needs a kick in the pants.
And this young lady (or old, who knows) is pushed into the river, goes through the wheel, and ends up in the miller's pond, which comes AFTER the wheel. She's "been through the mill" somehow or other, possibly through the love of another, the inner and/or outer guy who lives at the mill.
Notice that the other sister is watching. In order for us to develop wisdom concerning the ways we "go down", we have to watch. We have to develop some amount of what's commonly called these days "observer consciousness". We can do that on the fly (tough, but powerful) or we can do it in retrospect (usually easier). However, though we can accept that life's river carries us along, that we have fates and do not control our lives in all areas (or maybe in none at all), the thing we do have some control over is our consciousness, who we're going to be when we're going down. Observer consciousness makes sure that we don't get sucked into victimhood and become a "thing" that's having something done to them. We watch the process and learn from it, and develop gratitude for the process, eventually, an important aspect of traditional wisdom.
Anyway, it's obvious that the story's not about anybody having a fulfilling romantic relationship, which is what makes it APPEAR to be a bummer, in reference to the question I posed at the end of the previous post..
Next post: the golden swan