By the way, green is the color of growth and the changes it demands.
And Sleeping Beauty is not a story of "boy meets girl" and happily ever after. The marriage is a hieros gamos, a sacred inner marriage. It's a story of growth, specifically, as I've said in the previous blogs on the song Dreadful Wind and Rain, the growth that follows some form of death, an event we can think of in terms of initiation. Maleficent's raven/crow is a universal animal of death, and her red eyes express the anger, the fire element, that the cool and regal queen hides beneath her masked face. The film Black Swan, reviewed in my book this blog supports, uses this image of the red-eyed shadow when Nina is sprouting her wings.
This brings us to the overall nature of the tale's transformational magical message of "all is not as it seems". Beneath anyone's attractive qualities, such as the obvious beauty and power Maleficent sports, can very well lurk the darkness that's frequently symbolized as death. Sure, we've all met some obvious form of Maleficent in our lives. She's the one who's got so much fear, anger, resentment, desire for power, etc. etc. on board that she's got to throw it around. She may look quite beautiful, even calm, keep that evil in check most of the time. But then she raises her magic wand and blasts someone or something with an astounding level of venom that usually reeks of a cruelty and a death-dealing desire to eliminate the supposed opponent at all costs, to use her power unwisely.
The wand of the magic story is a ritual tool designed to extend one's energy, one's power. In that it's like a really long finger you can point, like a megaphone or amplifier, like a flute that turns your breath into sound, like a remote controller that makes a connection between the holder of the wand and the objective. Surely we've met powerful sorceresses who have leveled their venom at us and shriveled our hearts, just as theirs are shriveled. They can only give us what they have to give, and we recognize their gift as some form of death, one reason for the sort of depiction below, and for Maleficent's raven/crow.
The thing is, we didn't come here to stay innocent, from the alchemical perspective. We came to play in a reality that is defined by light and its absence: evil, darkness, shadow, death. A child, as an innocent light-being, will be cursed with the evil that we human magicians play with through any number of events, such as those classified as trauma in psychology: punishment, neglect, denigration, observing cruelty inflicted on others or even hearing it in stories, in movies. From a magical or non-physical perspective, the darkness is then implanted into our beings to be understood and transformed in adolescence and adulthood. It's a pretty sure bet that Maleficent and the witch I cannot identify in the image above had early encounters with angry, controlling, punishing, psychologically crushing adults. The evil they use for their adult projects was deeded them, passed on, and it doesn't take much to plant the seeds, for a number of reasons.
The fact that this darkness is often a family legacy explains all the evil stepmothers in fairy tale. Through story children are meant to recognize, on some level, that the angry parent is not just a personal experience that means they are at fault, but that the angry parent is also part of the human story. Apparently there is a version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale coming out starring Angelina Jolie that features Disney's Maleficent's side of the story, psychologized for us, since it explains "the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora." (from IMDb) Indeed, Maleficent has become an extremely popular characterization of the user of shadow power, with its innately sacred nature. We do not depict our characters in the iconic manner of Maleficent, with her beauty, her regal manner, her crown, scepter, high collar and robes, unless we mean to call forth the limitless power of the infinite soul and spirit lurking within. Explaining Maleficent is a way of explaining ourselves, just as all deities do.
However, the lack of personality attributes for the characters of wisdom tales such as this is aimed at making sure that details such as self identities don't get in the way of the truth that they are about every soul on the planet. Though the princes are really just as characterless, we somehow think that the archetypally masculine activity of heroism or rescue in these tales implies that the men are better, somehow, more full and personalitied, more real, with more self identity. They fight, for example, or theoretically cut their way (actually try to, in this one) through briared walls. This is one of the reasons that folks probably have an easier time personifying Maleficent; she's active, and my society's appreciation for the sacred feminine skill of personal transformation is at an all-time low, I guess. Deep transformation requires some time in realms of non-doing, in the soul's realm of nowhere to go, nothing to do. Such nothingness is a part of most, if not all, initiation rites that are not secularized, as most are in my culture. It's actually the opposite of Maleficent and all her machinations. It's a dropping out of the game entirely. We'll never understand the dark if we're constantly fighting it, as my overly heroic society tends to do to such an extent that not-doing itself is feared.
In the myth of Persephone, the young maiden eats red pomegranate seeds in Hades's realm as a metaphor for the beginnings of understanding the inner and outer dark, of Maleficent and of human suffering and more. The darkness she's encountered in her childhood and youth (or later, depending on the person and the particular initiation) will now begin to show themselves in her psyche and her life so that she can work her own alchemy with the dark. Innocence is over. In Sleeping Beauty, this movement towards wisdom about the darkness is symbolized by the spindle finger pricking, the blood. Here's the rubedo, the sacrifice of alchemy (see the Fairy Tale page, here), easily signified symbolically by something red that also holds qualities such as suffering and loss, and (in the case of the seeds) growth and the realization of potential.
See if you can find any associations with Sleeping Beauty and Sheridan's lyrics below, if you like. For example, the truth of our family legacies of darkness implied in "a girl who needs her mother will do anything she's told." Threats of love withdrawn are at least as effective as actual punishment in creating the darkness inside of us, darkness which is quite literally a sin, a disconnection from the light, the sins of the mothers and fathers. They (and others) teach us to use such tricks and illusions as are conditioned in our society to defend ourselves from the darkness, including disconnecting ourselves in order to tolerate the suffering experienced when love is withdrawn, whether in coldness or anger. The evil that Maleficent is personifying is often freezing, like the White Witch in the Narnia tales. Alchemy and the wisdom traditions attempt to instruct us into a third way that doesn't constantly vacillate between the black and the white, between the good and the bad, between clinging and rejecting.
THE POMEGRANATE SEED Cosy Sheridan
I swallowed a seed in the dark long ago
a girl who needs her mother will do anything she's told
it was Hades, his horses, then it was my cries
the innocent losses and the breaking of the ties
Mother do you follow/ Mother do I lead
Mother I have swallowed/ The pomegranate seed
You weep when I visit for the damage that was done
when I leave your fields in autumn,you're not the only weeping one
for I can still hear that frightened young girl,calling out for rescue from the underworld
In the darkness and the heat, in that sacrificial deep
he said "Open, you are the seed. In your mother's daylight
there is wrong and there is right, but here is just desire and need."
And for all I lost I know where it all starts/ the seed finds life in the dark