I've been seeing these simple illustrations of Snow White in image searches, and I like them. They are from an 1852 version of the tale published in Iceland. I actually haven't found any other illustrations of Snow White doing her thing in the cottage before the dwarves arrive. Like Goldilocks, she cruises around drinking and eating from the dwarves' table, then she lies in each bed, finding the one she likes best. I do want to offer an explanation for her behavior, natch.
When interpreting stories, including dreams, one strategy is to look for similarities within the story, things that are done in more than one way or in more than one place, etc. This variation on a theme helps us to interpret because one single action, Snow White's snacking from the plates for example, could have more than one meaning, symbolically. When we're presented with several scenarios on the matter, the story's particular meaning is brought into focus. As I may have mentioned before in this series, there is an "eating" theme. First the stepmother eats, then Snow White, and then there is the scene where both eat of the apple. Transformational story often has lots of threes, and this one certainly does.
This basic truth is how we create our personalities, for example. Personality is all about how we "see" the world, and personal boundaries are a foundational part of that personal perspective. Maybe we don't experience our innocence, for instance, because we have decided not to allow it any more, as I described in an earlier post in this series. This decision (again, however unconscious) to keep something at bay drastically determines our life experience and behavior, causing Stepmother's cold heartedness, for example. Though Stepmother tries to reclaim the beauty of the innocent heart by eating Snow White's heart, she is still behaving , experiencing, through the personality lens of the predator, the competitive one, so it is impossible to redeem her beautiful heart- until she decides to do so with love, understanding, and inner inclusiveness rather than rejection. Her desire to eat the heart does symbolically display the desire to meld the innocent and the competitive one. In that alchemical act of communion, Stepmom is no different from the first queen who longs for transformation (see earlier post in series 9/25/13, Snow White, Sleep, Longing, and the Alchemical Container). The melding will happen, in the end of the story.
The ensuing scenes where she meets with the stepmother, where she "lets her in", give us further detail on this matter of Snow White's inner work. We can't really change if we don't allow the previously unknown or rejected to enter our field of experience. The title of Elizabeth Gilbert's famous book, Eat Pray Love, describes pretty well the sacred, alchemical symbolism of eating, in fact. We are all little alchemical factories, even on the physical level, and that symbolizes the truth about our sacred natures, too; as within, so without. Rituals such as the Christian Eucharist make that obvious. In Holy Communion, Christians endeavor to take within their being Christ Consciousness, through the ritualized and therefore symbolic action of taking in bread and wine.
One more thing about eating to note here. As explanation for Snow White's grazing, the story claims "She didn't want to take everything away from one of the places". In chakra theory, the idea of balancing is big (see last post for chakra reference). The objective is to have all of your chakras open and running smoothly, so that you can take in and process everything in your experience without fear or any other shut-down modes. Socialization and conditioning are designed to shut down certain ways of being in the world, as the little video shows, Snow White as Mommy training her charges to shut down their creative ways of eating. Shutting down creates blocks in the chakras; they get dark areas, get sluggish, or even spin backwards if we are very heavily defended in some area.
Together they feel like a whole person! The energy flows freely. That is what allows cosmic love to be channeled strongly during sexual intimacy and beyond; the two people merge their energies and begin to channel cosmic energy as one. Both together have all the channels open, as they can share their chakra energies when physically close to one another. Within ourselves we are capable of balancing our masculine (Stepmother's aggression and fire and manifestation abilities) and feminine (Snow White's domesticity, lack of protective powers due to heart centeredness, innocence as regards worldly competition). That's how we learn to live as whole beings, chakras balanced, not overusing or underusing one or another, and spinning freely, from the energetic view.
Snow White continues her chakra balancing symbolism when she tries all the beds: "she tried out all the beds, but they did not seem to be the right size." We can imagine her bed-trying as checking out to see if she's comfortable with how she's inhabiting the world, if she's relaxed and happy in her own skin, which would be symptomatic of healthy chakras. We can imagine this self exploration as ordered according to the chakras (remember I use that word only because it's well known; there are other energy maps world wide). She ends the search for comfort and relaxation in the 7th bed (7th chakra), as I said. And in that bed, she experiences a symbolic "enlightening" when the dwarves raise their lanterns and see her ineffable beauty, the beauty of the soul, of the ethereal being we all are. So imagine this scene as you, discovering your inner beauty:
This inquiry and truth-telling, then, is the symbolism of the dwarves' mining, as explicated by Snow White's behaviors when alone in the cottage. To emphasize this inner balancing act, the "seventh dwarf slept for an hour with each of his companions until the night was over." In the morning, Snow White tells the dwarves her story, and a deal is struck. The dwarves and Snow White will team up. The dwarves tell Snow White they will give her "everything you need" while she performs some common daily tasks of an adult woman; keeping house, cooking, making beds, washing, sewing, knitting, keeping things neat and tidy. She's got the feminine side covered, but soon she'll have to open up the other masculine chakras that the stepmother character inhabits, though in an unenlightened manner.
One way to imagine inner cleaning work is looking after our inner affairs to see if our motives, our actions, our relationships with self and other, are in accord with our truest values, with our most authentic self, and with the cosmic order and Nature itself. Stepmother's inability to give way in the beauty contest to the next generation is, for example, discordant with the natural order, as is her giving in to extreme competition within the family. Whatever doesn't jive with these larger cosmic orderings must go; it's unnecessary struggle, or it's clutter, it's old obscuring dust, or it's someone else's idea of who we should or should not be that must be swept out from under the carpet and out the door. We dust and polish and sweep to see everything in its simplest, untarnished, shining, most lovely way.
And a little more elaboration on Snow White's inner work that pops up after the deal is struck. The dwarves warn Snow White that she needs to tend to her Stepmother issues, and the matter of boundaries is raised; "Don't let anyone in the house." Why not "Don't let the stepmother in the house?" Well, for one thing, Snow White doesn't know what the stepmother looks like, who she is. In other words, SW experiences her inner controlling, manipulative "evil stepmother" as a feeling, as fear, as toxicity, as vanity, as envy, greed, desperation, etc. but she still lacks understanding about it; she's more or less unconscious about it. Remember, they're one and the same person here. So the task of integrating/embracing (in Jungian terms) the stepmother (or integrating the innocent child, the defenseless one, from Stepmother's perspective) means that we have to learn to recognize the origins of those feelings, those behaviors, and understand them in ourselves, develop self compassion and self forgiveness for them. We have to symbolically commune with them on a sacred level of unity, as in the apple the two will share. That is exactly what these stories are intended to help us with!
We are one, every daughter and son
With our forgotten names
We left home on the open road
To find the holy flame
We are the children of a sun king
Hold onto my hand this mysterious evening
It’ll meet us like a dream
Call all our names and we’ll be found
Walking were we heard the sound, on down
Tomorrow mountain we will climb
Tonight the stars and fire shine
In our eyes
In the wood
Cloud by day, and the fire of night
We will never look back
Young and old with a sojourner soul
Illuminate the path
Follow were the moon does shine
Through the leaves of trees above
Wild life, holy night
The ocean is singing of
The earth trembles with his love
Josh Garrels is a Christian artist, obviously of a mystical turn, but that's the cool thing about archetypes; they're pretty universal. The idea of "being one, every daughter and son" goes all the way to Shiva and Shakti's dance. The "forgotten names" are perhaps our soul names, the innocent one born into this world from another. Snow White did "leave home on the open road", on a sort of inner pilgrimage. Here's the symbolism of "It'll meet us like a dream", the "mysterious evening" of Snow White's discovery of the cottage, of the dwarves' discovery of Snow White. "In the wood, we're alive" and "Wild life"- the naturalness of the inner self removed from the conditioning and restrictions of Snow White's desire for the dwarves to eat like gentlemen. Garrels includes holy longing, holy love, the night, the tree leaves, illumination, and most of all, the dwarves' fire. Clouds are, by the way, a merging of masculine air element with feminine water element. Fits pretty well, I'd say!
Next time- Stepmother's magic!