I could not resist posting this song. Though it's supposed to be about Genesis, of course, it's fun to see how some of the symbolism carries over to our fairy tale apple-biter. For more on apple symbolism, see my September 2013 post on the symbolism of the apple.
A mother ship with fate said let's give it a try/Conscience was related
Man he was created/Lady luck took him by surprise
A sweet and bitter fruit it surely opened his eyes
Well she ate it/Lordy it was love at first bite
Well she ate it/Never knowin wrong from right right right
Even Eve in Eden/Voices tried deceiving
With lies that showed the lady the way
At first she stopped and turned and tried to walk away
Man he was believer/Lady was deceiver
So the story goes but you see/The snake was he and she just climbed right up in his tree
So she ate it/Lordy it was love at first bite....
Conscience was related/Man he was created/When lady luck took him by surprise
The sweet and bitter fruit it surely opened his eyes
Evil came like rainin/Who knows who's to blamin/Something tried to lay her to waste
And all she want and need was just a little taste
Whooa, she ate it...
Looks like Steven Tyler (assume he wrote it) goes for the theory of human life as an extraterrestrial project. He knows about the apple's dual nature that's part of the Snow White story, the apple that's half poison (sweet and bitter fruit), the two-sided apple of duality. As I said before, the creation of a dualistic ego is part of initiation into adolescence and adulthood, one way to imagine the apple eating experiences of Adam and Eve. The film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus reviewed in my e book features this symbolism, as protagonist Valentina is initiated into adulthood. And in a sense, Snow White's apple experience was also love at first bite, wasn't it? From that bite and her coffin time came the meeting with the prince. "And all she want and need was just a little taste"...
OK that's enough! I went too far with the last song interp. I love looking at the arts from archetypal perspective.
"When the queen heard the words spoken by the mirror, she began trembling with rage. 'Snow White must die!' she cried out. 'Even if it costs me my life.'"
And it surely will.
Here's that anger again, Stepmother's rage. This may be the thing we need to know and embrace, for lots of women are encouraged to hide theirs completely. However, anger, like air, is notably a tough element (fire) to master, as I have mentioned in this series. And air fuels fire. It is our thoughts about life that often fan the flames of anger.
The action now takes place in the "core" of our protagonist's being. This must be the place where the personal identity is created, where the original "one" of the spiritual being we all are magically became "two", became split into all those good and bad, masculine and feminine, win and lose stories and experiences. In Steven Tyler's words, "knowing wrong from right". Here, dying means both entering into mortal experience of duality (as in Adam and Eve's bite) as well as the opportunity to be initiated out of that duality, to integrate the two back into one, as alchemy tries to lure us into doing.
The entry into duality consciousness is hopelessly alluring because it is part of natural human development. But then so is the desire to be initiated out of it, as is evident by the hopelessly powerful magnetic pull of romantic love. That magnetism is basically the magnetic power of unity, of oneness, which is love.
Notice the apple itself is described as Snow White herself is; beautiful, with white skin and red cheeks.
Stepmother's vain competition was an irresistible bite, taken long ago, the desire to own the power of supreme beauty. This desire is in fact quite impossible, and could only exist in a fairy tale- or in someone's desperate imagination. Beauty is quite subjective, varying according to personal taste and conditioning. And Beauty in the archetypal sense, as a quality of heart and soul, as an actual deep experience, cannot be possessed. That would be a lie that's broadly circulated in a society as materialistic as mine. Imagining that we possess it removes it from its matrix; it's not Beauty any more, it's become a thing, an object, when we claim ownership. So imagining we possess beauty could create horrible insecurity, as it's an impossible task. Beauty is only on loan. It's everywhere, but at its best when quicksilver. Fresh fallen snow, a new song, first love...
Snow White's coming "new you" is signified in that red and white apple. When Snow White protests she can't come in and no apples are wanted, Stepmom says she'll give her an apple. Knowing the power of human desire and the inevitability of our stumbling into its arms, she says "I'll get rid of my apples soon enough". She offers to bite first; "The apple had been made so craftily that only the red part of it had poison."
The red is the rubedo, in alchemical terms. This is the human experience that is most simply defined as sacrifice. It's our woundings, our sufferings. "Sacrifice" just means to make sacred. In offering something physical back to the Divine, we consciously enter into a give and take relationship with the unseen powers. This is what we can also do in order to experience that "new you", because of another rule: Out with the old, in with the new. And the rubedo as used in this story goes both ways, too. It notes (possibly many times in our lives) the place where suffering occurs, where the whole was split into good and bad. And then it lets go. It gives up the suffering; the desire for winning, the identifications that are lies, the victimization, and on and on. For more on rubedo see the fairy tale page here.
Pull me out from inside /I am ready, I am ready,I am ready, I am
taffy stuck, tongue tied /Stuttered shook and uptight
Pull me out from inside /I am ready, I am ready, I am ready, I am...fine
I am covered in skin /No one gets to come in
Pull me out from inside/ I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding
I am colorblind /Coffee black and egg white
Pull me out from inside /I am ready, I am ready, I am ready
I am...fine, I am.... fine, I am fine
Counting Crows' main songwriter Adam Duritz is a bard of the deepest symbolic experience, thus some of his lyrics are enigmatic even for me. They speak to and from the place Stepmother makes her apple. The name of the band itself is a reference to an alchemical English rhyme: One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret that's never been told. Get the alchemy of opposites there? And here's our number for inner work, the seven found in Snow White's seven dwarves that live over the seven hills and their seven chairs, beds, etc. (symbolism in recent posts on dwarves).
So Duritz & Co. have written a song here along the same lines, of the experience of opposites, black and whiteness. It is the function of the intellectual mind. However, the narrator is realizing that black and white life is limited; he is color blind. Maybe Snow White, in her fear, is "taffy stuck and tongue tied". Maybe Stepmother is "stuttered shook and uptight". We know who could say "No one gets to come in"!
However, that is not all he/she is, for the solution to the problem is present in the story. The one who sees color (Beauty?) instead of just constant judgment must be pulled out from inside. As I've said a number of times in this interp, Stepmom must pull Snow White out from inside, and vice versa for the princess. I love the slow, steady, almost monotonous tone of the song that underscores the "I am ready, I am ready..." It informs us that this is a developmental unfoldment, like the butterfly hatching or the snake's skin shedding or the egg cracking. The use of three verb forms at once is a nice poetic technique; "I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding"... We are taken out of the linear mind's conditioning when we step out of linear time. We are always all of these things at once, both folded and unfolded, as well as in movement (unfolding) and always, we are fine. The usefulness of learning about alchemy is that we may imbibe this truth, that through the difficulties of rubedo and nigredo, heading to albedo, on some level, we are fine.
Next, Snow White's nigredo time! By the way, crow groups are called murders, a word that means a secret killing. The seventh inner secret, that' s never been told? The rhyme is supposed to be an augur, or a way to interpret a bird omen. Birds were often used thus in ancient times- maybe some folks still do.