This post is a continuation of the last.
"the beans his mother had thrown out of the window into the garden, had sprung up into a big beanstalk which went up and up and up till it reached the sky." Jack's ready for his adventure! He climbs up into the sky, "And when he got there he found a long broad road going as straight as a dart."
This straight road is an important detail. It's quite a different affair from the beanstalk, right? The live, growing, twisting, tendrilled beanstalk is soulful, we could say, Foolish. The "broad road going as straight as a dart" is the opposite. The Joni Mitchell line, "pave paradise, put up a parking lot" comes to mind. In fact, we can bring in the ubiquitous symbol of the cross here. One way to imagine the cross is that the vertical line of the cross is spirit (above) and soul (below). The horizontal line of that straight road is physical reality, everyday consciousness, time-space continuum. Beanstalk= soul and spirit, straight road= mundane reality.
The Foolish road always meanders. It has twists and turns, ups and downs, goes into forests and over mountains, as oft described in fairy tales. It's concerned with natural development. It's the sort of road we expect to see in imaginative, soulful, symbolic stories like The Lord of the Rings, for example.
This gift of dart-straight goal orientation is easily overused in a very mundane society, where physical reality, the time-space continuum, gives us the illusion that we are "getting somewhere". That may be true as far as it goes, but the Fool's (soul's, spirit's) perspective, metaphorically "rooted" in unity consciousness, the vertical line, does not even recognize goal orientation. The perspective of unity consciousness is "always where I want to be". Goal orientation depends on linearity, of focusing on something more desirable happening in the future, and therefore objectifying. Objectification easily slips into a worldview where whatever we encounter is "thing", "other". The soul's way of seeing success is described in the quote from the Tao Te Ching; "Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeeds." When you embody the essence of success (confidence, happiness, abundance), it does not matter what the circumstances appear to be. Thus you are already quite innately successful- and connected, rather than living life entirely from the lens of object/subject relations.
That the road in Giantland is broad indicates that we're on the road most people travel, the road of the "normal", conditioned society. Again, having your own personal beanstalk outside your window would be quite the opposite of this "highway". So Jack is exploring his inner, unconditioned self (beans, beanstalk, old man), but in that exploration he encounters this aspect of human experience characterized by the very common or broadly accepted, goal oriented way of being in the world. He's understanding goal orientation from the soul/wisdom perspective.
As I pointed out earlier, giants in general are overpowering, and therefore they represent something that renders us more or less powerless. The ogre, as well as being ugly (i.e. something rejected, as Shrek is), symbolizes something powerful in human experience which consumes us, possesses us. We lose our true selves in it, which is a very common way to become powerless. In that, we become the giant. When we are overpowered by some experience- anger, greed, love- we become it, in a sense, as we act out its way of being in the world, its role, its energy.
Embodying the greedy, materialistic ogre in this story is not uncommon; these transformational tales always address the most common of human experiences, I guarantee you. We may imagine ourselves as "normal" when we live life from the perspective of goal orientation of a socioeconomic sort; indeed we are encouraged to it. However this story is from the soul's perspective, which finds such an orientation monstrous, a way to get lost, for connection with soul and the authentic self to end up crushed and consumed.
Jack isn't cowed by the threat, though. He says "I may as well be broiled, as die of hunger." Hunger began the tale, and therefore hunger is a theme. Jack hungers for wisdom, for example, else he would not have run into the magician/teacher/wise man on the road. Lots of adolescents are hungering for an answer to the seeming dichotomy between what they truly feel is valuable, and what society encourages them to value. Food, another frequent item in these tales, represents not only what fills the stomach, but what feeds other aspects of our being.
Insisting (as Jack does here) that we get what's going to truly nourish us, what we hunger for, is another key to the pursuit of a balanced life. We must look past the easily attained which does nothing, really, to nourish our hearts and souls, our creative selves, and discover what truly feeds us. Then we feel abundant, satisfied, blessed, regardless of socioeconomic security. My culture has gotten so far from this objective as to develop all sorts of "junk culture"; junk food is part of that. Going along with "normal", that broad road, doesn't work when we're looking for what really feeds us, because what feeds us is very individual. We have to initiate a program of self-discovery to find out what feeds us on all levels. No one else can know. Looking for what truly nourishes us is no less than the path of self realization, or individuation in Jung's terms.
The giant interrupts Jack's meal, and "she bundled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in." The matter of Giant and the matter of "what feeds me" are one and the same for Jack, since the giant appears as he is about to eat. Before Jack can get his nourishment and abundance issues satisfactorily balanced out (before he can finish his meal), he will have to deal with this giant, this looming issue in the psyche. Kitchens and cooking and eating are, of course, common alchemical symbolism for the inner processes that make up our personal development.
And here comes the famous rhyme; "Fee, fi, fo fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive or be he dead
I'll have his bones to grind my bread."
Now I have never heard it put that way; I have always heard "grind his bones to make my bread", which makes a lot more sense. Who grinds bread? I'm going with my version.
The symbolism of this statement is based in "what feeds us" again. What feeds this ogre, what makes him strong, is bread made of the bones of something like Jack. Though it seems the giant is the powerful one, in fact, without underlying, air element unseen cocreative soul and spirit, he would not exist; nothing does.
In the psyche we're addressing here, Giant considers "Englishman" to be enemy; the very scent of him is offensive, invoking anger and attack. This relating to "other" as enemy is another thing that feeds the ogre. It is a lack of empathy or compassion. If we are to assume we can just snatch and grab in life, we have to do the objectifying thing.As a sort of metaphorical, alchemical pun, Jack is indeed in the oven, as bread would be.
Bones can represent the essential self, our core experience, certainly our inner being. Like soul and spirit, they are the unseen structure which holds the whole more easily seen thing in place, without which nothing would function. For that reason they pop up in lots of transformational stories, such as the Cruel Sister genre, where one sister is killed by another and ends up as some sort of talking bone. This essential being is ground beneath daily living in a materialistic society, the "daily grind", for instance. Somehow, the more subtle feelings and urges, the more refined experiences of life, who we really are, our connectedness, gets ignored as we focus on getting somewhere we are not, on consuming without thought of why or who.