I'm going to do a few stories that describe transformation from perspectives aside from the sacred wedding that ends those most popular fairy tales. I'd like to look at some stories that describe inner transformation in ways besides a marriage. In The Seven Ravens, a girl helps transform her seven brothers. I have done an interp of a fairy tale of this sister saving brother sort from a collection of Finnish tales; it's titled Men of Mother's and of Mine and you can read it here, on Cabinet des Fees. It features 9 brothers rather than seven.
Let's dive in;
A man had seven sons, but not a single daughter. This made both him and his wife very unhappy.
The set up of any story is very important, but especially these healing tales. From this brief intro we know a) we are going to be addressing a situation of unhappiness (you could imagine the story as unfolding within the psyche of a person with what we call depression) and b) something of an essentially feminine nature is needed to cure the unhappiness. And from the "real life" outer wife's perspective, well, it isn't always easy being married to the macho man...
Next we're going to look at how this situation came about, so in a sense we will go back in time. That's how these stories usually work. They state the situation and then start an explanation of it. Fairy tales, like dreams, are more concerned with other kinds of connections besides the timeline, the linearity we tend to expect in a story.
And now we're going to switch to the masculine perspective a bit. The baby girl is born, "but the child was very small and slight, so weak that they feared it would die." So within the psyche of our depressed person with an overbalance of masculine traits (usually a man), a wee bit of the feminine aspect is found. Maybe our theoretical guy (could be a woman, especially in a malecentric society) goes to a counselor and is encouraged to express sadness, for example. So he manages to contact it, but it's so tiny. He is weak in that department.
The next thing that happens is that water, in its sacred office (baptism) of purification, is called for. Water is the feminine purifying element. It has diverse forms; in this case we have a well. The boys, sent by Dad, all run to the well for baptism water, "but in the struggle to be first they let the pitcher fall into the well." Here's some archetypally masculine behavior; the boy's competitiveness vs. archetypally feminine cooperation. We could paraphrase this metaphor thus: In the struggle to compete in the world, our ability to contain and carry feminine water element is lost. Too much competition keeps us in the outer world, for one thing, out of touch with the deep well of love and creativity.
The boys are afraid to go home; "not one of them dared venture home without the water". This statement lets us know that water is needed for "going home" to ourselves, to our authentic and whole experience found in soul connection. This going home is a frequent symbol in dreams and other stories. It's the cure for a life of inner dis-connection. Water itself is also the cure for disconnection; it's an element that can't be cut, so it symbolizes unity consciousness, compassion, empathy. The children's fear is a state of disconnection; fear always is. We get another portrait of disconnection in the father's next behavior, for he is impatient when the children do not return. He has no understanding of children and their innate connectedness which allows them to play; "I suppose in the midst of their play they have forgotten what I sent them for, the careless children." He's criticizing them with that "careless" label.
The father's experiencing an inner struggle here, of an existential sort for humans. He is "in such agony lest the child should die unbaptized". In a sense, he's trying to save his soul, from the perspective that the children are representing his inner children. His inner children, like the ones we see in our dreams, like himself as a child, are very much soul-connected, just as the well symbol is. And this moment is a portrait of a man on the fence between wanting to save his soul connection, and wanting to be full of care- or responsible- to others, to the world. This agony at losing our souls is part of our adolescent experience, our young adult experience, as we enter into the world of adulthood, of "making a living" in a competitive world, and we are obliged to leave behind childish things. We cut ourselves off from the playful soul, and men in particular are conditioned to this since they are most definitely supposed to accomplish worldly things.
In this case the curse is also a banishment; the boys are sent away from home. Here is the same image encountered in "not one of them dared to venture home without the water". Home is where connection is, and the typical human journey is one in which we are cursed in this manner in adolescence and young adulthood. We wander the world, like Odysseus in The Oddysey, and can can spend a long lifetime finding our way home. Thus every human relates to the Orphan archetype, as well as the Wanderer, for we are all fallen angels. The rest of our story deals with that part.
As a clue to the nature of such curses, the story mentions the exclamation was made unconsciously; "thoughtlessly" in my version. Our theoretically depressed guy is unaware of the curse; it is natural, if you will, a part of human development, certainly a part of contemporary American conditioning. Alchemical tales aren't interested in placing blame, though folks are conditioned in my society to seek out who's to blame; who's the bad guy. When we view human development as a project of bringing light to darkness, then such curses actually serve us; leaving home is the only way we can return to it. In fact, "The father could not recall the dreadful words, and both parents grieved terribly over their seven sons". We do not know that we have cursed parts of ourselves, yet our grief, our depression, our unhappiness, is due to this very cursing.
Raven's role in this story is also found in the Jungian shadow; that which we have rejected and/or have never really met within our psyches. It's that which we do not want to be (childish ways, or feminine ways, or masculine ways, for example). From the redemption perspective, of re-lighting our darkness, this rejection of our parts doesn't work, because we are innately whole beings. Cutting off our parts, relegating them to the inner shadow, just results in some form of illness.