This illustration is a good depiction of the gnome in the same role he's going to play pretty quick in our tale; that of teaching proper attitude towards the earth element and its aspect of abundance. The first step in transforming our attitude is discernment, and our story gnome acts as a sort of earth element reagent; are the brothers "pure" in the sense of valuing this sacred feminine aspect? Or have they been trained to lie, in a sense, through believing in the false (i.e. ego-created) mundane valuations they grew up with?
Can't find a credit for the image, but the gnome is obviously checking the value of the coins in the old way; biting them to see how much gold they truly contain. Along the lines of pure gold, our first rescued princess is going to gift the youngest son with a pure gold necklace after he chops off the dragon's heads she's been delousing. I like that the coins are stamped with a cross, that symbol of the meeting between the worlds of spirit and flesh, mortality and immortality. For though we may indeed have plenty of "real" gold, cashola, we can't experience the abundance of our story's rich king unless we tap into the alchemical gold of soul, spirit, joy, and love.
Now we're going to switch to the masculine perspective, as the king searches. It's the same imagery we find in the beginning of Iron John, interped here beginning 10/7/14. In both stories, the king ends up hiring huntsmen, a class of dude that symbolizes the "seeker"- of wisdom, truth, enlightenment, etc. He sends out the promise that whosoever finds the daughters gets one of them for wife.
This marriage set up in such tales isn't meant to encourage the perception of woman-as-chattel, despite contemporary feminist mundane analyses; it alludes to the alchemical inner marriage, the sacred marriage, the hieros gamos. When the twain do meet in symbolic marriage, then some aspect of our masculine or feminine, previously negatively judged or simply unknown, has been integrated, in Jungian terms. That means whatever human attribute we're addressing (aggression or the lack thereof, for example), is now accepted and indeed loved as part of our own human experience.
The aspects are organized in alchemy according to the elements (air, water, fire, earth). Again, typically women must discover and learn to love some masculine aspect of fire and/or air (like aggression); earth and/or water (perhaps the lack of aggression) for men. Until we integrate the opposites in this way, we will keep experiencing them as only outside of ourselves- in other people. Then we have strong feelings of either worshiping others (projecting "good") or hating them (projecting "bad").
"Among the searchers were three huntsmen who had spent a week looking for them and eventually came to a large castle. When they went inside they found beautiful rooms, and in one of the rooms the table was set with delicious dishes that were still steaming hot, but there was not a living soul to be seen or heard in the whole castle. At last they sat down and ate up all the food."
These guys are totally on a warm trail, right? This is the place! So there's that pun. Such a soulful royal table is in the Arthurian legends as the round table; above, a princess's king-father, presiding over the table, is instructing her in regards to respecting her inner masculine figure (Jungian animus), the infamous frog of The Frog Prince. She has contempt for this soul figure and doesn't think he deserves to eat at the royal table, but he is, of course, her shapeshifting inner masculine. Her repugnance signifies her lack of integration (she is projecting "bad"). Note the king has a hunting hound with gold collar (necklace), and a hawk, as well.
Next, we segue into more teachings on the matter of what feeds the soul. Two of the princes go out searching for the princess next day, while the oldest one stays in the castle. Now, the eldest never wins at soul-games; he is likely to have more conditioning, more responsibility, to have gotten too much parental attention which amounts to taking on more of the parental/family shadow material, in Jungian terms. He will inherit the family goods, is more concerned about worldly stuff. While he's alone (the time, noon, indicates the height of the masculine sun's influence),
"At noon a tiny gnome came and asked for a piece of bread. The huntsman took a loaf of bread that he found there and cut off a slice. As he was handing it to the little man, the gnome let it drop and asked him to kindly pick up the piece for him. As the huntsman was bending over, the gnome took a stick, grabbed him by his hair, and gave him a good beating."
So obviously this brother's doing something that irks the soul, the authentic self, just as the princess in The Frog Prince does when she refuses to eat with the frog, for the erdmanneken, as inner figure, is soul-connected. In both cases, polite brother and reluctant princess are just following their conditioning. Dirty, slimy frogs are not supposed to eat at tables; if a child were to bring a frog to the fancy king's table they would be corrected. Likewise, when we are asked to kindly pick up something someone's dropped, we are trained to do so- why not? It's only polite.
However, we're on the symbolic level here, and worldly rules don't apply. The role of this inner gnome, as I said, is to offer tests which get to the root of our relationship with earth element, an element which is commonly in strong association with our individual soul and the soul of Earth. The guy didn't pass the test, thus his punishment. Notice the mention of hair ("grabbed his hair"), which symbolizes thoughts; hair comes in later, too. So this hair-grabbing beating represents negative thoughts, perhaps about himself. Maybe, since he is acting the slave, taking orders and bending over, the thoughts would be those of "less than"; "I am not good enough", basically. We can come up with countless ways to tell ourselves THAT! Comparison shopping, the provenance of the intellectual mind...
The youngest, though, par for the fairy tale course, shows us what went wrong in his brothers' actions:
"So the two eldest brothers confided in each other about their plight and didn't tell the youngest anything because they didn't like him. They always called him Stupid Hans, because he was not particularly worldly-wise.
On the third day the youngest stayed home, and again the gnome came to fetch a piece of bread. When the huntsman handed him a piece, the gnome let it drop again and asked him to kindly pick it up for him.
'What?' cried the huntsman. 'Can't you pick the bread up yourself? If you won't make the effort to take better care of your daily bread, then you really don't deserve to eat it.'
Then the gnome got very angry and ordered him to do it. But the young huntsman acted swiftly: he grabbed the gnome and thrashed him soundly. The gnome shrieked loudly and said, 'Stop! Stop! Let me go, and I'll tell you where the king's daughters are.'"
The first paragraph above describes the "worldly-wise" comparison shopping, which easily shifts us away from gratitude into greed. Contempt for the soul centered brother is the symptom of having rejected that aspect of self during conditioning, which asks us to choose, however unconsciously, between such dualities. They haven't integrated their on-worldly aspects.
The rest of the above excerpt clues us in, as I said, on what the gnome is here to reveal. As an inner figure, the gnome is acting out a little descriptive scenario which dramatizes the problem and solution; the same happens in our dreams. The youngest brother points out that this inner-figure gnome hasn't any gratitude or respect for that which sustains him, i.e. he notices the incorrectness of the gnome's behavior, from the soul connected perspective.
Our "daily bread" is a metaphor for earthly abundance, that which sustains the mortal body. However, wisdom knows that the daily bread, seemingly mundane and easy enough to obtain for some of us, is also imbued with soul, with the sacred. When we assume that the physical reality is standing alone, as it were, rather than a cocreation of awesome sacred origin, we cannot live the abundant life, for then we get jerked around by physical circumstances. We don't tune into the feedback available to us from the soul, spirit, the eternal. The belief in the holy underpinnings of the physical is the wisdom of the old ways; of reverence for the grain, for the archetypally feminine Earth's cycles of growth and life and death which support us, of the gifting and gratitude which are part of honoring this essential daily event of eating. Demeter, mentioned in the last post, embodies this gift of grain, as do other goddesses. I happen to have addressed this matter of respect for the grain in a recent blog about the Carmina Gaedelica on 11/17/14.
So our soul centered Stupid Hans may not be worldly-wise, but he can tell when gnomes deviate from their soul connected experience, because he knows when he does- it's called discrimination. Discriminating greed from gratitude is done in the dramatic moment- just as the young man swiftly turns on the gnome. The ones who seek to discover the truth about their actions must be watching to see how an event makes them feel, just like the princesses did in the very beginning of the story. We must sneak under the radar of intellect's reasons and beliefs, beyond the place of seeing and hearing. Remember, this feeling sense is alchemically organized under the earth element heading, as an even which seems to take place somewhere in the body, rather than the mind. In New Age terms, it means tuning into the vibrational nature of the experience; it's often lumped under that multi-purpose term, "intuition".
The feeling-sense can be extremely easy to miss; it happens between the lines, between the mind's assessments of this event and the next, for the actual drama itself is not the point. The drama is set up to reveal us to ourselves; it's a mirror. The point is, who were you when it went down, what role were you playing there? The window of opportunity for feeling whether or not we are acting in gratitude or greed (for example) is very small, as is the little soul-man, the erdmanneken. especially for those who are not practiced in feeling-sense. It is a moment of earth-and-soul-centered feedback.
This ability to discriminate between the two feelings and choosing one over the other is the enlightened use of the air element sword, from the wisdom perspective, though it's altogether possible for folks to choose greed. Interestingly, though, it seems the ability to distinguish vibration is usually developed when one is already "living" largely in a faster vibration, in a more expanded consciousness. Expanded consciousness is distinguished literally by openness, in the sense of not believing in polarized intellectual judgments; the Buddhists call it compassion, at least they do in English...
The freeing up of energy brings with it new knowledge, and the gnome does indeed give lots of advice about the search for the princesses. He says he comes from the earth, and there are a dozen or more like him. He points to a deep, dry well; the daughters are to be found there. He advises the young huntsman not to trust his brothers, for "his brothers wanted to rescue the king's daughters too, but they didn't want to exert themselves or take any risks." From this instruction we learn more about relationship with earth element, for the ability to hard work is an earth element trait; the human ability to persist and endure. Though we all embody earth element, the older brothers don't express it in a healthy manner; it's not available to them for the pursuit of their goals.
As the older brothers won't take any risks, they obviously don't really value the objective, either, which is a true, deep joining with the sacred feminine, shall we say. They believe in and value their own supposed safety and security more; they value the mundane experience, the idea of acquisition and domination. This is a common enough theme in such a tale, for the shift from the mundane, conditioned experience of life to the soul centered one is a shift of values. The shift is recognized in our priorities, and is thus dramatized, as in the boy Jack who prizes magic beans over money. Did that one too, 4/28/14.
So Stupid Hans is advised by our gnome to get himself lowered into the well in a basket, take along a hunting knife and a bell, and he would find the daughters in three rooms. They all three would be picking lice from a many-headed dragon. He must cut off the dragons' heads.
In this particular hair case, there's an issue with "nit-picking" ways of thought. Of course such nit-picking can be useful, properly placed; for bookkeepers, maybe, surgeons, microscopic origami folders. Or editors...however, like all intellectual behaviors, we must choose when to use them; wisdom dictates that such behavior isn't appropriate for much. We certainly can drive ourselves nuts if we apply it to our own self observations, or use it for assessing our social interactions, for judging others.
Since we are nearing the end of the tale I shall leave off till the next post, for there's too much to include in this one. Some soul instruction from a notable bard:
I found her sleeping in a Kansas truck stop/ In the corner booth
She’d been waiting there for months/And that’s the truth
She looked at me with wary eyes/She’d heard all my lies
She was not surprised/She only looked at me
And shook her head
Come back, come home/I’m gathering the crumbs and the stones
Been traveling faster than my soul can go
One subject line, one click away/But at the end of the day
I couldn’t even say/The things that I had done
So I spent the morning sweeping floors/I didn’t want much more
Than to do just one thing at a time/And call it mine
Come back, come home...
Before songs were grooves and lines/Caught in jars like fireflies
The only place a song was held/Soft or razor-sharp
Was is in the heart
Mr. Gatling made a Gatling gun/He said it would end war
Who could send some mother’s son through such a door?
But the bullets move at the speed of cold/Drones do as they’re told
And the men go home at night and kiss the wife/And watch TV
And never see all those souls untethered floating out to sea
Come back, come home
We’re gathering the crumbs and the stones
Been traveling faster than our souls can go
... Notice Carrie's earth element references here, in the crumbs and the stones. Air element, which dominates my culture, is indeed often at odds with the earth element's soul connectedness. Swift electronic communications, recorded music, Gatling guns, indeed all technology which removes any actual hands-on activity, all move us further from the soul, from earth element, which prioritizes bodily experience and/or soul's feelings and depth and creative joy over speed, quality over quantity. Prioritizing quantity is indeed one way we move into "drone" experience (such a use of "drone" is actually improper in my book), of doing what we are told without consulting our feeling sense. The soul-connected earth element (as opposed to solely experiencing earth element on the mundane plane) is ruled by the Earth's mandates, its cycles, not by the "civilized" conditioning, the clock time, the sometimes desperate "more" of human society. Soul is the firefly we might desire to keep in a jar.
Newcomer talks about how we have become accustomed to mediated experience through our conditioning; we watch TV but miss the direct experience of the souls who have become untethered to the Earth through the habits of our air element society. Likewise do the older brothers miss the ingratitude of the gnome in the careless bread-dropping behavior. Earth element can certainly get too narrow, as I said- we could get stuck in that floor-sweeping mode, always looking down! Balance...
One more post, where the huntsman faces death, and, of course, the princesses are brought up from their underground status in the psyche of our king, or huntsmen; our masculine multiple protagonist.