So last we saw the sorcerer (or Bluebeard) take off to get some manly-man business done in the world. He gives the woman, maiden or wife, keys to the rooms of the house or castle, but there's the one key that must not be used, according to Mr. Bossy Pants. As you probably know, the signature event of these tales then occurs; the wife or maiden looks at everything she is permitted to look at, in all the rooms she is permitted to visit. These rooms we can imagine as rooms of the psyche. In fact that is the general symbolism for dream interpretations; a room represents a psychic experience, a particular way of being that can be, actually must be, boundaried by certain beliefs. When we dream of less contained ways of being, we dream that we are outside, as a rule.
So houses and the rooms within them are descriptive of our experience. These rooms will seemingly be unfamiliar to the ladies in question, but in our dreams there are usually recognizable features, even rooms we have been in in childhood, etc. If we dream of a room that has nothing at all recognizable, we are probably dreaming of something we haven't yet experienced in waking consciousness, at least. So in a sense, the women are already doing some self inquiry as they take the "egg-and-key responsibility". The first thing you do when you want to get some personal growth going as an adult, is to become aware of your experience! You look inside to discover what's going on under all the physical happenings, all the "stuffness". You get curious about your beingness, your isness.
So the maiden (or wife in Bluebeard) decides to look into the forbidden room (from my old translation of Fitcher's);
But what did she see when she went in? A great bloody basin stood in the middle of the room, and therein lay human beings, dead and hewn to pieces, and hard by was a block of wood, and a gleaming axe lay upon it. She was so terribly alarmed that the egg which she held in her hand fell into the basin. She got it out and washed the blood off, but in vain, it appeared again in a moment.
Notice the basin is not full of women; it's full of human beings. My Zipes translation says "dead and butchered people". On the contrary, Bluebeard's wife finds dead wives hanging on the walls (the gory basin is sidestepped). However, if I am correct and the egg symbolizes an ability to own the creative power of transformation and personal development, and I am also correct about the mutilation and persistent fear-stain being basically a common problem of our conditioning, it's more appropriate to have a basin of humans.
I'm not moralizing against opulence here; there's not a thing wrong with worldly riches and ease. It's just that they don't amount to much in comparison with a life of growth and creativity and wisdom development. Our women are "poor little rich girls".
The egg's fall into the bloody basin symbolizes the manner in which this whole psychic mess of mutilated humans signifies fear ("she was so terribly alarmed"). There are lots of creative ways to symbolize fear in fairy tales, since fear is a crucial element in human conditioning, and therefore in our self inquiry and development towards self empowerment. That which keeps us from truly being ourselves and expressing life and love to the fullest is always some form of fear. The bloody egg show us that creativity is tainted by fear, right? What are they afraid of? Well, just think about how many fears arise when you imagine doing exactly what you would! We are afraid of standing out, being put down, failing, of success, of losing loved ones, of being destitute, crazy, and on and on.
On an energetic level, we can imagine our habitual, inhibiting fears, our experiences of powerlessness, as breaks in the aura, as well as other auric disturbances such as slow, blocked, wobbly, backward or otherwise unhealthy chakra spinning. For the energetic experience is indeed our "inside". When we fell like something experiential (not the physical body) is inside us, we are actually experiencing our subtle, ethereal, energetic selves. We are our light, though in fact the aura extends beyond the physical body. When we allow fear in and feed it, usually with our thoughts, then it becomes like the stain on the egg; it becomes something we experience regularly. This stain on/within our aura is what keeps us feeling powerless. Tears in the aura, in the energetic body, actually leak energy, so we can't get our light bodies "up to speed", or so those who can see the light field around the body tell us!
The stained key in Bluebeard is similar; bloodstain= habitual fear which keeps us from inquiring into matters of internal freedom and wholeness, from looking at the ways we have given our power away, the bargains we have made internally, the ways we've sold out.
Well sadly, the first sister in Fitcher's doesn't know this. She gets hauled up to the scene of the crimes and gets the same treatment as the "human beings". In the case of Bluebeard's wife, she gets hauled up but asks to pray before he lops off her noggin. Basically she calls her brothers and is rescued by them; end of story, pretty much. In truth the discovery of our inner bloody basin does spell possible death- of that old way of being!
But in Fitcher's we get the sacred three tries. These three tries are a good signal that you've got an alchemical tale in your hands. The whole rigamarole, from the begging to the murder, is also the fate of the second sister.
So as always, it's the third sister who figures out what the heck is up. Again, think of the three tries as a learning process, and the many trips to the rooms as self inquiry. The third sister 1. doesn't follow the guy's instruction; she thinks for herself, and 2. she keeps her/their creativity/transformational/developmental/aural egg intact!
Now it's in innocence that we usually give our power away, encourage fearful thoughts and actions in self and other. Since we have grown up watching people do so, we can't know that simply choosing the rich guy despite not really liking him will result in giving away our creativity and personal power, for example. That's something we learn through experience, and wisdom by definition (my definition) is accrued through experience. So it's not like, in "real life", we would usually get a young woman who was innately hip to the fact that she should prioritize maintaining her personal power against the countless ways of relationship which involve compromising her authentic power of expression, although there are folks like that. In the very old days they were called virgins, and were represented by virgin goddesses. That intact soul untainted by the stain of fear is who Virgin Mary is, for example.
The shelving of the egg tells us that something has been learned. If we remain conscious in the face of fear, if we don't allow it to taint us, to touch us, that's how we'll rejoin the parts we cut off, that we gave away. On an energetic level or spiritual level, we all have kept our eggs clean, as our core creative soul isn't engrossed in the human drama. It's always clean; we all have access to this virgin within. So contacting and using that untainted aspect of our experience, the part that hasn't been bloodied, is another way to interpret the instruction.
The third sister cruises the house sans oeuvre, ends up in the secret room of pain and suffering;
Both her sisters lay there in the basin, cruelly murdered, and cut in pieces. She began to gather their limbs together and put them in order, head, body, arms and legs. And when nothing further was lacking, the limbs began to move and unite themselves together, and both the maidens opened their eyes and were once more alive. Then they rejoiced and caressed each other.
The mutilated and lost inner aspects represented by the "dead" sisters are reclaimed and healed, those aspects which have been condemned by self and other.
Notice that the sister needs only find the lost parts; they know how to order themselves, they know where they fit. In a psychological sense, this is what Jungians call redemption. We re-deem anything we judged as bad or unimportant when we realize it's valuable- and not only are all aspects of ourselves valuable, but so is wholeness itself. In the state of nonjudgment everything is perfect in the transcendent sense, as opposed to the worldly one.
The magician returns;
On his arrival, the man at once demanded the keys and the egg, and as he could perceive no trace of blood on it, he said, "Thou hast stood the test, thou shalt be my bride." He now no longer had any power over her, and was forced to do whatever she desired.
Ah ha! Right? This bit about the power shift is not found in Zipes' translation, and of course Bluebeard is very, very different. While the blue-bearded husband is bellowing, his wife pleads and weeps. Brothers are on their way. An excerpt from this point which proves there is no inner experience;
Then Bluebeard bawled out so loud that he made the whole house tremble. The distressed wife came down, and threw herself at his feet, all in tears, with her hair about her shoulders.
"This signifies nothing," says Bluebeard; "you must die"; then, taking hold of her hair with one hand, and lifting up the sword with the other, he was going to take off her head. The poor lady, turning about to him, and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to afford her one little moment to recollect herself...
After the brothers slaughter Bluebeard, The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband, and had not strength enough to rise and welcome her brothers.
Very different, eh? Of course the frightened woman wins, in a socioeconomic sense, for she inherits the estate, and buys good social positions for her sibs. Ha! This is, of course, the soap operatic, dime store novel sort of plotline that rightfully irks feminist critics of fairy tales. Unfortunately, their blanket criticism is inappropriate to the more alchemical versions, the traditional form of these tales, before the meddling of Perrault and others.
Here's a short sort of charm-song, which fits in well with our story and its healing/wholing theme. Healing is described as reclamation. We'll see how the sorcerer is finally eliminated!
Healing Song Lyrics
Flower gleam and glow,
Let your power shine,
Make the clock reverse,
Bring back what once was mine.
Heal what has been hurt,
Change the fate's design,
Save what has been lost,
Bring back what once was mine.
What once was mine.