Aside from that, I've been doing my Etsy stuff; added a few alchemical designs, here, under the shop section that includes the "Alchemy" series. In case you are not aware, alchemy as it's presented here is the magical art of personal transformation, as described symbolically in the arts. Specifically, here I address the story arts.
Since I am interested in how fairy tales get interpreted in pop culture, I watched part of Jack the Giant Slayer (not sure what the language is, poster above). As I expected, the basic story was WAY overwhelmed by the addition of the heroic, warrior perspective which characterizes my culture. There was romance, too- a princess to save. All good story plot stuff. All in all, it is a good production. Good balance between pathos and lightness (the king steps out of a stationary broad shouldered mantle to reveal a light body frame, for example), pretty good art direction (people in medieval time did not wear jersey shirts, but whatever, technically costuming dept.), an engaging enough screenplay, decent acting, etc.
However, since they had turned the basic storyline into one that diverges not at all from any other action-romance thang, it did not engage me. Such themes are more or less ho-hum for me. The production value wasn't THAT good. And it's always a tiny bit sad to see the original story overrun with all the excess that characterizes a popular action flick. Just a bit. I love that folks are engaged with story in general. And the production was not at all lacking appropriate symbolic content, both visually and in the screenplay and characters.
The story has many variants, as usual. It's an English tale as we know it. Therefore, or perhaps i.e., it was collected by folks of that heritage. The version I'm looking at is from a free e book, here on Amazon. I found a link to another online version, but it's too embellished. Here it is, though, for comparison. You won't need to read it to get this interp, though, unless you don't know the story at all.
The main reason Jack's story is not in the hero/warrior class is that it emphasizes another sort of power; Fool power, if you will. Jack does not succeed through heroics, specifically. He succeeds through an innocent faith, the support of the feminine archetype, and through cleverness; through being quick-witted, light on his feet, and paying attention to timing.
This possessive and unfeeling way of being in the world easily overpowers the soulful way of being in the world, within our ordinary, daily experience. The soul is usually organized symbolically in our culture as feminine, since both soul and the archetypal feminine are about connectedness. Masculine archetype is about stepping away and taking a less connected view. It creates boundaries and separates experience into "good" and "bad", the desired and the rejected. In order for the soulful perspective to gain more power in our psyche, we do well to confront and understand the "giant", the opposite aspect of experience, the materialistic, shall we say, the perspective most people value most of the time. The giant's wife represents this understanding perspective. Understanding dispels fear of the unknown.
Describing the Fool archetype here would take too long. A few aspects of the Fool's character are made evident by the story. You can see from this typical illustration of the Fool that she or he has their "head in the clouds". That's true in our folk tale as well, right? Up to the clouds is exactly where Jack goes- "he climbed and he climbed and he climbed until he reached the sky." Though he meets a very earthy giant there, the setting of "the sky" refers to air element, in alchemical terms, a masculine element that includes both the activities of the mind (like its ability to separate) and also anything ethereal, as in soul and spirit.
So I presented that little intro to the Fool because he/she is the ANTI hero. It's an important point about "fairy" tales, because there are loads of antiheroes/heroines in transformational tales, since they are meant to encourage and develop wisdom, not worldly success. The dominant culture already has lots of stories about how to succeed from the mundane standpoint.
Enough Foolishness- on with the story!
The set up in symbolic stories is always very important; this one begins with a lack of "father", of mature masculinity. So it's a story about developing just that. The other thing lacking is abundance, so we're going to get some lessons on that matter, too. In reading several versions of the story, I am going to say the cow is a symbol of abundance as is common, specifically of the feminine sort (Jack will also steal a hen). My e book names her Milky-White; Jack's mother calls her "the best milker in the parish". This is no dilapidated farm animal, like the horse in the film. Jack isn't trading something of little worth (aged cow) for one of (from the worldly perspective) no worth; he trades something of worth in a very practical, worldly sense (from Mother's view, which is the one presented) for something of worth in an otherworldly sense. In this exchange we can understand that there is a correlation between worldly abundance, and otherworldly abundance. Otherworldly abundance manifests as how we feel, how we experience ourselves and the world. That's a magical truism, that how you experience life is the important thing.
Indeed we can summarize this story as an encouragement to setting things right in an ethereal sense before you go about looking for worldly success. It encourages working on your self development first, on paying attention to how you inhabit your days. Since Jack is probably pubescent/adolescent in age, this is an even more likely interpretation. That's the time we would do very well to sort such matters out, to discover there are other priorities to be had besides the outer world's mundane concerns. It's a "first things first" bit of wisdom, since we can spend a whole life searching for material abundance, clinging to it as the giant does, and, despite actually "having" it in a physical sense, we still might not be capable of feeling abundant on the inside. We might just get stupider and greedier, grasping ever more tightly, until we fall down dead. Of course in the symbolic sense, it's good for the giant to get dead. We can all stand to get rid of our inner greedy giants.
"I wonder if you know how many beans make five", inquires this man in my version. Jack's answer is "Two in each hand and one in your mouth." I know that it seems this guy is a shyster and he's trying to see how stupid Jack is; I say nay. In these wisdom tales, there are often riddles. In fact, riddling is an ancient wisdom technique, for both encouraging and testing one's ability to think outside the box. It's also a way to encode symbolic wisdom. If I want to figure out if you have got some knowledge of expanded ways of using your thinking, of using words, I could ask you such a seemingly innocent question. A person versed in paradox and magic would not give a straight answer.
This is a well known thing in Asian spiritual traditions, as they are brought to the West, anyway- funny it is lost in regards to Euro-Western traditions! Only not- since the advent of Christianity forced folks to leave magic behind. It's the deal made fun of in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Five is a number of change, too- and a change is surely about to come. We could view this man as a sort of teacher, and the beans as the teachings he gives, cocreative potential which will sprout into a different life for Jack. We could say Jack has gone looking for wealth (selling cow), and has encountered a teaching that it's important to develop some wisdom first, like I said, and this guy is going to plant some masculine, air element seeds of just that. Remember that air element is not just the mind, but experience beyond the physical.
Of course Jack doesn't get a positive response when he goes home with the beans. He's been very, very Foolish- having faith in magic, in the value of beans that "grow right up to the sky". He values something that can only be imagined! Though this is definitely the way to build up our magic-muscles, entertaining a life of vision, Mom was looking for something to eat. That's the human dilemma. The beanstalk's wonder was that it would climb to the sky- not feed people. Just as we all do, Jack as visionary, as imaginative being, and as a person of faith, feels like a real loser when he encounters his mother's practical perspective. Visionaries, Artists, and Fools of all stripes know this experience very well, as do many adolescents and young adults, who are often developmentally visionary in order that they might discover a life vision, that they might create the new world beyond their parents' and society's current status.
Here's a song by Uplifter; if you are not interested in rock music, you might not care about it, but I've copied the lyrics, too. They are exploring the concept of magic as the creative force, "something from nothing". That's kind of what Jack's doing, too. Notice the suggestion to ignore what other people say once you've entered the zone, "every time you're through the door". They address the principle of balance with yin and yang, alchemical silver and gold. The Fool's there in the "zero and the one", the All (because soul is always connected to All) and the Nothing.
Next, up into the sky for Jack!
We are the wind on the sea/Sun reflecting you into me
We are the moon and the stars/Darkness hiding mystical heart
We have just begun/The dreams, the nightmares of every one
We are mysterious things/Eternal, perpetual, unending
We are the yin and the yang/The ending, the middle and The Big Bang
We are the zero and one/The desert, the forest and the ocean
I've one conclusion/It's not illusion but it's creativity
The supernatural thing that happens
Between you and me, yeah
Because it's magic, something out of nothing/Magic, something out of nothing
The paranormal became normal/Every time you're through the door
Don't care what they say that's what I say
We are silver and gold/The eyes that can see the hands that hold
We are all you've heard/A whisper to scream every word
You are everything/Eternal, perpetual, unending
I am the mystical/The sweet science of seeing the whole
We are creative/Everyone of us, it's how we live, yeah
We are positive/Everyone of us, it's how we live
Douglas Vincent Martinez;Nicholas Lofton Hexum