Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fairy tales: Alternative to environmental doom?

Late afternoon sun through the woods across from our house: 2/28/14
CC Jean Stimmell
Theodor Seifert, a Jungian analyst in Stuttgart Germany, believes that fairy tales tap into the vast richness of our collective unconscious, representing hard-won wisdom accumulated over time since the dawn of our species, working in concert with the more-than-human wisdom of the earth itself.

Seifert, like most Jungians, views the various characters in a fairy tale, not as different people but as different universal aspects of our individual psyche. Therefore, to him, a fairy tale is a metaphor for the drama that plays out between these various parts during the course of our life.

As such, fairy tales can teach us crucial, life-affirming lessons. For instance in his book about Snow White, Seifert shows us how this fairy tale is really about meeting ourselves in all our forms – “from self-reflection to self-criticism to self destruction” and then goes on to tell us why this is of the utmost importance to us today:

“Today we are in a position to annihilate ourselves completely, as global self-destruction is an acutely threatening possibility.  Will we escape it? I believe …fairy tales as embodied here in Snow White – can show us alternatives, alternatives that must be chosen by the individual.

With the individual begins the transformation that can progress from the one to the many. If we find and honor our own inner earth, the planet earth will also again become something like our mother, which in fact it always has been.”*

Snow White: Life Almost Lost by Theodor Seifert. Chiron Publications. 1986: page 118
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