The thoughts and feelings of a Pirate Wiccan on Pagan issues and community.
Once upon a time...
And it continued...
I don't have to tell you this story because you already know this story.
You can tell this story to me in many different ways, but this story, in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years.
And thus we see some of the power of fairy tales and the role of archetypes.
You meet these people everyday: the young maiden seeking herself, the evil queen bent on destruction, the brave hunter in the wood, the fool, the hermit, the wise woman, the trickster...I'm sure you could name any number of the archetypes that our myths and legends are based on from every culture.
Neil Gaiman, a writer who perpetuates the world of myth and folklore for the contemporary audience, wrote the poem Instructions, a modern take on "What you do if you find yourself in a fairytale". His words simply repeat the infinite number of ways others who have come before have told us to survive the realm between-the-worlds. But this simple, basic wisdom of the ages seems like it is slowly getting lost. We are forgetting the importance of the lessons that fairy tales teach us.
The world of fairy tales is considered a place for children now. In our Disney codified world, the main points are forgotten in our need to clean up these stories and make them "family friendly". Adults don't want their children to be confronted with the darker, gorier, more erotic versions of these tales. Parents don't want their children to lose their innocence too soon. They think they are protecting them.
But when don't we find ourselves in a fairy tale? The realm of fairy tale is simply a realm between the worlds, and I don't think it matters what flavor of Pagan you are, there is probably some point where you find yourself between-the-worlds. Whenever I cast a circle in ritual, I am between-the-worlds. This is the place that I, and many others, go to find the gods, the divine, the other; whatever you wish to call it, it's found in this place. As a child, you probably found yourself more in the realm of fairy than at any time in your adult life, simply because, as the author Christopher Moore postulates, "Children see magic because they look for it". As children, we don't shy away from this place; we actively seek it in ways that we can't as adults. As adults, we have learned the hard lessons and we build walls that make it harder to find this place.
And while it can be easy to find yourself in-between-the worlds if you lose those inhibitions, it's not easy to find your way back again without some help.
A lot of the training we do as Pagans in how to use magic and how to respect deity are the advanced instructions you need to walk this world. The lessons of fairy tales, those we heard as we grew up, are the very basis for the foundation of this work that we are doing as adults.
So it's up to us to take the wisdom of those who came before us, to know how to walk in this place to remain safe and to find what we are seeking from those beings that have been there all along. I think most Pagans recognize the power of these old stories and can still understand the importance of what they have to offer us through their lessons.
I went to a workshop this summer presented by Diana Paxson, who talked about trance and meditation work. Her advice was that when you meet someone on your own astral journeys on the trail in the forest, treat them the way fairy tales teach you to. Be kind to the old woman on the side of the road, take the offered advice and accept her aid. Always be polite and give help in return when it is asked of you.
We are in the time of the year where the veil between our world and that other place is thinning. If you are Wiccan or celebrate the Wheel of the Year, Samhain is the time where this veil is at it's thinnest; we don't have to cast our our energies very far to enter it.
During this time of year, it also becomes easier to get lost.
But, it is also easier, during this time of the year, to reach out across the veil and seek aid from that other side. It is easier to call out to our ancestors and to those who went before us to ask for aid. It is easier to catch the ear of some of the deities and spirits that exist on that other plane. Our worlds are a little closer together than they usually are as the Goddess descends down to the Underworld to take her rightful place.
Remember the rules that our fairy tales teach us. This is the basic etiquette for staying safe and being able to go to that other place to actually find your true self. Don't forget some of the first lessons you ever learned! Look at the people around you and see what role they play to help you on your path through the world. Maybe they will be your wicked witch or evil queen, but at the end of the road, how could the heroine of our tale have found her inner power if she hadn't needed to deal with the obstacles that stood in her way?
* All photos taken by and courtesy of Kenny Klein (The Young Heroine played by Stephanie Mitchell and the Evil Queen played, of course, by me)
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