The Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales by Marie Louise von Franz. I have little doubt that the secrets of the universe are coded in fairy tales. Metaphor, symbols, and dreams are the language of the Soul, and the Soul is life itself. True fairy tales that are passed down through generations are like a newspaper article that reflect the situation, outline the challenges, and offer the solution to both our individual and collective lives.
If you can understand the metaphor, you can find the solution. Our dreams give us secret hints every night, but so often we don’t understand them. They seem bizarre and they don’t make logical sense to us. So we don’t pay attention to them and don’t see that the solution lies in the dream. Jungian Analyst, Daryl Sharp said, that has yet to find a dream motif that he couldn’t also find in mythology or fairy tales. That is because they speak the same language… The language of the Soul.
The Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales has been an invaluable resource to me in re-thinking about life using metaphor. For instance, the shoemaker in dreams is not simply one who makes shoes, but he is a figure who’s artitude is oriented with a stand point toward reality. He has “both feet on the ground” so to speak. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes, means to look at the situation from that person’s stand point. If we “walk in our father’s footsteps” this means we are taking on the same attitude as our father. To have “big shoes to fill” can be both an exciting challenge and a daunting hardship. Especially, as expectations have already been set before you arrived. There is already another standpoint that that you are to be compared with—which is never fun in my opinion. There is often a power complex associated with the foot. To stand on one’ own two feet is to stand in one’s own power, to be independent, and supporting one’s self. In battle, the victor puts often his foot on the neck of the defeated who now has to go with what the victor says.
“We know that from the story of Achilles that the heel is a particularly sensitive spot of the hero. First, the heel is on one’s back side; therefore it signifies a place where one does not see oneself very well— where one is unconscious of oneself. Such places are unguarded and vulnerable to evil forces. Secondly l, the heel has to do with the foot and therefore is associated with one’s standpoint. Achilles help problems represents the mother complex, because it was the place where the mother held Achilles as she dipped him in the river. “ Marie Louise Von Franz – The Mother Archetype in Fairy Tales
Shoes also have a sexual connotation—-think of shoe fetishes and the foot being the penis and the shoe being the vagina. Think of women and their shoe collection—you could say that there is some correlation to sexuality and shoes that is an unconscious factor in women’s who own a lot of shoes. But you cannot only say that owning a lot of shoes is only due to a sexual unconscious drive. For shoes have historically also been correlated with social status and lack of shoes with poverty. In some places in older days, only the wealthy had more than one pair of shoes. You hear of the poor orphan children who always needed shoes or had no shoes. Yet you still cannot say for sure that the woman with a lot of shoes is is related to only sexual reasons or that she is concerned with status… it could be also that she is a creative person who likes a lot of options and can’t make up their mind yet as to a direction, or you might have a person who is having a hard time letting go of old outworn and out grown attitudes, beliefs, and ideas. So… it depends on the person. You cannot tell just by a person having a lot of shoes… you must also know them personally.
Shoes and feet have been historically correlated to cleanliness, hygiene, and were seen as offensive. In recent years, there have been a number of shoe throwing incidents known as “shoeing” that is meant as an insult and is a statement of political protest. The bottom of your shoes make contact with the ground of everyday life and carry with them all the dust and dirt. This is why in many cultures, we take our shoes of before entering a home.
Moses is asked to take his shoes off because he is standing on holy ground. This might mean that he is moving between realms, from the physical to the spiritual. His shoes, which have contact with the reality of the physical world, must be taken off in order to enter the spiritual dimension. He is now to view reality from the spiritual standpoint. He cannot enter in the spiritual realm wearing the same protective attitude. He must take his shoes off, take off defenses, take off your old attitude, take off your old view of of what fits reality, come naked, be vulnerable, be open. Moses, you are on Holy Ground, you are in the spiritual dimension, your true home, take your shoes off, see reality from the realm spiritual realm and I will show you Wonders. At any encounter with the Self… we must approach the numinous with humility. Meaning that we have no expectations, no pretenses, we take off old ideology or theology, we are willing to change our standpoint.
One thought that I just had was that when reading fairy tales or studying dreams. We take our shoes off metaphorically, so to speak. Our thinking is no longer confined or limited by the physical world and its laws, we are no longer limited by three-dimensional logic. Taking things too literally has caused a lot of problems for us, such as strife, religious dogma, and war. We cannot approach the spiritual dimension the same way as we work in the physical. Nature has a set of laws, and spirit has a set of laws. Both nature and spirit follow their laws. Animals are true to their instincts. Nature is true to her times and seasons. Humans are both nature and spirit—we have two sets of laws that we are doing out best to follow. It’s really not easy for us. You should really not be so hard on yourself. To be human is a contradiction. It’s a paradox to be both a creature of nature and also carry a divine spark that results in consciousness. It is no easy task be a carrier of God’s consciousness. But that is what is so special about being human…we are unifying the opposites. We are working out the issues so that nature can have life and life can have express nature. Life is another name for all things Spirit and Soul.
One more thing about the foot and interpretations. I got off on a tangent. The christian bible is an ancient text and ancient texts are all written metaphorically. Jesus tells a parable about binding a man hand and foot, and casting him in outer darkness where the is gnashing of teeth. To be bound hand and foot would be to be bound in his works and in his ways…gnashing of teeth is the eating of hard experiences. Metaphor is crucial in interpreting or understanding any ancient text… that was the language. If we take it literally we miss the whole thing and we do much harm.
That was my soapbox. This book is a great resource. I love the author because she says things clearly. There are some resources , including a copy of this book, that are available for download on our website. Our website is still being put together, as I am still being put together.