Sleeping beauty as modern day Inanna

In the month of December Mindfunda will publish a series of blogs about the descent. Today’s blog is about the resemblance of the story of Sleeping Beauty with the Descent Mythology.

  1. The first one was about depression as descent.
  2. In the second Guest blog, Jean Raffa explored Inanna’s descent as a personal myth.
  3. This third blog will focus on the common themes found the Descent Myth of Inanna and Sleeping Beauty.
  4. The last blog, written by Elaine Mansfield, will talk about Redeeming the dark.

Sleeping Beauty and Inanna

The story of Inanna was the greatest and most influential of Bronze Age myths, apart from the Epic of Gilgamesh” say Anne Baring and Jules Cashford in their “The Myth of the Goddess”, still one of the best handbooks around when it comes to Goddesses.

sleeping beauty
“The Myth of the Godess” – Buy the book using this link and support Mindfunda

Anne Baring and Jules Cashford write in their chapter about The Descent of Inanna: “While Inanna is in the Underworld, during the three days of darkness, it is as though a spell has been cast in the upper world. Fertility is suspended; everything falls asleep. The imagery of the Sleeping Beauty comes irresistibly to mind. Was the story the origin of the fairy tale whose lunar princess, together with the parents and the court, falls asleep on her fifteenth birthday and who is awakened by the prince, who restores her and the whole court to live?”

 

sleeping beauty
Sleeping Beauty: Disney

 

The sleep was the result of a spell of one of the wise thirteen women who was not invited to the party, celebrating the miraculous birth of the couple that had been infertile for years. To conceive a child, the couple gets help from a frog. But this kind of dark side magic comes with a price.

So here is the Dark Mother Goddess.  A spinning Goddess, who spins out life, giving form to new ideas, new creations. The fifteenth day of the cycle of the moon is the day the moon begins to wane. So the Goddess not invited has to be the Goddess of the Dark Moon. To quote Anne Baring and Jules Cashford in The Myth of the Goddess: “The Mother Goddess begins to loosen the threads of the cloth she has woven”.

Sleeping beauty and number 13

Thirteen is the exact number of full moon’s in a year. And it was Apollo 13 who got into trouble in 1970: “Houston, we got a problem”. It is an unlucky number. Friday the 13th is the day that, according to legend, Jesus got crucified. That sacrifice, giving up his consciousness for his belief in an afterlife, is exactly the same as the sacrifice in the Quest that Inanna undertakes in her journey to the Underworld. The Mother Goddess Inanna, travels to the realm of her Sister Queen Ereshkigal. The Earth becomes infertile. Like the Kingdom of the parents of Sleeping Beauty became infertile, when the curse casted by the uninvited Fairy  was completed.

The Sleeping Beauty and the Waste Land

So here we have a theme of a King and Queen, and their daughter sleeping. The Kingdom goes to waste. Every sign of growth is put on hold. The land has become a waste land. We have seen this theme in the Grail Story. Like Sleeping Beauty, the Grail story is a story of enchantment and disenchantment. Like the Wounded King, Sleeping Beauty gets stung. The King by a lance, Sleeping beauty by a spindle. Both are unable to fertilize anything. The wounded King is wounded in his thighs, suggesting that this is the reason for his infertility. The father of Sleeping Beauty has this same  fertility issue. And now, at the onset of her own menarche, the wounded princes falls asleep. Postponing her entrance on the marriage market for a staggering 100 years.

 

sleeping beauty
Waste land
toppixgalery.com

 

We have all been there. We have all been so hurt by a stinging remark of somebody that we fell sleep. Our light, vividness, sense of humor was gone. Trapped in an infertile land. New thoughts, new creative ideas did not have a chance to reach maturity, just like Sleeping Beauty.

I remember the hurt and humiliation I felt when an older Dutch person who works with dreams said when he read one of my books: “You need to go out and get some life experience”. I have never tried to write a book again, feeling quite sure that it could not be good enough. In that way I am Sleeping Beauty, who needs to be kissed awake.

Innana’s myth of the descent is a tale about life after death. Inanna visits the Kingdom of her sister who hangs her on a meat hook. Like Sleeping Beauty she is paralyzed for a short while. Striped down, hung out ty dry, with all the creative juices dripping out of her flesh. Like Sleeping Beauty, who is rescued by the prince, Inanna receives help from her animus as well. The King of Gods, Enki, creates beings from the dirt underhis finger nails.

Sleeping Beauty
Enki
Photo: Wikipedia

 

The integration of the animus in a woman is in both stories the way to turn the tables. Getting out of the helpless stage, embracing your own masculine side is an important step before one can enter any marriage market. Theater you want to propose to your boyfriend, or if you want to court a new idea for a book, a play or a writing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

REMEMBER: the CHRISTMAS period IS a VERY SPECIAL TIME FOR DREAMING, SO JOIN MINDFUNDA FOR THE HOLY NIGHT DREAM INCUBATIONS.

Mindfunda invites you for a Christmas celebration you will remember. For just 10 dollars you get exclusive access to a restricted private area on Mindfunda during the Holy Nights. Each night between December 24rd and January 6th, I will share a dream incubation. We will talk about and reflect on our dreams. Ancient belief says that during these nights the veil between the worlds is thin. Register now as Mindfunda More Member, to experience the depth of your dreams.

Descent

Every year around Christmas, I enter a stage of depression. I used to think it was caused by all the lights, cards and presents. I thought it was caused by the abundance of food in a deprived world. I thought it was my bad nature that caused me to get so tired around December. My biggest longing in December is to be left undisturbed in my thinking/feeling process to evaluate the year that has passed. My dreams are more intense, and I found out it is a special time for dreaming.

descent
Artwork: Mary Stubberfield

In the last couple of years I began to study mythology. I studied mythology like it was my life saving medicine. I began to understand that it had been my soul that was calling to me. I needed to tune in and listen.

 

descent
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James Hillman and the Descent to the Underworld

James Hillman, born in 1926, the same year as my father, studied in Zürich with Jung and he was director of this Zürich institute for ten years.
He typified modern psychology as soul-less. Psyche means soul but that is the one thing that therapists never touch upon.  In “The Dream and the Underworld” he says: “Soon we shall be making our own descent to the underworld in detail. I am assuming that its general geography is already somewhat familiar from myths, religions, painting and literature, where the horrors of hell and the sufferings of the deep, the waters one crosses to get there, have been to us through centuries of our common lore.”

Freud and Jung and the descent

In the psychological model Hillman paints the underworld as the touchstone of both of their lives. “Freud writes: Traumdeuting was, I found, a portion of my own self analysis, my reaction to mu father’s death- that is to say, to the most important loss, of a man’s life”.

Jung wrote down his revelations with the underworld in his Red Book.
The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades. Carl Jung

Could it be that I resented Christmas so much because I fear my journey to Hades? My descent into the underworld? I always tell myself that I do not fear death, only of the pain that will be involved in the process of dying. I remember the pain I felt when my children were born and it is very tempting to see death as  a birth into another realm. Both processes are accompanied by pain.

“The psychic perspective is focused not only on death or about dying. Rather, it is a consciousness that stands on its own two legs only when we have to put our day world notions to sleep. Death is the most profoundly radical way of expressing this shift in consciousness” says Hillman. So it is not the process of dying per se, but a shift of consciousness…

I know that you all like Stephan Aizenstat. He calls himself “A DreamTender.” He sits with a dream. With its images. And in some mystical way, it works for him and a lot of other people. If I sit with a dream, my mind just gets wandering. About all kinds of things but not about the dream. I need structure, to guide my active mind.

Hillman does not give a dream method. He tells us that dreams belong to the underworld. We should not try to interpret them. But meanwhile, reading his chapter “Praxis” about dreams gives you a lot of information about possible mythological interpretations of dreams. To understand dreams we must enter Hades’ realm. And the only way Persephone got entry there was because of the rape of Hades… So the aggression of the underworld, that plucks away the maiden admiring a flower, initiates the descent into the soul.

My own descent

Just like the sun, who enables our lives, we shine bright. The birth of Jesus, as celebrated at Christmas, symbolizes the return of the light. In Jungian terms: in our dark unconscious matter we will find treasures that can serve as cornerstones for our individualization. We need to bring those treasures up, into the light of consciousness.

 

descent
Diagram: Jungdarwinbook.com

 

The story of Eve, stealing and eating the apple of knowledge against the will of God, symbolizes the quest for knowledge. If Eve had not eaten the apple of knowledge together with Adam, there would have been no original sin. But there would also have been no need for the son of God to be born among man as Jesus Christ. It is a sin, but a Felix Culpa.

In the Grail legend, it is the other way around. Parsifal does not ask the question! Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise for their hunger for consciousness, Parsifal is denied the Grail for not asking the question. So historically, there has been a turn around.

Consciousness has become the Grail of our times. It has become the Grail of Jungians and others who look to depth psychology (and/or mythology to better understand themselves and their personal relationships and to their  (outer) world. I confess, I am one of those people. I do think gaining self-knowledge will make me a more balanced person. And that inner balance will increase my happiness. How has that worked out in my life so far?

Looking back I can say that the most depressing period in my life was when my husband was diagnosed with burn out. While he was sleeping and dreaming his way back into health, I was running round, taking care of everything and everybody, except for myself.

 

descent
Artwork: sacred connections.wordpress.com

One night I had a dream: A big spider comes walking toward me. It bites me in my hand, I feel a deep sharp pain and wake up.

The Spider Goddess bit me in the hand, as if to say: “Take care of yourself first”. Hillman says about the spider: “Although most natural spiders live in the earth, dream spiders usually appear in the air, a nightworld air like the chthonic, pneumatic underworld. There is an underworld intellect, a chthonic mind of nature that must spin out its patterns, constructing networks that can catch and hold any winged fantasy flying by.” The spider, in many ancient cultures the symbol of the Great Mother Goddess weaves the threads of the web of life, connecting realms and energies.

Like everyone who takes good care of him/herself, I started to plan lonely activities. Walking, every day. Me with my train of thoughts. My way of clearing my head. Embracing my solitude has helped me to survive. Loving the time I spent alone with myself has brought back balance. Like the spider weaves its connective web, my loneliness has taught me to see connections. How things of my past re-play in my current life. How I can be a better mother. Not only to my children, but also to myself. Is it the descent in the darkness that brings out the light?

Descent and Berserkers

Christmas time is family time. A time for old arguments and irritations that pop out just when you are ready to have a Christmas snack. Things can boil up into a heated argument. In a rage, your unconscious just throws out words that, even though they are true in your eyes, can hurt the one they are screamed at, to the core. The bear inside all of us can turn into a berserker: someone in a state of destructive rage. But things that are said can not be easily taken back. Going berserk is one of the expressions that still reminds us of the heritage of the Bear Goddess. The Bear used to be honored as a special deity. A representation of Loosing all grip of reality, in a rage of “telling someone like it is” you can turn the brightness of a Christmas Eve into the darkness of a nightmare.

descent

Almost all of us have been there, at such a family event, biting our tongues, or smiling politely when feeling offended by a family member.
Hillman has got this practical advice when you encounter such a situation:
“Our human person is shadowed by an archetypical image in the likeness of a God, and the God appears as the shade of a person”.
So just be gentle at the Christmas table. Don’t rage out, if a family member insults you, just acknowledge the fact that he/she represents the shadow. And without light, we would not be able to recognize a shadow as part of our own persona.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Remember: Christmas is a very special time for dreaming, so join Mindfunda for the Holy Night Dream Incubations.

Mindfunda invites you for a Christmas celebration you will remember. For just 10 dollars you get exclusive access to a restricted private area on Mindfunda during the Holy Nights. Each night between December 24 and January 6 I will share a dream incubation. We will talk about and reflect on our dreams. Ancient belief says that during these nights the veil between the worlds is thin. Register now as Mindfunda More Member, to experience the depth of your dreams.

Literature

Marie Louise von Fransz, The Feminine in Fairy Tales, Spring Publications 1974
James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld, Harper & Row Publishers 1979