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by Dr Peter
who helps children who are polite and pure
of spirit. Clever children c an sometimes
trick her and she respects their audacity and
rewards them with special treats.
In one folktale, Vasilissa the Beautiful is
sent to visit Baba Yaga and is enslaved by her.
Vasilissa is given three impossible ta sk s and
she solves them with the help of a magic doll
given to her by her mother.
The image of Baba Yaga living in a
chicken hut on spindly legs is sure to c apture
the imagination of young children who can
be encouraged to make up their own stories
in which she is the kindly old lady who helps
innocent children who are lost and in need of
guidance. These imaginative activities help to
restore the imbalance in always seeing the old
woman as an ugly old hag who causes harm.
Accept Our Shadow
We need to remember that we a lso have a
shadow side. Hindu godde ss K ali is both
creator and destroyer. Aphrodite is the
embodiment of sexual love but c ause s
mischief in lover’s a f fairs a nd suffers terribly
when her beautiful lover Adonis is gored to
death by a wild bull.
As women we need to accept this wild side
and acknowledge our ability to cause mischief,
to manipulate others, to be the all devouring
mother as well as the nurturer and peacemaker.
By embracing K ali and the dark Egyptian
goddes s Sekhmet, we h ave the capacity to
become more whole and more f ully human,
to be wild and free. We need to accept our
own shadow side truthfully and step out with
courage from the shadow imposed upon u s by
the patriarchal oral and written traditions .
Fairytales abound with images of fairy
godmothers, e vil witche s a nd damsels
Snow White innocently eat s the apple sent
to her by her jealou s stepmother. She sleeps
until the Prince arrives and is woken by his kiss .
Sleeping Beauty suffers a similar fate. Rapunzel
is locked in a tower by her father. Hansel
and Gretel are lured into the fore st and face
the evil witch. There are over three hundred
versions of the story of Cinderella. We can
identify with the image of a silent Cinderella
ser ving and suffering under the jurisdiction
of a na sty stepmother and evil stepsisters, but
how often is Cinderella recognised as an icon
of tran sformation. She personifies the plight
of the feminine soul in today’s world. Where
was her voice? Why did she not have the
courage to insist that she had every right to
attend the ball?
At this time there are ma ny such
Cinderella s, a fraid to speak up, who sit
among the cinders and keep the fires alight
in much the same way that priestesses of old
tended the sacred fires of temples which were
dedicated to ancient goddes ses.
Reading these deceptively simple tales
from a different perspe ctive can illuminate
our lives as women. Maiden, mother or crone
we all have a sacred duty to reclaim the lost
feminine and to wake up from the deep sle ep
which we have endured silently. We can help
this process by telling the truth of our own
stories and speaking in our own voices in this
time which is in dire need of the feminine .
We need to step out from the shadow and fear
imposed upon us by many of these old stories ,
myths and fairytales and fully embrace all that
makes us wild and free.
‘Maiden, mother or crone,
we all have a sacred duty to
reclaim the lost feminine...’
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