In the beginning of this series we talked about humans forgetting that an earthly calendar needs to reflect what truly happens up in the sky (see “Dance with Destiny” Part I and Part II). Only when a calendar reflects the cycles of the sun and the moon properly will we manage to stay in tune with the cyclical movements of life. Only then will we be able to respond to their rhythmic creational process that shapes the world we live in, and thus participate in the dance of destiny.
To respond to their cycles can be compared to a journey, which the American mythologist Joseph Campbell called the journey of a hero. The hero is you or I, or any human being. Our personal heroic journey through life is therefore closely tied to the movement of the sun and the moon. However, once people start to live by a calendar that is rather randomly calculated, they begin to lose touch with their inner sense of direction and purpose. Not living by means of a coherent calendar makes the journey through life seem arbitrary, without a beginning or a direction.
This is exactly what began to happen when during the change of a matriarchy to a patriarchy, many millennia ago, people started to live by a calendar that did not integrate the moon-cycles into time measurement. Maybe it was too hard to grasp for political leaders, who anyway rather identified with the mighty sun. All of a sudden, what people sensed deep down in their souls no longer matched the rules they were given.
Such a disregard torments the soul, because the soul is connected to the cosmic order. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes in her foreword to the book “Woman who glows in the Dark” by Elena Avila and Joy Parker that “without the daily interaction between inner and outer worlds, a person falls ill from the lack of passion and meaningful animation” (translated from the German version). In other words, if we live a daily life that is structured around a calendar that ignores to consider the rhythm of the moon, we begin to lose touch with our souls. So, while the soul is still connected to the balanced sun-moon-calendar, our daily awareness tends to shift away from it, because it is misguided by arbitrary schedules made up by ignorant worldly rulers (see “The True Hero’s Journey in Fairy Tales and Stone Circles”).
The consequences people must live with when their societies no longer consider sun and moon as equal are dire. People’s life-styles start to focus increasingly on outer appearances, ignoring the stirrings of the soul. Direction on the journey gets lost and it is forgotten that occurrences are interconnected. The lunar side of life, which stands for collaboration and mutual care, instead of greed and competition, gets suppressed. Polarities and imbalances begin to occur: Some people end up wealthy, most are poor; some are wasting food, while others are starving; some are healthy, others are sick; some are happy, most are not. In the end, life seems random and purposeless, with no reliability or integrity.
Many European wonder tales make this imbalance their central issue. They begin with a scenario such as:
A princess is ill and there is no remedy for her;
A woodcutter is so poor that his children are starving;
A step-daughter gets cheated out of her father’s estate;
A soldier is wounded and lonely on his way home from war;
A couple cannot conceive children, etc.
All sorts of imbalances can be found at the beginning of a tale, some of them truly heartbreaking. Yet, the initial problem gets solved during the course of the story. There is a happy ending in most of the tales, and the saying applies: When there is no happy end, it is not yet the end. There is always the promise that balance can be restored, one way or another. The heroines and heroes exemplify this very process. It is the target of each wonder tale. They are constructed in such a way that they demonstrate how a human can be guided by his or her soul to move back into alignment with the balanced sun-moon-calendar. In other words, the heroine or hero of a wonder tale demonstrate how to get back in sync with the cosmic order. Interestingly, in the end they always manage to also restore balance for their environment.
It is important to know, however, especially with the current debate about Disney's fairy tales being sexist, that there is no difference between the genders in a wonder tale. We might be misled to believe that there is always a prince who is saving the princess, but that is not the case. Sometimes it is a heroine who does the task and at other times it is a hero. In many wonder tales a princess saves a prince, or even a whole bunch of them, as in the Norwegian tale "The Twelve Wild Ducks". Oftentimes, a heroine and a hero complement each other within the same tale.
A person in a wonder tale, be it a princess or a prince, a mistreated step-daughter, an orphaned child, a poor woodcutter or a wounded soldier, all manage to become aware during the story of what truly creates their destiny on the earthly plane. By moving with the cosmic cycles they become ready to be the queen or king they were meant to be, and thus can offer the healing remedy (of realization) to others as well. Since the stories are always about an individual who does not want to put up with the imbalance any longer and therefore begins to listen to the soul for guidance, they will naturally meet another individual who is on the same quest during the process. Their paths cross and their work complements each other.
These timeless wisdom stories still apply today. They are an instruction on how to recover the missing lunar quality and hence experience a life in sync with the cosmic rhythms. By turning inward and sensing what our soul is attuned to, we not only re-find direction, purpose and clarity on our journey through life, we also start to dance to the tune of destiny, able to live a life full of wonder and magic, just as modeled by the wonder tales.
©Andrea Hofman, 2019