I took myself to see Maleficent recently and was thoroughly entertained. The reworked story of sleeping beauty starring Angelina Jolie playing the dark and evil godmother offers us a moral lesson around love, just as fairy tales have always done. Here archetypes are allowed to loom large and we see Maleficent first as the maiden, flying around in a magical Garden of Eden, head fairy of a lush landscape which is a haven for all creatures. All creatures that is except man. The patriarchal King and his castle are beyond the borders of the fairy kingdom and subject to the typical ravages attributed to the masculine – power, greed, war, violence, weapons and a twisted black heart that makes those vices more attractive than the gifts of a Gaian utopia.
So we see the maiden Maleficent in all her innocence and purity meet the young male from the land of the King and that first meeting plants a seed in the heart of both. Later, the acts of the now grown man as he seeks money, power, prestige and fame, mirror the acts of patriarchy throughout time, which is to plunder the gifts of nature for personal gain. I won’t spill the beans of the story, but the once beautiful and trusting fairy Queen is betrayed and her heart turned to cold stone wherein the viperous shadow nature of the feminine is unleashed upon the future daughter of the King.
I was put in mind of the stories of human nature shared in Clarissa Pinkole Estes’ book ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’. Dr Estes tells the archetypal stories through which all our lives are played out, folk stories gathered from all round the world, told late at night over crackling fires to wide eyed children. This reworking of the Sleeping Beauty myth has more depth and meaning than the original as we get the back story to the evil and wicked Queen and how the damage done to her, wrought at the hands of man, has twisted her psyche. Sounds like any one of us, who have hardened our hearts against the pain of our naïve vulnerability. This quote from Dr Estes sums it up:
“Life happens to a woman that results in her instinctive nature being pushed down to where she can feel bound up and trapped. When this happens, the true nature of a woman hides. A woman begins to feel as though she doesn’t know who she is.”
According to Estes, the hurt and pain life brings can result in a plethora of symptoms of a woman losing touch of who she is: depression, confusion, fatigue, feeling shame, being uncreative, being volatile, feeling powerless, being out of touch with goddess, being fearful, angry, destructive and a whole host of other symptoms.
All of this comes at a time where I myself am journeying with the dark goddess and offering shadow workshops for women to examine their inner pain. The journey into the shadow is powerful work indeed and exploring our own stories and understanding the nature of our damage is necessary to unravel the dark labyrinth of pain we walk.
Maleficent is just one such story where a wounded woman loses herself to her shadow nature and in the process becomes hardened to the beauty of her light. But like all good fairy tales are meant to play out, redemption is delivered through the panacea of love. And so it is for all of us. Where are you withholding love for your own shadow nature? What dark places are shored up to stop the pain leaking out? At some point the underworld will call and ask you to descend. At that time be brave enough to journey and face your shadow front on. The evil Queen Maleficent does just that, and the moral of this fairy tale is that as you embrace your shadow, you open to receive its gifts. Bathed in the light of love, the shadow becomes the teacher and gives you wings to fly.
Kerri Ryan is a woman of goddess, an international workshop facilitator, speaker, writer and author teaching and sharing on sacred sexuality, the goddess and the divine feminine. She is a qualified kundalini and chakra dance facilitator teaching through the medium of dance how to awaken and utilise kundalini and shakti energy. She is an initiated Priestess of the Goddess with the Order of the Pomegranate Grove and offers a 13 month journey in priestess training entitled Path of the Priestess. She wrote her masters thesis on HIEROS GAMOS: Sacred Sexuality Ancient and Modern”.
As a speaker she has been interviewed for American and Canadian radio and magazines and presented workshops for numerous organisations including GAIA, School of Shamanic Midwifery, Bayside Red Tent and Women’s Wellbeing. In 2012 she presented on sacred sexuality at the Goddess Spirit Rising Conference in Malibu, California. She has published numerous articles in national magazines and is currently publishing her first book on the channelled memories of a past lifetime as a priestess, entitled “Mandipa, Priestess of Ishtar”.