When I dreamed up the Starlight Collective, I knew it was something that I wanted to participate in. That’s what they say, right? Write the book you want to read. Do the thing you want to see happen in the world that no one else is doing. So, that has been a part of this all along.
If you want to read more about why I started the Starlight Collective, you can check out this post from August. Suffice it to say that I started it for myself, in part, but also for anyone else that wanted to learn how to incorporate a creative practice into their busy schedules and re-balance both aspects of the divine. I knew that I wanted to re-connect to the divine. But what I never dreamed at the time was just how…..dreamy it was going to be. It is everything I have ever wanted in an online presence, community, and in a creative practice. And it’s only just getting started.
And, as it turns out, the synchronicities surrounding the posts and prompts in the Collective keep knocking me off my feet. It seems like the divine is winking at me every week, trying equally to reach out and connect to me. Because, see, I schedule the Collective posts all about a week or so in advance. And then they wind up being exactly what I most need to hear/think about that week. It’s been a little bit wild, but in the most cool way.
And so for this regular blog post, I wanted to share a bit of a behind the scenes peek at my favorite example of that so far.
The prompt for the week was this:
For this week’s creative prompt, we are flipping the script again and playing around with archetypal themes. This month’s creative writing prompt is:
What did sleeping beauty dream about while she was asleep? And/or where did she go?
Write a poem, or short prose piece in response, but also feel free to start by just answering the question directly, and let the words and ideas and your imagination flow. See what happens after that and what you can make out of it. As always please share what you write, if you feel inclined!
The creative prompts go out on Mondays, and on Wednesdays I share a “Curiosity Wednesday” post which is some sort of article or blog post or what have you that relates in some way to the Monday Creative Prompt. This post also allows me to nerd out a bit and do some research on something curious. So for this week, because the Creative Prompt had to do with Sleeping Beauty, I got to nerd out extra hard and shared this psychological examination of Sleeping Beauty/Consciousness:
Like most stories famously animated by Disney, the story of Sleeping Beauty has a complicated past and a dark history. But that is what I find so fascinating about them. Did you know that there are traces of this archetypal story as far back at 1300AD? Everyone knows about Grimm’s fairy tales (in which this particular one is called “Briar Rose"), but did you know that before Grimm there was Perrault’s version? And before that there was a version by Giambattista Basile called "Sun, Moon, and Talia," which dates to 1636. Andrew Lang later adapted Perrault’s version for his famous Fairy Books. And, what I find personally most fascinating: there is a tale in 1,001 Arabian Nights that, while somewhat tenuous, is still considered a “Sleeping Beauty Tale.” (For references and a more detailed history of this tale, check out SurLaLune Fairy Tales’ page on the History of Sleeping Beauty: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/sleepingbeauty/history.html)
This story is peppered all through-out time and all over the world. What I find most curious is: why? Why did all of these different cultures and writers produce similar tales about a princess who falls asleep and is awakened by a prince? (Or in some cases, by her children.) What does is say about the fundamental human condition that we keep telling ourselves and each other this same story? Some post-modernist and feminist readings of this tale are affronted at the implication that a princess needs a prince to come and rescue her and wake her up. But Canadian professor and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, who has lectured and written books about comparative mythology combined with his clinical experience over a long career, offered the below quote in response, as his comparative mythological interpretation. I find it to be a fascinating study in human psychology, and I personally agree with him that to read the story at the surface level of “the message is that women need men to rescue them” does not do the profound history of this tale justice.
It has been around far too long, and appears in far too many instances of human creativity, for it to be that simple. Peterson offers a deeper psychological dive, and I find his analysis interesting most especially in light of the historical darker versions of the sleeping beauty tale. In the older versions, it was not the kiss of the prince that wakes Briar Rose. It was her children suckling at her finger and sucking out the spinning wheel splinter. According to Peterson’s psychological reading of the significance of his tale, I think that would mean that it is children, often conceived while metaphorically asleep or unconscious to the realities of nature and the world, that awaken in women the hyper consciousness of motherhood.
And evolutionarily speaking, at the very least, that’s not wrong. Women tend to be more neurotic (in the clinical sense, not in a derogatory sense) than men, and why wouldn’t they be? They spend the first years of their child’s life attached almost literally to a helpless being, purely as a byproduct of human reproduction. Of COURSE mothers are hyper aware of every possible impending danger. Of course having an infant makes you incredibly conscious of everything happening around you. Your child’s life may depend on it! That is what we mean when we say that the prince (or the baby) wakes the princess up. Because it is through interaction (specifically sexual interaction) with men that we love that we conceive and birth babies and THAT is what forces women into states of hyper consciousness, as a purely biological imperative to the survival and evolution of our species. Which of course, makes it a fundamental and crucial human tale.
If you’re interested, read the transcript of Dr. Peterson’s lecture where he talks about Sleeping Beauty and its psychological significance below. Keep in mind that this was a lecture and that I have personally transcribed it, so, as many of us do when we tell stories aloud, it’s not a perfect essay, and he does go on a few tangents. But overall I find his conclusions fascinating. I would love to know what you think of this take, and I say that especially to any mothers in our group. Please leave a comment and start a discussion! <3
“You know in sleeping beauty, Sleeping Beauty goes to sleep. And the reason she goes to sleep- you have to remember what happens. She has parents who are quite old, and so they’re pretty desperate to have a child, like so many people are now. And they only have one child, like so many people do now. And they don’t want anything to happen to this child, because like, hey, it’s a miracle! And there’s only one of them. And so, she’s the princess. And so it’s like “we’re not letting anything around her!” So they have a big christening party, right? And they invited everyone. But they don’t invite Maleficent. And Maleficent is the terrible mother. She’s nature. She’s the thing that goes bump in the night. She’s the devil herself. She’s everything that you don’t want your child to encounter.
So the king and queen are just like “Well we just won’t invite her to the Christening!” And it’s just like well good luck with that. That’s an oedipal story right? The oedipal mother is the mother who devours her child by overprotecting him or her. So that instead of being strengthened by an encounter with the terrible world, they’re weakened by too much protection, and then when they are let out into the world, they cannot live. And that’s the story of sleeping beauty and that’s what the king and queen do.
And they apologize to maleficent when she first shows up and well you know they have a bunch of half witted excuses why they don’t invite her. “We forgot.” Haha it’s like, I don’t think so. You don’t forget that. And she kinda makes that point. It’s like the whole horror of life- you don’t forget about that when you have a child. You might want to keep it at bay but you don’t forget about it. The question is do you invite it to the party? And the answer is it bloody well depends how unconscious you want your child to be. And if you want your child to be unconscious then you have the added advantage that maybe they won’t leave home….
So Sleeping Beauty, she’s naive as hell. They put her out in the forest and have her raised by these three fairies who are also completely devoid of any potency and power. Right? There’s nothing maleficent about them. And then the first idiot prince that wanders by she falls in love with so badly that she has PTSD when he rides off on his horse. And then she goes into the castle and she’s all freaked out because she met the love of her life for like five minutes for god’s sake. And ya know, that’s when the spinning wheel- that’s the wheel of fate- pops up and she pricks her finger.
And they tried to get rid of all the spinning wheels, of all the wheels of fate, with their pointed end. But she finds it, and pricks her finger, and falls down unconscious. Well she wants to be unconscious! And no bloody wonder. She was protected her whole life. She’s so damn naive that her first love affair nearly kills her. She wants to go to sleep and never wake up. And so that’s exactly what happens.
And then she has to wait for the prince to come and rescue her. And you think well how sexist can you get, that story? No seriously. Because that’s the way that that would be read in the modern world. Like “she doesn't need a prince to rescue her.” So you can say “well the princess doesn't need a prince to rescue her.” But that’s a boneheaded way to look at the story. Because the prince isn’t just a man that’s coming to rescue the woman (and believe me, he’s got his own set of problems, he’s got a goddamn dragon he has to contend with).
The prince is also representative of the woman’s own consciousness. The consciousness is often presented in stories as symbolically masculine, as it is with the logos idea. The idea is that without that forward going courageous consciousness, the women herself will drift into unconsciousness and terror. And so you can read it as the woman who’s sleeping needs a man to wake her up and of course the man also needs a woman to wake him up, it’s the same thing. That’s the dragon fight in sleeping beauty.
But it’s also the case that if she’s only unconscious, all she can do is lay there and sleep. Like the sleep of the weak and the damned. She has to wake up and bring her own masculine consciousness into the forefront, so that she can survive in the world.”
(To learn more about Dr. Jordan Peterson, visit https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/ Also check out his Podcast, which contains his Psychological Significance of the Bible Lecture Series, from which this excerpt is derived. Or check out his book, 12 Rules for Life.)
So, even if I wound up ending this post there, I would have already been really proud of this content and wanted to share it. But it gets better. Because. I wrote and scheduled these Collective posts over a week BEFORE they actually were posted inside the Collective. And I planned the prompt/topic for that week over a MONTH before it actually posted. And I’m super happy with how that Curiosity Wednesday post turned out. But that’s not where this story ends.
Fast forward to the day that it actually is posted inside the Collective. That Monday night, I had a literal actual dream while asleep that was about my life but related in freaky weird ways to exactly this psychological examination of Sleeping Beauty and the themes therein. And so, on that Tuesday morning, slightly baffled already, I was even more surprised to realize, “oh my god. The collective prompt this week is to write about where sleeping beauty goes when she dreams ! And I just had this crazy weird literal dream! Maybe I should write about that?” And the next thing I knew an entire poem had poured out onto the page.
So, the final note of this tale is this poem; my own creation based on the creative prompt that I scheduled for us all to do, and a literal dream I had the night that it posted. I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I enjoy how it came about.
A prick of love
The wheel of fate spins
A welcome sleep
The sleep of the damned
The bliss of oblivion.
Open your eyes.
Open your eyes.
Open your mind.
Deep in the swirling depth of midnight,
A splinter of light pierces through.
It whispers a message,
Ancient and obscure
But crystal clear:
I'm sorry. I'm getting there.
It's a long journey. With many thorns.
....and a whole damn dragon to contend with.
"Courage, dear heart."
It shivers through the void.
"For both of us."
The light will break.
Auroras of truth will shine again.
If you’re interested in joining the Starlight Collective and being a part of this journey to rediscover the divine masculine and feminine, and to get these sorts of posts, prompts, creativity, and community every week, (freaky weird coincidences and dreams apparently an optional side effect, but not guaranteed results) you can join here. It’s free to join until next January, so now is the time to try it out!
Leave me a comment if any of this speaks to you too. I’ve already gotten back some really powerful resonances from sharing this poem, so really this whole story just keeps building and building….
Love and light. xx