This highly insightful story of sleep, an effort to overprotect and a pending awakening will come to you here as interpreted by the world renowned psychologist and all around fighter for truth and meaningful life, who’s recently been fighting for his own, dr. Jordan Peterson. We’re so happy and relieved to see him recovering and getting stronger. Welcome back from the abyss. Now to the story.
A beloved children’s classic folk tale Sleeping Beauty is the object of many bedtime stories and adaptations through the years and is woven into our culture. So there was these king and queen who couldn’t have children. They finally got a daughter and invited all in the kingdom to celebrate her christening, all but the evil witch Maleficent. They wanted to keep her away so nothing bad or foul would ever touch their precious girl. Well, the witch didn’t need an invitation to show up, as bad usually doesn’t, and was offended by the omission of one and cursed the beautiful baby girl to die on her 16th birthday by pricking her finger on an enchanted spinning wheel. As good parents, the king and queen got rid of all the spinning wheels in the kingdom ASAP, and sugar coated the world for their daughter, putting her in care of three fairy good mothers. Ahhhh, but there is curiosity you see and by interference of magic a spinning wheel manifested itself and the curious young girl did poke around and prick her finger. Instead of dying, as she was supposed to, the evil spell was countered by the three good mothers and it only caused her to fall into a deep slumber she cannot awake from (making her effectively almost dead, so no great help here). But all this was preceded by the princess falling in love at first sight in classical fairy tale manner, which always put the love of each other’s life right on the same path. They knew in minutes, a glance here, a smile there, and a true love’s kiss is now the only thing to break the spell and wake up the comatose princess, which the prince, after some dark battles and hardship does, and they lived happily ever after.
So this story holds much more than processes, princes, fairy good mothers and faraway time unspecific inclusive magical kingdoms. As the old reigning couple wanted a child so long, when the princess was finally born, their overprotective panicky approach was to be expected. Their protective instincts went into overdrive and Maleficent was excluded from the party, under the lame excuse of “they forgot to invite her”, but no parent forgets about evil in the world. The thing is it’s impossible to exclude the bad aspect of life entirely no matter how hard you try to put up walls. It will always find a way, eventually. Maleficent here is a representation of everything bad in an otherwise all good kingdom. She is the darkness, the other that interferes with the ideal (but the overprotective mom is actually the devouring oedipal mother, hindering her child by overprotecting so she can’t develop and remains their perfect little princess forever and never leaves). If you raise your children so sheltered from everything they are not equipped to handle life in all its complexity and nuance, having been given only this filtered image of the world where all is sunshine, rainbows and unicorns (and benevolent fairies), they become extremely naive, unaware of existence of bad. So the first prince that comes along as she becomes a young woman, bam, it’s her true love. In a universe where everything that possibly can happen will happen, we guess this is a possibility, but hey this is a magical story and magic trumps odds. So a brief encounter forever locks them in “true love” and when he leaves she’s traumatized enough that she just wants to fall asleep, be unconscious so she doesn’t have to suffer, as she has no concept of suffering or mental scaffolding to deal with this. So when things hit the fan with a spinning wheel (aka malevolent things find a way into any well-guarded sterile environment in time) it’s a sort of a relief, a slip into emotionless unconsciousness where you don’t have to handle things. But a kiss from her true love can wake her up. In contemporary culture there may be an eye roll or two for the trope of a weak princess needing to be saved by the strong prince. There is actually nothing sexist in it as a prince is not just a prince here, but a symbol of consciousness, which has historically ben represented as masculine. He’s fought his own battles to get to her and they are not a he and a she exactly. A man can wake up an unconscious woman just as easily as a woman can wake up an unconscious man in life on so many levels.
Her sleep here is the sleep of those who are damned by their naiveté about the world, and that is something we need to be woken up from. That’s the real story here. Princess, prince, kingdom and a witch are just symbolic pawns to make it more digestible. The lesson is – wake up and be aware of the world in all its good and malevolent parts, open your eyes and see, it’s better to be awake and hurt sometimes than be forever asleep, and of course an oldie but goodie – love can save you. Well it can, we have a soft spot for some romance.