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Friday, August 5, 2016

The Secrets of Rumpelstiltskin's Name


By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Rumpelstiltskin is a fascinating fairy-tale with an outrageous antagonist. The story starts with a poor father who abandons his daughter to the King for no reason at all. Then, out of nowhere a man without a name, a little mischief maker or magician appears and offers to spin straw into gold. In any case, the obvious literal theme depends on discovering the obscure name of the gold spinner, Rumpelstiltskin. However, there are many symbols and motifs that indicate a deeper symbolic meaning to the story.   

Once upon a time, there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he got into a conversation with the king, and to make an impression on him, he said, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold."

The king said to the Miller, "That is an art that I really like. If your daughter is as skillful as you say, then bring her to my castle tomorrow, and I will put her to the test."

When the girl was brought to him, he led her into a room that was entirely filled with straw. Giving her a spinning-wheel and a reel, he said, "Get to work now. Spin all night, and if by morning you have not spun this straw into gold, then you will have to die."

Most readers miss the spiritual intent of fairy-tales by interpreting the story in a literally, assuming the story should entertain children on a cold night with a cup of chocolate in front of a warm fireplace. But what parent would read a story about abandoning their daughter to a greedy King? A mean King that locks her in a cold stone castle, in a dark room, and demands the impossible task of spinning straw into gold. The secret of fairy-tales longevity and continuing interest lay in their spiritual foundation, not their entertainment value.

Rumpelstiltskin is based on the path to self-realization from a feminine perspective. The miller's daughter is the main protagonist. Her life path (in allegorical form) leads to eventual freedom and happiness. One has to understand the many supporting characters represent aspects of the daughter’s psyche. The absent father forces the protagonist to discover her own inner strength, similar in theme to a tale of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

The miller’s daughter is imprisoned in a castle room that gives an impression of a cave or dark dungeon, especially at night, (only candlelight existed in those days). The dark room - or cave is a metaphor for the feminine matrix where all life is born, and the spiritual transformation occurs. It is similar to the place where Krishna was born (in a prison cell), or Mithras (born in a cave) or Christ (born in an enclosed manger). The cave is where the dragon (Kundalini) protects its hidden golden treasure (Higher consciousness.)

The 'divine child' refers to the birth of a higher form of consciousness, the essential immortal soul, which has reincarnated through countless lives. Sri Aurobindo it the "Psychic Being" or individualized soul.

In my article 'Sleeping Beauty,'  I link the connection between spinning, destiny, and fate with the three Greek Goddesses of Fate listed below.

'Lachesis' – 'allotter' or drawer of lots measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod, a staff with which she points to the horoscope on a globe.

'Clotho' – 'spinner' which spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle (the book of Fate) and

'Atropos'-inexorable' or 'inevitable,' literally 'unturning,' was the cutter of the thread of life who chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time came, she cut their life-thread. She held a scroll, a wax tablet, a sundial, a pair of scales, or a cutting instrument. At the birth of each person, they appeared spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life. 

Every part of spinning (the thread of life) was used as a metaphor for destiny, and fate. We could say the act of spinning worthless straw into gold symbolizes the transformation of the mundane into something of high worth - as gold is actually a symbol of the highest consciousness. 

Then he himself locked the room, and she was there all alone. The poor miller's daughter sat there, and for her life, she did not know what to do. She had no idea how to spin straw into gold. She became more and more afraid and finally began to cry.

Then suddenly the door opened. A little man stepped inside and said, "Good evening, Mistress Miller, why are you crying so?"

"Oh," answered the girl, "I am supposed to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it."

The little man said, "What will you give me if I spin it for you?"
"My necklace," said the girl.

The little man took the necklace, sat down before the spinning wheel, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the spool was full. Then he put another one on, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the second one was full as well. So it went until morning, and then all the straw was spun, and all the spools were filled with gold. At sunrise, the king came, and when he saw the gold he was surprised and happy, but his heart became even more greedy for gold.

Why does a little man appear out of nowhere to do her spinning? Actually, since this is a fairytale, no set fast rules apply, most notably because it takes place in the imaginary world of the mind. The little man is the part of the daughter's undeveloped psyche. He is like the ugly Frog that the Princess must kiss or the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast," that looks cruel and terrifying yet has the power to help the heroine to triumph. The little man, frog, and beast personify the unconscious masculine energies. Her task is to bring this undeveloped side of her psyche into awareness. She gives this 'little man' her necklace in return for the spinning gold, a trade that allows her to live on till the next day.

He had the miller's daughter taken to another room filled with straw. It was even larger, and he ordered her to spin it in one night if she valued her life. The girl did not know what to do, and she cried. Once again the door opened, and the little man appeared.

He said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"

"The ring from my finger," answered the girl.

The little man took the ring and began once again to whirl with the spinning wheel. By morning he had spun all the straw into glistening gold. The king was happy beyond measure when he saw it, but he still did not have his fill of gold. He had the miller's daughter taken to a still larger room filled with straw, and said, "Tonight you must spin this too. If you succeed you shall become my wife." He thought, "Even if she is only a miller's daughter, I will not find a richer wife in all the world."

When the girl was alone the little man returned for the third time. He said, 

"What will you give me if I spin the straw this time?"

"I have nothing more that I could give you," answered the girl.

"Then promise me, after you are queen, your first child."

Who knows what will happen," thought the miller's daughter, and not knowing what else to do, she promised the little man what he demanded. In return, the little man once again spun the straw into gold.

The little man takes her golden ring, something more valuable than a necklace, and a traditional piece of jewelry associated with marriage. A standard template in fairy-tales is number three, as it is three events which lead to physical manifestation. This third time she has to promise her firstborn to the little man! What a deal, either die or give up her child.

When in the morning the king came and found everything just as he desired, he married her, and the beautiful miller's "daughter became queen.

First, the King threatens her with death then marries her. (Talk about fickle–headed!). It appears that the King married only for money. But of course, it’s the exact opposite, as her journey is spiritual. The marriage is based upon the conjunction of opposite energies, male, and female or King and Queen. Just as Cinderella and Snow White marry their ideal Prince and live happily ever after. In Indian philosophy, this is achieved when Shakti (female Kundalini) rises to meet Shiva (God consciousness).

What is in a Name?

A year later she brought a beautiful child to the world. She thought no more about the little man, but suddenly he appeared in her room and said, "Now give me that which you promised."

The queen took fright and offered the little man all the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her keep the child, but the little man said, "No. Something living is dearer to me than all the treasures of the world."

Then the queen lamented and cryied so much that the little man took pity on her and said, "I will give you three days' time. If by then you know my name, then you shall keep your child."

The queen spent the entire night thinking of all the names she had ever heard. Then she sent a messenger into the country to inquire far and wide what other names there were. When the little man returned the next day she began with Kaspar, Melchior, Balzer, and said in order all the names she knew. After each one, the little man said, "That is not my name."

The second day she sent inquiries into the neighborhood as to what names people had. She recited the most unusual and most curious names to the little man:

"Is your name perhaps Beastrib? Or Muttoncalf? Or Legstring?"

But he always answered, "That is not my name."

On the third day the messenger returned and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but when I was approaching a high mountain in the corner of the woods, there were the fox and the hare say goodnight, I saw a little house. A fire was burning in front of the house, and an altogether comical little man was jumping around the fire, hopping on one leg and calling out:

Then I'll fetch the queen's new child,
It is good that no one knows,

Rumpelstiltskin is my name.

You can imagine how happy the queen was when she heard that name. Soon afterward the little man came in and asked, "Now, Madame Queen, what is my name?"

She first asked, "Is your name Kunz?"
"Is your name Heinz?"
"Is your name perhaps Rumpelstiltskin?"

"The devil told you that! The devil told you that!" shouted the little man, and with anger, he stomped his right foot so hard into the ground that he fell in up to his waist. Then with both hands, he took hold of his left foot and ripped himself up the middle in two.

We can obtain some insight into the power of a name, or the word, by researching ancient mythology. One such Egyptian Myth is called "The Legend of Ra and Isis." It seems the goddess Isis, a personification of Kundalini, wanted to become as powerful as Sun God-Ra, Egypt's most celebrated deity. Ra ruled for thousands of years but became hindered by old age. He dribbled from the side of his mouth when walking in his garden every morning. Isis secretly collected his spittle and mixed it with earth and created a poisonous snake. She placed it in Ra's path in his garden. While walking one morning, Ra was bitten by the snake,  causing a burning poison to surge through his body. 

Luckily, Isis had magic spells which could cure Ra. All she wanted was his secret name, the key to Ra's power and authority. After many requests, Ra finally agreed to tell Isis his real name. This allowed Isis and her son Horus (along with Osiris) to become the dominant gods of Egypt. From one viewpoint this myth is about the succession of Gods. The ancient sun worship of Ra faded as the cult of Isis (Kundalini), Osiris and Horus became dominant. Obtaining the name of a particular being, in this case, Ra, allowed Isis, to exercise power over his existence.

The power of words is very apparent in the Bible. One of the first tasks of the biblical Adam was to name all the animals. Naming a person or animal implies one has power over its existence. In Greek mythology, the concept of logos (word) was associated with the power of gods. Stoic philosophers identified the term, 'Logos' with the divine animating principle, pervading the Universe. The Gospel of John identifies the 'Logos' as the power that creates everything, a divine being or Theos, and Christ.

The little man and the King, symbolize the two faces of the daughter’s inner undeveloped masculine persona. The King, who she eventually marries, is a metaphor of her conscious male psyche, (associated with Gold and higher authority. The little man personifies her shadow side, which must eventually disappear or die when she gains insight into her psyche. Their 'divine child' symbolizes the birth of a new way of being, a new consciousness.

Throughout religious mythology, after a divine child is born, an evil king or opposing force attempts to murder it. King Kamsa tries to murder Krishna, Herod kills all the young Jewish boys in the hope that the Christ will die. Cronus eats his own children in an effort to stop the birth of his son Zeus, who was prophesied to usurp his authority. 
The Evil King motif is found in so many myths and religious narratives I consider it one of the significant keys to decoding the meaning of religion. The little man, like all evil Kings, represents the adverse forces opposed to humanities evolving consciousness.  Therefore, he tries to steal her ‘divine child.’ 

By finding the name of the little man-Rumpelstiltskin- (after three tries) the Miller's daughter gained her freedom–alluding to her power over unconscious masculine energies. Once she uncovers these unconscious shadows within the self, they disappear. Just as the little man falls back into the earth, rent into two pieces.

 An Esoteric Insight 

Within each person are many levels of being. As high as consciousness can rise it also may fall. Just behind our so-called ordinary awareness are astral planes, both high and low. The higher one travels inward-the brighter and more luminous are the surroundings and beings. Each is illuminated from the inside. In contrast, the lower astral levels, which are the stuff of nightmares, dark and forbidding.

There are low astral planes with a carnival atmosphere and loud, garish colors, hard pounding music, looking like a cross between Beetlejuice and the Vegas strip. They find there a particular astral being - a bizarre clown on stilts. With their white bald heads and red nose and red hair, these lower creatures live off negative energies of humanity. The shapeshifters can appear in many forms. The name 'Rumpelstiltskin' could subjectively mean- Rumple (messy or dirty), stilts-(high above others) and skin- (a fake persona). I would venture to say 'Rumpelstiltskin' is a lower dimensional being that opposes the human races spiritual advancement.


 1. Miller's daughter is the main character; she is on a spiritual path toward self-realization.

2. A "missing father," (or Mother) is a common motif in fairy tales. The Fathers absence frees the daughter, to develop her own inner masculine power.

3. Spinning straw into gold is a metaphor referring to the transformation of the mundane physical matter into spiritual.

4. The King represents the power of the masculine archetype when conscious. I always associate him with the gold of higher consciousness.

5. The King and Queen's marriage is symbolic of the achieving balance between psychological archetypes.  

6. Whenever a 'divine child' is born, it shows the soul has reached a higher state of consciousness and a complete change of personality.

7. The little man-Rumpelstiltskin-refers to the daughter’s deficient consciousness, which holds her masculine counterpart-while her feminine is a fact.

8.  The little man opposes the Miller daughters enlightenment.  

9. The Ancient's respected the logos (word) as much as the Christians, as it is the power of God. 

10. By finding the little man’s name-Rumpelstiltskin- her unconscious fears were uncovered and integrated.

Joseph Alexander

copyright 8/5/2016 / edited 12/24 2016, 12/8/2017

Images credit

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Secret of Greek Mythology

 Reincarnation is a belief that the soul is immortal, and will after the death of the body, will return to incarnate into a new body. 

Researchers and scholars who attempt to decode mythologies complex system of symbolism should, at the least, explore the eastern philosophical and spiritual beliefs. Even if one does not accept reincarnation, the Sages of India, Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Persia were so obsessed with the concept. Rebirth became a central tenet of their religious philosophy.

The ideas associated with reincarnation arose independently in many diverse regions and civilizations and spread because of cultural contact. Proponents of cultural transmission have searched for links between the ancient Celts, Greeks, and Vedic India, concluding there was a belief in reincarnation in the early Proto-Indo-European cultures. A belief in reincarnation may have organically appeared worldwide because of remembrances of past lives. 

Hinduism developed the concept of reincarnation and karma to its fullest extent,  (originating first in the Vedas). The Chinese Taoist, not earlier than the third century B.C., accepted reincarnation through the influence of Asian Buddhism. The Celtic Druids were well-known as believers. In later centuries, Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era, accepted similar concepts of rebirth.


   From a spiritual perspective, indigenous cultures were based on the philosophical concept of Animism, which is a belief in no separation between the spiritual and physical (or material) worlds; souls or spirits exist, not only in humans, but also in all animals, plants, rocks, and geographic features, mountains or rivers and other aspects of the natural environment, including thunder and planets. It is a widespread belief among 'indigenous peoples,' and so fundamental and ingrained, there is no word in their languages corresponding to the concept. Animism rejects Cartesian dualism, a perception of the world based on the separation between minds (spiritual) and (physical) matter worlds. 

Animists perceive all of existence as a form of spirit. It’s a small step from this idea to assume humans also have a spiritual essence or immortal soul. Probably the belief in reincarnation evolved from "animism" as personal immortality is a natural consequence of perceiving that everything in the world contains an all-pervading spirit.


                            The Hindu View of Reincarnation

  "Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones. Bhagavad-Gita, 2:22

They link the process of reincarnation and the soul's salvation to Karma, which is based on the spiritual principle of cause and effect, where intent and actions of an individual determine the quality of their future life. Right actions lead to a high birth while evil actions lead to a problematic next life. The immortal soul accumulates either good or bad karma by its activities in previous lives and is judged after death, which determines what type of body and life it will experience next.

On a deeper level, the soul, which is really our own consciousness, learns from every event, both success, and failure–good and bad. Karma is more a matter of becoming conscious in each life. If you fail your spiritual lessons, the same situation appears again. It’s like flunking out of fifth grade then repeating the same lessons the next year. Those who reach a purified state of body, mind, and spirit, graduate to a higher level of consciousness or being. Eventually, the individual soul merges with the Godhead and reincarnates only by free choice.

Greek Philosophers and Metempsychosis

  Many of the most celebrated Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, believed in ‘metempsychosis.’ The Greek concept of reincarnation. Pythagoras was the first well-known 
Hellenic philosopher that taught about metempsychosis that the soul descended from the celestial realm of the stars into the body. He wrote;

  “Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to another. All things change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, now that… As wax is stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with others, yet it is always the same wax. So, the Soul being always the same yet wears at different time’s different forms.” 

   Pythagoras didn't invent the idea or import it from Egypt. Instead, he made his reputation by bringing the Orphic doctrine of metempsychosis or (reincarnation) from North-Eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia, and taught his students, allowing for its more significant diffusion. The great philosopher Socrates, the teacher of Plato, also believed in transmigration. Plato had written;

“Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land is good, you cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.”

 Plato’s philosophy rested on the theme of “remembrance” and is linked directly to reincarnation, as found in the dialogue between Socrates and Meno.


   SOCRATES: As for myself, if the stingray paralyzes others only through being paralyzed itself, then the comparison is just, but not otherwise. It isn't that, knowing the answers myself, I perplex other people. The truth is rather that I infect them also with the perplexity I feel myself. So with virtue now, I don't know what it is. You may have known before you came into contact with me, but now you look as if you don't. Nevertheless, I am ready to carry out, together with you, a joint investigation and inquiry into what it is. 

  MENO: But how will you look for something when you don't in the least know what it is? How on earth are you going to set up something you don't know as the object of your search? To put it another way, even if you come right up against it, how will you know that what you have found is the thing you didn't know?

  MENO: What was it, and who were they?

  SOCRATES: Those who tell it are priests and priestesses of the sort who make it their business to be able to account for the functions which they perform. Pindar speaks of it too, and many other of the poets who are divinely inspired. What they say is this-see whether you think they are speaking the truth. 

They say that the soul of man is immortal. At one time it comes to an end-that which is called death-and at another is born again, but is never finally exterminated. On these grounds, a man must live all his days as righteously as possible. For those from whom;

Persephone receives requital for ancient doom,
In the ninth year, she restores again.
Their souls to the sun above
From whom rise noble Kings,
And the swift in strength and greatest in wisdom,
And for the rest of time
They are called heroes and sanctified by men. (1)

   "Thus the soul, since it is immortal and has been born many times, and has seen all things both here and in the other world, has learned everything that is.” (‘Meno,' 81, b)

   Socrates mentions the myth of Persephone who “receives a requital for ancient doom,” and “Their souls to the sun above." Socrates interprets the myth from the perspective of the immortal soul’s ascension from the underworld realm, of Persephone, to return back to the celestial sphere of the stars to be born again. Therefore, it is evident the Greek myths were allegories on reincarnation and personal salvation.

The Influence of Reincarnation on Plato’s Philosophy
In the above discussion, between Socrates and Meno, we see how a belief in metempsychosis influenced Plato’s theory of knowledge, (which was no doubt learned from his teacher Socrates). Plato thought all knowledge originated from within the soul. Past life experiences provided a reservoir of knowledge the mind could tap into. Between incarnations, the soul drank the waters of Lethe - (forgetfulness). One only had to remember the ancient archetypal past or personal past life experiences (through silencing the mind) to attain this knowledge. The concept of transmigration profoundly influenced Plato, enough to make it the foundation of his metaphysical philosophy.

For example; “The real weight and importance of metempsychosis in the Western tradition are due to its adoption by Plato. In the eschatological myth which closes the Republic, he tells the myth how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. After death, he said, he went with others to the place of Judgment and saw the souls returning from heaven, and proceeded with them to a place where they chose new lives, human, and animal. He saw the soul of Orpheus changing into a swan, Thamyras becoming a nightingale, musical birds choosing to be men, the soul of Atalanta choosing the honors of an athlete. Men were seen passing into animals and wild and tame animals changing into each other. After their choice, the souls drank of Lethe and then shot away like stars to their birth. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues the Phaedrus, Menos, Phaedo, Timaeus, and Laws. In Plato's view, the number of souls was fixed; birth, therefore, is never the creation of a soul, but the only transmigration from one body to another.” (1) 

There are two aspects of reincarnation/ metempsychosis running through Greek mythology; The first is based on the evolution of consciousness through all lower forms of life (from plant to animal) and finally, human beings, which is a process similar to the Hindu theory of evolution. 
This concept helps us to understand Plato’s myth of passing through all the lower forms of creation, the swan, a nightingale or the wild beast. It is an allegory on the evolution of life, (which contradicts Darwinian evolution, in that, each incarnation is designed to increase consciousness).
The second aspect of the reincarnation depends on the growth of individual consciousness. Therefore; Reincarnation of the individual soul is the mechanism by which the human species evolves. 



From the perspective of “Spiritual Evolution,” three concepts differ from the traditional philosophy of reincarnation.

1. The human soul – is evolving toward a specific goal, “Enlightenment." 

2. The human body is evolving into a more refined vehicle for the soul-consciousness to express itself.

3. There is no beginning or end to consciousness; Our soul-consciousness transforms itself by taking on different limited forms (bodies) to learn different spiritual lessons and become an individualized form of all existence.

The possibility of personal enlightenment was conceded by the Greek Philosophers, but only after many incarnations. This search for higher consciousness was vitally important. The Greeks inscribed the aphorism “Know Thyself,” on the front entrance of the Temple of Apollo. Alluding to ones finding the immortal soul, or the self.

Western culture continues to have a jaundiced view of ancient spiritual beliefs. The many modern interpretations of mythology discount the Greek philosophers' belief in an“immortal soul,’ and "reincarnation." Yet the doctrine was widespread in ancient times and therefore is one of the keys to decoding mythology and religion.



2. Images: Pixabay @ Wikipedia

    Joseph Alexander 4/13/2016 edited 12/24/2016

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