The Bard's Grove

"There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
Charles DeLint, The Onion Girl

Friday, August 10, 2012

Emerging Archetypal Themes: Leo, the New Queen & Dirty Dancing Cathy Pagano, M.A.

Emerging Archetypal Themes: Leo, the New Queen & Dirty Dancing

Hrana Janto offers beautiful photo-quality art prints of the image of Sekhmet shown here, as well as her other goddess images, at her website,

The emerging archetypal theme I’ve worked with this month is the journey of Individuation, the Leo initiation of becoming conscious of your original Self.  Due to the critical issues facing our world, individuation is the most important task any of us can undertake this lifetime.  Many spiritual people believe that we are at a moment of conscious evolution, and we are living in the moment of choice.  The only way to make a real choice is by living our essential truth, through being connected to what Carl Jung called the Self.  That’s what our movie heroine does.

The spotlight is on the new Queen for this Leo month because it is the Feminine Spirit that leads us to transformation and individuation. At the turn of the Ages, the Goddess returns to rebirth the world.  She is here, now!  And the truth is, women have led the way in the search for an authentic Self, partly because we’ve never been this free to understand ourselves before and partly because we make second-class men!  

In a world understood and shaped by male perceptions, women have had to run away from those masculine perceptions to find that Self.  But all of us have a feeling nature, a feminine side that wants to leave the old rules behind and find our own standpoint.  Our emotions as well as our beliefs shape our choices.  If they are left unconscious, we are easily led; when understood and acted upon, we are free.  
Leo is the sign of the King and Queen and ruled by the Sun, an ancient symbol of the Center.  The Lion’s gift to all of us is this search for individuation, for the ability to express who we are fully, with joy, pride and dignity.  The path of individuation leads inward to those feminine aspects of life which help us achieve transformation and inner freedom.  The truth is that outer freedom is an illusion unless you first achieve inner freedom.   

Both Leo and the Sun are apt symbols for our powers of self-awareness and generative creativity.  If we are in any way like the gods, it is because we are also creative. The Sun’s light is an ancient image of spiritual enlightenment, taking this exuberant energy even deeper.  So you see, Leo isn’t only about fun, applause and power.  Leo’s fixed nature can take the fire of creativity/destruction and ground and center it, stabilizing and sustaining the fire for the benefit of life.  

When women claimed our freedom in the 60s, we claimed it with our bodies as well as our minds and hearts.  Many of us threw off the shackles of patriarchal expectations and went exploring, and others met those expectations by entering the work world or staying home with their children.  But all of us were Father’s Daughters, women committed to the masculine ideals of patriarchy/capitalism.  Education in hand, we thought we were quite capable of handling life.  Well, life more often handled us, but though we were often disillusioned and sometimes hurt, we learned from our experiences and built on that new knowledge.  Many of us left the Father’s House of patriarchal expectations and became conscious women.

For the most part, women have been denied Leo’s gift for millennia, subjugated to the rules of a society that devalued women and offered few opportunities for freedom of expression.  I love the cosmic synchronicity that it is the Pluto in Leo women – the Baby Boomers – who first experienced this freedom on a large scale.  

Women want to find out who we are as opposed to just living as who we’re told to be.  The Archetypal Feminine energy is abroad once more, the Goddess has returned and her daughters are transforming the world with their freedom.  

As we incarnate this renewed archetypal energy, we each exemplify an aspect of the New Queen.  Being a Queen is being a female leader; being a Queen is embodying the emotional rhythms of life.  I wrote about such a new queen in the Aries blog about the movie Whale Rider.  The movie speaks of the shift of leadership from masculine to feminine if we want renewal of life.

An ancient function of the queen and king was to serve as mediators between heaven and earth, man and woman, god and goddess.  They represented the gods to their people, and their people to the gods.  They were spiritually conscious people and they were leaders of their people.   Isn’t it time again for wise leaders?

In a democracy, we are all called to become queens and kings.  We’re supposed to contribute our creativity to the world.  That’s what makes us whole, personally and collectively.  It’s not enough to create for our own sakes; we want to share our creativity with the world.  We want to make a difference when Leo is strong in us.

But first women have to leave the Father’s House and move beyond the patriarchal rules in their souls.  I’m not talking about rebellion, although that’s often a first step.  Or being sexually free, which isn’t the same as sexually whole. Women need to take the best and brightest of what we’ve learned from our ‘fathers’ and leave all the rules behind and find our own rules, based on our values, understanding and love. The first step is to return to our bodies, not just with sexual freedom but with understanding and love.  We need to discover our own courage, strength, truth, beauty, love, imagination, intelligence, power and mystery.   Happily, we’ve been left stories and fairy tales to show us how to do this. 

Fairy tales seem to be the bare bones of the primal archetypes of life.  Stories passed down through the ages to help us get through the transitions in life.  One big transition that’s been brewing for centuries is this women’s journey from the Father’s House to freedom.  There is an old story that tells the tale of a princess who fled the father’s house and gained her freedom and deep wisdom through day-long toil and a strong dose of patience.  Freedom from oppression is never free!

The tale gives us clues to achieving our quest for a conscious feminine standpoint to base our purpose on.  The basic pattern is set.  How we fill it in is up to us.  The Grimm fairy tale is called Allerleirauh and the movie that fleshed out this archetypal pattern is Dirty Dancing.

Allerleirauh: The Wisdom of Nature

Real individuality calls for freedom of choice – we must have the freedom to listen within and choose our own course to become whole.   In the past century, women, for the most part, have found outer freedom, and still more recently, some have found inner freedom.  But first, because patriarchy gives higher value to the outer world than to the inner realms of feeling and intuition, women used our freedom to go into the outer world, expecting to find equality with men.  But what we found was that we had to act like men because our social structures are male-based and cared nothing about feminine gifts unless they served patriarchy’s purposes.   

When women realize that patriarchy still wants to own our creativity and energy, many of us decide to leave the father’s house and go out on our own.  It takes the bravery and determination, intelligence and passion of a father’s daughter.  A father’s daughter who is ready to grow up and become her own woman.  When women start to listen to our own wisdom, the world prospers.  Through the years since the 60s, women have worked long and hard to change the culture, and we’re beginning to see the effects of adding responsibility and compassion, imagination and intuition to our public life. 

The story of betrayal, flight, toil and transformation goes like this.

Once there was a king and queen who were deeply in love.  But the queen got sick and began to die.  Before she did, she forced the king to make a promise that he would only marry someone like her, with the same golden hair.  The only one who fit the bill was their daughter.  And so the king decided to marry her.  Think of it – all her fertility and life will belong to him.

Being a smart father’s daughter, the princess demands that her father make her three dresses: one that shines like the Sun, one like the Moon, and one like the Stars.  Then she demands that he make her a mantle of furs with a bit of fur from every animal in his kingdom.  She believes he will never accomplish the tasks and she will be free.

Unfortunately, the king has a lot of people working for him, and he gets the clothes made.  And makes his demands – they will marry!  So the princess does what any conscious woman would do – she leaves.  Or rather, she runs away to the forest, dressed in her mantle of furs, taking a few treasures and her dresses with her in a nutshell.

The forest is, as you know, a place of mystery.  All those shadows and hidden places.  All the life and silence.  Finally exhausted from running away, the princess falls asleep in a tree.  Safe at last.  Only she isn’t.  For now a new king comes, a hunter who also lives in the forest.  And he finds her, thinks her a beast and brings her home to work in his kitchen.

He’s certainly different from her father.  In fact, it seems she dreamed him up in that tree, don’t you think?  Anyway, she works hard for a long time in the king’s kitchen.   Then the hunter king decides to hold three balls.  

Dancing is a must in fairy tales of transformation.  We need to catch the rhythm, need to incarnate the energy, need to focus it on our goals. Dancing is the most ancient form of this kind of archetypal energy transfer.  Like the pounding contractions of birth, rhythm takes over our bodies and we are at one with our nature again.  The Feminine is Nature’s rhythms; the Masculine is choice of rhythm. That’s the choice of an individual destiny.  

So the princess, who is now called Allerleirauh – of many kinds of furs – appears at the balls each time in one of her cosmic dresses, appearing to the king clothed in the light of the sun, the moon and the stars.  She knows who she is, she knows what needs to be done and she knows why it needs to happen.  But she never would have understood if she hadn’t been living in her mantle of furs – in her body wisdom.  That’s the first thing we need to validate and understand if we want to be free.  We need to listen – to our bodies, to our hearts, to our minds and most especially to our spiritual imagination – to be free.

After each appearance, she leaves some nourishment for the king, something for him to ponder and feel and desire.   Until he desires her just as much as she desires him.  She has shaped a new King while she’s been working in the kitchen of transformation and nourishment.  A new masculine energy within herself that will begin to resonate with the man in her life and transform him.
 After the third ball, the king, who’s been enchanted by Allerleirauh since the beginning, recognizes her and desires her Wisdom and Beauty, and gives her his love and allegiance.   
This New Queen becomes the man of her dreams – and probably finds her mate too. That’s the story we find behind the 1983 movie, Dirty Dancing.

Dirty Dancing: the Birth of the Conscious Woman

I just spent an evening with a multi-generational group of my women friends, re-watching Dirty Dancing for the umpteenth time. I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t love that movie.  Why? There have certainly been other movies about first love, a changing society and rebellion, just as there are lots of movies with hot dancing in them.  Why do women of all ages gather round to experience this story again and again?  And love it every time?

I believe it’s because Dirty Dancing is built around the archetypal story of Allerleirauh
 When a story is based in an archetypal process, we can’t help but be affected.  The energies call to us.  We are all father’s daughters, and our next step in consciousness is to leave the father behind and find our own emotional standpoint.  This girl/woman Baby is a perfect persona for our innocent, idealistic father’s daughter who wants to become the heroine of her own life. 

The movie begins with Baby saying she couldn’t imagine ever finding a man as good as her dad.  She is the archetypal father’s daughter, idealistic, accommodating and ready to make her mark in the world. It’s interesting that Baby doesn’t have one strong exchange with her mom during the whole movie.  For Baby, mom is dead.  It’s dad who nurtures her – the real sign of a father’s daughter.   Baby is just that – a baby - she goes along with whatever her father suggests, even when she feels uncomfortable.  She doesn’t really fit into the resort’s activities like her mother and sister do.  She has other interests.

Like the dancer, Johnny.  His sensuality grabs Baby’s attention.  He’s Baby’s hunter king of the forest.  She’s smart enough to know she’s interested and courageous enough to seek him out.  She pays attention and is the one who discovers that Penny is in trouble.  And then she does something about it.  She gets involved because of her idealistic beliefs and because of her interest in Johnny.  She leaves the father’s house when she helps Penny without telling her father.  She starts to wear her mantle of furs when she offers to take Penny’s place in the dance.

She learns to dance. Everything her father taught her gets enhanced once she brings her energy into her body in the dance.  She comes into herself and becomes a woman.  

After Baby tells Mr. Kellerman she was with Johnny the night the wallet was stolen, Baby’s father won’t talk with her.  So she goes to confront him in the best scene of the movie.  And the truth of the matter shines out.  He is the father who rejects the reality of his child. The father who would rather marry his own daughter than let her live her own life. 

Baby:  I’m sorry I lied to you, but you lied too.  You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break, but you meant everyone who was like you.  You told me you wanted me to change the world and make it better, but you meant by becoming a lawyer or economist and marrying someone from Harvard.  I’m not proud of myself… There are a lot of things about me that are not what you thought, but if you love me, you have to love all the things about me.  And I love you, and I’m sorry I let you down, Daddy.  But you let me down too.  

Baby arrives at Kellerman’s a baby in truth and leaves as a woman named Frances, standing in her own truth.  And the interesting thing we find out at the end of the story is that Baby’s mother claims that Baby gets her dancing ability from her!  While mom doesn’t seem to have an identity of her own, being another father’s daughter herself, she claims the Feminine power of dance and rhythm as her great gift to her daughter. 

The power of a good story comes from its connection to archetypal themes.  Dirty Dancing’s power lies in showing us the process of leaving the Father’s House and becoming a conscious woman.  That’s the gift that Leo offers all of us – the task of becoming conscious human beings.

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