True fairy tales, not stories written solely by one author, but rather stories that were developed collectively over generations among language groups and cultures, have encoded in them important keys to understanding our own psyches.
Myth, Cultural Identity, and the Individual
We've been speaking a great deal lately about Carl Jung's theories on archetypes and the collective unconscious in myth.
He also spoke about symbols, and how all of these things manifest in our own dreams and desires even if unconsciously.
Bruno Bettelheim was a child psychologist who worked with children who had behavioral problems due to unfortunate experiences in life.
His insights are truly astounding not only for their intrinsic psychological value, but for what can be extrapolated about our society today.
I was astounded to see him mention a few issues that have evaporated from the general social discourse today, but which I think are crucial to obtaining healthy self-identities as well as thriving and functional cultural societies.
In his introduction, Bettelheim says:
"As an educator and therapist of severely disturbed children, my main task was to restore meaning to their lives. This work made it obvious to me that if children were reared so that life was meaningful to them, they would not need special help.
I was confronted with the problem of deducing what experiences in a child's life are most suited for to promote his ability to mind meaning in his life; to endow life in general with more meaning.
Regarding this task, nothing is more important than parents and others who take care of the child.
Second in importance is our cultural heritage, when transmitted to the child in the right manner. When children are young it is literature that carries this information best."
While Bettelheim uses his observations and examples pertaining to the child psyche, I argue that this can be extrapolated to adults and the wider society.
We all have basic fears, emotions, and needs. We all grapple with loss, with feeling alone or abandoned, with anger or other emotions we don't know how to process.
We all have periods where we don't know where to turn and sometimes have to go it alone. And adults aren't exactly known for having a solid understanding or grasp on their own emotions and motivations, either.
The message that fairy tales universally deliver, and Bettelheim reminds us that if they don't deliver this message then they are some other category but not a true fairy tale, is never to lose hope.
Misguided Attacks on Fairy Tales
And, to reiterate, of course we can all enjoy the lore found in one another's cultures. But, it cannot replace the folklore of each of our own ancestral cultures.
But, social justice warriors have been completely misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and trying to separate us from our fairy tales in other ways.
There has long been social commentary that attempts to assert a modern feminist view upon these ancient stories and downplay these important characters as somehow disparaging to women.
They typically use Disney as an example and point to fairy tale princesses "dependent on a man for their rescue."
First of all, this isn't even what tends to happen in most fairy tales, and when it does, it's a gross simplification of the intention of the tale.
Simple Tales with Deep Layers of Meaning
For those of you who have already read my booklet covering the English tale, "The Three Heads of the Well" (which you can download for free), we clearly saw that the princess in that tale had endured personal hardship, but she took it upon herself and by her own determination to go out independently into the world to seek her fortune.
No one made the choice but her. And, everything that happened next on her journey was directly dependent on her own choices.
This was about self-determination, turning one's back on a bad situation, venturing out in the world on your own two feet, and making personal decisions.
Yes, a prince comes in at the end. But, in this context, it was representative of her finding true love and a happy life, not some pessimistic deprecating modern twist.
One little boy in particular really resonated with "Rapunzel."
Bettelheim points out that a story with a female character can be just as useful to males as the opposite is true, because in this case the value is in the life lesson found therein, which typically has to do with survival and inspiration to keep believing in hope, rather than role model figures which are more often found in myth.
While the tower that Rapunzel finds herself trapped in by a wicked old woman is usually interpreted as a prison, this little boy viewed it very differently.
He had been abandoned by his father, his mother worked full time, so he had grown very close to his grandmother who was his daily caregiver.
When his grandmother was hospitalized and gravely ill, the little boy's security was rocked.
To extrapolate upon his child's view, I would say that this is inspiration to use your physical and intellectual gifts, as well as whatever resources are at your disposal, to their full potential to change your life. Afterall, even if you possess next to nothing, you still possess your brain and your two hands.
Jaded Adults' vs Receptive Children's Worldviews
And, to reiterate Bettelheim's point that fairy tales like art have interpretations influenced by the reader's (or listener's) worldview.
If you view the world through a negative lens that wants to see racism in every corner, then you will see racism in Disney's "Song of the South" instead of the presentation of legitimate and important African American folktales.
If you view the world through a lens that wants to insert modern feminism into every aspect of life, then you will ruin fairy tales for generations of children who need these stories to grow into healthy adults.
Likewise, if you're a man who refuses to let his little boy read "stories for girls" then your little boy might miss the profound psychological-emotional connections that he needs to process his own life experiences such as the boy in the example above.
Not to mention that once you dive into the world of fairy tales, you will find many stories with male protagonists, which I shall be exploring further.
The first fairy tale with a male lead character that I've discussed is a Norwegian tale called "Per Gynt," available as a booklet in PDF or print through Amazon. (Please take a look at my books section for details).
Guiding Lights to our Primitive Souls
Thus, in the age of globalist homogenization of culture, we all are at true risk of losing these insights along with the components that define us as individuals and as cultures if we continue to be bullied by those who would take our cultures away from us.
But, worse than that, we will be rendered rootless people without direction, without the insight of our ancient ancestors, and without hope.