A little girl
Sad downcast eyes
Peers from behind
The bars of her cage
She was good
So she crumpled
Into a heap
Upon the floor
This is Cinderella. When her Good Mother was on her deathbed, she told Cinderella, “Be a good girl.” And so she was.
She could be
Small no more
And raised her eyes
From that place
With deep earnestness
Up in the sky
Please send help
I need to fly
Her prayer was heard and answered. They sent the mean Stepmother and two ugly Stepsisters to Cinderella. We might think that this is when Cinderella’s life took a turn for the worse, but there is another way to see this. We can perceive the Stepmother as Cinderella’s initiator.
Cinderella is a more modern version of an older story. If we go back to the myths, we find Psyche (Greek for soul) being initiated by Aphrodite (Goddess of Love). Why would the Goddess of Love wish to initiate the soul? Well, the myth tells us it was because the people of the time had lost touch with the Goddess, Her temples were neglected, and She was forgotten. Instead, people looked to a human as Her replacement and worshiped a mere mortal as an incarnation of the Divine.
The myth tells us Aphrodite was angry about this and wanted to take Her anger out on the innocent and helpless Psyche by giving her tasks to complete. Some versions of the story say She is trying to kill Psyche, but it’s not the soul She is attempting to obliterate. It is the ego.
Psyche felt overwhelmed by every task, until that is, she came to the final task. She had to retrieve a box of beauty from Persephone in the Underworld and take it to Aphrodite. This symbolizes bringing the unconscious beauty that is in the care of the Goddess into the light of day, or to consciousness. In order to complete the task, Psyche was told not to look into the box. She couldn’t resist though and decided to take just a bit of the Goddess’s beauty ointment for herself. She thought it might help her win back her husband Eros, the God of Love.
When she opened the box, she fell into a death like sleep. This has been interpreted as Psyche making a mistake, which caused her to fall unconscious, but I don’t see it that way. She finally stepped into her power, looked in the box and saw her full beauty, which was unconscious. She dared to take what she wanted. She saw the truth of who she was, saw her value and Divine origins, in the light of day. It’s brought to consciousness. She did not fall into a state of unconsciousness, as some believe, but her ego was realized as an illusion and what she discovered was her own Divinity.
She realized in that moment that she, Psyche, the soul, was not a mortal, but a Goddess. She understood that she was an equal to her husband, who was a God. She recognized in her wholeness that nothing was missing, or needed to be added. She saw her inner hidden beauty. She opened the box, and He (Eros) emerged from hiding, wiped the sleep from Her now Divine eyes, and married her on Olympus surrounded by the Gods and Goddesses. The only way they could have been married was if they were equal, the soul and the God of Love.
Cinderella was initiated by the Mean Stepmother in order to experience her true nature and find the Divine within. The only way she could have married a Prince and become a Princess was if she had found the inner truth first. Cinderella represents the soul that discovers it is not the human story of the ego, but something else entirely. The soul is and always was untouched by the world of form. The Prince is the God of Love and husband of the soul. When the soul remembers its Divine origin, the two are united as One.
The experiences that are the most trying can be looked at as opportunities to see beyond our limitations and move beyond ideas of being good. Stories and dreams can be road maps for the journey that reveal deeper meanings to us. They guide us to the Truth of our being. We are being initiated by the Goddess to look inside and awaken our souls to their Divine origins.