The term “Fairy Tale” is synonymous with “untrue.” Fairy Tales are considered the products of human imagination, enchantment and are not based on historical fact. But can stories represent something ontologically real, yet take place in a realm beyond time and space?
If we believe in God, heaven and angels, there certainly must exist a realm beyond the physical world. God’s Holy Word had its origins in heaven, and therefore its sacred narratives and dramas somehow first existed in a non-material realm. Stranger still, Holy Scripture describes giants, unicorns, sorcerers, witches and dragons.
According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, God’s Holy Word consisted of deeper, symbolic levels of meaning. When interpreted into these more abstracted levels, one distills a psycho-spiritual drama—the words of such a story can begin to depict the invisible stages of events that take place in our hearts and minds. A threatening “giant” could therefore represent a huge ego that threatens the innocence of our soul. Such a “giant” would not exist in time and space, but could accurately depict a psycho-scenario taking place deep inside us. What happens inside us is certainly considered real.
Humans have both an outer and inner reality. Allegory and metaphor serve to depict the theater of this inner reality.
Swedenborg discovered that many ancient myths and legends were written in this sacred and symbolic style—to communicate psychological truths rather than historical facts. This led me to wonder whether some of our earliest Fairy Tales were written by individuals who possessed this same sacred and deeper knowledge.
In the famous story of Snow White we have an evil Queen who is constantly looking in the mirror, which symbolizes a person who loves themselves more than others. Women symbolically represent a quality of love. One day the Queen is told by her mirror (self-reflection) that another woman, Snow White, in the kingdom (belief system) is more beautiful than her, that is, represents a truer quality of love. In the story of Sleeping Beauty we also meet up with a Sorceress who is equally jealous.
The wicked Queen in Snow White plots to trick the lovely princess into eating a poison apple. This is precisely the symbolism used in Genesis where Adam and Eve are tricked into eating the “Forbidden Fruit.” Psycho-spiritually speaking, the wicked Queen or evil Sorceress symbolizes a desire to captivate the minds of others with her evil qualities. The poisoned apple represents contaminated love, which when eaten, causes a person to come under its spell and puts to “sleep” any inclinations in the human heart to seek nobler or spiritual expressions of love.
In the story of Sleeping Beauty, princess Aurora pricks her finger on a spinning wheel. A spinning wheel actually symbolizes something similar to fruit and that which can bring forth or cause something to be produced (fruitfulness). In its negative connotation a “cursed” spinning wheel would symbolize a mechanism for seducing minds through deception. That Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger at the age 15 symbolizes that she has entered into a new mental state of relatively little truth, which is symbolized by a sleep-like state. (The Bible similarly warns us to “awaken” and to “sleep not.”)
In both stories, Prince Charming comes to the rescue. A “prince” symbolizes a principle or primary truth, which is necessary to combat the falsities of self-love. The Prince in Sleeping Beauty battles overgrown thickets and a fearsome dragon to reach the sleeping princess. (A serpent and thorny thickets are also mentioned in the Adam and Eve story.) Symbolically, the Prince in Sleeping Beauty represents “Truth” fighting through the stinging evil and false beliefs that can grow unhindered and infest the mind (psycho-thorns) and battling false reasoning derived exclusively from the five senses (Dragon) which grows into monstrous proportions and threatens to extinguish God’s spiritual Truth.
In Snow White, the Prince finds the princess in a wilderness (a mental state of spiritual obscurity) and protected by dwarfs (symbolizing stunted or limited spiritual qualities).
Finally, the Princes in both stories wake up the Princesses with a tender kiss. A “kiss” symbolizes connection and conjunction between truth and love. “Truth” wakes up love and lets the heart open its eyes.
I alluded to this sacred symbolism in an earlier blog post about “Cinderella.” I have also gone through the Fairy Tale of “Jack and The Beanstalk” with a fine-toothed comb and found similar symbolic language (correspondences) operational as well.
I mention this deeper symbolic language to counter the rising post-modern worldview that challenges Holy Scripture’s inerrancy and divine authority—because it seems to express the oppressive nature of a hierarchical, imperialistic and patriarchal model for the relationship between God and humans.
But the joke is on all those hyper-rational and worldly (corporeal) thinkers who today openly state that the Holy Bible is a Fairy Tale!