Fairytales and creative doubt

As I go through blog archives self doubt creeps in.   While I’m enjoying finding forgotten posts about haiku writing techniques I’m beginning to wonder if any of my haiku have any merit whatsoever.   Meanwhile my neighbour chainsaws down a huge gum tree in his garden.    It feels timely that I should find this old post just now.   I intend to follow the advice I give  myself at the end of the post the minute I finish reblogging.   I have deleted my original introduction and jumped right into the information.  

While the story of Demeter and Persephone obviously relates to the seasons of winter and spring the author,Mary Caelstro writes:

‘This cycle plays itself out within the creative individual as well. There are times when the words or music or painting seem to flow from the fingers. The inspiration cannot be harnessed fast enough. Like corn stalks reaching for the sky, the creative juices go from a small seedling to a towering plant in the span of a very short time. And then, as it usually happens, when the creative work is finished, or sometimes in the middle as our doubts and fears assail us, there is a lull. Inspiration fades away and the bleak expanse of our psyches can produce no more. In time, the block leaves and the creative individual can create again. But the barren time can be as long as winter with no end in sight.’

In her works, The Creative Fire and Women Who Run with the Wolves Clarissa Pinkola Estes takes this idea further and relates the myth of Ceres and Persephone to the need to retreat sometimes and  go into our inner darkness for creative regeneration.

The story of The Handless Maiden which you can read here  delves more deeply into the idea of retreating into the darkness to be healed.

Seeking to understand this strange and disturbing tale I came across the blog Myth and Moor by Terri Windling.  In her probing analysis of this fairytale she explores  the idea that it is the forest where the healing transformation takes place.  As Marie-Louise von Franz wrote of The Handless Maiden:  “She is driven into nature… She has to go into deep introversion…. The forest [is] the place of unconventional.’

Clarissa Pinkola Estes elaborates: “To follow the example of the armless maiden is an invitation to sever old identities and crippling habits by journeying again and again into the forest. There we may once more encounter emergent selves waiting for us. inner life, in the deepest sense of the word.”

These, and other commentaries on the tale of The Handless Maiden suggest that while the forest can be seen as a metaphor for the inner world, the story also implies that immersion in the wild and untamed natural world heals and regenerates our creativity.

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On a personal note – I’m off to the forest – the inner, the outer, the metaphoric.