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"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chapter VII.2

An Unwitting Frog Prince

To set the stage, and context, for what is to come, it seems prudent to recount the tale of the Frog Prince, as told by the inimitable Joseph Campbell; and then flash forward (courtesy of Mr. Peabody and the WABAC machine), briefly, to the spring of 2008—two years after my impending trip to visit Gwen in San Diego— for a quick glimpse at the onset of an epiphany.

The Frog Prince[1]

The first story I’d like to look at is the “The Frog Prince,” the very first story in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  We begin with this little girl— a princess, of course— who has a little golden ball.

Now, gold is the incorruptible metal, and the sphere is the perfect shape.  So this is her— the ball is the circle of her soul.  Now, she likes to go out to the edge of the forest.  This is Germany, where the forest is the abyss, as I’ve said.  She sits there playing, and there’s a little pool right near her, a little spring, which is the entrance to the lower world.  And there she likes to throw her soul around.  She’ll just toss the little ball and catch it, toss the ball and catch it, toss the ball and catch it, until, at last, she misses it and it goes down into the pond.

Now, there is the girl’s self, her potential, being swallowed up by the underworld.  When that happens, the power that’s down there calls up the little dragon who is the threshold guardian:  an ugly little frog.  The frog at the bottom of the pool is a kind of fairy-tale dragon.

She has lost the ball and she starts to weep; she’s lost her soul.  I mean this is depression, this is the loss of energy and joy in life; something essential has slipped out.  This sort of loss has a counterpart in the Iliad, the theft of Helen of Troy, which sets in motion this whole epic adventure, since princes and warriors of Greece were obligated to get her back.

Here the little golden ball has dropped and up comes the little frog, the inhabitant of the underworld, who says, “What’s the matter, little girl?”

She says, “I lost my golden ball.”

Very graciously he says, “I’ll get it for you.”

“That would be very nice.”

Being a reasonable frog, he says, “What will you give me?”

For a boon of the kind she’s seeking, you’ve got to give up something; there’s got to be an exchange of some kind.  So the little princess says, “I’ll give you my gold crown.”

He shakes his head, “I don’t want your golden crown.”

“I’ll give you my pretty silk dress.”

“I don’t want your pretty silk dress.”

“Well,” she frets, “what do you want?”

“I want to eat with you at the table and I want to be with you as your playmate and I want to sleep in your bed.”

Underestimating the frog, she says, “Okay, I’ll do that.”

The frog dives down and brings up the ball.  The fun thing here is that he’s the hero, too, on the adventure; he brings up the bauble to give it to her.

She, without so much as a thank-you, takes the ball and goes trotting home.

Well, he comes after saying, “Wait for me!”  Unfortunately, he’s very slow, and she gets home well ahead of him, thinking she’s left him behind.

Then, that evening at dinner, the little princess and King Daddy and Queen Mommy are having dinner.  Now, it seems in that particular palace, the dining table was very close to the front door.  They’re having a very nice meal, when this wet things comes flopping up the front steps and the girl goes a bit pale.

The father says, “What’s the matter dear, what’s that?”

She says, “Oh, just a little frog I met.”

Being a wise king, he asks, “Did you make any promises?”  Now here’s the moral principle coming in, the persona complex— you know we’ve got to correlate all these things.

Of course, the princess is obligated to say that, indeed, she did make a promise.

So the king says, “Open the door and let him in.”

So, in hops the frog.  The princess is embarrassed and sets up a little place for the frog under the table, but he will have none of this.  He says, No, I want to be on the table; I want to eat out of your golden plate.”  As you can imagine, that rather spoils dinner for the young lady.

Finally, dinner is finished, and she’s going off to bed.  Here the frog comes again, flopping up the stairs after her and banging against her door.  He says, “I want to come in.”

So she opens the door and lets him in.

“I want to sleep in your bed with you.”

Freudians love this story.

Well, that’s more than she can take.  There are several ways of ending this story, the most famous being that she kisses him and he is transformed.  But the one I like best is that she picks him up at this point and throws him against the wall.  And the frog cracks open and out steps this beautiful prince with eyelashes like a camel.

What we discover is that he, too, was in trouble.  He had been cursed, transformed by a hag into a frog.  Now, that’s the little boy who hasn’t dared to move into adulthood.  She’s the little girl who’s at the brink of adulthood, and both of them have been refusing it, but each now helps the other out of this neurotic stasis.  Of course they immediately fall in love, swapping anima for animus.

Then, so the story then says, the next morning, after she introduced him to Daddy and Mommy, after they’d been married, a royal coach comes to the front door.  It turns out that he is indeed a prince, and this is his coach, which has come to return him to his kingdom, which had been in desolation from the time of his transformation to a frog.  This is the wasteland motif that was a central image in the Grail romances of the Middle Ages.  The king is the heart of the land, and while he is incomplete, the land lies devastated.

So the bride and the groom get into the coach, and, as they’re driving, there’s a sound of a bang.  The prince says to the coachman, “What’s the matter Heinrich, what’s happened?”

The coachman says, “Well, ever since you’ve been gone, dear prince, there have been four bands of iron around my heart, and one of them had just now broken.”

Then, of course, as they ride along, there are three more bangs, and then the heart of the coachman is beating properly again.  Obviously, the coachman himself is symbolic of the land, which requires the prince as its generating and governing power.  But the young hero failed in his duty by refusing the call.  He had gone down into the otherworld against his will, but down in the otherworld, he found his little bride.  So as is well, if you can pardon the pun.

I like the story particularly because you have both of them in trouble and they’re both in the bottom of the well and each rescues the other.

Got up early to go to Eddy’s dad’s funeral this morning; too tired/weak; called my sis and backed out, went back to bed, slept till noon.

For no good reason, picked up my 8/98 journal and started reading.  God!  It’s amazing how much I knew back then and didn’t see!!!

8/14/98:  I must be losing my mind, looking at these pictures from Pete’s…and now for the weird part:  the rest of those pictures, it’s alike she knows, and is taunting me.  Not badly but because I don’t remember, because I haven’t remembered for so long.  What does she know?  What is she waiting for?  Reading The Forgetting Room where he talks about his wife leaving, it’s so exactly what I experienced that last night in Moab (8/98)—it’s uncanny.

10/9/98:  Walking out of work it hits me that this isn’t about some stupid crush.  There’s something deeper and I don’t understand.

Learning to be a better neurotic
8/22/98:  I believe that one’s suffering is generally proportional to the number of self-placed barriers that must be overcome to reach that particular truth.

“…Demons—all that is not and cannot be clearly understood as it rides out of the depths of the psychic life of man, and which not only disturbs but frequently dominates him.”
            ~ Sangwa Düpa Mahakara (??), Tantras of Gyütö

“…medicine didn’t work that way, because the world didn’t work that way.  His sickness was only part of something larger, and his cure would be found only in something great and inclusive of everything.”
            ~Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony, p. 125-6

Holy shit!  I see, I understand in a way that I never have before…all my old problems with Gwen, particularly regarding comms.

I wasn’t trying to talk to Gwen (directly), I was trying to talk to my anima—the Princess, Constance, etc.  Of course, I didn’t see that and was trying to talk to Gwen AS my anima (Gwen as the symbol of).  I have to imagine that much of what I said to Gwen made no sense to her.  I asked of her things that she couldn’t do—even if she was willing.  I put her in a series of horrible spots and I don’t know that I was ever able to see her for who she was, understand her, or be there in a way that was good for her.  I’ve understood for a while that I projected my anima on her, but this is stark, specific, right in my face—so many of these unsent letters to her weren’t written to her at all but to my anima.  God, I was just burning with love, pain, need, hurt, confusion, desire—a “hot-mike” of confusion and uncertainty.  I can only imagine the crossed/mixed signals I was sending

I’m suddenly struck with the notion that my yelling at Kim was more yelling at my anima than Kim.  It’s like my ability to integrate the feminine aspects/capabilities got jammed up and I was left awash in all these feelings/emotions for which I had no effective way to deal with—pretty much at the level of a teen-ager.  I wanted connection, needed it to be able to tame the emotions within me, but felt dangerous because of these very emotions.  So I couldn’t establish that connection—catch-22.

In my dreams during this time my anima isn’t strong, doesn’t have the power of the Princess.  She’s a young girl, singling me out to kiss (she wants connection) and finding some small way to help me, save me from dangers that I can’t see.  How did she grow, get so strong and wise?

I’ve said, at least since mid ’98, that my return (from the hero’s cycle—underworld) would be thru a female; but maybe what I really meant was “the feminine”—my anima, not a person.

So what now becomes of Gwen?  Did I ever know her?  It’s all in doubt now.  I have no idea the criteria to be an anima projection recipient—maybe for most guys it’s physical, I don’t know.  I have to believe though that with Gwen there had to be a certain level of trust; I had to see something in her, didn’t I?  I just don’t know now and I wonder why I still think of her so much—is it residual from projecting my anima on her or did I really feel something for her?  What comes now?


[1] Pathways to Bliss, Joseph Campbell, p.124-26

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