Shaken, the King orders that all the spindles in the kingdom be gathered up and burnt. He doesn’t want one spindle or pointy object to be allowed into the castle. The result is that his daughter, who might otherwise be raised with the awareness of her origins, has absolutely no idea who she is, what gifts she has been given, or what her fate will be. As she grows older, she senses that people are keeping secrets from her, whispering in hallways and behind closed doors.
On her 15th birthday, her parents are called away and the princess decides to go exploring the mysteries of the castle. She goes poking into rooms and bedchambers, looks behind curtains and under stairs. At last, she finds an old ruined tower, and climbs the narrow, winding stairs to a room where an old woman sits by the window, spinning. The princess greets her, fascinated by the spinning wheel. “What is it that rattles round so merrily?” she asks the old dame, reaching for the spindle. The moment she has it in her hand, the curse is fulfilled. She pricks her finger and falls down upon the bed into a deep sleep. The sleep spreads through the whole castle. The King and Queen who have just come into the Great Hall, wilt to the floor where they stand. The courtiers, the cook, the fire in the hearth, the doves on the roof, the horses in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the spiders on the wall, stop in mid-motion and do not stir again.
As I contemplated the story, I wondered if the godmothers were speaking of the same magical gifts that the wise women gave to the child at the christening. Do they hold the gifts that we will need to fulfill our unique destinies? Have we rejected the godmothers for the same reason as the King rejected the 13th? He didn’t want his child to receive her dark gift. He wanted her to have the perfect life. He didn’t want her to meet her fate. He wanted to ward it off—eliminate the dark, pointy end of reality. It’s not an archaic notion. In the industrialized world, most of us can afford to wall ourselves off from the existence of pain, loss, aging, disability, disease and death. The Buddha began in the same way, enclosed in a beautiful castle, sealed out from the reality of suffering on the streets of Benares. It was only when he went beyond the castle walls and saw the reality of illness, aging and death that he understood his calling in life.
If the magical gifts of the godmothers are both light and dark—roses with thorns—that could be a difficult idea to SELL Who wants to know what loss we will face in this lifetime, what struggle will define us? But if we aren’t willing to accept our dark gift, then maybe our other gifts also go unused.
That’s about as far as I could go on my own. I would need more input from the godmothers. My mind kept wandering back to Lucy and her hilarious tutu and those big shiny patent