Just in time for Halloween, I wanted to write about my most favorite fairy tale character, Baba Yaga. If you do not know her, you should. She makes several important appearances in Russian folklore, most notably in Vasilissa the Beautiful.
Jungians have their own language for what Quaker’s call the gathered meeting. We talk about it as the appearance of the transcendent function, the appearance of the analytic third that arises spontaneously when the tension of the opposites can be held.
When a parent has co-opted a child’s interest and talents to further their own narcissistic agenda, that child’s creativity and achievements are no longer at the child’s disposal. They have been made to serve someone else. Their talent can then feel demonic, as if their mood or sense of self depends entirely on their ability to perform and achieve.
The experience of parental competence is the factor that sets in motion the maternal attachment system. Feelings of panic, fear, dread, and overwhelm are common among new mothers (and not so new mothers at times as well). A mother’s experience of her own competence is the foundation of love and attachment for her baby. Without this, the baby only means frustration, fear, and inadequacy.
Cinderella is one of the oldest and most universal fairy tales. The Chinese version, Yeh-Shen, was recorded almost 1,200 years ago. There are more than 500 versions of the Cinderella story around the world: African, Native American, Middle Eastern, Jewish, and Asian variants. Surely the story communicates something of great importance.
There are many things about Hansel and Gretel that are unique, and make it a special, powerful fairy tale. Happily, many of these same elements find their way into Shyamalan’s adaptation. Hansel and Gretel deals with childhood trauma, and can teach us much about surviving and healing from horrific parental abuse.