ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Colleen's Symbolic Story Interps: The Symbolism of Rapunzel

Updated on February 28, 2015

The Alchemical Search for Inner Healing and Renewal

Welcome to another symbolic story! I'm interested in a certain kind of story, the sort that has alchemy and its magic encoded within. Rapunzel is such a story. Alchemy is not only the science of physical transformation, but also of inner human transformation and development. Alchemical story bones in fairy tale, myth, poetry and song are meant to guide our human inner developmental journeys. They point out the ways that we can reconnect and therefore heal, ways that we can reimagine ourselves and our world, and therefore live in abundance, joy, and wisdom.

This symbolic interpretation is Jungian in style. I am using my trusty Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales version. Here is a link to a comparison between the Rapunzels in the two Grimm's collections.

However, if you have a basic knowledge of Rapunzel, you will understand this lens without reading the story now, so don't worry about that. The Disney version is different, FYI.

For an audio version on the Storynory website, click here. It's 12 minutes long, and takes a few minutes to download on my computer.

Illustration left is by one of my favorite illustrators, Wand Gag. Click here for Wiki article on Gag, a much loved American illustrator and artist.

Free Grimm's e book

Grimm's Fairy Stories
Grimm's Fairy Stories

Find Rapunzel on page 33! It's a little different from my version.

walled garden
walled garden

The Inner Garden

Garden as symbol of the human soul

If you are unfamiliar with this sort of symbolism, or with the concept of archetype, and you want to know more, visit my website, Sorcerer's Stone, here.

Let's take the story plunge. "There once lived a man and his wife who had long wished for a child, but in vain. Now there was at the back of their house a little window which overlooked a beautiful garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers; but there was a high wall all around it and no one ventured into it, for it belonged to a witch of great might, and of whom all the world was afraid."

The walled garden is a common symbol for the human soul, always a source of ethereal nourishment and inspiration, represented in the garden by vegetables and flowers. In this case, the soul-garden is owned by, controlled by, a feminine power. Though the human soul has gender balance overall, from the personality's perspective soul is "inside" and therefore dark, yin, or feminine. Therefore the soul is most commonly symbolized as archetypally feminine in nature. For more on the meaning of archetype, visit my site here.

This jealous feminine power of Rapunzel's story is variously described in the versions I've read as a witch (this version), an ogress, a fairy, enchantress, or a sorceress. These are all different aspects of our inner feminine, whether we are a man or a woman. Men have their inner fairies and ogresses, too, and often dream about them. A dream about a scary older woman who is demanding and heartless would be similar to this witch figure. However, whenever we use the word "witch" we also get story associations with both healing and wisdom. It's a hint concerning the story's wisdom instruction, pointing to ultimate healing and inner connection for our protagonist.

Illustrated Rapunzel

My current favorites

Rapunzel (Picture Puffin Books)
Rapunzel (Picture Puffin Books)

Paul O. Zelinsky's illustrations are perfect. If you love Rapunzel you'll want this one.

Tales From Grimm - Freely Translated and Illustrated by Wanda Gag
Tales From Grimm - Freely Translated and Illustrated by Wanda Gag

And here is Wanda Gag! Don't own this so I can't vouch for her translations, but love her illustrations.

an affirmation by Louise Hay
an affirmation by Louise Hay

Becoming the King or Queen of our Own Life

living in the grand inner castle

So with inner experience in mind, the first matter to address here is that in Jungian interpretation, we simplify the roster of characters by assuming that they are all representing internal characters in one person's psyche. That doesn't mean they cannot also appear in the outer world; they often do. Our inner witch can show up in the behaviors of self and/or others.

The second matter to address is the whole king and queen thing so common in these alchemical fairy tales. Within the human psyche, and from the soul's perspective, we are all royal! We are the fabulously rich rulers of our own experience, of our inner worlds. Our soul is a sort of sacred inner castle. In case you didn't know, the whole concept of kingship and queenship always involved sacred connection. Kings and queens were ordained by some deity or deities.

So in these "fairy tale" stories, we begin with a protagonist who is inhabiting the inner castle through reclaiming their true self, their whole self, their personal power, their soul connection, self love, etc., etc. This reclamation or redemption or renewal (all the RE stuff) is often depicted symbolically in fairy tale as the hieros gamos, the sacred INNER marriage, the uniting of the inner masculine and feminine (usually prince and princess), of inner aspects which were previously unknown to each other or in opposition to each other. The "RE" experiences are also depicted metaphorically as inheriting the Kingdom (or Queendom). However, it's not a material kingdom; it's more like the kingdom of heaven on earth, a holistic state of being, an experience of SELF love.

Longing for Growth, for Wholeness

the troubled guest

So this basic self development objective is represented using the story drama and its symbology. To begin with, we have a couple who long for a child ("There once lived a man and his wife..."), and we have a garden. The couple wishes many years for a child in vain. This opening gambit of wishing for a child is fairly common in alchemical tales, for example in Sleeping Beauty, another story I have done a Squidoo lens on. In Snow White the mother also longs for a child. This human desire for a child represents a soul deep sort of longing for inner connection which will result in a fancy "new you", the new perspective on life referred to in the last section. In Sufi tradition it's the Holy Longing. Here's the end of a Goethe poem by the same name:

"And so long as you haven't experienced

this: to die and so to grow,

you are only a troubled guest

on the dark earth."

For the whole poem, click here.

This need to die to old ways of being in order to grow is based on the most basic rule for evolution on Earth- out with the old, in with the new. This is the issue which the story addresses with its wish for a child. Positive growth is found also in the mother's overwhelming desire for the nourishing greens. Green growing things are a common metaphor for healthy developmental change, for human personal growth. Our mother and her man are Goethe's "troubled guest" in need of change.

Soon after we are informed about the longing for change in the couple's lives (a couple we can imagine as really just the inner masculine and feminine sides of one person) we get even MORE longing. The mother tells the man she lives with "I shall die unless I can have some of that rampion..." She longs for something healthy and life-giving that can be found within the soul's garden.

Symbolic stories (and dreams, too) often aid us interpreters by giving us more than one perspective of a symbolic story event. As symbolists, we then blend the two (or more) events and fine tune the symbol. The strong desire or longing for renewal (child), then, is also a strong desire for healing, represented here in terms of herbology, the witch's provenance.

The name of Rapunzel in older published versions of the tale is Petrosinella (sp.) or Persinette, meaning (in English) "parsley". Since parsley is one of those widely admired healing herbs back in the day, before it became a restaurant decoration, healing is definitely alluded to in the name. The motivation for this story is indeed a desire for healing through looking within, the alchemical (and Jungian) specialty.

In fact, the anonymous woman is quite willing to face death (as in Goethe's poem) in order to obtain the renewal which the rampion (or rapunzel) symbolizes ("I shall die unless..."), this stuff that "looks so fresh and green".

Rampion or rapunzel is nonsymbolically described as either a flowering plant that was once used for both greens and root, as corn salad (a green), or as lamb's greens (I assume lamb's quarters).

The Animus Faces the Witch

whose witch is this, anyway?

You may very well say to me that it does not matter that the woman is willing to die for the rampion, since she doesn't actually do anything to get it. Why doesn't she? First, remember this is not really TWO people, from a symbolic standpoint; it's one. Everyone has a masculine and a feminine side, and they work together to implement a plan of renewal, creating something new in our lives. Lots of times masculine figures in symbolic story get to do things like climbing walls and taking things essentially by force, committing acts that require some measure of aggression, because aggression is an archetypally masculine attribute. Again, for the meaning of archetype, visit my Metaphor 101 page here.

And, like the guys in Sleeping Beauty's story who attempt to get through the hedge to her, a man will also figure out how to get to Rapunzel in the tower. It's sort of a guy thing, also to figure out how to "get in"...I'll let you figure out how that works. I'll just say that a guy has to get in for a child to be planted. We need the inner masculine to get in, and the feminine to be receptive. That's totally what happens in this story.

The "animus" is what we call a woman's inner masculine. So from the woman's point of view, her inner masculine is needed in order to confront this witch who's got power over her ability to grow and thrive. But we can also perceive this story as a man's story. In that case, all the female characters are inner anima figures. It's actually more common for men to create frightening witches in their psyches, I think, because the feminine is more foreign, and therefore more scary. This particular story doesn't overtly favor either female or male as a clear protagonist. So we'll just say this inner development project is a partnership.

Do you have an inner witch... - ...that shows up in your dreams?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      Who doesn't?


    illustration by Anne Anderson
    illustration by Anne Anderson

    A Deal is Struck

    giving our beautiful young one to the inner witch

    The man steals over the wall into the witch's garden in order to bring life back to his dying wife, and the taste of rampion has the effect of increasing her longing; a taste of what she's been wanting so long is not enough. Just so, once we encounter the joie de vivre and depth of our souls, whether through romantic love, spiritual experience, creative expression or what have you, we want more; "If she was to have any rest the man must climb over the wall once more."

    This time he actually runs into the witch. Witch is angry. He hasn't gone about this directly, because he is afraid of her. Fear, and anger for that matter, whether within the psyche or in our outer relationships, breeds lies and skulking. It's counter to our inner love-and-connection oriented hieros gamos, so must be dealt with.

    The witch is symbolically a stand-in for the experience of fear itself, though the story will go on to elaborate concerning possible particulars of this fear. This very broad role is one reason why we can imagine her as an ogress, or witch, or sorceress, or whatever; she's fear, period. She is powerful because when we are afraid, we are giving away our power to the fear. We let it rob us of our strength, let it obstruct us and limit us. In order to move along in life, to get to the next level, to claim our creativity and destiny, we face our fears.

    The frightened man is informed " may have as much rampion as you like, on one condition- the child that will come into the world must be given to me.."

    The witch is willing to strike a deal, and that's often how we relate to our fears. We give away our freedom, our love of self, our ability to create and to enjoy our creations, for example, if giving these up can only alleviate the fear. We give away our ability to joy and renewal so fear will just leave us alone, and we can then function in daily life. We just don't even go there anymore. The story Rumpelstiltskin is another well known example of this inner deal-making. The witch offers what his wife desires, in exchange for the baby they had longed for. Thus the connection is made between our protagonist's fear, and the disappearance of the joy and renewal the child would symbolically bring.

    So the wife desires renewal, but though she gets some form of it (some rampion) through the inner mediated exchange between the husband and witch, she's still not free of her hangup; not ready to inhabit the castle. But she's looking inside the soul garden, and making discoveries! Great! The inner man is literally facing the fear-witch; a good beginning. Now we can discover how this whole thing went awry, why our protagonist is experiencing such a stagnant, uncreative period, why she is such a troubled guest.

    The baby is whisked away in the tale without further ado: "...the witch appeared, and, giving the child the name of Rapunzel..., she took it away with her." Since this event is so curtly addressed, it performs like a sort of scene switch that often occurs in dreams. The purpose to such quick shifts in scene is that the dream or story is now going to show you ANOTHER layer of the issue at hand. Both dreams and alchemical stories typically expand on a theme by offering multiple perspectives of the same event or situation, and this story is no exception. We will now get more instruction about how this static situation within the man or woman came to be.

    We have one good clue; the witch tells the man "It shall go well with the child, and I will care for it like a mother." From the Jungian psychological perspective, this brief statement is a red flag. It indicates that our protagonist has Mommy issues. That's why the witch is so powerful in this particular psyche; it's part of the person's conditioned experience with the nurturing feminine. This nurturing feminine experience could actually have been acted out by any of our protagonist's more or less important childhood caretakers, of either gender. Many men do more nurturing than some women.

    Rapunzel's tower, Zelinsky
    Rapunzel's tower, Zelinsky

    Jealously Guarding the Golden Soul

    disconnection often occurs in adolescence

    The scene shift allows us to imagine RAPUNZEL'S experience as the earlier experience of our PROTAGONIST. We shift back to her childhood and adolescence, to the origin of the stagnant condition the story begins with. This shift to a younger woman's experience can be viewed as the older protagonist looking back, into her past. She's self inquiring, self contemplating. When we dream we are a child, or living in our childhood home, we are often doing the same self reflection using the dream state.

    It seems the "Rapunzel problem" (the overall state of disconnection that begins in the tower) began with the manner in which the nurturing feminine dealt with (or deals with) childhood's end, for:

    "When she was twelve years old the witch shut her up in a tower in the midst of a wood, and it had neither steps nor door, only a small window above. When the witch wanted to be let in, she would stand below and and would cry, "Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!"

    Childhood is a very soul connected time. The beauty of Rapunzel and her golden hair are significant of the beauty of the soul, the inner garden Rapunzel's named after. Childhood is the time of innocence and innate soul connection, and this connectivity is very often hard to leave behind as we move into adolescence. And lots of times, caretakers become addicted to the presence of soul's innocent beauty in their charges. They can't imagine losing the unconditional love from this shining little soul, which feeds their own heart and soul so deeply with its sacred garden.

    Though caretakers might actually restrict their charges both physically and psychologically, it's quite impossible to accomplish what the witch does; locking someone up in a tower with no doors or walls and climb up some hair that is 20 ells long. This tower, then, is a description of an inner state. Since Rapunzel is representing a thing as general as the ethereally beautiful, innocent soul (she is given no other qualities), and since most of us DO leave our souls behind to more or less extent after childhood, the story can actually apply to just about anyone, regardless of their caretakers' attitudes and actions. We can hide our souls away in walled towers without any help, usually through some sort of fear (the witch). A typical fear for adolescents, for example, is the fear of nonacceptance from their peers.

    It's not necessary to have a possessive caretaker to end up secreting our souls away, then, but the overprotective caretaker (also in Sleeping Beauty) is presented as a possible ORIGIN of our fears of certain ways of being or behaving. The inner witch, or the fear, keeps the soul-child hidden away, remote. She is the only one who has inner access to the soul connection characterized by Rapunzel, since childhood's creativity, soul, love etc. Healthy growth possibilities are buried beneath our protagonist's fear. Again, to reconnect with our creative, connected lives we must confront the witch and leave the tower.

    Notice the witch even commands the Rapunzel-soul to do her bidding. We can think of this in several ways, but one would be that the protagonist's personal power is being coopted by her fears, and by the beliefs that keep those fears in place. This commanding of the golden soul's innocent beauty is similar to the high-in-the-sky ogre's command of the symbolic hen and harp in Jack and the Beanstalk. It's appropriate for the soul to live high up, due to its ethereal nature, thus the beanstalk is in the clouds, like Rapunzel.

    Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman
    Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

    Here Comes the Prince

    the masculine gets past the inner walls again

    "After they had lived thus for a few years it happened that as the King's son was riding through the wood, he came to the tower; and as he drew near he heard a voice singing so sweetly that he stood still and listened."

    Rapunzel's singing is an important detail. In fact, she attracts the attention of the King's son. He's the proverbial fairy tale prince, symbolically a masculine soul connected aspect. The soul is symbolized by song because singing is a very direct artistic and individual self expression which issues forth from inside of us. Rapunzel is like a singing bird in a cage, a metaphor that strikes us in the same manner. Both Rapunzel and the singing golden harp in Jack and the Beanstalk are used to being commanded by fear (witch and giant), used to giving away their beautiful soul power to a frightening aspect of the psyche.

    Now we've switched to the masculine perspective. We started with a woman longing for soul connection; now we have the (inner) prince longing for the same. Just as the woman longed even more for the rampion after her first taste, the prince goes back day after day once he's heard our imprisoned songstress, for "the song had entered his heart." Just so did the rampion enter the woman's body, another symbolic corollary.

    One day our listening prince sees the witch climb up the rope of golden hair, and he decides to try commanding the soul, too. The golden soul's/Rapunzel's "hair connection" must be commanded by the inner prince. If he can effectively command it, then it is not any longer at the command of the inner witch. When we seal ourselves off from soul because of our fears, it can be challenging to figure out how to reconnect. Just as the husband scaled the witch's walls for rampion, now the inner masculine gets past the witch's circle of power, the circle of fear, again.

    The meeting between the prince and Rapunzel proves her soulful innocence; "Rapunzel was greatly terrified when she saw that a man had come in to her" (notice the use of the term "come in"). The soul is always innocent; it is not of the world. The prince asks him to "take her for a husband". Of course these fairy tales aren't addressing anything worldly, which is why they are named after an otherworldly creature (fairy). Such talk of weddings is meant to refer to the alchemical wedding, the inner meeting and melding of psychic opposites. Such an inner wedding means that something we have been ignoring (are in a sense innocent of) or pushing away inside is discovered and seen as worthy, as beautiful. Usually love is not even mentioned in these tales for that reason. For example, in this tale, Rapunzel "saw that he was young and beautiful", two characteristics of the soul, and thinks, "I certainly like him much better than old Mother Gothel".

    The two hatch a plan, for the prince to bring handkerchiefs each time he comes with which to build a ladder. However, Rapunzel's innocence is the plan's undoing, for she asks her godmother (Mother Gothel) why she climbs so much more slowly than the prince. "O wicked child", cried the witch, "what is this I hear! I thought I had hidden you from all the world, and you have betrayed me!"

    What about inner Princes? - you dream of them? (I sure do)

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Sorcerers Stone profile image

        Sorcerers Stone 3 years ago

        @TolovajWordsmith: Thanks for reading!

      • TolovajWordsmith profile image

        Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana


      illustration by Wanda Gag
      illustration by Wanda Gag

      The State of Inner Betrayal

      demanding redemption from others

      "O wicked child," cried the witch, "what is this I hear! I thought I had hidden you from the world, and you have betrayed me!"

      Though some progress has been made for our protagonist as far as discovering how her fears have been obstructing her happiness and creativity (her fear of the obstructing caretaker, her lack of soul connection) our story will now expand on this common stagnant inner condition further. This brief statement from Mother Gothel, and her act of severing Rapunzel's hair from her head, is another symbolic snapshot of our protagonist's fall into the rather desperate state which begins the story. "Outer" betrayal between two persons such as this scene dramatizes is indeed experienced as a moment of inner separation, here symbolized by the hair cutting. When we curse something as wicked we separate ourselves from it, and as within, so without.

      Typically that which we trust is desired or good; betrayal is trust's wicked opposite. When we trust that others will fulfill our expectations, we connect. We allow ourselves to love; we are not afraid of the trusted one. We imagine they will "treat us right", etc. When others don't keep the expected deal, one that often exists only in our own minds (Rapunzel obviously had not agreed with this particular deal), we judge them negatively. In symbolic terms, they are "wicked"; thus the ubiquitous wicked witch, stepmother, etc. in transformational tales like this.

      Story "bad guys" are acting out the rejected, that which we have "undeemed", or devalued, that which we do not want to be associated with, or as. According to the alchemical rule of "as within, so without", our outer relationship betrayals reflect the INNER betrayals we have implemented, however unconsciously. We all "undeemed" or betrayed aspects of ourselves as we matured towards adulthood. We cut off parts of ourselves in order to survive and thrive. The journey of alchemical healing to inner sovereignty requires abandoning this perceived need to reject parts of ourselves as "bad".

      Since the individual human soul is innately whole or undivided, our conditioning process and its chopping off of bits and pieces of self disconnects us from our spiritual source, from our inner guidance, from a deeply meaningful life experience. Mother Gothel's betrayal scene describes an important conditioning experience for folks in my culture, which could possibly be the most obsessed with betrayal of all times and places! Some folks consider that this betrayal scene makes of Mother Gothel a sympathetic character, since betrayal is such a common drama in my society. It is rare to find a person in my culture who has fathomed the wisdom behind the betrayal game. We naturally soak up and internalize the cultural stories we grow up with, including this one.

      The alchemical wisdom offered here is not designed to inspire pity for Mother Gothel, though we can all empathize with betrayal. The point is, though Mother Gothel loves Rapunzel, she loves as most of us mortals do; with expectations. Her love is conditional, dependent upon "her child" behaving in a certain manner (loving no other, in this case; pretty common, no?). We first experience conditional love in childhood, when the soul centered child is punished (often by a parent). When we are punished we experience the withdrawal of love from the punisher, and that's a big deal when the punisher is the one we love most, often Mother. In that hair-slicing moment, like Mother Gothel we both judge the punishable action or trait as bad, AND lose love for that bit of ourselves in the judging of it. This rejection of parts of ourselves as we mature is a human existential experience.

      Then we end up searching in the world for someone who will redeem us- not consciously, of course. As parents, or pet owners, or infatuated lovers, we get to experience the state of wholeness, of acceptance and love of all our aspects. We imagine we are innocently loved, whether that is the case or not, and we move beyond the realm of expectations and therefore betrayals, and/or fear of betrayals. We naturally seek out the experience of unconditional love, as a sunflower turns its head to the sun, as the prince loves listening to Rapunzel's voice, as the woman longs for rampion.

      The "golden" experience of parental redemption, of being loved by a child unconditionally, will need to end in adolescence, which is when the witch enclosed our Rapunzel-soul, hoping to keep her innocent, nonjudgmental love secret, intact, inviolable. As in the case of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and others, adolescence is the transitional crux of adulthood and soul centered childhood.

      Wandering in the Zombie Wasteland

      judgment and the inner split can be repaired, though

      "In her anger she seized Rapunzel by the beautiful hair, struck her several times with her left hand, and then grasping a pair of shears with the right-snip, snap-- the beautiful locks lay on the ground. And she was so hard-hearted that she took Rapunzel and put her in a waste and desert place, where she lived in woe and great misery."

      The first thing we notice in this moment of judgment is that Rapunzel is cast from the soul-garden, as it were. Thus did the woman who is our real protagonist, the one who longed for a child, find herself looking at the soul from outside its nourishing walls. We could say that through her self reflection she's learning that through (probably many) acts of self betrayal she walled herself off from love. Remember, the state of self love is the state we are looking for as we journey towards fairy tale inner sovereignty, towards ruling our inner castles. Loving ourselves means we no longer judge and therefore betray ourselves. Loving self means we maintain the golden-haired connection with the holistic soul.

      So Rapunzel in the "waste and desert place" is the protagonist's experience which actually BEGAN the story; through introspection we now know how the woman got there. It's the same state that currently popular zombie movies depict. Like the dying and desperate protagonist yearning for the life giving rampion, zombies are the undead, ones who are disconnected from the life giving and renewing soul. They are shuffling through their days, depressed maybe, longing for vitality, but incapable of getting it from inside. They think they have to steal it from others. Lots of relationships are parasitic to an abusive degree; that is part of the whole expectations thing. Like Mother Gothel, we put up walls of expectations, which are always limitations, around our loved ones, and possibly rob them of their growth and creativity. If you aren't plugged into universal energy yourself through soul connection, you'll try to plug into something outside of you, and may end up stealing another's soul (zombies eat live people's guts, rendering their victims zombies, too) like Mother Gothel sorta does.

      We have another alchemical pointer here in the several strikes from the left hand and the shears in the right. Alchemical symbolism concerns itself with opposites, of course, like masculine and feminine. The strikes symbolize the witch's judgment as "wicked" or "bad", and describe the truth that when we experience betrayal we create inner defenses, like the walls of garden and tower, the thorns the prince will fall upon. The left hand is the feminine side, and I would bet that this story ought to have three strikes, the sacred number.

      The right hand is masculine, and a cutting tool, a blade of any kind, is archetypally masculine. It's air element (like swords in tarot) and represents the ability to separate any whole into two, which occurs very often within the mind and psyche. It's always there when we judge anything as good or bad, for they imply each other; if something's good, its opposite is instantly bad, and vice versa. This masculine separation gift can be, like any power, used wisely- or not. Developing wisdom concerning the elements is one of the most useful aspects of the ancient, traditional alchemical approach. We learn when such cutting serves us best, and when to undo the splits we have created. The experiences of forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance are a few ways to weld split aspects of self back together, for example.

      Reading of Fairy Tales - Rapunzel and more

      Rapunzel: 16 Songs, Stores & Nursery Rhymes
      Rapunzel: 16 Songs, Stores & Nursery Rhymes

      I listened to the mp3 sampler of this album, and didn't hear any songs- just readings of the tales. Includes Snow White and Rose Red, The Brave Little Tailor, King Midas and more. A great CD for just listening to the stories, I bet.

      The Tower by Kim Waters, image linked to her website
      The Tower by Kim Waters, image linked to her website

      The King's Son Shares Rapunzel's Fate

      more longing and zombie walking, the Tower's transformation

      As I said, this tale is pretty gender balanced for an alchemical story. Rapunzel (symbolically both part of our protagonist's feminine side, and the golden soul) is now off in the waste land experience where the protagonist and husband began. The witch lures the prince up the tower with the severed hair, and he really gets it from her! She yells "...the sweet bird no longer sits in the nest, and sings no more, the cat has got her, and will scratch your eyes out as well!" The prince, "in his agony", jumps from the tower, and "the thorns on which he fell put out his eyes". He wanders blind through the wood "doing nothing but lament and weep for the loss of his dearest wife". His alchemical wife, that is. She loses her hair, he loses his sight. Golden hair is, especially in Nordic and Germanic lore, an old symbol for a particularly strong connection with the sacred, by the way, since the hair is likened to a crown.

      Prince's blindness and wandering is another sort of zombie life. Getting one's eyes scratched out is an event that appears in other such fairy tales (the sisters in Cinderella, for example), and it depicts a state of INNER blindness, of course. Zombies are also often glazed over in the eyeball department. What we're aiming at in any wisdom tradition is to see, not physically, but beyond the physical appearances. Many wander the earth with perfectly good eyes, but they've not learned to see beyond their early conditioning.

      The thorn symbol, famously used in Sleeping Beauty (my interp of Sleeping Beauty here), is a very general symbol of suffering which sometimes follows from loving another, particularly in the case of the rose thorn. From the soul centered perspective, we are all suffering when we are disconnected from soul and its state of nonjudgmental, unconditional love.

      As the tarot image (above) beautifully explains, The Tower (XVI) represents an experience very like the event we're talking about in the tale- the prince's jumping off point. It signifies a period of change, of sacrifice, of transformation, of renovation, often involving insecurity and other forms of suffering as we let go of the old. Tarot symbolism is alchemical in nature.

      The prince wanders around until he comes to Rapunzel again, in her desert place. "At first he heard a voice that he thought he knew, and when he reached the place from which it seemed to come Rapunzel knew him, and fell on his neck and wept. And when her tears fell on his eyes they became clear again, and he could see with them as well as ever."

      Here's the soul-voice again. The woman who began our tale SAW something of the soul she longed for (the rapunzel or rampion). Similarly, the prince HEARS something that he recognizes as capable of ending his zombie state, and draws nearer.

      The tears which Rapunzel sheds are water element, of course. It's a sympathetic, empathetic, indivisible feminine element that we can offer as curative to soul disconnection diseases. You can't cut water. To strengthen the emphasis on alchemical balance, Rapunzel has borne of their alchemical marriage twins, one boy, one girl.

      So everything's in balance now! Everything is whole; opposites (perhaps old judgments of "wickedness") are rejoined. No more zombies, only happiness and joy. I'd bet that somewhere there's a version of this tale with more about the wandering in the desert and in the woods; some tasks like those in Cinderella's story. But maybe not. It ends rather curtly for an alchemical tale, but then the tasks are impossible for folks with no symbolic savvy to decipher, so they get cut out.

      That's a wrap! For more interps, visit my website where I do a symbolic interp blog at Sorcerer's Stone. I also published a collection of interpretations of films like Fight Club, The Game, and Dead Man's Chest. Click here to view my book on Amazon or click on the link below. There are a few examples of symbolic film review free on my website.

      If you wish to further your study of Rapunzel, here's a link to the wonderful Sur la Lune Fairytales site and their annotated version of the story. The annotations are more what I call fundamental, based a lot less on symbology than my interps.

      Here are Terri Windling's Mythic Imagination Institute's folkloric research notes on Rapunzel.

      Until the next time!

      My e book Poetry in Motion: 19 Symbolic Reviews of Transformational Film - in case you don't know, all you need to read an e book is a computer.

      Poetry in Motion: 19 Symbolic Reviews of Transformational Film
      Poetry in Motion: 19 Symbolic Reviews of Transformational Film

      Ever wonder what's up with all those flicks like The Village, Black Swan, Lady in the Water, Fight Club, and more? Wonder no longer! I'll get you pointed in the right direction in this e book aimed at the symbolism beginner!


      Rapunzel Whimsy... - Ray Maseman print


      I couldn't resist adding this print! The artist shows at a studio that I previously lived a few blocks from in Albuquerque, NM. Love his work! It was fun to find him on Amazon.


      Do you identify with Rapunzel? With Mother Gothel? - or have anything else to add to this lens?

        0 of 8192 characters used
        Post Comment

        • TolovajWordsmith profile image

          Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

          I am sure we all can find Rapunzel and Mother Gothel inside, constantly fighting for the power. Thanks for this great research and all the resources!