The Sleeping Beauty
Many of what are now known as fairy tales began as teaching stories. The brothers Grimm went around and talked to the wise women of Europe (local teachers and healers, many of them carrying on an ancient oral tradition that preceded Christianity, and perhaps including material obtained during the Crusades from the Middle East) and collected many of their stories and published them. Some of them contain the germ of the original spiritual truth or parable they were meant to convey. Similar teaching stories can be found in the Arabian Nights of the Middle East, and in collections of stories from Asia.
In the very widespread and well-known story of the Sleeping Beauty, a beautiful and pure princess is induced by her wicked stepmother, the queen, to eat of a poisoned apple. The result is a deathlike sleep that can only be ended by the kiss of true love. This story is in fact an allegory of the sleeping essence of humanity.
The innocent and lovely princess represents our initial appearance in the world as essence , and our early infancy. The essence is the true heir to the kingdom of our life.
The wicked stepmother, who appears in many of these stories, represents a figure that is supposed to care about us and seems to, but is in fact deceptive, completely selfish, and ultimately dangerous. This figure represents human civilization, and its effect on the essence. The queen is powerful and in control of the realm, and even running away does not permit us to escape her reach.
The magic mirror which tells the envious queen of the genuine beauty of the princess, the essence, represents our inner guide: our intuition or conscience. It knows the secrets of Life, and speaks only truth, which enrages the queen. It speaks from the heart, which we can only hear in Silence.
The beautiful and seductive poisoned apple of which we eat, (the same apple that Adam eats in the Garden of Eden) and which causes our apparently fatal sleep, is language, which promises so much, but has a heavy and secret price.
In the version of this parable called Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the Dwarves represent the seven chakras, or centers, of the human organisms that support and protect the essence and are intimately involved in the process of its awakening. They also echo the idea of Seven Sins that can become Seven Virtues in Medieval religious tradition.
The noble prince who must kiss the princess before she can awaken represents Truth and the Teaching, and the possibility of the true love of Self and Life. Anything less will not serve. No ordinary means can awaken one from this kind of sleep.