Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to interpret fairy tales using oracle cards

I use my Journey Oracle deck for many more tasks than seeking advice about troubling or unclear situations. Interpreting fairy tales becomes a journey into layers of personal meaning and insight when I ask the cards to make connections between the story and my personal situation. Here's an example of what I do.

Last week I chose a fairy tale from the Red Fairy Book to help me gain insight about a group of new shamanic students with whom I am going to be working. I opened the book to the tale: the Death of Koshchei the Deathless. Here is my brief summary. Prince Ivan, on the instruction of his dying parents, helps his three sisters each marry a bird and then fly away to their kingdoms. The Prince then finds his own beloved, who tells him he can do anything but open the locked closet. Of course Prince Ivan does and discovers Koshchei the Deathless who is begging for a drink of water. After he drinks three buckets full he bursts his chains and carries away the beloved of Ivan. The Prince goes after her and is met by the Falcon, the Eagle and the Raven brothers-in-law and his sisters. Each couple asks for a token of silver by which to remember Ivan, and after these meetings at last he comes to his beloved. The royal couple flee three times from Koshchei who forgives the first two but on the third escape cuts Prince Ivan into pieces and seals these in a barrel flung into the sea. The bird relatives rescue Ivan and rebuild him, telling him to find out where Koshchei obtained such a fine horse that is always able to catch the runaway lovers. The beloved Marya finds out that the horse came from a Baba Yaga as a reward for caring for her mares. On his way to the Baba Yaga, Prince Ivan meets and agrees not to eat a chicken, honey from a bee hive, or a lion cub. The Baba Yaga tries to trick Prince Ivan for three days into losing some of her mares, but each day one of the animals he spared rounds up the wayward mares and drives them home. The prince then steals from the Baba Yaga a sorry colt who becomes a wondrous steed. He returns to his beloved Marya and carries her off. When Koshchei catches up to the pair, Ivan's magical horse smotes Koshchei with a kick from his hoof. The Prince then makes an end of him with a club, then burns him on a pyre, and then scatters his ashes to the wind. And of course at the death of the Deathless the couple live happily ever after.

I am naming myself Ivan, the three sisters my new students, and the bird husbands are the shamanic paths each must choose. But who is Koshchei? In the Russian fairytale Koshchei cannot be killed by conventional means because his soul lives outside his body. I drew this card number 47 to show me who is this deathless energy in my own story. What a surprise to see the card that most represents to me the Mystery; the card that represents the deepest water of Spirit. Certainly the water that brings Koshchei back to strength is the most fundamental of food. Is what I struggle against, and my love of the Mystery, the same thing? Perhaps my struggle against what I think keeps me from what I love will die with the help of those I help. Maybe this means that my new students are with me because it is I that must receive from them. Prince Ivan seems to have a kind heart, and doesn't give up trying to be with what he loves . I'm hoping naming it makes it so.