Today I was reminded of the story ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, which is about a girl her father, a King and a goblin. In the story the girls father is a Miller who meets a King and brags to him about his daughter’s ability to weave gold. The King demands the Miller bring him his daughter whom he locks in a room and says “weave me gold by the morning or you will die”. The girl knows that she cannot weave gold and is very scared that the King will kill her when suddenly a little man appears who says he will do it for payment.

The girl pays the man with a gold locket she is wearing. The King is so impressed that the next night he locks the girl in a larger room and orders her to fill it with gold thread or she will be killed. Again the little man appears and offers his assistance for payment. The girl then gives him her ring. Again the King is overjoyed and locks the girl in an even bigger room and says that if she can fill this room with gold he will marry her and she will be Queen. Again the little man appears but the girl has nothing left to offer him. The little man says that he will weave the gold but she must promise to give him her first born child.

The King marries the girl and they eventually had a child upon which time the little man appears and asks for the child. The Queen is so distraught and pleads with the little man to let her keep the child. The little man says that if she can tell him what his name is within three days then he will let her keep the child. The Queen sends a messenger to all the forests in the Kingdom to look for the little man and on the third day the messenger comes across the little man singing a ditty in which he reveals his name.

The little man appears to the Queen on the third day confident he will take the child but the Queen announces his name as Rumplestiltskin at which time the little man renders himself in two with rage.

Although this story is said to be about 4,000 years old, its message has much relevance for today. It is a story about the feminine and masculine principles, our values and what as women we are prepared to sacrifice in order to meet the expectations of others (men) in order to feel worthy.

The girls story is set in motion by obligations to the male symbols of success, power and greed. She slowly gives away pieces of herself to fulfil these expectations and obligations. She gives away the necklace, which symbolises self love, the ring, which symbolises marriage and the child, which symbolises motherhood and her maternal instincts.

The thread is a metaphor for life indicating that once put on this path, the girl must fulfil these expectations and then becomes so preoccupied with her duties that her very life depends on it. The goblin represents her own animus, or masculine principle, which the girl uses to achieve the expectations put upon her, while at the same time denying her anima, her feminine principle, until it is nearly too late. The goblin forces her to re prioritise her values by showing her the importance of not becoming obsessed by others expectations. She must look deep within herself to find her own true values rather than focusing on how to survive in the castle.

Finally she names it for what it is and restores the essence of her femininity and what really matters to her, which finally destroys the animus obsessions and re-balances and aligns her to her own truth.

Ultimately, this story is not about gender but about balancing the anima and animus, the masculine and feminine principles within, so that we can live according to our own values, not the expectations of others, and develop our own true sense of worth and self love.