in the opening of the Grimm Brothers’ The Faithful Animals, a man rescues three animals that had been held captive and forced to dance: a mouse, a monkey, and a bear. the wild does not like to perform.
dance itself may be a wildness (my weekly flailing and carrying on at 5 Rhythms tells me so), may be a performative wildness, even, but it cannot be forced.
what kind of wildness do we need?
we need the wildness of a mouse, small and barely noticeable. a lot can come of insistent pestering, rather than a grand battle-gesture.
we need the wild cleverness of monkey, his agile paws, his keen eyes. what does the wild see? whom best to learn from. whom to avoid.
we need the wild strength of a good bear story. the bear (and monkey?) invent a wild tale of imminent threat, and encourage (trick) frogs and toads to dredge up stones and build a wall. among the stones they pull up from the river bottom is the one that matters, the magical white stone, the cosmic egg. i think it is interesting that it is water creatures who plumb the unconscious depths, dragging stones to protect themselves, like pulling up deeply held beliefs and imprints in order to build defenses against… what? and none of these old stones of ours can bestow magic. the cosmic egg (wisdom, desire, prosperity) looks just like any other stone. better hope there is a red ribbon to let you know just which one it is. Mary Magdalene is associated with a red egg–she travelled to Rome and declared Jesus’ resurrection to the emperor while holding an egg. the emperor refuses to believe, saying that “Jesus had no more risen than the egg in her hand was red” (source), whereupon the egg indeed turns blood-red. the cosmic egg comes out of the ocean in some myths (Vedic, for one).
i am interested in the fact that the man, who seems like a secondary character, finds “a good life” only with the animals. he has to free his animal nature, get out of his stupid lockbox with measly bread and water, and invite his wild self in to truly feel like a man in his own castle. he doesn’t change into an animal, but he cannot get past his predicament without animals.
i have been thinking about wildness lately, “more fur, not less” to paraphrase storyteller Dr. Martin Shaw. more teeth, more bite, more unruliness, more tolerance of a deep sovereignty that has little to do with civilized urban life.
my dear friend Meredith, with whom i am trading these blog posts on myths and fairy tales, has recently moved out of the big city and into the wilder north. what, pray Meredith, can we learn from you?