The Handless Maiden As A Mirror

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected many folktales in the early 1800’s. The Handless Maiden is one of the tales from their first volume entitled, Kinder- und Hausmärchen. (Children’s and Household Tales)

This story of a young woman whose hands are cut off by her father as a result of his mistaken promise to a dark wizard, or devil, certainly doesn’t seem very appropriate for children. In my experience, even most adults experience intensely uncomfortable feelings with it.

As an archetypal story, it is magnificent. The imagery and themes are powerful and resonant. It offers multi-layered meanings dependent on the point of view from which it is seen.

Levels of Interpretation and Meaning

Culturally, females may experience a sense of patriarchal, or dark male, influences cutting them off from manifesting or achieving in the world.

Culturally, men’s and women’s feminine principles may experience a sense of being impotent and helpless to express in a strongly male-oriented world.

Individually, girls and women may experience a limiting of their abilities and opportunities to be an active creator of their lives by patriarchal and heavily male-oriented society.

Individually, males and females may experience a cutting off by patriarchal and heavily male-oriented society of their own feminine principle’s expression and ability to manifest.

Intrapersonally, girls and women may find that their own internal masculine aspects, symbolized by the father and dark wizard, have cut off their access to manifesting and creating.

Intrapersonally, males and females may experience a sense that their own internal masculine aspects cause them to be unable to express from a feminine-principle perspective.

It may reflect the experience of women feeling, for whatever reason, unequipped to fulfill their creative destinies.

It may simply speak to those times in life when we may have chosen to sacrifice our own creative feminine during times of duress or threat.

One Mirror, Many Facets

The Handless Maiden offers us many different angles from which to see ourselves, our world, and our places in that world. These multilayered facets can be explored in journaling, visual arts expression or in the context of a workshop like The Good Juju Workshop.

The key principle to keep foremost in mind is that the characters, events, and landscapes in the story are all merely reflections of aspects of yourself. Regardless of  whether they appear in a negative or frightening capacity in the story, every single one is an affirming, evolving voice of your soul.