Some people think that nursery rhymes and fairy tales are only for kids. Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung and other students of symbols would disagree. These powerful stories have the potential to move people on a variety of levels, depending on one’s consciousness.
A case in point would be the famous nursery rhyme of “Humpty Dumpty.” The version most of us heard goes something like this:
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.”
Humpty Dumpty is portrayed as an egg. Why was this symbol chosen? An egg is a symbol of life, containing the developing embryo of the little chick. It is also a symbol of wholeness.
In the beginning of our lives we possess a great deal of wholeness. We sit atop a wall which enables us to look equally on two different realities, the spiritual and the material, and yet perceive them as one, as a whole.
Little babies and little children accept themselves as they are. They are in touch with their own needs and are not afraid to express them. There are no hangups yet, no self-rejection, no mind games. There is only a crystal clear channel through which we can look upon reality.
Such little ones, to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs (Jesus), have no filters yet over their perceptions of the world as one.
The great “fall” from the wall will come soon enough. Duality will cast us into either the earthly or the heavenly realm. We then see reality as split. Our fall from “grace” is now underway; nakedness and shame and judgment now rule the day.
We are now locked in a prison of self. This is the most impenetrable prison in the world. We then feel separate from Higher Power, others, nature and ourselves. We then, naturally, try to escape from this prison of self.
We find that all of the normal and familiar avenues of escape come up short. “All of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.” Once banished from our childhood Eden, we feel as if we have been banished from paradise. We seek escape predictably.
Horses, the symbol of sexuality, will not restore us to wholeness. The king’s men, representing the realm of intellect and reason, science and mental powers, will not due it either.
Our childhood story seems to end rather pessimistically. It tells us that on the level of duality, there is no hope for any of us. We are destined to be hopelessly fragmented.
Those who have explored the other stories of myth, the ones that speak of the hero’s journey, know that the story of the quest is far from over. Wholeness can be found once again, but only if we dare to take a journey filled with many twists and turns.
Next posting: The Yellow Brick Road
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