Saturn / Chiron and The Frog Prince

 A commentary

Quaint, fascinating, even compelling, as fairy tales can be they also mirror the deep symbolic structures which lie at the base of the human psyche. These structures can be identified and used to both understand our world and our place within it.  As codes of human experience classical stories provide guidelines for dealing with difficult challenges and transitions in life. Invariably these are cast symbolically (frogs, princesses, golden balls, kings etc), but they nevertheless codify behaviour so as to provide pathways for personal growth.

Such stories can be interpreted as one would a dream that is by identifying different aspects of the self in all its parts, holding these in consciousness over time and trying to think about them symbolically.  The main character in The Frog Prince is a princess and as such represents the burgeoning female spirit in us all, male and female. Alive and well, but as yet naïve and unformed.

While the main motif in this fairy tale is that of a golden ball. Golden objects are common enough in fairy tales, we have golden birds, golden rings even the Castle of the Golden Sun, and the story often weaves around their attainment.  This is so here too but we have the additional themes in this story of losing and ultimately recovering the golden ball so that what is really being described allegorically is the individuation process. Robert Bly tells us that "the golden ball represents that unity of personality we had as children – a kind of radiance, or wholeness, before we split into male and female, rich and poor, bad and good." Early in life we are, unconsciously, one with the Self, and life is golden. We lose that sense of wholeness as the Self recedes and the ego begins to realize itself – its limitations, its vulnerability, its smallness, its otherness. And then, usually at the Self’s instigation, the ego attempts, often through pain and defeat and suffering, to recover that initial relationship with the Self – the golden ball – although in a new and more conscious way.  These are all stages and processes that are enacted for each of us via the Saturn cycle in our birth charts.  Each one of us had a golden ball when we were young, which like our time in The Garden of Eden was suddenly taken from us. 

This can be a very Saturnian experience, this slow awakening to the demands of an unforgiving consensus reality into which we feel impelled to evolve into. Indeed in the first half of life our entire experience of social acceptance, and often, self acceptance depends on it.  This is particularly interesting when we consider that Saturn (lead) was the base metal the medieval alchemists were attempting to transmute into gold.

Getting that ball back then for many becomes a sort of opus as now the focus of the story changes. In The Frog Prince the princess, after making a foolish and thoughtless promise is required by the king (dominant function) to take responsibility for her self (Saturn), which she finally does when she throws the frog against the wall.  Here she pays attention to her instincts and trusts them when she acts on her feeling of repulsion and disobeys her father's orders. In disobeying her father she takes her first steps toward independence, integration and ultimately individuation beneath these first glimmers of maturing emotional life.

When she first met the frog she was a hapless little girl who let her golden ball roll away from her, as so many people do who loose the centre of their spirit. And as a young child, she made a promise she didn't want to keep. 

But the real story of the frog prince is about restoring the golden ball to the psyche and in return receiving what at first seems to be the burden of an awkward, useless frog to carry around. However if one willingly sits with the frog (or the beast as the case may be,) that is your wound, long enough it rewards you by becoming something of beauty. This requires both acknowledging your Chiron and befriending your Saturn, and acknowledging your hurts, weaknesses, failings, insecurities and feelings of inadequacy that we all have such an abundance of. For when you find real love for, and real acceptance of, the things in your psyche that you think are ugly and unlovable, then you have truly come to self-acceptance and the rewards are indeed magnificent.

In The Frog Prince the reward occurs in the form of the transformation that follows because the princess finally takes responsibility for her feelings and asserts them.  In her act of rage, she redeems the frog and transforms him into a prince. When she asserts herself and throws the frog against the wall, he turns into her lover.  The possibility of intimate relationship (inner union) can now happen along with the rage. In effect all the cultural frogs, social frogs and personal frogs, (projections, prejudices and inadequacies of an afflicted Saturn) that hold you back need to be thrown forcefully against the wall. These acts of separation need also to be formed and focused effectively as well. Here it is a positive thing as it is a rage become inner fire, which can be the beginning of consciousness, and with it the return of that golden ball.

Now for the story:


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