Into the Woods—A ‘Better Endings’ Revision

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For those new to this blog, or as a refresher since I haven’t looked at this topic directly for awhile here, I am interested in the principle of BETTER ENDINGS.  In fact I have a book in progress about this principle, as it applies not only to literature or mythic constructions but also, and more importantly, to our own lives.

There’s a concept I have learned from Eckankar about working with dreams. If you are dreaming and you do not like what is happening in your dreamscape,  you can change the dream while you are in it as a lucid dream activity; or, immediately upon waking you can rewind the dream and change its ending in your imagination.  This may help you to release the stress associated with the situation encoded by the dream. (I recommend Harold Klemp’s THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING for many helpful dreamwork techniques.)

But here’s a plus factor: If you can become skilled at changing your nightly dreams, so too you increase your capacity to make changes in your day-to-day life, effecting BETTER ENDINGS! What IF…you had taken that job, stayed with or left that relationship, gone on that vacation? You can re-vision your past choices and attitudes to bring about better coping skills and to realign your Life Path with your most ardent goals.

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Our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage has lots of fertile grounds for ‘better-endering.’  Let me try my hand at a Better Endings rendering for the Sondheim play “Into the Woods”:

I love the play (and movie) Into the Woods’, but I do not like the bitter ending. Why does the baker’s wife have to fall off a cliff to her doom?  The guilty party in confusing her was the philandering Prince, whose charming charisma and political power allows him to believe he can take advantage of any woman in the realm, even forsaking the beautiful princess Cinderella whom he has gone to such great lengths to woo. No, I do not like this bitter pill of an ending, at all!

In my Better Ending for this fairy tale, the Baker’s wife lives on to raise her new baby with her faithful husband.  Cinderella comes upon her charmer of a husband trying unsuccessfully to woo his rival Prince Valiant’s Rapunzel, and Cinderella lets Prince Valiant know what she has seen. The two Princes have a swordfight.     In a final, mutual flourish stab, they pierce each other at the lip of that fatefull cliff the Baker’s wife had been slated for, and they both go toppling over to their deaths.  Cinderella, now freed from this sordid affair, is Queen! She invites Rapunzel to be a story teller for the realm, and together they effect feminist reforms for their Peoples.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, there you have it, a Better Endings retelling for Into the Woods that aims to address the true meaning of The Sacred Marriage.  We marry our values, our integrity. This serves the Whole.

Is there a story about marriage or partnership—either fictional or in your own life—that you believe could benefit from a Better Ending?  Envision it! Write it down! Make the relevant changes!

I welcome your Comments and Stories.!

Guest Story: “The Professor,” by Joshua Bertetta

{I welcome a special treat to share with you today: a story from (professor) Joshua Bertetta. This story, inspired by our weekly topic of the Twelve Universal Archetypes–especially The Teacher– transports us to the depths of the unconscious. I like how the Teacher archetype here also reflects our topic of next week: Guardians of the Threshold. An interesting connection re. Teachers as Gatekeepers…! Thank you for your story, Joshua. – Linda}

Universal Archetypes—The Teacher

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“The Professor”

By Joshua Bertetta

 

“Is it true? That there was once a monster who guarded these hills?”

“Ha!” The ragged man bellowed, then leaned close to the boy and for whatever reason, began in a whisper. “Monsters, my young friend, lurk everywhere. And I mean more than just the si’lahs and the sa’alus and the abominations raging in the Fire. The Cedars of El-Banon grow in the cities too, but there the lurking monsters do not look like those in your dreams or in your fancies. Some are real, others, your own making. Have you ever heard about the ghuls who rise from the dead?”

“Ghuls that rise from the dead? I don’t think so.”

“I’ve been hearing a lot more about them lately. That is, did, before I left.”

“What do they do?”

“They eat human flesh.”

“Like the si’lahs?”

“Yes, but they’re dead.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“I know. That’s what I think too. But what they say about them is what, I guess you could say, intrigues me the most. They say the only way to kill them is to destroy the brain. Piercing their heart won’t kill them, cutting off their head won’t kill them. And if they bite you, you’ll turn into one too.”

“Gross.”

“So what I’ve been thinking is that these ghuls are us.”

“Now that’s just crazy.”

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“Wait, wait. Hear me out. See, I would say I myself was a monster, maybe I still am. You see, mine is the type of mind that seeks answers through reason. But I forgot how to dream. Since I left, I began to dream again. For me, the academic life, a mind focused only on the reasonable, the rational, is nothing short of a nightmare. In more ways than one. On the one hand, many like myself will do anything for a name—oftentimes to the extent the name means more than the students, than the teaching. And what do we teach?” His hands matched the veracity with which he proceeded. “Nothing new. Sure, some say they are blazing a path unwalked, but really they are just wrapping old ideas in new parchment and calling the whole package new. So focused on ideas, and when one becomes so particularly focused on one idea and starts calling it the idea, telling everyone he has the right idea? They lose sight of the bigger picture. Those are the ones you really need to watch out for. But I digress…where was I?”

“Monsters, you yourself, a monster.”

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“Oh, yes, well…maybe I didn’t digress. Maybe I did. Anyway, what are monsters other than those who settle for contraction? People nestling themselves in their single idea and around their idea—an idea they tell everyone else they must believe or agree with—they build bigger and thicker walls. Harder crusts. Walls built around the nightmare of a single idea are made from the failure to live, to expand, the mortar that holds them together made from the failure to love. Life out here produces peace born in slow movement. You know the city—it’s too fast. We try our best just to keep up and it just whizzes on by. Out here, there is no contradiction…Well, that’s not exactly true—there is contradiction when I find myself in my old way of thinking. Paradoxes, things that just don’t make sense. Do you see?” He clapped his hand and looked overhead. “That’s when I understood! As much as I have tried to unravel contradiction, paradox, they just made a mockery of my mind until I realized its futility. So out here my mind no longer gets stuck—not as much as it used to—and in those moments I hear song.”

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Joshua Bertetta, an aspiring fantasy author, holds a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with a degree emphasis in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and is currently on the adjunct faculty in Religious Studies at a private university in central Texas. He maintains a blog at jbertetta.wordpress.com which contains excerpts from his novel in addition to short stories and thought provoking essays focused on mythology, religion/spirituality, and culture.

Better Endings Pet Stories: A Writer’s or Artist’s Prompts List

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Better Endings is all about reflecting on our lives from the point of view of what has helped–and not–in advancing our goals and dreams or those of others.  Animal ‘pet’ companions are certainly a great Better Endings resource to draw on when reflecting on positive influences in our lives.

The following Prompts List offers topics you might use to reflect upon “Pets and Better Endings”:

  • finding a pet (or, being found)
  • travel with your pet(s)
  • learning life lessons from your pets
  • losing a pet
  • helping your pet pass on
  • pets’ health
  • healing companion pets/ therapy pets
  • pets and dreams
  • angel animals
  • children and pets
  • bringing pets home
  • special characters of pets
  • pets and love
  • your life savers
  • pet reincarnation stories
  • communicating with pets
  • gratitude for pets

Kitten looking around the new world

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Feel free to share your photos, poems, insights, and stories this week about Pets and Better Endings. Also please notice the Life Maps activity of the week (right panel) that allows you to compose an assemblage of memories of the pets you have shared your life with across your own Life Chapters.

Better Endings to you and to your Animal Companions. – Linda