His Beard Isn't Really That Blue
This is the second larger scale drawing for the Beneath series, a series exploring the hidden made visible. It is a piece inspired by the traditional tale of Bluebeard and in particular Clarissa Pinkola Estes's interpretation of the tale within her amazing book, 'Women Who Run With The Wolves".
Within Estes's interpretations she outlines a way of reading where we view each character and main aspect of the story as being representational of a separate aspect of our own psyche, as she states,
"In a single human being there are many other beings, all with their own values, motives and devices. Some psychological technologies suggest we arrest these beings, count them, name them, force them into harness till they shuffle along like vanquished slaves. But to do this would halt the dance of wildish lights in a woman's eyes; it would halt her heat lightening and arrest all throwing of sparks. Rather than corrupt her natural beauty, our work is to build for all these beings a wildish countryside wherein the artists among them can make, the lovers love, the healers heal."
We literally become the tale and when read like this story becomes a great teacher. I will never approach story the same way after reading Estes's book, it is such a very powerful read. And within this book her interpretation of Bluebeard struck to my core so much so that I had to include a drawing depicting this story in my BENEATH series.
His Beard Isn't Really That Blue
Ink pen on paper.
Within Estes's explanations of this tale we discover a central lesson of overcoming naivety and stepping into knowingness. It is a tale that teaches us to embrace our ability to 'stand what one sees' and one that encourages a returning to our deeper natures.
"The naive woman tacitly agrees to remain "not knowing". Women who are gullible or those with injured insticts, still, like flowers, turn in the direction of whatever sun is offered"
This embracing of our knowing, our instincts, our boldness to look and question rather than to blindly ignore the blueness of the predators beard is a path out of naivety. It is an instruction that we simply must learn to question the sun that shines down on us!
"The youthful naive nature begins to understand that if there is a secret something, if there is a shadow something, if there is a forbidden something, it needs to be looked into. Those who would develop consciousness pursue all that stands behind the readily observable"
To use our voice, to ask the questions, to see the sights we dread to view is to overcome the predator. If we are to survive attempts to destroy our power and creativity we must learn to follow our instinctual nature and use the key we have been forbidden to use, no matter what we fear may lie within the room beyond. The key in the tale represents the ability within ourselves to do just that, to pursue questions regardless of demands for our silence.
"Finding the little door is important, disobeying the predator's order is important, and finding out what is so special about this one room is essential....Finally she puts the key, the question, to the door and finds the shocking carnage in some part of her deep life. And that key, that tiny symbol of her life, suddenly will not cease its bleeding, will not cease to give the cry that something is wrong. A woman may try to hide from the devastation's of her life, but the bleeding, the loss of life's energy, will continue until she recognises the predator for what it is and contains it."
And eventually we come to the question of Bluebeard himself, just who is he? When we explore Estes's concept of every character being within us, it becomes startlingly clear that this also applies to the predatory male protagonist of this tale. Just where does an evil predator like Bluebeard reside within us? How on earth do we become our own Bluebeard, forbidding, locking down, deceitful and murderous? Estes suggests his lair is within our harsh self-talk, the lies we tell ourselves, the self talk that whispers we cant! So how do we escape an internal Bluebeard, Estes answers this,
"By not allowing ourselves divisive thoughts about our soul life and our worth in particular. We capture invidious thoughts before they become large enough to do any harm, and dismantle them...We dismantle the assaults of the predator by talking to the heart and working with what is truthful in what the predator says and then discarding the rest. we dismantle the predator by maintaining our intuitions and instincts and by resisting the predator's seductions."
Blue beard is therefore not just an external force we must beware in another but much more often an inside job. Crushing feelings of insignificance and self-doubt may be an indicator an internal Bluebeard is rampaging unchecked and it is tragically ironic that during the times we feel like this we become most vulnerable to external Bluebeards too. It is useful then that the defence against both is the same...holding firm to truth, both external truth and internal truth and throwing questions at everything that would prefer to remain hidden beneath.
This piece celebrates the power within us all to never again stare into the shadows and convince ourselves that his beard isn't really that blue, but to pick ourselves up and walk away from anything that insults our truth.