Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are lookin’ good.
You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.
~ Rolling Stones
But look more closely. There’s more to this popular fairytale. Here is a story about female power, and a path for the creative process.
Remember the story? Granny is sick in bed and her beloved granddaughter, to whom she has given a red velvet cap, is instructed by her mother to take cake and ale to the grandmother to help her get well.
“And mind,” the mother admonishes Red, “you are to go straight there and come straight back. Do not stray from the path through the woods.”
With the beginning of the story, you are introduced to the three ages or stages of being a woman—maiden (Red), mother, crone (grandmother).
In the creative process, each of these roles or stages is important and necessary to all the others. And as you’ve probably experienced, the challenge is to not get caught in any one stage or get mired in the negative aspects that each of these stages possess.
The Crone represents not just age but experience and the kind of deep-rooted wisdom that comes with it. As with most crones in fairytales, Grandmother lives alone in the woods, separated from civilization somewhat, in the same way that your Muse lives apart from your civilized daily life. Like the grandmother, your Muse is the magic being who lives in the midst of the wild and the untamed, she’s civilized (she lives in a cottage, after all) but not in civilization, open to the insights and perspectives available to her from the wild. Here, significantly, she is sick. Wisdom and experience alone is not enough.
The mother in the tale is the one who has given birth. She nurtures and protects her creation, her daughter, as well as the grandmother, thereby caring for both maiden and crone, innocence and wisdom, new ideas and experienced craft. Her practical concerns and caring are the bridge between daughter and granddaughter.
You are the mother when you manage resources, plan out your project, nurture and nourish it, market it, and protect it from critics and naysayers. And, as with Red’s mom, it’s important to protect but not restrict your creativity.
Red, of course, is the maiden. Red is the color of the root chakra and of blood, the source of life. Red is the color of energy, passion and desire. In the creative process, those qualities are necessary to even begin to create. And it is Red’s self-confident naiveté that allows you to dare to enter the dark woods of the unknown…even if there are wolves.
The woods are dark and deep. Scary on the one hand, seductive on the other, but…
“Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t go off the path!” mother warned you.
Of course, what maiden in her right mind listens to her mother?
The Wolf lures Red from her goal by pointing out the distracting beauty of the flowers in the woods. And,because she is distracted from her path, both she and the grandmother are swallowed whole by the Wolf.
You are the Wolf when you let your doubts and fears overcome your courage and passion, your experience and wisdom, and pull you from your creative path.
Fortunately, all is not lost.
The Wolf snores loudly, thus alerting the passing huntsman that all is not right in Granny’s cottage. Finding the Wolf asleep in Granny’s bed, according to some versions of the tale, the huntsman takes an ax to the wolf, splitting him open and releasing Red and her granny.
But not in the earlier versions, including Grimm.
Instead, the huntsman picks up a pair of scissors, probably Granny’s, and cut the wolf’s stomach open just enough to let out Red and her grandmother. Then, Red runs outside and gathers stones, placing them in the wolf’s stomach and stitching him up. He finally wakes up and starts to run off in fright, but can’t, collapsing and dying from the weight of the stones.
Red’s cunning gets rid of the Wolf. Her fears don’t weigh her down, she gives them back to the source.
So, when you are creating, don your red cap. Trust in your desires and goals to get you through the woods of the unknown to where the Grandmother waits to share with you her wisdom and insights, and for you to share your enthusiasm and passions.
At the end of the story, Red and her grandmother are happy and safe. Yes, Red has to make the journey back to her home with her mother but she has learned a few things about journeying through the woods such as:
Wolves are okay to talk to but giving them too much time and attention is a sure way to get eaten.
Who are you right now in your current creative project? Grandmother? Mother? Red Riding Hood?
Or are you the Wolf?
Hey there little Red Ridin’ Hood, I don’t think little big girls should,
go walkin’ in these spooky little woods alone.