The Power of a Name: Rumpelstiltskin

Stories serve as a bridge to integrate the conscious and unconscious. One of my favorite stories highlights this: 

In short, after her father’s exaggerations to the King – a young maiden is tasked to spin straw into gold. If she is successful she becomes Queen. If she is unable to do the task, she dies. In her distress a dwarf comes along to help her and he is able to spin the straw into gold. She is asked to do this task 3 times with more and more straw. The first time she gives the dwarf her necklace, the second time her ring and the final time the dwarf asks for her first born child – and in desperation she agrees.  

The maiden then becomes Queen and has a child. When the dwarf comes to claim the child – she refuses. The dwarf allows her to keep the child if she can identify the dwarf’s name. She has exhausted all the names in the Kingdom and decides to go deep into the forest where she hears the dwarf dancing as he says his name. When he arrives, she calls out: Rumpelstiltskin and after a mild temper tantrum he vanishes. 

In this story there is BOTH the necessity and harm of Rumpelstilskin. He is needed to help her  survive an impossible task. Yet, he also takes from her bit-by-bit and ultimately demands a high price. Her courage to leave the Kingdom (conscious realm) where the name does not exist and visit the dark forest (shadow/unconscious) enabled freedom for herself and the next generation. 

In our development, the very strategies that once helped us survive can become harmful. Without self reflection our old approaches, beliefs and unconscious complexes can trap us into debts we cannot pay.  We may thrive in spinning gold at a high price until we need to mature into our true sovereignty. The naming is intentionally difficult in the story…as it is… in life. 

Who is your Rumpelstiltskin?