Ultimately, the symbols and motifs of every work of art are manifestations of the artist’s compulsion to understand and express him/herself, evolve into greater consciousness, and share what s/he has learned with others. Some artists know this; others don’t have a clue. Yet every artist grapples with these themes in one way or another simply because they are the core concerns of every soul.
Looking for the psychological meanings of public myths and private dreams is an extremely powerful way to train your intuition and add to your store of wisdom. You may not always like what you see, but then how many of us liked Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West?
How do we account for the phenomenon of the Disney Princesses? Some see them as positive role models for their daughters, but many see them as stereotypes which are bound to scar our daughters’ minds. Why do they think this?
In our ignorance it is easy to misinterpret the meaning of trees. For example, in an early dream I passed by a tree so loosely rooted that the trunk shifted when I touched it and I was afraid it would fall over. Another dream around the same time featured a flimsy willow tree whose roots were so soggy from the nearby swamp that it, too, was in danger of falling and dying.
Psychologists look for meaning in dream, myth, and fairy tale symbols because, as products of the unconscious, they compensate for the narrow visions of our egos and show us what we need to know to grow and thrive. Reflecting on the metaphorical meaning of our stories educates, encourages, and empowers us.