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In most fairy tales Queens are portrayed as all loving or conniving; they evoke strong feelings—admiration or aversion—within the depths of their listeners. However, in The Snow Queen (1844) written by the Danish Hans Christian Anderson, another Queen appears: beautiful, gifted with spells, riddles, mysteries, but ice-cold in her demeanor. She creates havoc in the lives of two children, Gerda and Kai, and gets away with it.

So what to make of this Queen who wields such power? Certainly Hans Christian Anderson would know, firsthand. His queen was the Swedish Songbird of classical opera, Jenny Lind, who twaddled his adoration for her in the 1840s. Friends, only, they would remain, but she still lives in his fairy tale, unapproachable and frigid in her palace.

Unlike other storytellers who fashioned dramas from issues clashing in their unconscious, Anderson drew his from the conscious world, but dressed them up within the classical components of fairy tales: good vs. evil, animals as messengers, disguises, witches, spells, darkness, superhuman tasks, effective synchronizations, death, resolution, and and many more.

However, in The Snow Queen these components hang loosely in this seven-part tale, insufficient to wrest psychic transformation in listeners. What redeems this tale, however, is Gerda’s tearful kiss; it melts Kia’s frozen heart and frees him from the Snow Queen’s evil spell. The children return to their village, much wiser.

Still, Anderson penned some good tales—change-of-heart stories still work.  

Grace is like ebony wetness seeping into the chinks of divided hearts: These, too, must be transformed—and so it is, instant by instant.

After I blogged Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb, it would not leave me alone. Leit-motifs from Twelve-Step spirituality kept surfacing: In both, the imperative to change is cast in the first person plural. Survival depends upon this.

Like the Old Testament prophet Jonah, the belly of the beast sickens us. This image speaks to Step One’s admission of our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives. There has to be another way; never-ending shade no longer works.

Step Two’s Power greater than ourselves sets the stage for essential change. Beneath our country’s messes that we created, the dawn is ours before we knew it: an image of the Divine hidden in our depths. The challenge is to believe this, afresh, and to allow it into consciousness where real living occurs. Step Three speaks to surrendering our lives and wills to this Power, not for a union that is perfect…but union with purpose. Such constitutes thriving in our humanness within Higher Power’s will.

In Step Five the poet honestly admits our ills (Step Four) and stokes our willingness to approach The Hill We Climb: difficult, but not, hazardous. We now have help.

The poem continues. This is the era of redemption, the turning point, encapsulated in Steps Six and Seven: our being totally ready to let go of our sinfulness and humbly welcoming Higher Power’s psychic cleansing: no more wars, intrigues, heinousness of any kind. Instead, we have found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

Steps Eight and Nine prepare for forgiveness and offer it to those harmed. The poet continues, It’s the past we step into and how we repair it…We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover: An ongoing process also found in Step Ten.

Step Twelve speaks of the joy of living—We step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. And Step Eleven’s practice of prayer and conscious contact with Higher Power helps to inspire even deeper psychic change.

I have the sense that Higher Power showed up at the Inaugural, smiling upon us. This is working out. The new dawn balloons…with our light.

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