Day 14: Are the bad guys in a story optional or essential?
Can you imagine some of the most powerful stories without a foe? No big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. No evil Darth Vader in Star Wars or dark wizard Voldemort to oppose Harry Potter? Or even, a Jesus without a Judas?
The villain is a crucial character in any tale and your life story is no different. The role of the antagonist is to advance the plot and to define the hero by what he or she must stand against. A hero without a foil is not just boring, but also, untested.
Before you continue this assignment make sure you have done yesterday’s “Fairytale Your Life Story” first. Just stop now if you have not and do that first, or the next few challenges will simply not make sense. DO NOT CONTINUE until you have done your fairytale please.
In yesterday’s creation of a fairytale version of your life story, you either included a villain or you did not. The majority of people who do this assignment will write a foe into the narrative of their personal fairytale not only because the mythic structure of story is such that we intuitively know we need a bad guy to advance the plot, but because no one has lived a life conflict free.
There are two reasons to find your story without a villain. One, you have reached a place in your life of such equanimity that the villain has been welcomed home to your heart. This is most often the case in someone who has done a whole lot of psychological house cleaning and/or had a profound awakening to the oneness/totality of reality.
The second reason is denial. This is a juicy place to be. It means that you have a discovery ahead of you.
Because the villains in our life stories—the wicked step mothers, dragons, big bad wolfs, evil witches—are actually an aspect of one’s own disowned self. The bad guy is your own shadow self showing up in the world for one reason only: to help you wake up to the Infinite Magical Self that is beyond duality of right and wrong, evil and good.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell knew this well. He wrote, “The ultimate dragon is within you.”
Go back and re-read your fairytale. Is there a villain? If the answer is yes, have you named the villain? If you called your villain a ‘bad witch’ your first task today is to name that witch. Or dragon. Or troll. Whatever bad guy you created give that character a name.
Then start a new entry in your journal with the Title: Gifts My Villain fill-in-the-name Gave Me.
Without thinking too much about it, start writing down the gifts you acquired by virtue of this foe playing his or her role in your personal fairytale. This is not something to ponder, but to free-associate. If you survived to tell the tale of a villain in your life, then you have been tested and you have been strengthened. There are always gifts from adversity and taking stock of them is what we are doing here.
If you did NOT have a villain in your tale, take a few moments to discover if there is a place for a foe in your story. Can you weave in a paragraph or two where the villain shows up? Even if you have come to a place of equanimity, can you include the villain now simply to honour that aspect of yourself that showed up to light your way to truth?
In my fairytale, I did not have a villain but rather had lumped together a life of losses and grief etc to represent the tests and challenges that forged an awakening.
Yet, if I go back now and look for an archetypal villain, it looks like this:
One day when the magical fairy princess was a young woman she met a dashing Warlord named Lord Shawsan who professed his love and asked for her hand in marriage. He was handsome, strong and mysterious, and he promised adventure and passion. She said yes, and soon after they married, he took her to the Kingdoms of New York City, and later, Washington DC, where she learned the arts of high power, and mingled among the Lords and Ladies of Global Domination.
She loved her Warlord husband and their two children but as the years passed she missed her magical self more and more. She grew weary and her light grew dim. And her warlord had become dismissive and distant. Every time she spoke of magic he turned away. Every time she engaged her magic, he belittled her.
Then one day, she received news from her homeland. Her beloved human mother had been killed in an accident. This news was like a spear in her heart. At once, she saw how lost she had become in her own life.
She flew on the back of dragon to her mother’s wake, and on that dragon’s back she heard a voice: “You must dedicate yourself to The Mother.” She dreamed for many nights after of a Goddess, loving and fierce, petitioning her to service–but there would be a cost. She must leave her marriage to the warlord, for he had never nourished her magical spirit, and her magic was needed in the land. She had no choice but to heed the call of The Mother. She knew in her heart that to truly be alive again, she must part with the warlord.
To be truly alive again, she must remember the magic she was born to bring into the world. She remembered the words of the Rainbow Woman, that the wand she had buried would only fit the hand of her Remembered Self.
She left her warlord and set out on the journey of remembering
GIFTS MY ViLLAIN Lord Shawsan GAVE ME
courage, self respect, determination, faith, trust.
I look forward to hearing the gifts your villain gave you!
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