Playing: 'Love Her Madly'
By: The Doors
‘Earth People’ Volume 4 Number 6)
there was a poor motherless child who had no shoes. But the child
saved cloth scraps wherever she found them, and over time sewed
herself a pair of red shoes. They were crude but she loved them.
They made her feel rich even though her days were spent gathering
food in the thorny woods until far past dark.
one day as she trudged down the road in her rags and her red shoes,
a gilded carriage pulled up beside her. Inside was an old woman who
told her she was going to take her home and treat her as her own
little daughter. So to the wealthy old woman’s house they went,
and the child’s hair was cleaned and combed. She was given pure
white undergarments and a fine wool dress and white stockings and
shiny black shoes. When the child asked after her old clothes, and
especially her red shoes, the old woman said the old clothes were so
filthy, and the shoes so ridiculous, that she had thrown them into
the fire, where they were burnt to ashes.
child was very sad,
for even with all
surrounding her, the
humble red shoes
made by her own hand
had given her the
Now, she was made to
sit still all the
time, to walk
and to not speak
unless spoken to,
but a secret fire
began to burn in her
heart and she
continued to yearn
for her old red
shoes more than
the child was old enough to be confirmed on The Day of The
Innocents, the old woman took her to an old crippled shoemaker to
have a special pair of shoes made for the occasion. In the shoemaker’s
case there stood a pair of red shoes made of the finest leather that
were finer than fine; they practically glowed. So even though red
shoes were scandalous for church, the child, who chose only with her
hungry heart, picked the red shoes. The old lady’s eyesight was
poor she could not see the colour of the shoes and so paid for them.
The shoemaker winked at the child and wrapped the shoes up.
next day, the church members were agog over the shoes on the child’s
feet. The red shoes shone like burnished apples, like hearts, like
red-washed plums. Everyone stared; even the icons on the wall, even
the statues stared disapprovingly at her shoes. But she loved the
shoes all the more. So when the pontiff intoned, the choir hummed,
the organ pumped, the child thought nothing more beautiful than her
the end of the day the old woman had been informed about her ward’s
red shoes. “Never, never wear those red shoes again!” the old
woman threatened. But the next Sunday, the child couldn’t help but
choose the red shoes over the black ones, and she and the old woman
walked to church as usual.
the door to the
church was an old
soldier with his arm
in a sling. He wore
a little jacket and
had a red beard. He
bowed and asked
permission to brush
the dust from the
child’s shoes. The
child put out her
foot, and he tapped
the soles of her
shoes with a little
that made the soles
of her feet itch.
“Remember to stay
for the dance,” he
smiled, and winked
everyone looked askance at the girl’s red shoes. But she so loved
the shoes that were bright like crimson, bright like raspberries,
bright like pomegranates, that she could hardly think of anything
else, hardly hear the service at all. So busy was she turning her
feet this way and that, admiring her red shoes, that she forgot to
she and the old woman left the church, the injured soldier called
out, “What beautiful dancing shoes!” His words made the girl
take a few little twirls right there and then. But once her feet had
begun to move, they would not stop, and she danced through the
flower beds and around the corner of the church until it seemed as
though she had lost complete control of herself. She did a gavotte’
and then a czardas and then waltzed by herself through the
fields across the way.
old woman’s coachman jumped up from his bench and ran after the
girl, picked her up, and carried her back to the carriage, but the
girl’s feet in the red shoes were still dancing in the air as
though they were still on the ground. The old woman and the coachman
tugged and pulled, trying to pry the red shoes off. It was such a
sight, all hats askew and kicking legs, but at last the child’s
feet were calmed.
home, the old woman slammed the red shoes down high on a shelf and
warned the girl never to touch them again. But the girl could not
help looking up at them and longing for them. To her they were still
the most beauteous things on the face of the earth.
long after, as fate would have it, the old woman became bed-ridden,
and as soon as her doctors left, the girl crept into the room where
the red shoes were kept. She glanced up at them so high on the
shelf. Her glance became a gaze and her gaze became a powerful
desire, so much so that the girl took the shoes from the shelf and
fastened them on, feeling it would do no harm. But as soon as they
touched her heals and toes, she was overcome by the urge to dance.
so out the door she danced, and then down the steps, first in a
gavotte, then a czardas, and then in big daring waltz turns
in rapid succession. The girl was in her glory and did not realise
she was in trouble until she wanted to dance to the left and the
shoes insisted on dancing to the right. When she wanted to dance
round, the shoes insisted on dancing straight ahead. And as the
shoes danced the girl, rather than the other way around, they danced
her right down the road, through the muddy fields, and out into the
dark and gloomy forest.
against a tree was the old soldier with the red beard, his arm in a
sling, and dressed in his little jacket. “Oh my,” he said, “what
beautiful dancing shoes.” Terrified, she tried to pull the shoes
off, but as much as she tugged, the shoes stayed fast. She hopped on
one foot and then the other trying to take off the shoes, but her
one foot on the ground kept dancing even so, and her other foot in
her hand did its part of the dance also.
so dance, and dance and dance, she did. Over highest hills and
through the valleys, in the rain and in the snow and in the
sun-light, she danced. She danced in the darkest night and through
sunrise and she was still dancing in twilight as well. But it was
not good dancing. It was terrible dancing, and there was no rest for
danced into a churchyard and there a spirit of dread would not allow
her to enter. The spirit pronounced these words over her, “You
shall dance in your red shoes until you become like a wraith, like a
ghost, till your skin hangs from your bones, till there is nothing
left of you but entrails dancing. You shall dance door to door
through all the villages and you shall strike each door three times
and when people peer out they will see you and fear your fate for
themselves. Dance red shoes, you shall dance.”
girl begged for mercy, but before she could plead further, her red
shoes carried her away. Over the briars she danced, through the
streams, over the hedgerows and on and on, dancing, still dancing
till she came to her old home and there were mourners. The old woman
who had taken her in had died. Yet even so, she danced on by, and
dance she did, as dance she must. In abject exhaustion and horror,
she danced into the forest where lived the town’s executioner. And
the axe on his wall began to tremble as soon as it sensed her coming
she begged the executioner as she danced by his door. "Please
cut off my shoes to free me from this horrid fate.” And the
executioner cut through the straps of the red shoes with his axe.
But still the shoes stayed on her feet. And so she cried to him that
her life was worth nothing and that he should cut off her feet. So
he cut off her feet. And the red shoes with the feet in them kept on
dancing through the forest and over the hill and out of sight. And
now the girl was a poor cripple, and had to find her own way in the
world as a servant to others, and she never, ever again wished for
from the Wild Soul.
indicates what happens to our
creative spirit when we loose,
neglect, or don’t respect our
naturally wild soul. When we become
too sophisticated for our own good.
The girl represents the creative
spirit, and the handmade red shoes
symbolise the wild and instinctive
soul. The red is of sacrifice and
life, or of sacrifice and bliss.
The shoes represent protection for
our mobility and freedom, our feet.
They may be imperfect, but bring
real and passionate joy and
vitality. The new shoes however,
represent sacrifice without life,
the addiction to other reds, the
cheap thrills and sex without soul.
Red Shoes’ shows us how a deterioration begins and what state we
come to if we make no intervention in our own wildish behalf. Let
there be no mistake, when a woman makes efforts to intervene and
fight her demon, whatever that demon may be, it is one of the most
worthy battles known, both archetypally and in consensual reality.
Even though she might, as in the tale, hit ground-zero-minus-five
bottom via famine, capture, injured instinct, destructive choices,
and all the rest, remember, at bottom is where the living roots of
psyche are. It is there that a woman’s wild underpinnings are. At
bottom is the best soil to sow and grow something new again. In that
sense, hitting bottom, while extremely painful, is also the sowing
1. The Gilded Carriage, the Devalued Life.
gilded carriage represents the devalued life, the psychic transport
with more comfort, less stress, and easier; but it is a cage. It is
the temptation and desire for comfort and ease, but it always comes
at a cost, and that is the trap.
“educated” people smile indulgently when they hear that “primitive”
people have endless lists of experiences and events they feel can
steal their souls away from them – from sighting a bear at the
wrong time of year to entering a house that has not yet been blessed
after a death occurred there.
much in modern culture is wondrous and life-giving, it also has more
wrong-time bears and unblessed places of the dead in a square block
than throughout a thousand square miles of outback.”
2. The Dry Old Woman, the Senescent Force
old woman represents the psychic force that is driving the psyche,
the machine, the fear and social duty to ‘be nice’, and ‘don’t
have big ideas’. She represents the many, as opposed to the one,
‘individual wild soul’.
fairy tails, this aged force is personified by an old person who
is often portrayed as one-sided in some way, indicating that one’s
psychic process is also developing in a one-sided manner.”
‘Elder’ usually symbolises dignity, wisdom etc., but in this
story it is used negatively, and forewarns us that aspects of the
psyche that should remain warm are about to be frozen, thus
destroying innovation and creativity.
3. Burning the Treasure, Soul Famine.
is the fire of destruction, we want the fire of transformation and
joy. This is the fire of disuse; of devaluing one’s own work and
self imposed silence; of not following your bliss and
passion, and then life becomes ashes. This is the famine that at the
end causes excesses; the hunger and starvation of the soul’s
attributes or creativity. Famine causes judgement to be blighted or
red shoes are burned to ashes when we paint, act, write, do, or be in
any way that causes our lives to be diminished, weakening our
vision, breaking our spirit bones.”
4. Injury to Basic Instinct, the Consequence of Capture.
represents the emptiness and depression as a result of the loss of
the handmade red shoes, the loss of the soul, which dulls the senses
from escaping the trap. This is when you are left with no choice.
This is when you are
allowing Social Duty
to influence your
I speak of over domestication as capture, I do not refer to
socialisation, the process whereby children are taught to behave in
more or less civilised ways. Social development is critical and
important. Without it, a woman cannot make her way in the world.
too much domestication is like forbidding the vital essence to
dance. In its proper and healthy state, the wild self is not docile
or vacuous. It is alert and responsive to any given movement or
moment. It is not locked into an absolute and repetitive pattern for
any and all circumstances. It has creative choice. The
instinct-injured woman has no choice. She just stays stuck.
are many ways to be stuck. The instinct-injured woman usually gives
herself away because she has difficulty asking for help, recognising
her own needs. Her natural instincts to fight or flee are
drastically slowed or extinct. Recognition of the sensations of
satiation, off-taste, suspicion, caution, and the drive to love
fully and freely are inhibited or exaggerated.”
5 Trying to Sneak a Secret Life, Split in Two.
is the repressed instincts in the unconscious or shadow sneaking out
or bursting out, usually when you least expect it. This piecemeal
intake is not good enough. However, sneaking a good and filling life
will encourage it out into the open, not destroy other aspects of
ravening hunger for the soul-life has rushed to the surface of
the psyche, taking whatever it can lay its hands on, for it knows
it will soon be repressed again.”
aim here is to let various elements out, in a controlled way, a few
at a time, relating to them, finding use for them, negotiating, thus
reducing the sneak attacks and unexpected explosions.
6 Cringing Before the Collective, Shadow rebellion.
is following Social Duty. The community (collective) tells the old
woman about the shoes. The group or collective is supposed to be the
guardian to inform of any misuse of the wild nature, and should be
encouraging the wild soul, but in this case it is destroying it.
7 Faking It, Trying to be Good, Normalising the Abnormal.
is ‘Learned Helplessness’.
instincts are injured, humans will ‘Normalise’ assault after
assault, acts of injustice and destruction toward themselves, their
offspring, their loved ones, their land, and even their Gods…
an important study that gives insight into woman’s loss of
self-protective instinct. In the early 1960’s, scientists
conducted animal experiments to determine something about the “flight
instinct” in humans. In one experiment they wired half the bottom
of a large cage, so that a dog placed in the cage would receive a
shock each time it set foot on the right side. The dog quickly
learned to stay on the left side of the cage.
the left side of the cage was wired for the same purpose and the
right side was safe from shocks. The dog reoriented quickly and
learned to stay on the right side of the cage.
the entire floor of the cage was wired to give random shocks, so
that no matter where the dog lay or stood, it would eventually
receive a shock. The dog acted confused at first, and then it
panicked. Finally the dog “gave up” and lay down, taking the
shocks as they came, no longer trying to escape them or outsmart
the experiment was not over. Next, the cage door was opened. The
scientists expected the dog to rush out, but it did not flee.”
shock had been ‘Normalised’. Ed.]
8. Dancing Out of Control, Obsession and Addiction.
is dancing into the void of the unconscious, which seals her into an
obsession that parallels an addiction. Addictions like negative
thinking, poor relationships, abusive situations, drugs, or alcohol,
are like the red shoes, hard to pry a person away from once they’ve
taken hold. The instinctual nature tells us when enough is enough.
loss or deadening of instinct is often entirely supported by the
surrounding culture, and sometimes even by other women who endure
the loss of instinct as a way of achieving belonging in a culture
that keeps no nourishing habitat for the natural woman.”
to Take Shoes Off, Too Late.
girl now needs to be cut off from the shoes (the addiction). You’d
think the person would feel saved, but no, they feel “they don’t
have a leg to stand on.”
the wildish nature has been nearly exterminated, in the most extreme
cases, it is possible that a schizoid and/or psychosis may overwhelm
the woman. She may just suddenly stay in bed, refuse to rise, or
wander around in her bathrobe, absently leave cigarettes burning
three to an ashtray, or cry and not be able to stop, wander in the
streets with her hair dishevelled, abruptly leave her family to
wander. She may feel suicidal, she may kill herself either
accidentally or with purpose. But far more commonly, the woman just
goes dead. She doesn’t feel good or bad; she just doesn’t feel.”
to a Life Made by Hand, Healing Injured Instincts.
is the only solution. It is painful, but with time, practice and
patience to follow your bliss, you will restore the feet
(instincts). Be cautious not to over do your wild nature. Take it
slowly and avoid the traps.
a fairy tale ends as this one does, with a death or dismemberment of
the protagonist, we ask, How could it have ended differently?
it is good to make a halfway place, a way station, a considered
place after one escapes a famine. It is not too much to take one
year, two years, to assess one’s wounds, seek guidance, apply the
medicines, consider the future. A year or two is scant time. The
feral woman is a woman making her way back. She is learning to wake
up, pay attention, stop being naďve, uninformed. She takes her life
in her own hands. To re-learn the deep feminine instincts, it is
vital to see how they were decommissioned to begin with.
the injuries be to your art, words, lifestyles, thoughts, or ideas,
and if you have knitted yourself up into a many-sleeved sweater, cut
through the tangle now and get on with it. Beyond desire and
wishing, beyond the artfully reasoned methods we love to talk and
scheme over, there is a simple door waiting for us to walk through.
On the other side are new feet. Go there. Crawl there if need be.
Stop talking and obsessing. Just do it…
makes our lives larger. Imbalance makes our lives smaller…
who cannot howl, will not find his pack.”
I suggest you re-read the story again with awareness of each of the
stages and the symbolic messages hidden in the story. There is
also much symbolism that has not been explained here as there just
isn't the space.
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