Gaston is the trickster mind which looks outside the box to previously disregarded or forbidden knowledge which can be used to unite these lost lovers, bringing messages of hope and eventual redemption. He brings a new awareness and consciousness to the lovers, who have been isolated from community and in exile from each other. Through him, they start to communicate and once again see the possibility of re-uniting.
Gaston's Mouse totem gives him the ability to focus and pay attention to details. This attention to detail is Hermes' gift to thieves. And these details help break the curse in the end, because it looks at the parameters of the curse and finds out that it can only be broken when there's a day without night and a night without day -- the magical time between times of a solar eclipse, when the conscious authority of ego and culture is overwhelmed by the needs of the psyche and wholeness.
The Lovers and the Curse
Etienne Navarre (a dashing Rutger Hauer) is the captain of the guard in Aquila, the region the Bishop rules. Isabeau (a haunting Michelle Pfeiffer) is a beautiful young woman whom the Bishop lusts after. After Isabeau confesses her love for Navarre to Imperius (a marvelous Leo McKern) in confession, he in turn drunkenly reveals their secret to the Bishop. Here is the dilemma our religious institutions create -- on the one hand, the authority of the Church wants to possess all beauty and goodness for itself. All love must be directed to these religious beliefs, making human love secondary to a supposed love of God. On the other hand, the Church itself values marriage, but only on its terms. The idea that all marriage must be sanctioned by religious dogma is hypocritical, especially in light of the revelations of priestly pedophilia. The Bishop, who is supposed to be celibate, lusts after women and feels it's his right to possess them as his handmaidens. This kind of spiritual hypocrisy leads to the separation of lovers rather than to their love's fulfillment. The Church has fostered suspicion and misunderstanding between men and women and we see this today in the many marriages that end in nasty, resentful divorces, rather than with understanding and compassion.
We often don't realize how our unconscious beliefs shape our lives, especially our beliefs about partnership and marriage. While we give lip service to equality, many men still believe it is their right to dominate their family and abuse their wives because it is sanctioned by their religion. And women add pain and bitterness to the mix when they don't know how to stand up for themselves and meet their partners as equals. Our culture is so unbalanced because of religious beliefs that said women are irrelevant except as helpmates to their husbands. And this led to the devaluation of feminine consciousness, the right-brained consciousness of connection, imagination and soul. While we might not consciously think this, our unconscious motivations are often still unchanged.
We can see these cursed lovers as symbols of the left and right brains. The left brain is a scientist and a mathematician. It is the brain that looks for the familiar, that categorizes, that is linear, analytical, strategic. It's the practical, realistic, in control part of the brain. It is a master of words and language. The right brain is a free spirit, seeing connections with others and spirit. It is creativity and passion, sensuality and movement. It takes joy in vivid colors, art and poetry. It is the source of imagination and heart. We need the higher Mind (the neocortex) to unite these separate sides of ourselves.
and Isabeau, the curse separates them into Hawk and Wolf. These totem animals are wonderful expressions
of the left and right brains as well as the innate gifts of men and women. Let's take a look at their symbolic meaning.
The beautiful Isabeau is human at night, the realm of the feminine Moon. She becomes conscious under the moonlight. Feminine consciousness has been repressed in patriarchy and so it is most often unconscious. It comes to us through dreams and visions and feelings and imagination. So Isabeau learns to live in the darkness of this kind of consciousness. By day, she is a hawk. Hawks are strong totems, keen-eyed and swift. They are the messengers of spirit and vision. Hawk's power puts us in touch with kundalini energies that can open us to higher psychic awareness. Hawk can help us balance this life energy so that we can achieve beauty and harmony and discover our life's purpose. Hawk brings messages from our soul, which is Spirit incarnate, so we can use our creative energies to manifest our destined purpose. Hawk stimulates this kundalini energy, giving us greater physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy to use in our lives. It urges us to stretch our imaginations beyond cultural expectations. Hawk catalyzes us with hope and new ideas. This powerful totem symbolizes the ability to connect our human consciousness with spiritual awareness. And this is the innate power of feminine consciousness that women have been denied by patriarchy. Women can bring this night vision into the light of day as the wisdom we need to heal the world.1
everything we would expect in a knight.
He is dashing, brave, powerful and protective. And he's got a magnificent horse! He loves and yearns for his Beloved. He follows the hawk and protects her. But he also despairs more than Isabeau,
because he is human in the daytime reality of the Sun. He can only see what is in front of him, and
that is the reality of never breaking the curse. That's why he wants to go kill
the Bishop and die himself. He has lost his vision and his hope. He has lost Isabeau.
But at night, under the Moon, he becomes a wolf. In his nighttime shape, he reverts to the animal that is most often misunderstood and reviled. Wolves have gotten a bad rap from humans. We send people out in helicopters to kill them in the snows and think it is a worthy occupation. While our stories about them are full of terror and cold-blooded violence, they are really the exact opposite of how our stories depict them. Rarely, unless they are wounded or starving, will a wolf attack a human being.
Wolves are friendly, social and highly intelligent. They can even be joyful! They are loyal to their families and packs and live by defined rules and rituals. There are alpha males and females who rule the pack, and every wolf has a place and function in the hierarchy of the pack. There is a balanced mix of alpha authority and democracy in the pack, which makes their way of life flexible. They rarely fight, going out of their way to avoid one. Through glances, growls and postures, they assert dominance and keep the peace. They use a complex body language to communicate with each other as well as their famous howls and growls. They have strong senses of smell and hearing. They are attuned to the particulars of their world.
Wolves are the wild spirits of the animal world, which is why our culture fears them. If we were all free to be our wild selves, we could not be controlled by religions, governments or corporations. That freedom, though, comes through discipline and a sense of order. Wolves offer us an image of the right kind of rituals that shape a good life.2