Posted in Artists, Poetry

Naive Women Through The Centuries | Legend of the Blue Beard and Ellie Goulding

We have all been through a heartbreak at some point of time in our lives. We have all, also been through a breach of trust. More often than not, we have been put through these experiences by people close to us – people we fall in love with like in our relationships or people we are forced to love like our families. We have all bled our ways through the wounds of back stabbing dishonesty. And we have found ways to heal as well.

I believe the greatest function of art is to address such primal, underlying unities of existence. To remind us that we are all in this together, even if we do not see it immediately. And that we are all having our own journeys and struggles, which are glorious in their own ways. As Beyonce has famously quoted that if we must heal, let it be glorious.

For me something becomes glorious when it passes the tests of time, when our stories pass the tests of time. One of the most heartwarming ways of finding this glory is through ancient tales which can, even after hundreds of years of retelling, still resonate with a part of us somewhere.

After an awful break up in my life, I had resorted to finding solace in one of the songs by Ellie Goulding. It was called My Blood.

And God knows I’m not dying but I bleed now
And God knows it’s the only way to heal now
With all the blood I lost with you
It drowns the love I thought I knew

I loved the song for its echoing drums that resonated in the air of my body. Turning the volume up to full, I could feel the woofers thumping in my chest with each beat. It helped the wounded heart.

Then I read the lyrics for the first time and found them to be profoundly contextual to a toxic relationship, which is something I resonated with as well. And then finally I came across an old legend from a book I am currently reading called Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarisse Pinkola Estes. It was called Bluebeard and was about how naive young girls are often led into treacherous and deadly relationships by cunning men.

It goes like this,

Blue Beard

A group of sisters is once visited by a stranger with a Blue Beard. It is rumoured that he is a man of questionable intentions, especially when he asks the hand of a woman in marriage. The Blue Beard is a sign of his questionable personality. While the elder of the sisters remain untouched by his wooing skills, the youngest and the most naive one, falls prey. She agrees to his proposal of marriage and leaves to live with him. In the castle of the Blue Beard, she is showered with all kinds of wealth and resources at her disposal. But she is bound by just one condition. That she cannot open one particular room of the castle, the key to which is with Blue Beard always.

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One fine day, he leaves for a trip and hands over all the keys ot the young girl. He warns her to open every room in the castle and use what lies in there for herself, except that one room that is forbidden. While she is alone, her wiser, older sisters come to visit. She narrates to them, the rules of the house. They are fascinated adn curious mainly about the forbidden door.

So they lure the young girl into finding out. Led into curiosity by the support of her sisters, the young girl opens the forbidden door only to find the whole room splashed with blood. Red blood of bodies whose bones were stacked up in one corner of the room. Horrified, she quickly closes the door again and puts the key back in its place with the other keys.

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But soon she finds out that the key to the forbidden room, refused to drip blood even after the room had been locked again. The blood flowing from the key began to stain everything that it came in contact with. She could not un-see the blood after having seen it once. So when the Blue Beard returned, he immediately knew that the forbidden door had been opened and his command had been overruled. Furious, he howled at her saying that she too was now going to join the rest of the women in that bloody room for the offence. The offence of disobeying the husband.

Our young girl then tricks the Blue Beard into his own death because she takes the help of her wise sisters and also her brave brothers. She rings the bell to summon her brothers, who arrive and kill the Blue Beard.

After reading this story and its various explanations, with symbolisms of each character and incidence, I closed the book and returned to listening to music. The playlist with the songs of Ellie Goulding’s album Halcyon began playing and then came the track titled My Blood.

And God knows I’m not dying but I bleed now
And God knows it’s the only way to heal now
With all the blood I lost with you
It drowns the love I thought I knew

My Blood and Blue Beard

The above written words somehow reminded me of the young girl from the Blue Beard story. The lines ‘I’m not dying but I bleed now’ seemed to ring bells in my brain that connected the two dots, for obvious reasons. I was forced to look more closely at the lyrics of the song and found amazing parallels.

For starters, the song refers to the blood that the woman bled while she was in a relationship with this man. (Halcyon is an album Ellie made after a famous break up that she had.) But somewhere in the middle of the relationship, she discovers an awful truth which forces her to get rid of a feeling.

That feeling that doesn’t go away just did
And I walked a thousand miles to prove it
And I’m caught in the crossfire of my own thoughts
The color of my blood is all I see on the rocks
As you sail from me

The first line of the song is actually comparable to the naive girl form Blue Beard and her feeling of insane hope, that probably her husband is not so bad after all. She finds this insanity disappearing completely one fine day.She finally comes to terms with the fact that her husband is actually going to murder her for disobeying his command. Despite the ‘crossfire of thoughts’ in her head ‘the colour of … blood … on the rocks’ makes the truth clearer for her. The unstoppable flow of blood on the metal key, refuses to let the truth be hidden.

As he is setting sail from her, the truth is become clearer to her. She is listening to her wise sisters again. The wise sisters are actually symbolic of the wisdom faculties of her own mind, which she ignores at the start of the story to act out of the naivety of her young age. But as the Blue Beard sets sail away from her, she returns to her senses.

Alarms will ring for eternity
The waves will break every chain on me
My bones will bleach
My flesh will flee
So help my lifeless frame to breathe

The alarms are rung by the young girl once she finds out the truth of her husband’s crimes. She rings them out for her brothers. Her brothers symbolise her own masculine aspects of action and sovereignity which come to a woman’s rescue in times like these. The waves of the storm in her own ocean are breaking the chains on her soul and breathing fresh air into her dead bones.

The symbol of dead bones is for the lack of freedom with which she is previously kept by her husband. Despite being given all the riches, she is refused the right to complete truth about her husband. She is more or less like a bird in a golden cage. And the bones and blood in the forbidden are symbolic of her own crushed dreams and aspirations of flying away. So she is now bleaching her bones to strenghten them and fleeing her flesh by teaching herself to fly again with her repaired bones and wings.

~

I was amazed at the direct parallels that I could draw between the two stories. But then maybe it should not be so suprising because this ancient folk tale actually belongs to the French lands of Europe, which is where our author Clarisse Pinkola Estes as well as artist Ellie Goulding, belong to. It could easily have been handed down to them from the women in the house – the older and wiser women who want their young girls not to fall prey to their own naivety.

Incidences like these, when art resounds itself perfectly across centuries, warms me from within. It restores my faith in the underlying unity of being human and  the fact that there are others who are suffering and sharing my pain as well. That I am not alone. I may not have these people around me everyday. They may not be my friends or even family, but they are still near me because of their words. The words that have stood the tests of time and reached me through this amazing network of stroytellers, across the ages. And I feel only obliged to contributing to this network by doing my part.

So here I am sharing the stories that touch my heart and soul every Monday and Thursday. Follow the blog to join me in my adventures and do comment below if the story of the Blue Beard and the song My Blood by Ellie Goulding resonated to you as well.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Naive Women Through The Centuries | Legend of the Blue Beard and Ellie Goulding

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