Have you heard of the Handless Maiden? Chances are if you were told the story, you won't ever forget it.
You may push it to the back of your mind, like I did, supressing the unspeakable violence and heartbreak that befalls its heroine. Namely her hands (or arms depending on which version you read) being cut from her body and her subsequent days in the forest trying to fend for herself. And it doesn't stop there. But ultimately this is a story of triumph. The maiden's hands are usually restored at the end of the story symbolizing her regained wholeness.
So when it recently came back into my orbit, I was stunned to realize that The Medisaga story (www.inbytheeye.com/Medisaga) I've been writing was actually the tale of the Handless Maiden, being dragged back up from the depths of my subconscious, substituting fairy wings for the hands ripped from the body. Throughout the entire saga my heroine is trying to regain her wholeness. And, like this tale, I've also put a woman in the Hero's Journey, a role traditional reserved for a man. Seperation, Initiation, and Return.
But Fairy Tales aside for a moment, I read an article recently that made the most beautiful connection from the Handless Maiden to the women in Africa who have been forced to endure physical violence and maiming, and how they have risen above such atrocities to lead positive, productive lives. There's something about knowing that our Handless Maiden really exists (and not just as a symbolic character) that suddenly makes my story more important to me than it was before. Does that make sense? I mean how many of us know a girl locked in a tower with hair 50 ft. long?
As a storyteller I hope to reach people both literally and figuratively. And here one of my muses has literally come to life. She (all of them) inspire me to write what I do, and in turn I hope to inspire others with my stories of them or one representing them. With versions of this tale existing in several cultures around the world I certainly haven't stumbled across something new. But it's a cycle I'm very proud to be a part of.