The symbols of Frau Holle, the Percht – from the Kabbalah’s point of view
German fairy tales and myths are rich in symbols that can teach us about the principles and modes of action of the divine, especially the divine feminine. In this contribution, Percht/Frau Holle is to be placed in relation to the Kabbalistic tree of life in order to explain the teaching and assistance that all of us—men and women—can experience on our way through it.
The dark season invites us to dive into the depths of our soul and face our inner “garbage” and the mental dust that accumulates in our subconscious. In the German-speaking world of mythology at this time one comes across the Percht, which we also meet symbolically in the fairy tale as Frau (Mrs.) Holle. The geographical borders of their names are the Perchten in the Alpine region, Frau Holle in Central Germany and even Freya, Frigga and Frau Holle in Northern European regions. This aspect of the divine feminine is the basis of our being, as it confronts us with our fundamental themes at the root, connected in the Tree of Life with the Sephirah Yesod (foundation) as well as with the female pillar of divine severity and the Sephiroth Geburah (justice/root).
In the fairy tale, the entrance to Frau Holle’s realm is a fountain. This symbolizes the entrance to the realm of the subconscious, the subterranean, dark mystical space. The girls who enter the realm of Frau Holle are urged by her to keep the house clean and pure. The transformative power of this purification is symbolically represented in such a way that it snows in the upper world when Frau Holle makes her beds. The fact that Frau Holle is cleaning up causes a brightening of the dull dark winter by the appearance of the pure white, bright, crystal-clear snow, which meteorologically and physically stands for cold and often also for severity, and symbolically for a clear mind, purity, new beginning and light. Only in a cleared pure mind, a clean subconscious, a pure foundation (Yesod) can the spiritual light of the higher consciousness from Tiphareth be reflected without dirt as distortion. At the end of the fairy tale, depending on their willingness to do what is necessary in their household, both sisters are poured through the magic gate, either with gold or with bad luck. It is about the willingness within us to do everything possible so that the need can “turn” in us.
The day of the Percht, with “Percht runs,” etc. is set for January 6, the day of the three kings—symbolically the day on which the newborn Christ child is honored in his manger. Applied to the mystical symbolism of Frau Holle and Frau Percht—who, on this day, go from household to household judging with their royal entourage—it means for us, m
en and women alike: Who will be “Goldmarie” and who will be unlucky next year? Here you can find a symbolic reference to the aspect of Mary in the name of the fairy tale figure. On what basis will we start our new annual cycle in January? A pure one in which the “gold” of the sky is reflected or one polluted with bad luck in which we cannot recognize ourselves. Here an interplay of Gnostic doctrine, Kabbalah and Germanic mysticism can be seen.
Through this aspect of the divine feminine we are challenged every year anew to put our psychological household in order with heart and mind and with the means at our disposal. Our task is to face the dark aspects of ourselves, to accept them, to redeem and to forgive what is to be forgiven. Let us look our selfishness in the form of depression in the face when it painfully calls out to us, and recognize in it the offer for change. The transformative power of “snow” may make us shiver inwardly at times, but for everyone else around us and within ourselves, it becomes a little brighter and friendlier in the cold and sometimes very severe winter of the dark night of the soul, through our bed-making and sweeping at our own front door.