What does the traditional Grimm’s version of Rumpelstiltskin and our body organ the LIVER have in common?
Not a lot at first guess!
I did, however, learn of the link between these two incongruous subjects at the first ever anthroposophical conference I attended, The Vital Years Conference for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education, in 2001 on the Sunshine Coast. The keynote speaker was Denis Klocek and he was talking about the relationships between the archetypal images presented in fairytales and their healing effects on the body. Rumpelstiltskin seems to be the most interesting one for me, as that is the one I took the most notes on!
At our Women’s Circle the other evening, I told the story of Rumpelstiltskin, with this new interpretation, as the beginning on an evening of self-nurturing activities.
The characters in the story include the poor MILLER, who boasts about his DAUGHTER, to the KING. The King sets an impossible task for the Miller’s Daughter and she is helped by a little ‘manikin’ who we later come to know as RUMPLESTILTSKIN.
In relating this story to our physical bodies, Denis Klocek suggested we consider the Miller to represent our DIGESTIVE SYSTEM (a Miller’s action is to grind and break things down, just as our digestion does). The Miller’s Daughter is our BODY, and he boasts to the King, our HEART, that she can spin straw into gold! Naturally, the King is quite pleased with the idea of this skill, although he knows it to be impossible, and sets the girl to work. Our body cannot do this on its own, and so it calls for help from the LIVER. The liver is played by Rumpelstiltskin, who does bear some resemblance to this organ in the suggestion of his name: the liver does have the external appearance of having “rumpled skin“.
As I understand it, not having researched it formally, the function of the liver is to process the fluids of our body, namely the blood, and the fluids that have been broken down via the digestive system. This blood and fluid is then lifted, cleaned, heated and sent on its way, either to dispose waste material or to disperse nutrients to the body, and the blood takes it to the body via the heart. In effect, the liver, each and every night, spins straw into gold by taking carbohydrates and protein and transforming them into sugars that the body can use.
The liver is a very hard-working organ, and is one that is not treated with a great deal of respect by the general population of Australia, if the current statistics on obesity are to be considered. It begins its work in the evening and by morning it is ready to rest. The liver works through a process of building up sugars, and then breaking them down, over and over again. If we were to eat a big meal just as this process is beginning (which IS generally about the time we eat our dinner in Australia) then we are not doing our liver a favour at all. It has begun the process of building up sugars, and this process is interrupted by a whole lot of new nutrients being dumped on top of the pile at the beginning of its cycle. We ask an awful lot of our livers just in doing this, not to mention the quality of food we ask it to do magic with.
If our liver is not able to function properly it can lead to lack of sleep, build-up of toxins, obesity, lack of energy and a whole host of long-term health issues. Because we are asking it to do the impossible night after night: to spin straw into gold.
Naturally the little man who helps the Miller’s Daughter wants to be paid for his work and when the Miller’s Daughter runs out of jewellery he asks for her first-born child (the life that goes on), and eventually he come to claim this life. The Miller’s Daughter has to guess the name of the little man. Naming something is to recognise it, therefore the body needs to recognise the function of the liver if the liver is not to claim ‘the life that goes on’.
Interesting, isn’t it?