I came across the skeleton woman fairy tale in the book ‘Women Who Run with Wolwes’ contacting the power of the wild woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The book analyses among other things, many fairy tales from all over the world.
Skeleton woman is an African fairy tale and tells of a fisherman who fishes the skeleton of a woman from the bottom of the sea he brings her to his hut feeds, clothes, nurtures her and sings her back to life as they fall in love with each other.
One of the elements that interests me in this fairy tale is the fact that the woman who has fallen into the deep water and died, her body decomposing stripped of the flesh, becomes a skeleton but then comes back to life.
Going from a death, an ending to new opportunity and a new life, the woman is resurrected into life .
In this fairy tale there are two types of transformation the woman and the fisher man. The man initially is terrified when he sees the skeleton woman but then is able to overcome his fear through love. In this way he empowers her as she empowers him.
One side of the tale is about the beauty of finding love and transformation through love, becoming whole through love, a kind of love that most people dream of. To be brought back to life and to feel our heart beating strongly because we are loved.
The other is about the cycle of life/death/life/death as mentioned in the book by Pinkola Estes where she talks of the transformative power of this cycle and how also love can be seen as a series of beginning and endings.
Skeleton woman becomes Lady death when the fisherman becomes aware of his mortality and of the cycles of life. How endings are necessary, and are a positive step in our life not a failure. In this society we are often afraid of failure as it is seen as something negative and to be avoided. Skeleton woman teaches us that , at certain stages in our journey the thing to do, in order to truly love ourselves is to let go and lie at the bottom of the sea until we are ready to reemerge back to life to new more satisfying experiences.