August 28, 2011

{Book's Prologue} Part Six: "Becoming an Archetype"

[This is the sixth and final excerpt of the Prologue, "Front Row to a Royal Wedding," from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Posting the book's prologue is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Diana & Charles' archetypal wedding.]

Like other mere mortals, Diana was one of those illuminated personalities who take the world stage and hold our attention with a charismatic allure, becoming an icon of the time. Whether these personalities become iconic by living into a softened and wiser old age or by dying an early death, their dynamic appeal sometimes even inspires a mythological language. Realizing “a legend that never dies” as Derek Lamar explains in his article “Diana… We Hardly Knew Ya’,” names and words from their life enter the cultural lingo to describe and define this new awareness and way of being.

This kind of legacy peaks my curiosity. The legacy of a person whose life becomes bigger than their life alone: they seem to be present on Earth as a life force to break open a new way of thinking, even affecting a paradigm shift in consciousness. Without being aware, the person literally gives their life as an example for us to learn what human behaviors and patterns support either our superficial “small self” or those traits which serve our more wise “big Self.” And sometimes what we learn from their life proves opposite of what they actually got to experience.

(As it was explained to me by my teachers, I write “big Self”—our more grounded, deeper, “in our bodies” self—with a capital “S” as in “being closer to Spirit”; and I write “small self”—our ego-driven, fearful, “in our minds” self—with a small “s” because, well, we’re playing small!)

Living out her life on a world stage put the spotlight not only on Diana’s weaknesses and strengths, but those of all women. Some call her life a sacrifice; I call it a divine destiny. And I believe the message of that life is about honoring our own life by learning to love ourselves just the way we are and be willing to grow into the woman that our wiser self knows we can become.

Astrologer Steffan G. Vanel, author of a 2005 book on Diana, stated in Oracle 20/20 magazine: “…there is no doubt that there was something archetypal in our collective experience of Diana, something involving a Princess, being royal, and thus something elevated or potentially attuned to higher spiritual forces, with divine feminine qualities.”

I believe that Princess Diana’s life put attention on the universal search for deep connection with another; a yearning to be deeply related and beloved. I believe that her marriage can be seen as “the end of the fairy-tale bride,” a phenomenon that lays the groundwork for a new archetype of how men and women enter relationships.

William & Kate in California, July 2011
 We already see results of her influence in the more authentic lives her ex-husband and two sons are living, including Charles’ and William’s relationships with their wives.

There is no accident that Diana’s death came at the beginning of The Aquarian Age which brings with it the feminine principle of relatedness and cooperation. “Our imbalance as humans,” Derek Lamar wrote, “is coming to a close as we begin to realize ‘Oneness.’ Princess Diana expresses the love, care, and nurturing aspects of true femaleness which mankind intuitively was attracted to, as a magnet has a force which pulls until there is contact (Oneness).”

Lamar speaks about Diana’s healing force in her expression of femaleness and how “our sense of loss was also finding something that we didn’t know was there…the female aspect within ourselves.” This nurturing, more compassionate female dimension has been ‘missing in action’ for the world as a whole, as well as within men and women individually. Her death became a universal recognition of “what we thought we lost was our moment of finding ourselves.”

No wonder that young, feminine, vulnerable, splendidly beautiful bride drew us into her world so profoundly, capturing something of our hearts to make sure that we paid close attention so not to miss the deeper messages oozing through the cracks. Looking beyond the glitter, beyond the drama and angst, beyond the soap opera-like life style—even beyond the bold acts of hands-on kindness—we see into the background of what was being acted out. And there, what was really happening over Diana’s short lifetime comes out of the shadows.

What if we used Diana’s life, not how she lived it, but the immense energy of her life’s impact—that became undeniable at her death—to now inspire couples worldwide to choose from their wise, authentic self and build empowering, nurturing relationships?

William & Kate in Canada, July 2011
 Relationships where, no matter your background or family traditions or personal fears, you are encouraged to open your heart to give and receive unconditional love? What if this bigger picture of Diana’s life—looking beyond the story, the illusion, the fairy tale into the deep spirit of her life—inspired establishing a platform for the possibility of, as author Gary Zukov calls, “spiritual partnerships”? What if?

[This is the final part of the Prologue of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. To see all the excerpts from the book's Prologue, click on "Prologue" in the Labels list below.]

August 19, 2011

{Book's Prologue} Part Five: "A World of Celebrity"

[This is the fifth excerpt of the Prologue, "Front Row to a Royal Wedding," from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Posting the book's prologue is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Diana & Charles' archetypal wedding.]

Princess Diana did not invent our fascination with royalty; stories of nobility have long captured and will continue to capture our attention. However, this wedding ushered in a whole new ballgame: with the wedding of Charles and Diana, getting married became fashionable again and “society” world-wide was ready! “It was, perhaps, the defining event of the eighties,” declared writer Susie Pearson in a 1991 Ladies Home Journal article commemorating the tenth anniversary of the royal wedding. Almost everything about the 1980s became a symbol of excess, “a decade in which style so often trumped substance.”

A watershed event, this royal happening—“the first worldwide media spectacular…with all the pomp and circumstance at England’s matchless command”—brought ceremonial weddings back in style almost overnight, resurrecting the bridal industry from the social upheavals of the previous two decades. The royal wedding set the pace for a new era of fancy wedding hoopla: elaborate designer gowns; a return of the status wedding; staged over-the-top productions; and “celebrity” weddings as media spectacles. It opened the door for Martha Stewart’s beauty-down-to-the-last-detail kind of attention to everything wedding and imploded the wedding as a “consumer rite,” a trend that had begun in America at the middle of the twentieth century explained scholar Vicki Howard in her 2006 book, Brides, Inc.

The grand wedding energized the notorious English media machine, already in high gear ever since Diana came onto the scene as a photogenic shy teenager, and established a “world of celebrity” phenomenon that permeates our lives today. The gossipy, global media industry of newspapers, magazines and television shows spawned in those days, still feeds an insatiable public that continues to look for its next “tabloid princess” (royal or otherwise).

Looking back on the press coverage in the beginning of this royal tale, one can see how much was “invented” to feed the stories and headlines. Once Charles proposed to Diana “Fleet Street took over,” London based journalist Pearson stated. “On the prowl for a good story after years of political unrest in the seventies, the press transformed the engagement into a modern fairy tale.” And since our imaginations can’t resist updates on any sort of what we deem as a “fairy tale,” the press gave us exactly what we demanded.

Diana’s death at age 36 in 1997 secured her iconic place in the culture as we continued to put her life on view, from stories of “shy Di” to princess bride, to all-suffering wife, to devoted mother, to compassionate healer and crusader, to sexy divorcee—all accompanied by photographs that draw you into her world and have you wonder, What if?  From most accounts, including Tina Brown’s 2007 biography The Diana Chronicles, it seems that Diana never got beyond her childhood fantasies of being “rescued by a prince,” and, as a romance novel reading teenager, “fell in love with an image instead of the man,” making the marriage proposal from Prince Charles something she simply could not resist.

Such romantic notions of ungrounded “fairy-tale” love (as in “made up” and not based in reality) don’t sustain us through the “wartiness” of relationship and dealing with real life. We don’t have to grow up in the midst of royalty to get swept away with a dashing image or lose ourselves in the damsel and knight myth.

Was Diana beginning to grow up and grow out of that propensity for romance and fantasy before she died? Was she beginning to find her center and grounding—the power of her authentic voice? What if? ~

["Becoming an Archetype," the next part of the Prologue of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, will be posted in a few days. To see all the excerpts from the book's Prologue, click on "Prologue" in the Labels list below.]

August 12, 2011

{Book's Prologue} Part Four: "Dazzling Diana"

[This is the forth excerpt of the Prologue, "Front Row to a Royal Wedding," from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Posting the book's prologue is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Diana & Charles' wedding.]

The moment Diana stepped out of that regal glass coach on her wedding morning—"like seeing a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis…" the Emanuels said later, with the endless yards of train magically materializing with her—she had us hook, line and sinker. Unspeakable beauty combined with a sympathetic appeal can do that. 

Lady Diana Spencer would become a princess that day and she already looked the part down to every little detail. Her enchanted pouf of a silk taffeta gown (that would influence generations of brides) shimmered in the morning sunlight—the fabric custom woven by the oldest silk weavers in Britain and specially dyed in a shade of palest ivory never to be used again. Trimmed with lace once belonging to Queen Mary, Charles’ great-grandmother, the fitted, intricately beaded bodice showed off Diana's new slim figure. The young bride was cocooned in a gossamer tulle veil of silk made from British farm silkworms just for the occasion. With gusts of wind swooshing it about as if on cue, the nonstop veil glistened with thousands of hand-sewn and hand-knotted mother-of-pearl sequins as Diana prepared for her ascent up the red-carpeted cathedral steps.

"Time seemed to stand still as we waited for her to come up the steps," the young designers reported. The Emanuels were in place and prepared to give the bride one last elegant going over before she walked up the long nave of the church into her Never Never Land.

Diana’s "something borrowed" was the Spencer family heirloom diamond tiara; a not so subtle reminder to the world that she was already "royal." (If not "officially" royal by dynastic standards, then certainly of old nobility that knew a thing or two about noblesse oblige.)

Leaving a perfumed trail wherever she moved, her massive bouquet, matching the scale of her gown, was filled with fragrant creame and yellow flowers and greenery from gardens all over England, including (according to the Emanuel’s account in their book, Dress for Diana) gardenias, Mountbatten roses, freesias, Royal Wedding orchids, lily of the valley, miniature ivy, and myrtle from the Isle of Wight.

The bride’s entrance into the rich splendor of St. Paul’s interior was announced by a fanfare from trumpeters high in the cathedral’s dome...perhaps a heralding sign of changes to come. And the bride and groom made royal history with a break in tradition even before becoming husband and wife. Removing some outdated words from the Church of England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, as the couple stood before the archbishop of Canterbury, and witnessed by a large population of the world, the bride’s marriage vows did not include the promise "to obey."

(An article in The Washington Post a few days before the wedding reported that the archbishop of Canterbury revealed "the decision to drop this vow was made very quickly in his discussion of the service with Charles and Diana and that he told them, the usual clergyman’s joke. ‘It’s a bad thing to start your marriage off with a downright lie.’
He told reporters that many couples now omit the vow, which was a remnant from the Middle Ages, when a wife would pledge ‘to be bonny and buxom in bed and board,’" Downie’s byline from London concluded.)

At the conclusion of the vows, hymns and presentations, the princess bride—in handcrafted quilted silk and lace wedding slippers—stepped out into a sunny, adoring world that she would soon be changing in unimaginable ways. As I caught glimpses of the floating "goddess bride" on television throughout the broadcast, it was as though I could feel life as I knew it shifting. It was not just that weddings would never be the same, but it was also that the world was cracking open into a new kind of mystery. ~

["A World of Celebrity," the next part of the Prologue of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, will be posted in a few days. To see all the excerpts from the book's Prologue, click on "Prologue" in the Labels list below.]

August 9, 2011

{Book's Prologue} Part Three: "The Wedding Morning"

[This is the third excerpt of the Prologue, "Front Row to a Royal Wedding," from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Posting the book's prologue is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Diana & Charles' wedding.]

Baskets of flowers, flags, and bunting hung along the royal mall from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, then continued at the other end of the wedding procession route around St. Paul’s, the grand Christopher Wren cathedral that was to host its first royal wedding. The massive, Renaissance-style building with its familiar high dome was chosen—by the bride and groom and all the powers that be—for its large seating capacity (but it only had two lavatories); for being best-suited for the extraordinary range of music that was performed (Prince Charles said in an interview prior to the wedding that he "always longed for a musical wedding and had deliberately chosen stirring music. ‘I shall, I think, spend half the time in tears’."); and for better lines of sight for television (there were eight and a half miles of cable "serpentined" around the cathedral, according to the detailed report from London in the Washington Post by Leonard Downie Jr.)

Declared a national holiday, the wedding day festivities began early that morning with the sound of music and bells as the crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the two-mile route (along with a few thousand policemen and security officers.) The music came from bands of the queen’s household guards all along the procession route, but it was the ringing of the twelve big bells in the northwest tower of St. Paul’s that proclaimed the excitement and magic of the day. With the queen’s Lord Chamberlain in charge, everything had been planned and conducted with utmost precision and carried out by a cast of busy thousands.

The ceremony was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., so immediately after the doors of St. Paul’s opened at nine that morning, the cathedral’s organists began playing music by various English composers to welcome the first arrivals of the expected 2500 guests. Since the queen invited many of the royal families of Europe and beyond, friends and "regular folk" (including First Lady Nancy Reagan, John Travolta, and other American celebrities who were probably relieved when they read that Judith Martin, "Miss Manners" herself, wrote a special column reminding American ladies attending the wedding that they should not curtsy to royalty!) were to be seated by 10 a.m. That way the motorcades bringing heads of state and members of royal families could arrive and be ushered into the cathedral in grand style, keeping protocol intact. Arriving in ceremonial uniforms, top hats and tails, and fancy dresses, all looked to play their part in "a story book wedding, with all the trappings that only a royal ceremony in London could offer," wrote columnist Ann Cline in the Washington Star.

The last motorcade arrived from Clarence House, the Queen Mother’s residence, with the five young bridesmaids in crisp creame silk poufy dresses with fresh flowers in their hair along with the two pageboys dressed in vintage style uniforms of the Royal Navy cadets. (The uniforms replicated the style from the year of the last Prince of Wales’ wedding in 1863.) The two older girls were to wait at the bottom of the cathedral steps to attend the bride as she arrived moments later. They had been instructed by the designers, Elizabeth and David Emanuel, how to fluff Diana’s veil and 25 feet of train (longest in recorded royal history) before she entered the cathedral, where they waited for her.

About the same time, the first of three of the formal processions began. The queen, dressed in pale turquoise blue, and other members of the royal family left from Buckingham Palace in eight horse-drawn carriages, escorted by mounted troops of the household cavalry.
A few minutes later, the Prince of Wales, in his dark blue Royal Navy commander’s uniform bearing various golden insignia and his many medals including his knighthood orders of the Garter, Thistle and Bath, and also wearing his full dress sword tasseled in gold, started his bridegroom’s journey along the wedding route of cheering crowds. With his brother and "supporter," Prince Andrew, at his side, they rode in the queen’s gold-encrusted coach pulled by four gray horses with their manes decorated in silver—the same coach that took the newlyweds back to Buckingham Palace almost two hours later for the early afternoon wedding "breakfast." (The breakfast, including four and a half feet of wedding cake filled with currants, raisins, sultanas, cherries and Navy rum, was for 100 or so of the royals’ nearest and dearest.)

Finally, leaving from the bride’s future grandmother-in-law’s home where she had been secreted away since the moment of her engagement several months earlier, two of the queen’s prized bay mares, Lady Penelope and Kestrel, pulled the glass coach that had carried all British royal brides to their weddings since it was built 70 years before. But now it was traveling along a route that was overflowing—beyond anyone’s imagination—with throngs of happily cheering fans. Inside were the young princess-to-be, Lady Diana (the first English girl to become Princess of Wales in 300 years) and her beloved father, Earl Spencer.

As Diana left Clarence House and the glass carriage turned into the Mall, you could see her smiling behind her veil, and then a sequin caught the light and sparkled, which was something we had never seen before—sequins on a veil. I could also see the elegant full sleeves on the dress, and knew there and then that this was going to be a very grand dress—very exciting and original, and probably not what anyone was expecting. The only thing I knew in advance was that it would be a very long train, as we at the BBC had seen the rehearsal in St. Paul’s. That day Diana looked wonderful—it really was the young romantic fairytale image of Cinderella on her wedding day.
Eve Pollard, BBC Fashion commentator for the Royal Wedding~

["Dazzling Diana," the next part of the Prologue of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, will be posted in a few days. To see all the excerpts from the book's Prologue, click on "Prologue" in the Labels list below.]


August 2, 2011

{Book's Prologue} Part Two: "Landmark Event"

[This is the second excerpt of the Prologue, "Front Row to a Royal Wedding," from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book; honoring the 30th anniversary of Diana & Charles' wedding.]

This landmark event, broadcast in 74 countries and watched world wide by over 750 million people, brought a multi-generational global community into a unified present and set the tone for remarkable changes to come. The largest media event the world had known, it was as though we all had circled around a giant snow globe to witness the next enchantment—with our noses pressed to the glass and our eyes feeding on the magic.

What happens to a collective consciousness when so much of the world's attention is focused on the same thing at the same time? What happens to the main players in such an event?

Whether you were watching this glittering spectacle or not (or even if it happened before you were born); whether you are a man or woman; whether you were watching as a child, or if you were a bride-to-be, or single with no interest in marriage; or if you were already a wife, mother, or grandmother (husband, father, grandfather); wherever you were in your life at that moment, this event dramatically changed the world you live in then and now.

The wedding of Charles and Diana, and the woman the bride became, presented a catalyst for a huge shift in a culture ready to explode into a garish new incarnation that became the 1980’s, heralding in the last two decades of the twentieth century. ~

["The Wedding Morning," the next part of the Prologue of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, will be posted in a few days. To see all Prologue excerpts, click on "Prologue" in the Labels list below.]