That night near dark the same spirit in white, who had helped the maiden before, appeared and guided her to an inn run by kindly woods people. Another maiden in a white gown took the queen inside and knew her by name. The baby was laid down.
"How do you know I am a queen?" asked the young queen.
"We who are of the forest follow these matters, my queen. Rest now."
The queen stayed safe and sound for 7 years. Her hands grew back, first as little pink baby hands and then as little girl hands, and finally as women's hands.
As we practice the deep instinctive knowing about all manner of things we are learning over a lifetime. As we do our hands return to us, the hands of our womanhood.
When the young queen goes to the well and bends over to draw water, her baby falls into the well. She begins to shriek, and a spirit appears and asks why she does not rescue her child. "Because I have no hands!" she cries. "Do your best," says the spirit, and as the maiden puts her arms in the water, reaching toward her child, her hands regenerate then and there, and the child is saved.
This is a metaphor for the idea of saving the child-self from being lost again in the unconscious. It is our opportunity to grow the traumatized child. This keeps us from forgetting our soul-self--who we are and what our work is. It is at this point in our lives that even very charming people, very enchanting ideas, very alluring calliope music can be turned away with ease, and especially if it does not nurture a woman's union with the wild.
The regeneration of a woman's grasp on her life and work sometimes causes a momentary hiatus in the work, for she may not be totally confident of her newfound strengths. She may have to try them out for a time to realize how great their reach really is.
Even though the young queen was separated from her husband she was experiencing enrichment and restoration. There is always a helper who will lead us to shelter. The forest is sacred initiatory ground--it is here the Handless Maiden finds peace. This is the place where her fiery and flowering Soul regains its roots. The female spirit who is the inn keeper, in the underworld, already knows the young queen. These two women who over seven years (7 being a holy number) come to know one another. The human and the spirit become one. This is called embodiment.
The number 7 also resembles the moon's cycles. There are 7 main stages of initiation in a woman's life. Even in marriage there is what is called the seven-year-itch. Stages of spiritual development do not necessarily correspond to a woman's chronological age.
When the king returns from war, he and his mother comprehend that the Devil has sabotaged their messages.
The story continues in my blog post: The Handless Maiden--Initiation #7 The Wild Bride and Bridegroom