Several cinemas put on impromptu screenings of David Bowie’s films in tribute to his recent death. Having never actually seen the already cult 1980s Labyrinth, I went to a packed cinema to find out what he, those muppets and the young Jennifer Connelly got up to.
And I took along my spiritual specs. Good job, for as a tale in itself, or even entertainment, Labyrinth was not scintillatingly brilliant. But as a fairy tale, a myth with a meaning… a crazy story with some rock songs and a farting bog becomes, like most myths, something much more profound. After all, what are stories for?
Jennifer’s character Sarah can’t even see the entrance to the maze, but it is right in front her. Once inside, she can only see high neverending walls, but something lowly that she’d write off (a hospitable worm) shows her that what she perceives isn’t the only possibility: there are portals everywhere, which she much approach to see. Sarah befriends the unlikely and those who believe they cannot have friends. She learns to trust and be wary, and sometimes, to take a risk with the former. People she’d overlook (her huge but simple furry beast friend, Ludo) have powers she’d not thought of. Friendship with nature means it can be asked to work for you (those rocks becoming stepping stones out of the Bog of Eternal Stench). The worst the Goblin King can do to Sarah, he believes, is to send her back to the start, assuming she’ll give up. But Sarah learns persistence as much as courage. She is not deterred by the stone faces who give out doom warnings – they are programmed to and know they are false. The Goblin King tries to distract her, beguile her, but she smashes though his vision and returns to her quest. She bemoans that she’s made little progress and even feels as if she’s going backwards, but the not very forthcoming soothsayer with a bird on his head speaks truth when he says it only seems that way. The junk people try to fill her up with what she doesn’t need, and send her to her room at home where it’s safe. But she sees her many childish trappings for what they are and prepares to shed them and to share one she got possessive over at the start. She returns to the bleak junk yard to see that she is almost at her destination. She realises that though friends are on hand, she must fight the Goblin King alone. He scared her at the start and tries to off put her by changing perspective, but she literally takes a leap of faith to complete her mission and to make him face her. And then there are the interesting words that Goblin King Jareth speaks to her, saying he gave her what she asked. She wanted her pesky baby brother taken – he did. He did it all for her, Jareth claims. He did give Sarah gifts – for she has had an adventure as good as anything she reads in her many books. She has had the opportunity to forgive a betrayer (the gnome Hobble, who also has a learning curve) to offer and receive friendship, and for that courage and tenacity to develop. And perhaps to feel some protectiveness for the brother she resented. She finds use for the seemingly useless incantation she was learning at the start, and banishes the Goblin King by taking away his power over her. Sarah has learned compassion and become fearless. Has the King played a part to bring her out to her best?
This is not all a spirituality I believe in, but this would dovetail with the prevalent law of attraction thinking. It also involves some thoughts I’ve been having of my own.