The Polar Bear King (part 3)

Forgotten by (SD)

There is always a point in a story when the known world collapses. It is the moment when all of your superficial attachments fall away, when everything you thought you knew or believed is called into question. In many stories you leave behind all that you know (home) and journey to the place from which no one returns (where the monsters live). When you are living your passage story this place is often experienced as doubt (where the monsters live).

Within a caterpillar’s body, once cocooned, there begins a war between the known and the imaginal cells  – so called because these cells hold the encoding for the new form: butterfly. The caterpillars body reads the imaginal as a cancer and kills it back which only serves to make the imaginal stronger. Eventually, the imaginal cells overwhelm what is known and the caterpillar’s body dissolves to mush. This “mush phase” is the place of doubt and is as necessary to our transformation as it is to the caterpillar if it is to become a butterfly

Form-less-ness is never comfortable but as the old adage says, “you must lose yourself to find yourself.” This is how the Polar Bear King loses himself:


The two young polar bears ran from the king’s cave, laughing so loud that the other bears gathered to hear what was so funny. “Our great and mighty king has become… a bird!” they guffawed, “Who ever heard of a polar bear covered in feathers!”  In disbelief all the bears ran to see their king. They thought it must be a trick or a game but then they saw him and, sure enough, he was covered all over in feathers. They laughed and pointed and slapped their thighs in delight. They made bird sounds and flapped their big bear arms, running in circles around him.

The polar bear king sat in silence, his head lowered so they could not see the sorrow in his eyes.

Later that day, all the polar bears decided to have a meeting to discuss the great change that had come over their king. “He is no longer a bear,” said one. “He’s not a bird, either,” cried another. “He is half-bird, half-bear,” cried a third! And then a bear in the crowd shouted, “If he isn’t a bear then he is no longer fit to be our king!”  They all cheered and then grew quiet.

“Who shall take his place?”

“He who can defeat the bird-bear in battle will be our king. It is our custom!” said an enormous bear named Woof. “Only the strongest is fit to rule and I am the strongest bear here!” Woof stomped about and flexed his muscles.

There was silence for a moment and then all the bears nodded their assent. “It is our custom. You will fight him for surely now that he is a bird-bear you are the strongest of our race. Woof will be our king!” they all cried. So they sent a messenger to the Polar Bear king, telling him of the challenge, he must master Woof or resign his sovereignty. The match was to be fought in three days time.

The Polar Bear King was very sad. “Perhaps they are right, perhaps a bear with feathers is not a bear at all.”

“Perhaps.” Said the Queen of the gulls. She was hovering above him when the messenger came. “Perhaps they are wrong.”

“Only a bear with hair can hope to command their obedience,” snarled the King.

The queen of the gulls chuckled. “Oh, I see. Is it your hair that makes you strong? Is it your hair that gives you courage?

“You don’t understand!” growled the bear.

The gull queen sighed, “My friend, did you also lose your wisdom with your hair?” And then she said, “ I met an eagle yesterday that had just returned from the lands in the south. The eagle, while flying over a city, saw a huge big polar bearskin in the back of a carriage that rolled along the street. It must have been your skin. If you wish, I will send a hundred gulls to retrieve it for you.”

The great king jumped to his feet. “Are you sure? Can it be? Oh, please, send them now! Send them for me!” the great king pleaded. “I must have my skin before the match in three days time. Without it I shall be defeated.”

With a flick of her wing a hundred of her best gulls shot to the sky, straight as an arrow they flew to the south. “They will not disappoint you,” she said. (to be continued)

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