The Handless Maiden: Healing a Dark Night of the Soul

Jessica Davidson

The Handless Maiden is a myth that speaks powerfully to our dark and confusing times. It’s a fairy tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, but its roots are much older. The story is about a maiden whose father sells her to the devil in exchange for wealth and convenience. Her hands are chopped off and she must wander alone in the forest in search of healing.

Jungian analyst, Robert A Johnson, says the story is about the wounded feeling function, a wound that’s so common in the Western world that many people don’t even realise it’s a problem. In a sense, we’re all handless maidens, wandering about, bleeding from our stumps, feeling lost and alone.

The basic story goes like this: a miller has fallen on hard times so he makes a deal with the devil to exchange what stands behind the mill for…

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