Who Was Scheherazade?

May 11, 2017

Scheherazade, painted in the 19th century by Sophie Anderson

Scheherazade was the literary heroine and narrator in the Middle-Eastern collection of tales known as Alf Leyla we Leyla, or 1001 Nights. As an archetypal figure, Scheherazade exemplifies the power of creativity and art to soften and transform the human heart.

Her mythical story is one that has been told countless times in different cultures and mediums over the centuries, and typically reads like this:

There was a cruel tyrant king who, after discovering his wife’s infidelity, decided to take a new virgin bride each night only to execute her by morning before she had the chance to offend his honor.

Intent on saving the lives of the few remaining girls in the kingdom, an exceptionally well-cultivated, witty, and intuitively gifted young woman named Scheherazade bravely volunteered to marry the king, confident that she would be able to turn the tide on his murderous ways.

Scheherazade survived the king’s wrath by weaving an enchanting web of magical stories; folktales with characters and plots that contain encoded wisdom regarding the human heart and journey of the psyche.

Utterly enthralled by the twists and turns of her fantastical tales, the king was compelled to put off Scheherazade’s death yet another night so that he could hear the end. Eventually after 1,001 nights, his anger subsided and he fell in love with her.

By letting the Feminine speak and permeate his heart, the wounds that compelled him to brutality eventually heal, and the women of the kingdom were freed from tyranny.

Scheherazade saved her kingdom not through weapons and armies, but through her gifts as an intuitive healer and enchanting storyteller. Along with her wisdom, these gifts allowed her to delicately weave together the healing balm needed to return the fragmented psyche of the king to a place of wholeness and love.

Scheherazade’s words, spoken in the dark of night like a dream, penetrated deeper truths that catalyzed transformation. As the king’s anima (inner Feminine) was given voice, the wounded Masculine was healed, and balance was restored to the inner kingdom.