Queen of Fairy Land

Havi lives in metaphors. She runs a pirate ship, for goodness sake.

One of our lessons last week was about how a metaphor can be a shortcut (which is also a metaphor…) for describing an entire situation or group of qualities with one word. It can set the vibe, the norms, and the direction of a group. Gives it a frame.

Of course, metaphors are everywhere — in the newspaper, on TV, in conversations, in our thoughts (I’m in a fog today). We rely on them, often without recognizing their brilliance.

Havi talked about an online group she took over the responsibility of moderating. The previous term used for the group was a “pack” which brought up images for her of togetherness and community, but also power struggles and take-over.

She used the process described below to create a new metaphor for the group: a knitting circle. The group flourished.

Here’s the quick and dirty about using a metaphor:

  • a metaphor can be brilliant or it can keep you stuck
  • we forget that we choose the metaphor and we can change it—it’s your world
  • every word has aspects and qualities that vary depending on the individual and context: “safety” may = comfort and love for one person and danger and hiding for another

and how to create one…

  1. choose a situation/idea/group you want to use a metaphor for
  2. if that thing has a current metaphor/word, list all the qualities associated
  3. indicate the ones you want to keep
  4. write down the qualities you want in your new frame/metaphor
  5. what fits the qualities?

Here’s an example:

  1. The studio yoga teachers
  2. My previous frame has been either “staff” or “instructors” and this is what comes to mind: teachers, common purpose, undervalued, authoritarian, boring, job-like, infection, doesn’t communicate yoga, implies a ‘right’ way
  3. The only one I want to keep is ‘common purpose’
  4. Qualities of ideal metaphor: love, passion, compassionate, skillful, accommodating, accepting, strong bonds, community, creative, family, loyalty, supportive, fun, fluid, natural, decisions based on well-being of the whole, collaborative yet ultimately the responsibility is mine
  5. This is where it gets tricky. As my partner and I were brainstorming (a lover? some kind of ecosystem? bees, coral, ants?) Havi came over and asked a series of questions that led to dream-like answers about…

being trapped in a gunmetal gray box,

finding a key in my pocket,

stepping out of the box and into an area that was beautiful,

where I was a conduit,

where I felt all the qualities of my ideal metaphor,

floating just above some water,

sensing community, care, and ease,

and looking around to see other……


    Right away she squealed, “Wand, sparkles, DUST people!!”


    Fairies is so not the metaphor I was expecting. But there is was—an image so clear I couldn’t deny it.

    And as much as my mind resisted, my heart felt the essence of being a fairy: nimble, honest, hard working, spreading goodness, much glee, know their strengths, guides and helpers (not out for the credit), and they take time to ponder and rest.

    Being the Queen of Fairies is not autocratic like being The Boss or The Owner (yuck!). As Havi pointed out, no one’s going to get mad at the Queen of the Fairies.

    After the fairy dust settled around my metaphor, I was giddy. I could just see the Fairy Circle at our Fairy Conventions (no more staff meetings), announcing our Gold Dust Missions, I’d probably need a crown… oh my god, should we all have fairy names?

    And then I came home.

    Started interacting in the Real World. Even on Recess I’m my monster is feeling a little silly for the idea.

    I don’t even feel like wearing sparkles anymore.

    But the people at the retreat last week loved my fairy dust so much.

    Sigh. Even fairies get sad.

    24 Responses to “Queen of Fairy Land”

    1. 1 Josiane February 4, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      Oh, Michelle, I’m so sorry that the Queen of Fairies feels sad today! You are such a fabulous fairy queen… but yes, it’s hard to integrate our metaphors into real life.
      (Feel free to ignore what follows if it doesn’t fit what you need right now.) A question popped into my mind when I read that your monster feels this thing is a bit silly: what does she need to be ok with playing with this idea for a bit?

      • 2 blogasana February 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm


        Your response is so sweet it brings tears to my eyes! That is a wonderful question and I will ask that dear little monster. I think just hearing from you helps…

        Big xo

    2. 3 elizabeth February 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm

      Oh, sweetie. I’m so sorry you feel sad. I do love fairies (it reminds me of Shakespeare and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and I love/d the idea of you as a Fairy Queen. The qualities that you listed sound so much like what I imagine everyone at your yoga studio embodies.

      I am not entirely sure what to do with my metaphor right now .. I tried to describe it to someone and it didn’t sound like it sounds in my head – where it is just the best way of thinking about my business ever. So I guess the whole integrating these new metaphors into daily life will take some time.

      I wonder if our monsters might like to be reminded of how often metaphors are used in everyday life .. maybe it’s just that it seems like such a strange and new concept .. when it’s really just taking an existing concept and using it in a better way?

      Hugs to you.

      • 4 blogasana February 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

        What good wonderings. That’s totally how I feel — in my head it’s the best ever! Maybe it needed to incubate a little longer.

        Ya, reminders. Let’s start looking for them everywhere. I love reading about Havi’s…. she makes it so *cool* to run a pirate ship, you know? While here we are with fairies on bikes =)

        Hug back.

    3. 5 Havi Brooks (and duck) February 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm

      Awwww. Hugs for the fairy queen!

      As Elizabeth pointed out, it’s such a (depressing?) truism that not everyone in “real life” understands or cares about our metaphors (my CPA doesn’t even know that he is the Keeper of the Pirate Treasure, how weird is that?!).

      Sometimes they function better as internal guidance, and sometimes we can sneak them (or their essence) into our real world lives more and more.

      I think as you embody that way of not being autocratic, of caring about goofiness and play, about living yoga in an it’s-all-yoga way … my sense is that the fairy glee will either come back or it will shift into something else that will be equally useful.

      In the meantime, hugs and love and whatever else you need to build a transition space (a path? a road?) from the gunmetal box to wherever the fairies live … or to wherever your next step is.


      • 6 blogasana February 4, 2010 at 10:26 pm

        tearing… tearing… … … still.

        I did wonder about it being a personal/private metaphor. More for my guidance and inspiration (I can just wear my crown around the house and bonk the pets with my wand).

        A path, a walk, some time in transition sounds super loving. From the gunmetal box to where the fairies live….

        Sniff sniff. Thanks…

    4. 7 Tami February 5, 2010 at 4:37 am

      i LOVE the fairies! yes, it may have to be secret club of fairies, but damnit, i want a wand and dust and w-i-n-g-s!

      thanks for the IRL hug. i’m giving you one here. you rock, sista.

    5. 9 Tami February 6, 2010 at 3:36 am

      really?!? a wand???? i can’t wait!

      IRL = in real life!

      ps- i’m really a child, or at least i hang out with them, hence the awesome acronyms.

    6. 10 jacquelyn February 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      I love this:

      “floating just above some water,

      sensing community, care, and ease,

      and looking around to see other……fairies”

      Please don’t let your dear monster lock up the queen of the fairies – but if she does, (shhhh!) remember the key is in your pocket.

      Nobody, not even a monster, can argue with community, care and ease.
      I am sure that the other fairies sense this even if they don’t refer to themselves as fairies.

      sending sparkles and hugs your way.

      • 11 blogasana February 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

        JACQUELYN!!! Thanks for the note… I *already* forgot that the key is in my pocket! (I’m chanting “release the queen, release the queen!” =)

        Thanks for the sparkles and hugs. Sending some back.

        Hope you are well… do you have a blog?


    7. 12 Keleigh February 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

      I so want a fairy name!

      And just so you know…you’re in good company. Gaga’s inspired by ice princesses and magical angels. ;)

    8. 14 Keleigh February 9, 2010 at 2:29 am

      ah! you inspired me to buy sparkly nailpolish and paint my fingernails last night. :)

      and my heart leapt seeing you in the back of yoga this morning…i sent you a psychic hug during one of my downward dogs. xoxo

    9. 16 chicsinger simone February 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      Wow, fairies on bikes. Makes me think of a late 80s Chanel spread that had a dozen or so supermodels in a dark tough city alley, perched on bikes, trash barrels, brick stairs, wearing black leather jackets and bustiers AND GIRLY FLUFFY PASTEL FAIRY SKIRTS! To the ground, opening like flowers to show black ass kicking waffle stomper boots.

      OMG. Those were fairies to be reckoned with and I reckon a Fairy Queen who sometimes lives in a gunmetal box would fit right in.

    10. 18 journey4yogis February 12, 2010 at 5:03 am

      In case you haven’t heard it enough: I love fairies!

    11. 20 Shikha May 4, 2011 at 2:42 am

      You are soooooooooo like a fairy…..I miss you……<3

    12. 22 Calgary SEO February 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

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    1. 1 It’s All Yoga, People… An Interview With Michelle Marlahan – Yoga Basics « Teacher Goes Back to School Trackback on August 30, 2010 at 3:01 am
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