In the Ancient Church that existed before the Israelitish Church, there was an Ancient Word that contained books and stories, many of which have now been lost. But we know that these stories were symbolic, like the stories in the Word that we have today. The Writings tell us that the Ancient Word “consists of nothing but things that correspond.... It also contains the book of Jasher, which is mentioned in Joshua and in the Second Book of Samuel, and [also] The Wars of Jehovah and Prophecies, books which Moses mentions in Numbers” (AR 11.2; see also AC 2686; SS 102, 103; TCR 265, 279). The Writings also hint that some of the stories from various mythologies around the world may have been once part of the Ancient Word (see SS 117, TCR 275).
I sometimes wonder if stories like “Beauty and the Beast” could have been part of the Ancient Word. The Writings say this about beauty: “All beauty comes from goodness that has innocence within it. When the goodness of the inner self acts on the outer self, it actually creates beauty. That is the source of all human beauty.” (AC 3080) “The beauty of the interior self… comes from the good present in the will by way of the truth of faith. The truth of faith presents that beauty in an outward form, but the good in the will is the supplier of that beauty and the producer of the outward form. Here is the reason for the indescribable beauty of the angels of heaven, for each is so to speak love and charity embodied in a form.” (AC 4985.2)
And the Writings say this about what a “beast” represents in our spiritual lives:
“Exterior good is meant by ‘beast’ because we are in respect of our external or natural self no different from a beast; for we are endowed with similar desires and also cravings, as well as appetites and senses. And interior good is meant by ‘human’ because it is in respect of our internal or spiritual self that a person is a human being, on which internal level we are endowed with affections for what is good and true such as exist with the angels in heaven, and because we control our natural or animal self, which is ‘a beast’, by means of that internal self.” (AC 7523)
When we are affected by the beauty of heavenly goodness and truth from the Lord, then we can be miraculously transformed from merely natural people into truly spiritual people, from beasts into humans. This is the story of our regeneration. And perhaps the story of “Beauty & the Beast” was once a way of describing our spiritual transformations in the Ancient Word.