“Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote the bestseller “Women Who Run With the Wolves” , a collection of folktales interpreted from a woman’s perspective, revealing the archetypal wild woman. With her easy-to-grasp writing style of a storyteller, she appeals to women who want to find more meaning in life. Her interpretations help us find such meaning by getting us in touch forgotten qualities, she says, that have been dangerously tamed by a society that preaches the virtue of being “nice.”
Dr. Estes found the wolf-woman parallel while studying wildlife biology.
“Wolves and women are relational by nature: They are inquiring, possessing great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate and their pack.” She also writes: “Yet both have been hounded, harassed and falsely imputed to be devouring and devious, overly aggressive, of less value than those who are their detractors.” ~ A Savage Creativity
She defines the wild woman archetype not as uncontrolled behavior but as a kind of savage creativity – the instinctual ability to know what tool to use and when to use it.
“All options are available to women,” she said, and adds, “Everything from quiescence to camouflaging to pulling back the ears, baring the teeth and lunging for the throat.”
Women who have always been taught to be nice do not realize they have these options. She said, “When someone tells them to stay in their place, they sit and stay quiet. But when somebody is cornering you, then the only way out is to come out kicking.”
Yet everything about nature is essentially wild, too.
“We need to see and understand that whatever stands behind nature is what God is. Nature is the manifestation. We see things about nature that are beautiful, like the blue sky, and it fills us with almost a prayerful excitement. When I look at it, I feel still. I have seen this sky every day of my life and I am still in awed by it. That is what the wild is – this intense medicinal beauty. To look at it makes you feel whole. To hear it, if it is ocean or water running in a stream, is to feel made whole again. To see a thunderstorm or a lightning storm is to somehow be energized by it. Even tornadoes and earthquakes– to be rocked to your very foundations by the power made in all these things. This wildness is in every human being, so a man or a woman would essentially be no different from one another at the very elemental core.”
Being in touch with the wild woman archetype is also about getting in touch with one’s soul. Dr. Estes says,
“The soul – just as it is – is complete. It is never doubted, it is never lost. The ego may become injured. The spirit may also become injured, but the soul remains, always. I think the soul is incredibly ineffable and you cannot really talk about it. We make pictures and tell stories, but in reality, we are reaching into a dark bag and trying to describe it in a poetic way – because we can never describe, in common words, what it is that we feel and see.
Yet we must have the ability, like all poets, to move through different images as we develop an idea to express the soul. And we also could move away from and develop a new idea, the more clarity we have. Jung did it all the time. If you read Jung’s works you will see him constantly contradicting himself because he is developing as he goes along. So whatever metaphors we use, it will be very interesting to see if we still believe them, or if we have not found better ones, in 10 or 20 years.”
We describe life in metaphors. Find more meaning in your life through folklore!
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