Finding the SELF through Folklore

“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.

Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Doré

Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Doré

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!

Stay tuned for YOUR next episode!

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Personal Growth: A Rite of Passage!

Rites of passage usually involve ritual activities and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles.

I’ve noticed that about every seven years our foundation no longer serves us and we get the sense that everything we thought we knew has dissolved.  We may feel like we are left groping for something to hang on to. We panic – is this the end of sanity?!? 
AliceDowntheRabbitHoleLike Alice in wonderland who falls down the rabbit hole.

I like to view these times as a Rite of Passage …     A door has opened. You are, at this time, given the opportunity to re-evaluate what’s important: What to keep (that which still serves you), and what to let go of.

Rites of Passage, by definition, usually mark big changes in life, and commonly involves chaos. A good example of this is puberty. Some cultures honor this transition with a ritual, where a person acknowledges the transition from child to no-longer-a-child. Rites of Passage also commonly involve a ceremony where the old roles are acknowledged and released, making room for the next phase to manifest.

If you recognize that you may be going through one of these re-evaluation phases,  it can be powerful to turn it into a ritual: Acknowledging what you are letting go and keeping. Write down what it’s like for you. Knowing that it’s inevitable should relieve some of the anxiety.

Have faith and patience as the new you Creates your life – your new self, eager to grapple new things, ready to emerge!

Besides, personal growth can not occur to those who already know everything! ;)


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Healing Rituals and Rites of Passage

What is a ritual?

You can think of a ritual as an action or set of actions that is performed to bring about a desired change. As you perform an action with purposeful intent, in a focused manner, you are creating on the physical plane a symbol of a change you want to make in your mental, emotional, or spiritual state. That action speaks to your subconscious, helping you bring about the change you desire. Alternatively, you could use visualization to see and feel yourself making the desired change. Or a ritual could contain both mental and physical components.

The “action,”, using a ritual to focus your intent, helps manifest the change you desire.

“For example, let’s say you want to separate yourself from an unhealthy relationship. One way to sever that unhealthy connection ritually might be to use a physical cord to represent the relationship. You could carefully select a cord that seems to you to symbolize the relationship. Perhaps it somehow “looks” and “feels” like the relationship to you. Setting aside a special time to do your ritual, you spend some time with the cord to create in your mind the identification of the cord with the unhealthy connection. Perhaps you place one end of the cord at a photo of the person you need to disconnect from and hold the other end in your hand. Then with focused intent you sever the cord with a knife or scissors with the intent that the cutting of the cord represents the ending of the relationship. Such a cord cutting can also be done as a mental ritual act to accomplish the same purpose, using a strongly visualized cord instead of a physical one. In either case the focused intent created by performing the act as a ritual, rather than just cutting a piece of string or simply thinking about yourself separating from the relationship, allows the act to speak to your subconscious so that your inner self recognizes and accepts the change you are intending to create.”*

Other rituals might be more elaborate, involving several steps to help you accomplish the desired goal. A ritual might even symbolize or celebrate a major change in your life. These life-transition rituals are known as rites of passage.

What is a rite of passage?

A rite of passage is a ritual that marks the transition of one life stage to another. The baptism of an infant and a bar mitzva are rites of passage, marking the beginning of a Christian life in the first instance, and the transition from childhood to manhood of a Jewish boy in the second. A wedding is also a rite of passage, from the single to the married state, and a funeral or memorial is a rite of passage marking a person’s transition from life to death.

Other rites of passage might occur at other points in your life depending on your desire. For example a woman might choose to celebrate menopause by holding a Croning ritual, marking her transition from the potential of motherhood to taking on the mantle of a wise elder in her community. Or someone who has received a clean bill of health after a battle with cancer might choose to perform a rite of passage to celebrate their transition back to health.

Whatever the circumstances, a rite of passage is a ritual performed at the threshold between two major states of being. You enter the ritual in one state—single in a wedding, for example—and exit the ritual in a changed state—wedded to another in this example.

Article Sources: *Achterberg, Jeanne; Dossey, Barbara and Kolkmeier, Leslie: Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.; Rev. Jenny Sill-Holeman, CHt, RM; bluerosehealingarts.comCopyright © 2007 by Jenny