Wildlife and the Wild Woman are both endangered species.
- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD
She had me with the first freaking sentence. The book is Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Immediately, I knew it was finally time to read this book… and that I wanted to share this experience with others.
Perhaps the latter is why I hadn’t read it before. I was missing the others. It’s been sitting on my bookcase for more than a decade, waiting for the right time. Every time I opened it the words looked like Latin to me. It was as if some strange filter was in place to make my own language incomprehensible to me, a protection perhaps from that which I was not yet prepared to encounter.
You couldn’t have pried this book from my possession in all the years since I purchased it, although many others came and went in this time. This book feels sacred to me. Yes, even before I’d read the first word. The attraction, the knowing that this was for me was unusual but incredibly powerful. I honored it and waited for something to shift.
A few weeks ago, a friend told me of a vision she’d seen while we were at a White Tantric Yoga workshop together. Basically, it was me… with wolves. She said the vision came and went throughout the day and that she thought it might be time for me to read this book.
And so it is. I’ve started and this book is rocking my world. It holds the answers to questions I’ve been asking for 20 years. I could sense something important was missing from my experience, something powerful in my understanding of myself. I’ve been searching for my spiritual history as a woman, for that which connects me to the divine and all women, for an understanding of and access to that which I could sense was already mine. I long to have a sincere relationship with that primal part of myself, that which Estés calls the Wild Woman. I’ve only encountered her in a handful of rather extraordinary moments throughout my life but I can feel that finding a way to align with that energy regularly, to bring forth the spirit of the Wild Woman, is an essential part of my healing.
Within the first few pages, I found the excerpt that follows. I felt both stunned–that someone I’ve never met could so accurately describe this longing–and deeply affirmed–that my intuition was right about what I needed in order to continue healing.
What are some of the feeling-toned symptoms of a disrupted relationship with the wildish force in the psyche? To chronically feel, think, or act in any of the following ways is to have a partially severed or lost entirely the relationship with the deep intellectual psyche. Using women’s language exclusively, these are: feeling extraordinarily dry, fatigued, frail, depressed, confused, gagged, muzzled, unaroused. Feeling frightened, halt or weak, without inspiration, without animation, without soulfulness, without meaning, shame-bearing, chronically fuming, volatile, stuck, uncreative, compressed, crazed.
Feeling powerless, chronically doubtful, shaky, blocked, unable to follow through, giving one’s creative life over to others, life-sapping choices in mates, work or friendships, suffering to live outside one’s own cycles, overprotective of self, inert, uncertain, faltering, inability to pace oneself or set limits.
Not insistent on one’s own tempo, to be self-conscious, to be away from one’s God or Gods, to be separated from one’s revification, drawn far into domesticity, intellectualism, work, or inertia because that is the safest place for one who has lost her instincts.
To fear to venture by oneself or to reveal oneself, fear to seek mentor, mother, father, fear to set out one’s imperfect work before it is an opus, fear one will run on, run out, run down, cringing before authorers, loss of energy before creative projects, wincing, humiliation, angst, numbness, anxiety.
Afraid to bite back when there is nothing else left to do, afraid to try the new, fear to stand up to, afraid to speak up, speak against, sick stomach, butterflies, sour stomach, cut in the middle, strangled, becoming conciliatory or nice too easily, revenge.
Afraid to stop, afraid to act, repeatedly counting to three and not beginning, superiority complex, ambivalence, and yet otherwise fully capable, fully functioning. These severances are a disease not of an era or a century, but become an epidemic anywhere and anytime women are captured, anytime the wildish nature has become entrapped.
She continues with a vision of a healthy woman…
A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving. Yet, separation from the childish nature causes a woman’s personality to become meager, thin, ghostly spectral. We are not meant to be puny with frail hair and inability to leap up, inability to chase, to birth, to create a life. When women’s lives are in stasis, or filled with ennui, it is always time for the wildish woman to emerge; it is time for the creating function of the psyche to flood the delta.
How does Wild Woman affect woman? With her as ally, as leader, model, teacher, we see, not through two eyes, but through eyes of intuition which is many-eyed. When we assert intuition, we are therefore like the starry night: we gaze at the world through a thousand eyes. – “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” page 9.
I read only the introduction in the first sitting. It took my breath away to see myself, my journey, revealed on pages that were written before my journey into adulthood even began. I didn’t want to keep reading, to take in more, concerned I would miss something. I wanted to pace myself, a concept that is strangely foreign to me.
That’s one of many reasons why I’ve chosen to host this book study. By digging into a single chapter each week, we can really process what’s being offered. We can integrate the teaching into our experiences. We can make these truths our own. Also, by cultivating a community to share and reflect throughout the process and by sharing our experience as we journey through this powerful book, we are calling forward this most powerful part of ourselves. Together… we are stronger.
As we dig into the introduction this week, I’m interested in hearing if what I’ve offered here resonates for you. Have you experienced this longing too? Are you searching for that which is wild within you? Have you encountered this Wild Woman before – perhaps in childbirth or miscarriage, through music or paint, in the woods or in the garden?
If you are interested in joining us, visit and “Like” the Finding Your Inner Wildflower page on Facebook. That is where I will post information about the weekly calls and conversation starters throughout the week. While the information is visible to all, you will need to be a Facebook user to contribute to that portion of conversation.