Human condition: Wild

“… the maiden represents the heartfelt and formerly sleepy psyche. But a warrior-heroine lies beneath her soft exterior. She has the endurance of the lone wolf. She is able to bear the dirt, grime, betrayal, hurt, loneliness, and exile of the initiate.” (pg.452)

“In the underworld birth, a woman learns that anything that brushes by her is a part of her. Sometimes this differentiation of all aspects of the psyche is hard to do, especially with the tendencies and urges we find repulsive. The challenge of loving unappealing aspects of ourselves is as much of an endeavour as any heroine has ever undertaken. … For the majority of women, mothering and raising the internal selves is a creative work, a way of knowledge, not a reason for becoming unnerved.” (pg.467)

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Women Who Run with the Wolves

I hope you come into this life chasing fire,

opening your eyes and your hearts,

your selves to the deep inner wisdom

and the universe within,

dear sister,

your sacredness belongs to you –

your body;

let me say that you need not share it to feel worthy,

nor share it to belong,

nor share it to conform,

you need not share it because someone looked at you

and said a thousand things you didn’t know you could say to yourself,

you need not share it because you fear not being enough,

you cannot measure how worthy you are

as a goal or a place to get to,

it is not some distance on the horizon,

an arbitrary shape or a number on the scale,

you cannot step onto it in the morning 

or in the evening 

or at any point during your day,

your worth, dear sister,

is you as every self conceivable;

the you in the mirror

and the you screaming at the sky,

the you drowning in the sea of your emotions

and the you laughing as the wind tickles your skin,

the you running a marathon

or the you sleeping til past noon,

the you showing up

and the escape artist in you,

how many selves are layered into the body that you wear?

take the kindness to know them,

every existence in the fire,

burning and untamed,

every existence in the waters,

flowing and alive,

every existence in the winds,

idealistic and poetic,

every existence in the earth,

erotic and sensual,

every existence in the shadow,

dying and liberated

in the darkness of the womb,

new beginnings

in the light of the dawn,

flesh, blood and bone,

an incantation to the wild;

sister,

wisdom is knowing your worth from inside out,

wisdom is knowing you have the power to know yourself,

wisdom is the work of a lifetime,

your birthright to being human,

look in the mirror and see,

you are the mystery

and the key,

the story 

and the teller…

the myth and the living,

embodied wisdom, 

truth and life.

This poem was inspired by a conversation, mostly one-sided, that I overheard between two guys a few days ago whilst waiting for the train. I remember thinking that I was glad the person sitting next to me wasn’t the person standing and asking questions, and right on the heels of that thought, I heard, “So how old is the slut you’re fucking?”

Shock ricocheted through me before the train came and I was gone. To me this feels like a conversation worth unpacking… not also because I felt a visceral repulsion or the coincidental timing of it… but because being a human being makes us part of this conversation.

Where were the women that shaped the experiences and life of a boy barely a man, posing this question? The question reveals more about him than his friend, who mumbled a reply that suggested he’d rather drop it… yet wasn’t quite willing enough to push the point across or defend his partner between the sheets.

It occurred to me later that the girl in question was, fucking his friend and not him. Was his remark, then, a defence mechanism for his own buried insecurity? Was he ever loved by his mother? Where did he learn to denigrate women with this double standard? Did women exist in his life or did his perspective come from men who simply passed on misogyny? Was everything just left to porn?

What immediately occupied my thoughts as I left, was my hope that she’d drop them both… and that for her to do that, what would have to shift?

The asking reflected back to me my own experience with self-worth. This particular moment, this conversation… I discovered, was one way to see the wound and feel into what is needed, what I needed.

I found myself pulling this classic Women Who Run with the Wolves, off the shelf to look for a quote and though I know I fell in love with Dr. Este’s writing… it still felt like a jolt – how much power lies in her work and how deeply rooted it is. If a hypothetical apocalypse came… and I had a time capsule to save three books, this would be one of them. Her wisdom is timeless.

“The ways and means of living with the instinctive nature are many, and the answers to your deepest questions change as you change, and as the world changes, so it cannot be said, “Do this, and this, in this particular order, and all will be well.” But, over my lifetime as I’ve met wolves, I have tried to puzzle out how they live, for the most part, in such harmony. So, for peaceable purposes, I would suggest you begin right now with any point on this list. For those who are struggling, it may help greatly to begin with number ten. (pg. 498)

General wolf rules for life:

1. Eat

2. Rest

3. Rove in between

4. Render loyalty

5. Love the children

6. Cavil in moonlight

7. Tune your ears

8. Attend to the bones

9. Make love

10. Howl often

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Women Who Run with the Wolves

Sand