Now if there were ever a book I would say every woman on earth should read at one stage in their lives (preferably the earlier the better) it would be this one.
Women Who Run With The Wolves is written by the author Clarissa Pinkola Estes and is already world renowned. Clarissa is an American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst. I remember a friend telling me about this book a couple of years ago, then remember being put off by the sheer size of it; it’s five hundred and six pages long. Another thing that could deter you is that the book itself is quite deep and complex, it’s not really something you can pick up whenever you fancy and carry on reading. It almost has to consume you so you can fully absorb the many messages the author is trying to portray. It’s an incredibly deep and profound book so if you’re going to begin reading it, you have to fully commit yourself to do so, then as you delve deeper and deeper into the book; this is probably the cheesiest thing I think I have ever and will ever write but, it almost feels as if you’re reading medicine for the soul. (Jesus I can’t believe I just wrote that but shit is true my friends shit. is. true.) It’s also beautifully written Clarissa is an incredibly gifted writer and I’m not ashamed to admit that on many occassion I was googling words to find out what the heck they meant, so you’ll also gain an improved level of literacy by reading this book. Get you!
One more thing I will say is don’t be put off by the introduction entitled “Singing Over The Bones” which is the first twenty pages. Here Clarissa explains who she is, how she became the gifted story teller she is today and what the ethos of the book is all about, it drags on abit, but as soon as you’re finished the stories and the gift that is this book truly begins. This is a book that I will definitely pass on to my daughters (when I become a mother that is, I’m not a mummy yet!) when they are of age to read it and I’ll sing it’s praises to any other woman who I believe would benefit from reading it, which is basically all of them.
Clarissa reveals how inside each and every woman is a wild wolf, ( ahem, just go with it) and she does this through the art of story telling. Each chapter begins with an ancient, mythological folktale which she then interprets and disects to give the reader the messages inside the tale and to convey what the story is trying to teach you. Inside each and every woman lies a knowing woman. All women are born with a strong intuitive sense (which is always right), immense creativity of any and all kinds, bountiful passion, and a strong and hungry lust for life. These instinctual attributes become repressed as we grow up and even more so by the society and the modern day restrictions that are placed upon us as women. As a result we become lost, almost as if we’re walking around on a treadmill in a somnambulistic state with no direction in life, but if we were just to listen, to delve into ourselves and see how our own minds truly work we would see what has been there all along, the true power that each and every one us possesses (this all sounding abit too deep for you yet?) If we took the time we’d see that we already have all the answers for every single question and shadow of doubt we’ve ever questioned ourselves about, yet somehow amongst the mudane activity of a morally, socially and politically enforced life these integral traits have become lost.
Have you ever felt that whilst recovering from some sort of misfortune that deep down inside you already knew this was coming, yet you continued down the same path anyway. Or perhaps you went into a relationship with that niggling feeling that something seemed off but you ignored all the warning signs, telling yourself, nobodies perfect, he will change, yada yada. Or perhaps you knew you were destined to do a particular something yet for some reason you couldn’t push yourself to do it? Oh how about you wake up one day to see you’ve spent years procrastinating your life away and concentrating on a fantasy instead of taking any action.
“When a woman surrenders her instincts that tell her the right time to say yes and when to say no. when she gives up her insight, intuition, and other wildish traits, then she finds herself in situations that promised gold but ultimately give grief”
It’s so hard to encaptulate the true essence of this book in one blogpost without taking you through each and every story and then seeing how she unearths its true meaning, the book helps you to better understand the ways of your own pysche, the many different aspects to it and how, if you let it, it can constantly play tricks on you. Clarissa teaches you why you think the things you do and say the things you say, and also what stops you from moving forward and accomplishing your own ideas and goals and how to tackle them. Because she bestows all of this information on you through the art of folktale and mythology, her teachings stay in your mind, more so then they would if she were just trying to explain the different ways of the pysche without anything to reference back to. So many books these days are trying to tell us the true secret to happiness and how to improve and enrich our own lives but I believe with how this book is written and portrayed she cracks it perfectly.
Each of the characters in every story represent the different levels of the pysche so you’re able to better understand the complexity of your own mind. For example in one of the stories is the character of the devil himself, he represents the part of our mind which makes us suffer and brings us feeling such as depression, doubt, insecurity and jealously. In the tale of The Handless Maiden there is a section in the story where the protagonist bares a child whilst her husband, the king, is away at war. The Kings mother sends a messenger to tell the king the good news that his wife has given birth to a healthy baby boy. But on the way to see the king, the messenger begins to feel tired and falls asleep by a river, in comes the devil and intercepts the message to now reveal to the king that his wife has given birth to a half boy, half dog child. The king; who represents another part of our pysche in all that is true, faithful and postive, even though shocked by the news tells the messenger to return to the kingdom and tell his wife that he will love his child anyway but on the messengers return to relay the kings message, once again he falls asleep at the same river and the devil intercepts and changes the message again to now reveal the king requests his son and wife to be murdered. The kings mother is shocked when she here’s of her sons request and refuses to kill his wife and child. She tells the messenger to return to the King to beg of him why he would ask of such things. Then the messages are relayed back and forth between the King amd his mother at the Kingdom, but all the time the messages are being intercepted by the devil therefore, all sounding more grotesque then the last. But the Queen mother doesn’t give in, she knows what is integral to thrive and to flourish. The Queen mother represents the part of our psyche which shows a wild woman’s stamina and our true instinctive nature, she will not fall for any twisted or denigrated messages. Yikes! Now I know this all sounds abit complicated, and ‘out there’ but it’s worth the read trust me. The devil represents the part of the mind that tries to tarnish our positive, productive and happy thoughts by distorting the truth. It’s showing the battle that goes on in our minds and how there is unfortunately a dark side that will always try to drag you down, belittle you and crush your dreams and tell you you’re not good enough, or you can’t do this or that, everyone would laugh at you. It’s not the truth, it’s the dark part of all of our pysche’s trying to trick us. Clarissa shows you there is a way to fight it.
On the tale of The Handless Maiden Clarissa writes;
This story, however leaves us an excellent clue; if you feel you have lost your mission, your oomph, if you feel confused, slightly off, then look for the devil, the ambusher of the soul within your own pysche. If you cannot see, hear, catch it in the act, assume it is at work, and above all stay awake – no matter how tired you become, no matter how sleepy, no matter how much you want to shut your eyes to your true work.
In reality when a woman has a devil complex, it occures exactly like this. She is walking along, doing well, minding her own bussiness, and all of a sudden – boom! The Devil jumps out, and all her good work loses energy, begins to limp, coughs, coughs some more, and finally falls over. What we might call the demon complex, uses the voice of the ego, attacks one’s creativity,one’s ideas and dreams”
There’s so much more I want to tell you but hey I’d be here all day, after finishing this book I now understand why it’s been dubbed as the universal bible for women. So if I can offer you any advice for the beginning of your 2014 it would be to go out, buy this book and yep, I’d say you’re on to a pretty good start so far.