“Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Phd.: Myths and Stories about the Wild Woman Archetype:
i am working through this book that is such a relevant mirror to the psyche of the female inside women and men. it is a guide for the wild soul who creates by her own rules and is utterly guided by an internal intuition. this book is powerful and explains how the wild- female archetype is not one to contend with, distort or at worse try to domesticate, possess and control.
the innate wisdom in this archetype is what gives rich life to the inner soul of a woman and is also when gone underground what needs to be rekindled in a woman long disembodied by her rich, wild nature. it is a book that gives women the return to their true home; the wild intuitive soul that is one with the cyclical nature of life/death/life cycle and the power to create one’s life work within this ever-infinite movement.
Within the psyche, says Clarissa, is a predator that will rob women of her beauty, her creative faculties and her soul . She calls it the ” contra naturam” “against nature” part of the psyche that is destructive, it opposes the positive, it is against harmony, against development and against the wild.
” it is a murderous and antagonistic that is born into us and even with the best parental nurture the intruder’s sole assignment is to attempt to turn all crossroads into closed roads. this predatory predentate shows up time after time in women’s dreams. it erupts in the midst of their most soulful and meaningful plans. It severs the woman from her intuitive nature. When its cutting work is done, it leaves the woman deadened in feeling, feeling frail to advance her life; her ideas and dreams lays at her feet drained of animation. ” (39) She then tells a fable to illuminate this deadening aspect in a woman’s psyche and it is fierce and illuminating. it is called ” Bluebeard” and the story goes like this:
there is a man who is a failed magician who courts 3 sisters who were afraid of his blue beard and so they hide when he arrives from the forest. But he gives them treats and nice things and so they become less afraid and decide to go with him on a little journey into the woods. And so they begin to think he is not so bad. When they return, the 2 sister’s fear returns and vow not to see him again but the third thinks he is charming and elegant and decides to marry him and so she goes off to live with him in his castle.
one day he tells her he must go for a trip and she can invite her family over and gives her a set of keys and tells her ” you can open all the rooms to these keys, except this one, this one door u may not open”.
and so away he goes and her sisters come to see her and hear of this key to this mystery door and without thinking about it, one of the sisters finds the door and puts in the key and opens the door to a dark room;
“sister sister” she crys, “come with a candle” and so they light the room and see the bone and corpses of many a women who married him before. they slam the door shut but the key is dripping in blood. the bride, fearfull of being punished for opening the door, trys to clean the key but the key wont stop bleeding.
the husband arrives the next morning, finds out about the key and tells her its her turn to die. she postpones him and in the meantime calls on her brothers help and they come, destroy him and take her back to saftey.
This story is full of potent meanings. This husband/predator hides away all the bodies of women he tricked into marrying him . his psyche is one of a person who is empty of his own energy and must fill himself up on the soullife of others, this being in the story his wives. he is so empty he robs others to gain what energy he can not find within himself but nothing nourishes him so he must keep on feeding on new blood. this is the predator; the element in the psyche that feeds on drama, negativity and drains the soulife.
clarissa explains, “all creatures must learn that there exist predators. without this knowing, a woman will be unable to negotiate safely within her own forest without being devoured. to understand the predator is to become a mature animal who is not vulnerable out of naivete, inexperience or foolishness. like a shrewd tracker, bluebeard senses the youngest daughter is interested in him that is, willing to be prey. he asks for her marriage and in a moment of youthfull exuberance, which is often a combination of folly, pleasure, happiness and sexual intrigue, she says yes. what woman does not recognize this scenario?” (45-46).
The corpses of the women represent the deadening effects of this predator in the psyche. The bones of dreams, longings, creations, lives that have been disrupted, stolen and destroyed by the predator element. It is important to note that the predator can live in the psyche of a woman and can also be the society she lives in that is not giving her the support to voice her soul-life. It can be the negative voices in one’s head that say “your no good. your not good enough. you will never do anything good etc. ” or it can be an actual physical person outside of her, or an entire society that does not give space and food to nurish the soullife of a women, the intuitive life inside. Here is where we learn of the neccesity to be very aware of this murderous aspect within and without inorder to be the one who brings the candle, lights the dark room and saves the “naieve sister” from her own murdering aspect. when we are aware of this destructive energy, we stop giving it force by being that which does not judge, criticize, condemn, hurt and kill by our cold insensitve deadened ears and we become the light that awakens and nourishes the soulife deep within every woman by giving her a safe place to be.
the bleeding key is a symbol for the awareness that now knows there is this murderous element and can no longer try to blindfold her self from this vicious soulkilling aspect. it is the symol of no turning back into the unawakened state. she has seen what she has seen and must face this element within herself to overcome it, to create a safe place for her soul to live.
Women who have scary dreams of a predator in their home, and wake up heart beating etc. or a dream of a dark man hurting them is a sign that the woman is waking up to this element in her psyche through having bad dreams. these dreams are bringing this unconcious force up into her concious mind. it is a way to wake her up literally , to scare her a bit into being more awake and aware of this destructive force perhaps solely within her but also maybe within her partner, her family, her society etc. and to become the one who no longer marries this force, but becomes the light in the dark room and uses the fire of the negative predator to give food, light, and nourishment to her dreams, her desires, her creative longings, her soulife.
This story is potent because it brings out the naivete of a woman stalked by her own inner intruder and lets her arrive to be a concious, wiser, stronger woman who recognizes the predator and is no longer willing to be prey but finds she has the bones in her body, the force of her spirit and the support of those who love her unconditionally to keep her soul in the hands of the owner: her self.