Notes on "Women Who Run With the Wolves"

Written by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

I was introduced to "Women Who Run With the Wolves" several years ago by a woman I met in the Virgin Islands (UK). As with all things we set our feet on the Spiritual Path, it was on time. Understand Self, “Know Thyself” as multi-faceted as we are, is like peeling an onion, tears and all. Despite knowing about the Wild Woman for over 15 years, I feel I am coming into She, slowly. There are other things that have revealed themselves for which I want to find answers.

Ms. Pinkola-Estes listed the Ages of Woman, describing the times of what a woman becomes during her life. I do not agree with this at all; I said we were multi-faceted which transcends being anything that lists, even generally, what a woman is. We can be a combination of any three or five of these descriptions at any time in our lives. I am also sure that I’ve met girls who have achieved some of these states. Depends on what state of Spirit one has entered Life. There are 15 year old crones.

I was introduced to this book several years ago by a woman whom “The mate for the wildish woman is the one who has a soulful tenacity and endurance, one who can send his own instinctual nature to peek under the tent of a woman’s soul, life and comprehend what he sees and hears there. The good match is the man who keeps returning to try to understand who does not let himself be deterred.

…to apprehend and comprehend the numinous substance from which she is made, to let it wash over him, amaze him, shock him, and even spook him.” (1)

Dancing out of control – adapting to mores dictates of a social group or society “helps” one adapt to overcompensation when the opportunity is found to lash out against what shackles have been imposed.(2)

The wild voice within: stay here long enough…stay here long enough to remove your hope, to drop your terminal cool, to give up defensive half-truths, to creep, carve, bash your way through, stay here long enough to see what is right for you, stay here long enough to get strong, to try the try that will make it, stay here long enough to make the finish line, it matters not how long it takes or in what style.” (3)

Embrace, by Allison L. Williams Hill

Becoming and be starved- not feeding the creative soul. Compensatory addiction to excess.

“Addiction begins when a woman loses her handmade and meaningful life and become fixated upon retrieving anything that resembles it in any way she can. Loss of a power of discrimination…willing to take a deadly substitute. (4)


Rio Abajo Rio river under the river


Harpy talk-bringing up an idea shitting on excuses. I just need it, if only.

Disregarding the condition of the animus. “Pretend eating” – feed the creative flow.

“It may also be that a woman’s creative process is misunderstood or disrespected by those around her. It is up to her to inform them that when she has “that look” in her eyes, it does not mean she is a vacant lot waiting to be filled. It means she is balancing a big cardhouse of ideas on a single finger tip, and she is carefully connecting all the cards using tiny crystalline bones and a little spit, and if she can just get it all to a table without it falling down or flying apart, she can bring an image from the unseen world into being. To speak to her in that moment is to create a harpy wind that blows the entire structure to tatters. To speak to her in that moment is to break her heart.” (5)

Create- from the Latin creare – to produce to make (life); to produce where there was nothing before.

Validation- are you a real artist, writer…?

When a woman is affected with a negative animus, any effort at a creative act touches it off so it attacks her.” The projects never get started, the trips never taken. These are the poisoned, dead children. “We have to go into the sludge and look for it all.”(6)

Negative animus- harpy talk saps the energy from creative muscles.

Taking back the river: receive nurturance- allow compliments and accept them gracefully.

Respond: to all that goes on around us.

Be Wild: Let go, let come, be loose, flow, feel, censor nothingBegin: feel the fear, do it anyway

Protect your time: Patience. Give it time. Nurture craft every day.Protect your creative life: “Practice your work every day. Then, let no thought, no man, no woman, not mate, no friend, no religion, no job, no crabbed voice force you into a famine. If necessary, show your incisors.” (7)

Craft Your Real Work: “Protect your soul. Insist on quality of creative life.” Let nothing steal it away from you.

Lay out nourishment for the creative life. Anyone who does not support me or my art are not worth my time.

Dirt- Middle English – excrementObscene word – Something that has become socially or politically unpopular or suspect.

Obscene- Old Hebrew – Ob-wizard or sorceress. Descansos – resting places- crosses on a time line at places that should have been mourned, still need to be mourned- Not sensed- forgotten, released, forgiven. “Where are the crosses? Where are the places that must be remembered, be blessed?”

4 Stages of ForgivenessForego – leave it aloneForebear- to abstain from punishingForget-avert from memory to refuse to dwell, to summon up the fiery laundry; refuse to recollect

Conscious forgetting means willfully dropping the practice of obsessing, intentionally outdistancing and losing sight of it, not looking back, thereby living in a new landscape, creating new life and new experiences to think about instead of the old ones.” (8)“This wind of forgetting does not erase memory. It lays the emotion surrounding the memory to rest.” (9)

Scapegoat- “details in painting, writing and with all manners of things pinned and stitched to it all the name-calling a women has endured I her life, all the insults, all the slurs, all the traumas, all the wounds, all the scars. It is her statement of her experience of being scapegoated.” (10)

Participation mystique- “A person cannot distinguish themselves as separate from the object or thing they behold.” (11)Projective identification, sympathetic magic- the ability of the mind to step away from its ego for a time and merge with another reality, experiencing other forms of consciousness and bringing these back to consensual reality.” (12)

Heraclitus – enantiodromia- to flow backwards (13)Regression into personal subconscious or return to workable ancient values or more deeply held ideas.

“…When a woman feels she has lost her touch (cutting off hands) “…our palm is a kind of sensor…we take a reading of the person’s touch. If we are connected to La Que Sabe´, we know what another human feels by sensing them with our palms. For some, information is in the form of images and sometimes even words comes to them, informing them of the feeling state of others…hands are not only receivers, but transmitters. When one shakes a person’s hand, one can send a message, and often unconsciously does so by pressure, intensity, duration, skin temperature, Persons who consciously or unconsciously intend meanness have touches that feel as though they are poking holes in the psychic soul-body of the other…The other psycho-pole, hands laid upon a person can soothe, comfort, remove pain, and heal. This is a woman’s knowledge through the centuries, handed down mother to daughter.” (14)

“Lost in her usual way with the world, she is powerful still in her pureness of soul, she is strong in her insistence on her sorrow, and this causes the thing that wishes to destroy her to withdraw. “The psychic body lost its precious hands…but the rest of the psyche will compensate for the loss.” (15)

“Initiation is the process by which we turn from our natural inclination to remain unconscious and decide that, whatever it takes- suffering, striving, enduring – we will pursue, conscious union with the deeper mind – the Wild Self.” (16)The parents’ offering to the handless maiden offer her an alternative to enlightenment. She could stay unconscious for the rest of her life.

White- color of Deathland. Alchemical albedo, the resurrection of the soul from the Underworld, Descent, and Return.

Change because one must (to wander)…”So off we go down into a different light, under a different sky, with unfamiliar ground beneath our boots. And yet we go vulnerably, for we have no grasping, no holding onto, no clinging to, not knowing – for we have no hands.” (17)

“The archetype of the Wanderer constellates or causes another to emerge: that of the lone Wolf or Outsider. Both the classical Persephone myth and the fairy tale “the Handless Maiden” are fragmentary dramas from the more cohesive ones portrayed in the older religions. What was once a longing to find the underworld beloved-became, somewhere in time, a lust and seizure in later myths.” (18)


“In the time of the great matriarchies, it was understood that a woman would naturally be lead to the underworld , guided there and therein, by the powers of the deep feminine. It was considered part of her instruction, and an achievement of the highest order for her and gain this knowledge through first hand experience. The nature of this descent is the archetypal core “of both those stories.” (19)

Alchemy- Nigredo – black or dark dissolving stageRubedo-Red sacrificial stageAlbedo – white or resurgent stage

Elysium- Greek myth- equivalent in Egypt?Place of perpetual day – dead who were found virtuous were sent, composed of orchards. Souls elected to be reborn when they pleased. The double of the outer world.“In this world, all is interpreted In the light of simple gains and losses, in the Underworld or other world, all is interpreted in light of the mysteries of true sight, right action, and the development of becoming a person of intense inner strength and knowing.” (20)

“In this tale, the action centers around a fruit tree- Tree of Life, Tree of Knowing, Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life and Death…bountiful food,…water, the primal fluid of growth and continuance…the fruit is considered to be invested with soul, with a life force that develops from and contains some measure of water, air, earth, food and seed…tastes divine. Women who are fed by the fruit, water, seed of the work in the underground forests are plumped out psychologically accordingly; their psyches become grand and carry on a continual ripening.”

“…the pear tree…bends down to give the maiden its fruit. Eating this pear nourishes…the unconscious…bends to feed her. It gives her a taste of the self…the breath and the substance of her own wild God, a wild communion.” (21) “We are eating that which we ourselves will become.” (22)

General Wolf Rules for Life

1. Eat

2. Rest

3. Rove in between

4. Render loyalty

5. Love the children

6. Cavil in the moonlight

7. Tune your ears

8. Attend to the bones

9. Make love

10. Howl often


1. Pinkola-Estes, Clarissa, Women Who Run With the Wolves, P. 1292. Ditto, p. 1293. Ditto, P. 249 4. Ditto, P. 249

5. Ditto, P. 308-9

6. Ditto, P. 315

7. Ditto, P. 318

8. Ditto, P. 371

9. Ditto, P.371

10. Ditto, P. 505-6

11. Ditto, P.387

12. Ditto, P. 387-8

13. Ditto, p. 410

14. Ditto, P.408

15. Ditto, P. 440

16. Ditto, P. 411

17. Ditto, p. 411

18. Ditto, P. 412

19. Ditto, P. 412-13

20. Ditto, P. 414

21. Ditto, p . 415

22. P. 415

23. Ditto, P. 416

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