Elizabeth Joss - 2011-11-30 Untitled Document
Women Who Run With The Wolves
Author: Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Publisher: Rider & Co
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It’s only once in a lifetime that you come across a book that really makes sense to you as a woman and inspires you utterly. Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s novel Women Who Run With The Wolves does just this.
Estés constructs the novel in the most distinctive way. She is a cantadora, or keeper of old stories in the South American tradition, and a Jungian psychoanalyst. After reading the introductory note about the author, one is amazed at all this woman has achieved. Her 28-page “notes” section at the back of the novel further demonstrates how well researched and knowledgeable she is. It is no wonder that she wrote a novel with such an apt title.
Women Who Run With The Wolves intersperses inspirational wisdom of womanhood with tradition folk tales of a female focus. Estés motivates and empowers, and most definitely makes the reader think about what it means to be a woman. She does this by rewriting folk tales, drawing out how powerful females are despite being undermined through much of history. She reverts to the roots of female nature and examines this using the Wild Woman archetype. Her analogy of the woman as a wolf thriving in a pack remains something to ponder about. She argues that women no longer have a sense of community and sisterhood and have thus misplaced something fundamental to their nature. Estés aims to bring women back in touch with their wild inner selves by urging them to draw on the creative arts for spiritual nourishment. The first chapter, “The Howl: Resurrection of the Wild Woman” and the afterword, “Story as Medicine”, illustrate the journey that Estés takes us on.
Arguably one of my favourite books, Women Who Run With The Wolves is a must-read for any well-read woman needing inspiration or words of wisdom. This book is filled with knowledge about the psychic needs of women through the centuries and can help us become more in touch with our inner selves. Filled with layers of folk tale anecdotes theorising the female self, this book leaves the reader both challenged and changed.
To quote Estés, “Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness […] she arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts” (p 27).