My thoughts on “Women Who Run With The Wolves”

24 Aug

“Women Who Run With The Wolves” is a fabulous work of art about the inner lives of women. Every chapter of the book tells a story that has to do with the psyche of women, their seasons, struggles, temptations,… The author, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, shows us that stories can be a map for us, leading the way, showing us in a gentle way where the traps are, and how to avoid them. They tell us about the seasons of a woman’s life, and how we can use them to the fullest. They warn us, lead us, inform us, nurture us, heal us.
I’m reading this book for the second time now, and I wanted to note down my thoughts after each reading session. I think it will be a great help to myself, and who knows, maybe for others too. That’s why I wanted to post this on my blog, and not keep it to myself. So let’s not waste any time anymore and get started!
Chapter II : Stalking the Intruder: The Beginning Initiation:

This chapter tells the story of Bluebeard. Bluebeard is a failed magician, and has a blue beard. He marries a young woman, who felt fearful of him first, but agrees to marry him because of his charming manners. In the end she discovers that he has killed all his previous wives, and she only escapes a similar fate by calling her brothers for help. Bluebeard represents the archetype of “the Predator”. This force can haunt women from within as well as in the outer world. This force is “filled with hatred and desires to kill the lights of the psyche”(1). Young teenage girls especially, who have not yet learned to recognise, trust or value their inner knowing and intuition, are a vulnerable prey.
This force is a natural part of our psyche, that tries to lead us away from our aspirations and dreams, and tries to trap us in a state of negativity and failure. We cannot deny this presence, but we can learn to recognise it, with experience being the best teacher. It can also be a force that creeps into our lives from outside. A presence, whether a person, a culture, a conviction, … that comes to infiltrate us and steal away our creativity, and makes us feel small and trapped.
I wonder if we can ever learn our lesson without coming into contact with this archetype and without making the mistake of letting it into our lives. I like to believe that as a woman who’s been down that road before, it would be easier for me now to avoid and contain the danger of falling prey again. God knows that I would like to protect my loved ones, like my friends, family and my daughter,if I would have one later, from such a destructive force, but again I wonder if this is possible. We can only ever learn through experience, through plunging through the water ourselves. It’s almost like a phase that every woman has to go through, to a more or lesser extent, to acquire the knowledge and maturity to not fall prey again, and to oppose this force, whether in her own self, or from outside, and to finally listen to what she has known all along.
I recently saw an episode of “Sex and the City”, where Carrie is in a loving, nurturing and “perfect” relationship with a man named Aidan. But at the same time she is being haunted by the man who broke her heart, and couldn’t commit, named “Big” (which is a nickname she gave to him in the beginning, we don’t know his real name). Aidan helped her to stop smoking, while when she was with Big, they smoked together. While she was in bed with Aidan, we hear her say something like (can’t remember the exact quote):” here was a man next to me who wanted to build my home, but out there was a man who wanted to tear it apart”. She knows that Aidan is good for her, but still she can’t resist Big. Big is in my eyes the ultimate predator. He is charming and funny at first sight, but lethal to be in a relationship with. He hurts Carrie over and over again, but can’t leave her alone afterwards. He brings out the worst in her, and makes her fall back into her destructive habits. She doesn’t really seem to recognise him as such, and as a consequence, is not strong enough to say no to him.
The fact that Bluebeard is a failed magician is an important aspect of the story. He has tried to make himself more important, more magnificent than he actually was, and had to pay the price for it. The author also mentions the Christian myth of the fall of Lucifer, who tried to claim equality with God, and was punished by having to dwell in the underworld forever. This struck me, because in Islam, we have a similar story, about Iblis who refused to obey God by bowing for His creation, human kind, and was punished accordingly. The author goes on saying “It is not hard to imagine that in such a malignant formation there is trapped one who once wished for surpassing light and fell from Grace because of it. We can understand why thereafter the exiled one maintains a heartless pursuit of the light of others. We can imagine that it hopes that if it could gather enough soul(s) to itself, it could make a blaze of light that would finally rescind its darkness and repair its loneliness.”(2)
In Islam, Iblis (or “Shaytan”)is seen as a figure who tries to lead us astray. A presence that is always near us, trying to makes us dumb and blind for the guidance of God. So the Torah, the Bible and the Quran all try to warn us for such a destructive force. But they also assure us that the “Predator” cannot get a hold on us if we stay close to God (or the good in us, and around us), for it has already tried and failed miserably to be equal to Him. So there exist a counterforce in and around us that can protect us from this archetype, if we will only listen to its guidance.
(1) Women Who Run With The Wolves, C.P Estés, p 42
(2) Women Who Run With The Wolves, C.P Estés, p 42

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3 Responses to “My thoughts on “Women Who Run With The Wolves””

  1. Marahm August 26, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    I’ve read this book, and I’m due for a second reading. It’s not the kind of book you digest quickly or easily, but like a full, nourishing meal, it sticks with you.

    I was impressed with the author’s ability to portray myth in the light of archetype, and bring it all home to ordinary life.

    Do you study Jungian psychology?

  2. goldenraindrop August 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Marahm 🙂

    I don’t study Jungian psychology, but it’s definitely an interest of mine!
    I was impressed with this book too, and I think every time you read it again you will find more treasures, and more ways to impliment it in your life. Writing about it also makes me remember more if what it said, and helps me to really internalise its meaning.

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. Thaumauturgist September 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    let me know if you are interested and I will send you a mail with more details…

    I was thinking aspiring writers on WP, should do some writing together, you know N.O.W (NIGHT OF WRITE) or some writer’s challenge. It will be a great way to keep in touch, get better at writing and have fun. More details in the mail which I WANT to send …

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