A Message for All Women
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Run free and Wild like the Wolf
THE wildness of the wolf is not readily apparent in the easy manner of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a cheerful, soft-spoken woman who wears a red ribbon in her hair and a medal of the Virgin Mary around her neck.
"Mary is a girl gang leader in Heaven," said Dr. Estes, who has ordered the lunchtime special of meat loaf and mashed potatoes. "She is fuerte -- strong, fierce. We have been given this cleaned-up, Anglicized version of her. But the saints had calluses on their hands."
It was here in a quiet neighborhood bar and grill that Dr. Estes, a Jungian analyst for 20 years and a consummate cantadora, or storyteller, spent her afternoons writing "Women Who Run With the Wolves," a book that was scarcely reviewed after publication but has become a best-seller.
In the book, Dr. Estes has interpreted old tales in ways that merge Carlos Castaneda with Bruno Bettelheim, from Bluebeard to the Little Match Girl, that reveal an archetypal wild woman whose qualities she says have today been dangerously tamed by a society that preaches the virtue of being "nice." Like the wolf, pushed to the brink of extinction, the innate powers of womanhood have been driven deep within, she argues, but they can yet be summoned as tools in a fight for survival.
Dr. Estes found the wolf-woman parallel while studying wildlife biology, especially wolves. "Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength," she writes. "They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate and their pack." She also writes: "Yet both have been hounded, harassed and falsely imputed to be devouring and devious, overly aggressive, of less value than those who are their detractors." A Savage Creativity
Dr. Estes defined wildness as not uncontrolled behavior but a kind of savage creativity, the instinctual ability to know what tool to use and when to use it."All options are available to women," she said. "Everything from quiescence to camouflaging to pulling back the ears, baring the teeth and lunging for the throat. But going for the kill is something to be used in rare, rare, rare cases." She smiled and took a sip from a diet soda.
"Women who have always been taught to be nice do not realize they have these options," she said. "When someone tells them to stay in their place, they sit and stay quiet. But when somebody is cornering you, then the only way out is to come out kicking, to beat the hell out of whatever is in the way."
While she urges a liberation for women, Dr. Estes cringes at the label of feminist. "No Latina woman would be called Ms. -- that's an invention of middle-class Anglo women," said Dr. Estes, who was born to Mexican parents and adopted by immigrants from Hungary in rural Indiana. "Latina women are proud to be called Mrs. That simply means that we have a family."
She added: "The soul has no gender. I wrote a book about women because I am a woman. If I were a man, I would have written about that." The knowledge of the inner self comes mostly from hardship, Dr. Estes said. People with money and privilege have a harder time "making the connection with the natural self," she said. But Dr. Estes, who is now writing the second volume of a planned "Wolves" trilogy, said she did not believe that her own success would get in the way of personal exploration.
"No chance of that," she said. "Want to see my scars?"
Published by Dirk Johnson
Published by Dirk Johnson
Books to read of Dr. C.P. Estes
Women who runs with the wolves
Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul
The Power of the Crone
Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype