One Month with "Women Who Run With The Wolves"

This site is devoted to a 5-week, discussion-oriented reading of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes classic "Women Who Run With the Wolves." Our reading schedule, discussion outlines, and comments are available here for other people who are interested in reading the book in a group setting. This material is not affiliated with the book in any formal sense, but we thought we would share our process.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Christi's Synchronicity

So, maybe it is kind of gross in it's post rain stage of decay, but upon my arrival at my friend's house in which I am dog sitting, she showed me a dead crow one of the dog's had just killed.

We women won't look away from this Skeleton Woman.

I thought it was interesting as I was just back reading the chapter on relationships and the identification in that chapter of the crow as our ego and pleasure seeking side. The crow manipulates to attempt to keep herself safe.

Based on all I have been experiencing in my romantic relationship, I find this interesting. Skeleton woman is the discomfort and reward of going deep and entrancing into that life death life cycle.

Whoo doggie! So, the dog nature (represented in one tale as the male aspect) brought me my initiation into the death of the crow. whew!

I accept this challenge and choose to get deep even as my feathers ruffle at this thought.

Alexa's Dream and 2 Analyses

Alexa's Dream:

in my dream, my higher self had to visit my lower self. To enter that world, there was an industrial door, and a walkway that looked like a dingy New York subway. There was a man behind a curtain. I was with someone, a friend, but I cannot remember who. We also encountered her lower self. As we walked in, the man who was guarding the world stood in a hole in the wall shaped like a doorway, with a purple curtain hung next to him. You had the feeling that it was supposed to look official, even royal, in their world, but it just looked junky. He said that because time is different there, we would have exactly 16 minutes there before we had to return, or we would die (in a very ominous and unpleasant way). He did not seem pleased about our entry, but seemed to concede that we had the right to be there. As we walked through the tunnel we saw across the tracks a beheaded head of a man, fat and childish looking, similar to the look of the guard himself. It had rosy cheeks and was fresh with blood.

We entered this world, and it was dirtier than the world I knew as my higher self, though the town was familiar in some respects. In the dream both version of me did not look like me; I had dark, straight hair and was thinner, but I was me. The place I needed to find in the world of my lower self was a building, but the door was different here.

We came across a seating area much like the cafe in barnes and nobles, but dirtier, and there I encountered my lower self. As I met her, a man was trying to get by her and rubbed against her, they exchanged a look and immediately started kissing lustfully, and were going to go to bed together later. I got the impression that attraction was different in this world; more immediate, more base. The strange thing was that I knew him as a friend in the higher world, and there was nothing romantic between us for my higher self, who found it amusing/strange to see the pairing in the realm of the lower self. He had long black hair and was a debonaire hawaiian/native American looking guy.

The other girl sitting with lower me was someone else I knew in my higher world (maybe the lower self version of my friend). They took me to their apartment. Everything lacked intention and beauty, though I liked them both. There was a weakness and sadness about them, and they were living a life less rich than that of my higher self; they found themselves in less fulfilling relationships, doing less fulfilling work, generally feeling somewhat stagnant. there was a large room full of medicine that looked like a corner of a CVS pharmacy, but in their apartment. It belonged to the friend. The rooms were not completely private, and were designed like high-walled office cubicles. People had to share space here. My friend’s lower self was blonde and seemed to rely heavily on this storehouse of medicine to get by.

I went to sleep in a bed there, and a kitten came leaping in, up the wall, trying to catch a bug, but it fell to the floor in a whimper. I picked it up, and brought it onto the bed where I began playing with it. I couldn’t understand how it was moving so quickly, until I realized that in the folds of the blanket were two black kittens.

My lower self was eager to help me find whatever it was I needed, and we all had the sense that we were, on some cosmic level, breaking the rules. But I had a sense of urgency about my world, that I needed to find this place in my lower self realm. Walking down the street, I saw many doors, but none like the one I was looking for. Finally, I came across one; my memory of the door in my higher self was a beautiful, bright red door leading into some kind of sanctuary, but this door was dirty, old; kind of beautiful in its oldness, and behind it was whatever I needed to get.

I got this thing, though I have no idea, upon waking, what it was. It was going to help my world, and it was necessary. I have a vague memory of some kind of cape, though I’m not sure this thing was physical in nature at all. I asked my companion how much time we had left “5 minutes” she replied.

We were quickly running out of time and parted ways with our lower selves... we wanted them to visit us, too, but they told us they couldn’t- they did not have the power to move between realms. We rushed through the dirty corridor where the guard stood watch, and just was we reached the door I was certain something would attack us or prevent us from getting back into our world, but we moved through effortlessly. However, once back on our side, great bear claws tried to push their way through the door, demanding that we let them in, demanding that it was our duty. But we told the creature no, knowing that it wanted to devour us.

Nancy's Response:

Thank you for sharing your dream and for the opportunity of sharing some reflections I had and continue to have when connecting with it. All thoughts and reactions are being stated in terms of taking this dream on as my own--I fully took it on and have certainly been excited about how the dream spoke to me on many levels. What follows are some aspects that particularly resonated with me.
In my dream, I am thrilled I have the desire and courage to visit with and explore my lower self, with all of its’ dirtiness, weakness and sadness. I am getting a chance to visit with and fully look at all that could be “hiding within” yet I am impressed that I am not fearful of it, do not appear to be judging it, and want to interact with all of these more base qualities. Actually, these often-thought-to-be negative qualities are eager to help me find what I need to help me in my world. Interacting with my ‘shadows’ is the path for unearthing whatever they have to teach me. I feel deep gratitude for the gift my lower self is helping me reclaim…for her generosity in time, hospitality and selflessness during this process.
I have 16 minutes in this dream—a number that can be related to from several perspectives. Certainly if added together, they equal the number 7. In some traditions, 7 is the number of initiation. In Pythagorean philosophy, it is the number of movement of 3 (supreme intelligence) in time and space—eternal movement of eternal wisdom in time and space (7 colors, 7 chakras, 7 senses, 7 days to a week, etc., etc.). References to 7 go on and on…
In my dream, however, I more resonate with the numbers taken as presented: as 1 and 6. To me, connecting once again with Pythagorean philosophy, the number 6 represents supreme intelligence manifested in nature (reflecting in everything existent)--represented by the Seal of Solomon and containing the understanding/message of “as above-so below”. 1 represents a divine principle, the origin, the essence. So for me, when the man at the door says I have 16 minutes, I feel an essential highlighting of the process or journey I am about to enter is one with which I must bring the awareness that my heart needs to see everything I am about to experience as a reflection of what occurs in my “higher world” also (not separate or foreign from). The journey ahead has everything important to show me and teach me, is not disconnected but reflective, and will help disclose aspects of my divine purpose and my essence.
Re: the purple curtain hung next to the man at the doorway communicates the need to put cognition and rational discernment aside just for this next 16 minutes (purple is the color of the 6th chakra). Allow the process to unfold without editing for these next moments. This is supported by the image of the beheaded man across the tracks. I am impressed I did not react to this image and continue to forward without fear or reluctance!
Re: the two kittens. There are 2, representing duality (positive/negative, yin/yang, masculine/feminine, etc). They are black, which represents to me limitless potential that exists within. They are felines, representing mystery, magic, my feminine aspects. These kittens are a very important image and is one of the important gifts/discoveries to be retained as I return to my world—to remember that young, playful magic with limitless potential inherent within my divine feminine (my more instinctual nature) particularly as it plays out in this ‘higher realm’ of extreme dualities, pulls and tugs. For me, the tenderness, joyfulness, playfulness with my more instinctual nature needs to retained in a way that helps me rise above the normally insane-making dualities of this world—not so much to work at it or explore it with my very discerning mind…simply to play, allow the connections to unfold, and to hold a sense of wonder.
Re: the cape as the gift. For me, capes are flowing, an expression of the feminine, portable, highly adaptable to many situations, protecting from the elements, etc. There are also many archetypal references to having magical powers in history—cloaks of silence, capes that can be wrapped around to make one invisible, etc. Capes and cloaks are highly empowering for me and have been throughout my own personal imagery ‘forever.’ In this physical realm, I wear capes all the time. I also wrap my prayer shawl around me like a cape when I meditate. For me, it is important to consciously find ways to bring capes or cape-like things into my everyday life as a way of supporting and exploring this gift more. This dream also encourages me to give myself the suggestion over the next days before going to sleep that I want to continue to explore the cape and its significance during the dream state.
It is interesting to find that the bear, in the book “Animal Speak,” as an archetype represents the “awakening the power of the unconscious.” Not a surprise, really. The unleashing of the unconscious in its wild and untamed state certainly can be destructive in our everyday worlds and I evidence the wisdom in this dream not to allow it to fully take me and my higher world over. I return with newly awakened powerful images of the unconscious that will serve me well as I continue to explore and integrate them and allow them to strengthen within me. This is all good and exciting!
Once again, Alexa, thank you so much for sharing this powerful and exciting dream!

Kathy's Response:

“in my dream” I am on an important mission to recover some part of my unconscious history that is key to the service my higher self has to offer the conscious world now. In that I succeed – I pass the heroine’s test, obtain the thing I’m looking for, get back to my higher world courageously and without misshap – is extremely encouraging to me. I am now equipped to do what I’m on the planet to do, at least for now.

I am also thrilled by the fact that I am assisted on this journey by so many people/animals/situations.
I have a conscious feminine friend who is my faithful companion throughout, who is equally successful in that she can make this journey, she has a counterpart in the lower world who she is aware of. She helps me stay on track timewise, avoiding the death penalty, and stands her ground in our mutual confrontations with scary people and bear claws. Whether this is a real-life companion or some rational aspect of myself, I am truly grateful that she is my near twin on this journey.

I feel a certain calling in that I seem to have access to wisdom and privilege in this dream – I seem to know more than the “normal” person, and have the ability to cross between worlds even though dark guardians don’t like it. I am very brave, and I am not easily fooled – I recognize what is not royal, I recognize base emotion, I recognize doors/openings that are old/traditional, but not sacred. In addition to this acute discernment, I am yet open to dialog and do not dislike the many characters of the lower world. I recognized their “less rich” reality and have compassion for their predicament. I also realize that their assistance is critical and I am doing everything necessary – playing by the rules of their world – to get what I came for. In spite of many people/places that might distract me, I maintain my focus and achieve my goal within the allowed time frame.

In my dream, I take note of the two “weaknesses” that are revealed fully to me in the lower world. One is lust, in which my lower self participates. The second is substance dependence, on which my companion’s lower self depends. I believe these are “red flags” for me – I need to be aware that the less conscious parts of myself can fall prey to things that feed my physical appetites or numb my pain.

In my dream, the male characters represent the predator part of myself that wants to deny my access to the wisdom deep within me – and which creates as many obstacles as possible. One of these obstacles is the condition of time to accomplish the mission. And this is not arbitrary, but REAL. I will want to learn from this dream that there are in fact time limitations that I will need to pay attention to if I am going to survive and accomplish my purpose. Other predator energies that have the ability to distract me are lustful. I also am shown that fat, childish, rosy-cheeked heroes lose their heads, bleed and die. In my dream, I know this means I cannot afford to be an “innocent” and I have to keep my wits about me to avoid the same fate.

I play with kittens in the lower world. In my dream, the two black kittens are the playful feminine animal nature, and there is something very good and wonder-ful about reconnecting with this energetic, spry part of myself in the lower world. I will want to sit with this positive play experience as the one encounter in the lower world that did not seem “less than,” but in fact gave me joy.

If the thing I went to get is a cape, physical or not, I realize that I now possess an outer covering that provides warmth and protection without restriction – a garment that gives one maximum freedom of movement, even when the elements are cold or raining. I also associate capes with magicians, spiritual teachers, trapeze artists, artsy types, and Dracula. They are all agents of hidden/creative/mystical/mythological forms. Have I come back with the cloak of hidden creative power that I had at some point left behind – perhaps at age 16? Or 13 (29-16)? What did I begin 5 years ago that I have completed just in the nick of time to escape the bear claws?

Week 3 Packrunner Questions

When we begin to discover ways in which particular relationships and people are not good for us, it's easy to blame the other for hurting us rather than owning our own hurtful choice of relationship. Rather than approach things from a dualistic framework (you-me, us-them, either-or), what are the advantages of looking at the situation from a unitive perspective (us as one, both-and), with the intention of finding the highest common good for all concerned? Can we both question the status quo and stay engaged with our relationships and the world? Can we learn to weigh and assess situations and seek healthy solutions rather than just throw out the "baby with the bathwater?" (p. 247, Trap 7: Normalizing the Abnormal) Kathy, 6-15-2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Packrunner Questions, Week 2

1.  As women, our own bodies share the life/death/life nature through our monthly "filling and emptying of the red vases in our bellies." Our moon cycle connects us to the lunar patterns, and as pac...krunners, we anticipate the magesty and mystery of the full moon. How can we connect with these intrinsic patterns in ways that help us attend to our internal work and care for the planet? Are there rituals or practices that enable us to go deeper, or share with others on the journey? Kathy

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chapter 1: La Loba

Personal questions from the text of the book:

"Today the La Loba inside you is collecting bones. What is she remaking? She is the soul self, the builder of soul-home. Ella lo hace a mano, she makes and remakes the soul by hand. What is she making for you?" (p.36)

-What has happened to my soul-voice?
-What are the buried bones of my life?
-In what condition is my relationship to the intstinctual self?
-When was the last time I ran free?
-How do I make life come alive again?
-Where has La Loba gone to?" (p.36)

Discussion Questions:
  • What is Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river and do you have experiences of it? How does one come to it?
  • What does it actually mean to "sing over the bones" according to Estes? Do you have instances of singing over bones?
  • Estes' definition of singing in this context is "using one's soul-voice" What does she mean by soul-voice and how does she suggest we find it? 
  • Have you experienced this "inexplicable place" (p.30). If so, how did you get there? What did it teach you?
  • What is the Wild Woman Archetype, La Loba, not? (p.30)
  • What is the story of the Four Rabbinim designed to teach us about our encounters with the Divine?
  • Discuss some of the archetypal imagery in this chapter: do any of these things hold special significance for you? (bones, seed/eggs, wolves, the desert, rio abajo rio, etc)