It might be because I just became a grandmother, or perhaps it’s because I’m headed into my 40th year of marriage, but lately I’ve been attracted to articles and books about being a wild woman. I’ve decided to take this as a hint that I should study this phenomenon further.
The first book that made me consider writing about this topic is Clarissa Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves, which was originally published in the early ’90s. The book is really a celebration of women in terms of the myths and stories told over the years. Estés makes the point that in her clinical practice she encourages women to return to their wild natures. For the most part, those who do so are able to more easily tap into their joy. She claims that in nine out of ten cases, women who are experiencing psychological or spiritual crises are more often than not soul-starved, which means that they do not tap into their essence, or wild side. She uses the analogy of wolves, who, no matter how sick or what difficulties they encounter, manage to move forward with strength and perseverance. In other words, the female wolf will outlast anything that wants to get the better of her and drag herself to a place she needs to get to in order to heal. Maybe there’s something to learn from wolves, or maybe some of us already have.
I’ve always liked the saying “From all bad comes good,” and maybe this is what female wolves do. As Estés says, “The hallmark of wild nature is that it goes on. It perseveres.” (p. 203). Women are survivors and should do what they need to do to survive, because as she says, “Spring always comes.” This is the promise of a wild nature.
When we feel a certain stasis or stillness in our lives, that’s the time for the wild woman to emerge and stir things up. Being wild heals us, and helps get us out of our ruts, and it also facilitates transformation and change. The wild woman carries the medicine needed to get over difficult times with complete and thorough joy. And this is the case whether the situation involves getting a book contract, having a positive pregnancy test, or getting married.
The wild woman emerges on its own accord, but can also be found during the creative-writing process. In her book Wild Women, Wild Voices, Judy Reeves says that the important work of the wild woman involves giving a voice to authentic expression that might be set aside or ignored by others. The wild woman honors and even shares her sacred stories so that others can also benefit. Reeves offers Wild Women workshops where she inspires women to access the wild woman inside of them. She claims that our wildest nature often shows up during childhood when we’re drawn to something — whether it’s wearing weeds in our hair, walking barefoot in the park, wearing a lot of makeup, or filling up journals with naughty musings.
My wild-woman childhood began when I played “doctor” with my friends. During adolescence I also played “spin the bottle,” engaged in some heavy petting, and keenly wrote about all my encounters in my red-leather Kahlil Gibran journal. As a teenager, I wildly tried illegal drugs, and rebelled against our country in the 1960s, wearing an American flag as a cape.
There are no rules that say we can’t continue to be wild throughout our lives. Taking chances helps our wild side emerge. Being wild also means being fearless and taking chances, and there’s no doubt that it takes a certain amount of courage to listen to the inner voice and calling of our authentic selves. If we listen long and hard enough to that voice, we just might find bliss . . . and there’s a good chance that miracles will follow.
Estés, C. P. (1992). Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York, NY: Ballantine.
Reeves, J. (2015). Wild Women, Wild Voices. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Originally published at www.psychologytoday.com.