Emotional Bankruptcy Caused by Alienation from Nature

In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Estes associates Nature with the Wild Woman Self. She describes her childhood, during which she grew up and into nature.

I was raised up near the Michigan state line, surrounded by woodlands, orchards, and farmland and near the Great Lakes. There, thunder and lightning were my main nutrition. Cornfields creaked and spoke aloud at night. Far up in the north, wolves came to the clearings in moonlight, prancing and praying. … Rather than chairs and tables, I preferred the ground, trees, and caves, for in those places I felt I could lean against the cheek of God. The river always called to be visited after dark, the fields needed to be walked in so they could make their rustle-talk. Fires needed to be built in the forest at night, and stories needed to be told…. I was lucky to be brought up in Nature. There, lightning strikes taught me about sudden death and the evanescence of life. Mice litters showed that death was softened by new life. When I unearthed “Indian beads” fossils from the loam, I understood that humans have been here a long, long time. I learned about the sacred art of self-decoration with monarch butterflies perched atop my head, lightning bugs as my night jewelry, and emerald-green frogs as bracelets. A wolf mother killed one of her mortally injured pups; this taught a hard compassion and the necessity of allowing death to come to the dying. The fuzzy caterpillars which fell from their branches and crawled back up again taught single:mindedness. Their tickle-walking on my arm taught how skin can come alive.”― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Writers often write about a universal need to return to the more primordial state of nature.

Nature as a Theme in Literature

When Nature is a literary theme, the writer is usually talking about more than the flora of an area. The writer is usually talking about an idealized natural world that predated technology and industrialization. Even more than that, however, the writer is talking about that time when a person’s spirit was part of nature itself.

In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Estes discusses the emotional bankruptcy that occurs when women allow themselves to be alienated from the wellsprings of nature, but she adds that she, like many other people, retained a snippet of the natural within them–a snippet that tugs at their encrusted souls:

“So like many women before and after me, I lived my life as a disguised criatura, creature. Like my kith and kin before me, I swagger-staggered in high heels, and I wore a dress and hat to church. But my fabulous tail often fell below my hemline, and my ears twitched until my hat pitched, at the very least, down over both my eyes, and sometimes clear across the room. I’ve not forgotten the song of those dark years, hambre del alma , the song of the starved soul. hondo, the deep song, the words of which come back to us when we do the work of soulful reclamation.

“But neither have I forgotten the joyous canto Like a trail through a forest which becomes more and more faint and finally seems to diminish to a nothing, traditional psychological theory too soon runs out for the creative, the gifted, the deep woman.”― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Tillie Olsen talks about the Silences that set in when a person’s voice diminishes “to a nothing”:

Tillie Olsen and Silences: Writer’s Block

Estes says that revisiting fairy tales and myths is a way for humanity to reconnect with that primordial voice:

“Fairy tales, myths, and stories provide understandings which sharpen our sight so that we can pick out and pick up the path left by the wildish nature. The instruction found in story reassures us that the path has not run out, but still leads women deeper, and more deeply still, into their own knowing. The tracks we all are following are those of the wild and innate instinctual Self. I call her Wild Woman, for those very words, wild and woman , create llamar o tocar a la puerta , the fairy-tale knock at the door of the deep female psyche.”

I want to add that picture books, which usually can be traced to ancient fairy tales and myths, are another way to revisit the wid, natural, intuitive self.