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hollygolightly

Chapter One

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hollygolightly

Starting chapter One this week

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Shawnee

I've read the Introduction but still have to read Chapter 1 ... I'll try to get to that today!! :) But it looks like it is going to be a very interesting book, good premise. I like the idea of returning to the strength and wisdom that is our natural birthright!!!

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hollygolightly

I've read the Introduction but still have to read Chapter 1 ... I'll try to get to that today!! :) But it looks like it is going to be a very interesting book, good premise. I like the idea of returning to the strength and wisdom that is our natural birthright!!!

Hi Shawnee I'm still in the Intro too! i Think a week for a chapter should be good, as they are looong. I like the strength and wisdom at our roots also, its like this deeper knowing and power that we have always had but forget about.

I'm truly nerding out (excited) that I have other people to read this with :)!!

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Shawnee

I think the Introduction is a bit difficult to read... I hope it doesn't bog people down too much so they quit reading the book! I think once we get into the Chapters (which I still have to start! -- but I think they are going to be more "story-like" and thus easier to read), the stories are going to draw us into certain truths and associations that we can both relate to and learn from.

But in the meantime... there were a few parts of the Introduction that especially resonated with me. I like these statements:

"A woman's issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness. No, that is what has already caused millions of women who began as strong and natural powers to become outsiders in their own cultures. Instead the goal must be the retrieval and succor of women's beauteous and natural psychic forms."

I think it's true that women are expected to behave certain ways and fulfill certain roles. And so we often get trapped into non-authentic ways of being. Even if we do assert ourselves, then we might be seen as b-i-t-c-h-y whereas a guy would be seen as assertive. But it goes beyond that. just the idea of figuring out who we are and being true to that seems to be threatening to society/cultural norms a lot of the time! Even women are "taught" to disapprove of those women who seek authenticity in many cases! But the Intro promises that through the relating of various stories we can dig down past these "conditionings" and find our true nature (the "wild woman") and understand our own innate wisdom. -- I hope she's right!! :)

Estes promises that "once women have lost her and and then found her again, they will contend to keep her for good.... for with her their creative lives blossom; their relationships gain meaning and depth and health; their cycles of sexuality, creativity, work, and play are res-established; they are no longer marks for the predations of others; they are entitled equally under the laws of nature to grow and to thrive. Now their end-of-the-day fatigue comes from satisfying work and endeavors, not from being shut up in too small a mind-set, job, or relationship. They know instinctively when things must die and when things must live; they know how to walk away, they know how to stay."

I like the idea that we innately know these things! I think a lot of us have really given away our power and have lost that connection with trusting ourselves to "know" what is right for us. And probably a lot of us have no idea how to regain that ability (at least that is the case for me!!!) So I am hopeful that Estes is right that we can be set on that path through story-telling. (I guess it makes sense when you consider how fairy-tales have been handed down over the ages, Estes does make a comment to that effect.)

On p. 10 Estes lists a whole lot of characteristics that indicate a "disrupted relationship with the wildish force in the psyche". I'm sure many of us would identify with many if not most of the items on that list!! (they include feeling fatigued, frail, depressed, powerless, chronically doubtful, blocked, unable to follow through... and many more. For example, I could see how I can relate to fearing to reveal myself, becoming conciliatory or nice too easily, and more.

She says "a healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving." She says we carry everything we need for healing and everything we need to be and to know. She says we can draw on our innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing. Of course, the next question is how to find "the wild woman"!!

Estes explains that she is trained in ethno-clinical psychology which emphasizes the study of the psychology of groups and tribes. In her own clinic she uses stories to help women return to their wildish natures. She says they follow dream material as well as physical sensations and body memories. She says she teaches a form of interactive trancing that produces stories that elucidate the client's psychic journey. But I don't know exactly what this means. She said "We elicit the wildish Self through specific questions, and through examining tales, legends, and mythos. Most times we are able, over time, to find the guiding myth or fairy tale that contains all the instruction a woman needs for her current psychic development. These stories comprise a woman's soul drama."

Again, I'm not sure what that means or what that involves. I know certain stories "resonate" more with me ... like, why do I remember some stories I read in my school days and not others? Do they hold more meaning for me and could they provide clues to me as to where my work lies? I've oftentimes wondered about that!!

She is a big fan of using art and crafts to help "feed the soul". And she sees this as a way to "soften old scar tissue, balm old wounds, and envision anew, thereby restoring the old skills that make the soul visible in down-to-earth ways."

But she especially loves working through stories. "Stories are medicine", she writes. "They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything -- we only need listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.... Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life."

So this is to be a book of stories she has collected that she believes best express "the bounty of the Wild Woman archetype."

So... of course there is lots more in this Introduction. But again, I did find it somewhat hard to read since it is extremely far-ranging in ideas. (I think I may want to re-read it after I've read more of the actual book!!!) But it does make me feel very hopeful that reading the book will help heal some of the wounds that I know I still bear and maybe help me make progress in my own journey to healing and rediscovering myself.

And I'm really interesting to hear others' takes on the ideas presented here, I have learned and continue to learn so much from all of you! So I do hope a lot of you decide to actively participate in the discussions! (Even if you don't actually read the book, you can comment on the ideas we talk about!) But I also think just writing out some of these ideas helps me to think more clearly about the ideas presented here, so I hope my long-windness doesn't bother you. (But if it does, you don't have to read it all, lol!!!)

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hollygolightly

Estes explains that she is trained in ethno-clinical psychology which emphasizes the study of the psychology of groups and tribes. In her own clinic she uses stories to help women return to their wildish natures. She says they follow dream material as well as physical sensations and body memories. She says she teaches a form of interactive trancing that produces stories that elucidate the client's psychic journey. But I don't know exactly what this means. She said "We elicit the wildish Self through specific questions, and through examining tales, legends, and mythos. Most times we are able, over time, to find the guiding myth or fairy tale that contains all the instruction a woman needs for her current psychic development. These stories comprise a woman's soul drama."

Again, I'm not sure what that means or what that involves. I know certain stories "resonate" more with me ... like, why do I remember some stories I read in my school days and not others? Do they hold more meaning for me and could they provide clues to me as to where my work lies? I've oftentimes wondered about that!!

The way I can understand what she means by stories comprising a soul drama. In the way you described I notice certain stories resonate with me. But more specifically I go through moods with stories both in books and television almost like I am searching for comfort food or a medicine for my current state of being. And often I find that I follow along and get involved in the stories emotionally and so I end up working out some of my problems and sort through my emotions as well.

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hollygolightly

I was thinking this book compliments the Nice Girl Syndrome; where you become aware of self and then with this book really set off to re-kindle that fire.

Also I agree with Shawnee that the intro is a bit long winded, Estes being a story teller really likes to describe everything.

Some things I am thinking about/ resonated with me:

"traditional psychological theory too soon runs out for the creative, gifted, the deep woman. Traditional psychology is often spare or entirely silent about deeper issues important to women: the archetypal , the intuitive, the sexual, and cyclical , the ages of women, a woman's way, a woman's knowing, her creative fire."

"The comprehension of this wild woman nature is not a religion but a practice. It is a psychology in its truest sense: psukhelpsych, soul; ology or logos, a knowing of the soul."

" A psychology which fails to address this innate spiritual being at the center of feminine psychology fails women, and fails daughters(...)."

I think her thoughts about traditional psychology are interesting, although I would never completely want to veer away from ideas in modern psychology she is the second Jungian analyst I have heard discussing the idea of women's psychology and archetypes. In the book Goddess in every woman Bolen suggests using archetypes to understand women and their cyclical flows, moods, states of being. Which in a way this feels more true to my state of being.

When it is so easy to be pointed to as irrational as a woman, looking at my inner self as having a natural flow that changes makes it more understandable, normal even. I have moods, life phases and desires just like there are seasons and cycles.

"Wild woman is the health of all women. Without her, women's psychology makes no sense."

Also on being carved into an acceptable form by society, I think of the last time I was more in tune with wild self before it was shut down to be the well behaved meek and mild girl. I used to run everywhere barefoot, I would lay in the grass forever waiting for butterflies, and I used to climb trees.

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Shawnee

I like that, Holly. You pointed out some things I had missed. (That's why this is so good to do!!!)

I loved to climb trees, too, as a girl! I would often just sit up in a tree to read! (I was thinking I should get back to that!!)

I'm also wondering if I should read Nice Girl Syndrome; I haven't done that yet. But I've already started Chapter 2 and I'll have some comments on my reaction to that shortly....( I think I am having a major insight there.) But in the meantime for Chapter 1, I can't say that that one spoke to me particularly. I'll have to re-read it, it's short. But I get the impression it just sets the stage: that we are "collecting the bones" that will be put together and when they are complete, it will turn into a wolf. Is that what we are doing now? The "work" that we do here and elsewhere, trying to understand what happened to us and why, is that a form of "collecting bones"? And this work will bring our living spirit to life? I suppose that is what is meant. Maybe I'll actually just wait to re-read this chapter until later and see if it speaks to me more then!

But I'll be interested to hear your impressions. And I'll probably start a thread soon on Chapter 2 since I do have some strong impressions about it so far and I've barely gotten into the analysis that comes up after the actual story!

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hollygolightly

I like that, Holly. You pointed out some things I had missed. (That's why this is so good to do!!!)

I loved to climb trees, too, as a girl! I would often just sit up in a tree to read! (I was thinking I should get back to that!!)

I'm also wondering if I should read Nice Girl Syndrome; I haven't done that yet. But I've already started Chapter 2 and I'll have some comments on my reaction to that shortly....( I think I am having a major insight there.) But in the meantime for Chapter 1, I can't say that that one spoke to me particularly. I'll have to re-read it, it's short. But I get the impression it just sets the stage: that we are "collecting the bones" that will be put together and when they are complete, it will turn into a wolf. Is that what we are doing now? The "work" that we do here and elsewhere, trying to understand what happened to us and why, is that a form of "collecting bones"? And this work will bring our living spirit to life? I suppose that is what is meant. Maybe I'll actually just wait to re-read this chapter until later and see if it speaks to me more then!

But I'll be interested to hear your impressions. And I'll probably start a thread soon on Chapter 2 since I do have some strong impressions about it so far and I've barely gotten into the analysis that comes up after the actual story!

Yeah loved trees :)

Glad to share things back and forth, helps me keep thinking of things in new ways!

I will write a better note about chapter one tomorrow but i think your are right it does set the stage. I think you have a good idea of what that means, collecting the bones, understanding ourselves and our experiences and it can bring us back to life.

Also I think that it could mean something on a deeper psychic level. I grew up in a religious home and then later in life had more new age friends and my perspective on what this deeper level looks like is that we made up of energy and atoms just like the earth, or from the christian perspective women came from the rib of someone who was made of dirt. Either way we are tasked with taking care of the earth and in many ways we are connected to it, and as women I also think we are connected to a deeper knowing of things as well as nature.

All I can think about when I read her talking about singing over the bones and coming back to life is that someone is singing over my broken self and mending spirit and re-kindling my relationship with my deeper knowing, perhaps even psychic gifts. And I think of that healed self and spirit as being wild and adventurous and connected to things. I think dancing naked in the moonlight sounds just the kind of thing the wild woman would do because she feels good in her skin.

Also another point of view, this coming from my therapist; they suggested that as I have a void in my life of parent roles that I fill it with something. I suggested I really like the crone archetype or la loba. And she said that the singing over the bones in my life could be me finding things that I like and truly give me joy, and that could be putting all the bones together to bring myself back to life and fill those voids.

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hollygolightly

Collecting the bones; chapter one quotes and notes.

"The wold bones in this story represent the indestructible aspects of the wild self (...) Within us is the old one who collects bones. Within us are the soul bones of this wild self."

"This is our meditation practice as women, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of ourselves, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of life itself."

"People do meditation to find psychic alignment. That's why people do psychotherapy and analysis. That's why people analyze their dreams and make art. That's why some contemplate tarot cards, cast I Ching, dance, drum, make theater, pry out the poem, and fire up their prayers. That's why we do all the things we do. It is the work of gathering all the bones together. Then we must sit at the fire and think about which song we will use to sing over the bones, which creation hymn, which re-creation hymn. And the truths we tell will make the song."

"These are some good questions to ask till one decides on the song, one's true song: What has happened to my soul-voice? What are the buried bones of my life? In what condition is my relationship to the instinctual self? When was the last time I ran free? How do I make life come alive again? Where has La Loba gone to?"

I found a quote on the idea of women and connection to earth:

" I'm always take by how deeply women like to dig in the earth. They plant bulbs for the spring. They poke blackened fingers into mucky soil, transplanting sharp smelling tomato plants. I think they are digging for the two-million-year old woman. They are looking for her toes and her paws."

Being born with knowing/inner wild nature:

" Babies are born wizened with instinct. They know in their bones what is right and what to do about it. It is innate. If a woman hold onto this gift of being old while she is young and young while she is old, she will always know what comes next."

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hollygolightly

" You see, it is told that there is a place in the desert where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolves meet across time"

Estes starts us off out in the desert, maybe it is literally or perhaps the psychic desert she speaks of later on. A harsh landscape with minimalist but intense decoration. I think we feel the same way about desert spaces as we do wide open spaces with sky, or the heavens, they are empty, but full, and most importantly mysterious. The kind of place anything could happen.

It is here she says we find the wolf woman, La Loba, or the one who knows. The life death mother. This wise woman to whom we are to draw upon as we search for

lost parts of self.

"We all begin as a bundle of bones lost somewhere in a desert, a dismantled skeleton that lies under the sand. It is our work to recover the parts."

What I love most about this chapter is that we may have ended up in this desert, metaphorical or real, but we have landed on the doorstep of the frightening old woman from fairy tales, and while her medicines may not taste good she is the one who can fix all. And so she sings and cackles as she goes about her work, and when she is done we are scampering across the desert wild, unfettered, free. Free from what was killing us, free from ourselves perhaps.

" To sing means to use the soul- voice. It means to say on the breath the truth of ones power and one's need, to breathe soul over the thing that is ailing or in need of restoration. This is done by descending into the deepest mood of great love and feeling, till one's desire for relationship with the wildish self overflows, then to speak to one's soul from that frame of mind. That is singing over the bones."

For me just thinking about coming back to life and running through the cooler evening desert air as a wolf, or as a woman, but free makes some part of me feel like inner self has smelled home, joy and freedom. It makes me tingly reading about it. All to often women are asked to "be" things, so many restrictions and so thinking like a wild woman or a wolf is like a revolution.

I like how estes says " Although some might really prefer you behave yourself and not climb all over the furniture in joy, or all over people in welcome, do it anyway. Some will draw back from you in fear or disgust (...) some people will not like it it if you take a sniff at everything to see what it is. And for heaven's sake's, no lying on your back with your feet up in the air. Bad Girl. Bad Wold. Bad dog. Right? Wrong. Go ahead. Enjoy yourself."

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Shawnee

I like the passages you highlighted, Holly. They do make me hopeful, though I don't see how to get there yet!

Anyway, it has been a too-busy week so I haven't been able to organize my thoughts about Chapter 1. But basically it's a story of Bluebeard and the extremely short version is that he is a failed magician who courted 3 sisters but they were afraid of his blue-colored beard. Nevertheless, with gifts and story-telling and good cheer, he manages to win them over so they think he might not be so bad. But upon further reflection, the two older sisters decide they don't trust him. But the younger one thinks he is probably ok and eventually ends up marrying him and he seems to be a loving husband. He gives her a set of keys to all the rooms in his castle and is going away on a trip. So he tells her she can go into any room she wants, have any treasure therein, except for one key which she is absolutely not to use or enter that room ever. So he goes off, her sisters come and visit, they have great fun exploring the 100's or rooms in the castle. But of course (yes... you saw this coming!) at the end they have to know what is in the room that the small key opens, and it turns out to be skeletons and bleeding corpses of past wives. They quickly exit the room and lock it behind, the younger sister thinks he will be none the wiser, but she sees blood on the key. When she tries to wipe it off, it stains her dress and just bleeds more, she does everything she can to get it clean, but it just stains more of her dresses, she eventually has to hide it. Of course Bluebeard notices it's missing from the key ring and discovers the bloody frocks, and tells her she now has to die. She pleads for a momentary reprieve to go and gather herself and pray, and in that time she and her sisters manage to call in her brothers who are able to kill Bluebeard and save her.

So... the interpretations that follow are that Bluebeard represents the innate predator that inhabits all women's psyches, the force that opposes her. Estes acknowledges that it's hard to comprehend this "force" because it's innate from our very origin so it's almost unconscious. And so much of this chapter discusses the "archetype" of this force, what it means, how it manifests itself in either naive or wounded women. I will get back to considering some of these ideas later when I have more time, a lot of them are still pretty fuzzy in my mind.

But the thing that I guess really startled me was that when I was reading the actual fairy tale, it never occurred to me to question the sentence that Bluebeard had imposed upon his wife! Maybe it's just that I've read too many fairy tales, but as I was reading this and when he said she could go into any room except the one the small key opened, of course I knew she would go into it. But I also accepted without any argument that "of course" she would have to be horribly punished or even put to death for breaking the rules, that's just what happens in a fairy tale when this kind of thing happens! So .... when all the analysis started about what the room meant and why it was so critical she open it up and learn its secrets, I was quite taken aback because I had immediately been assuming if she had just obeyed the rules and not opened the door, she probably could have lived "happily ever after"!!!

Which got me wondering... why would I accept without question that she would not be allowed to go into one of the rooms of her own house??!!! And why would I ever blindly accept that being put to death would be an acceptable sentence for breaking that rule??!!! I mean, isn't that a bit excessive!!!! So I started wondering if maybe reading too many fairytales too young was actually a bad thing for me since it just "taught" me that terrible things are supposed happen when you break the rules and misbehave, and that's just a "fair" and expected outcome!

So this has certainly shaken my thinking up a bit!! :D I will come back hopefully before too long to consider more of Estes' analysis of this story. Some of it connected, but some I still am not too sure about. So it will be interesting to hear others' takes on it!

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hollygolightly

I like the passages you highlighted, Holly. They do make me hopeful, though I don't see how to get there yet!

Yeah even the ideas I like are still a process of integrating them into everyday life :)

But the thing that I guess really startled me was that when I was reading the actual fairy tale, it never occurred to me to question the sentence that Bluebeard had imposed upon his wife! Maybe it's just that I've read too many fairy tales, but as I was reading this and when he said she could go into any room except the one the small key opened, of course I knew she would go into it. But I also accepted without any argument that "of course" she would have to be horribly punished or even put to death for breaking the rules, that's just what happens in a fairy tale when this kind of thing happens! So .... when all the analysis started about what the room meant and why it was so critical she open it up and learn its secrets, I was quite taken aback because I had immediately been assuming if she had just obeyed the rules and not opened the door, she probably could have lived "happily ever after"!!!

Which got me wondering... why would I accept without question that she would not be allowed to go into one of the rooms of her own house??!!! And why would I ever blindly accept that being put to death would be an acceptable sentence for breaking that rule??!!! I mean, isn't that a bit excessive!!!! So I started wondering if maybe reading too many fairytales too young was actually a bad thing for me since it just "taught" me that terrible things are supposed happen when you break the rules and misbehave, and that's just a "fair" and expected outcome!

So this has certainly shaken my thinking up a bit!! :D I will come back hopefully before too long to consider more of Estes' analysis of this story. Some of it connected, but some I still am not too sure about. So it will be interesting to hear others' takes on it!

Ooh fabulous thought! You know I don't think I questioned the punishment either when reading it. I also know what you mean about you can already see it coming, it's like a horror movie and your yelling "don't go down there".

Fairy tales are interesting, I do know that the version Estes tells are much closer to the ancient versions and even the original work by the brothers Grimm. They were all more like this tale of blue beard were characters face harsh consequences for folly etc. In Cinderella the original story had the step sisters cutting of their toes in their desperation to get the glass slipper to fit.

Later versions leave out wisdom and meanings that might have been understood way back when. The fairy tales you and I might have grown up with have been stripped of some of their archetypal parts and are more one dimensional. The lost some of these elements because the archetypal elements seemed to close to pagan ideas/ magic. So instead of getting the full three dimensional picture and what the different characters mean in the story it's way watered down.

I think some of those stories growing up were lacking nutrition- so maybe we did learn not to question them. Like looking back on the little mermaid now, I would ask why did Ursula really want Ariel's voice? Did she not have enough of her own voice?

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hollygolightly

I had also been thinking about this story in terms of passivity and the predator in the unconscious (blue beard) being the thing that shakes things up. The youngest daughter is forced to grow up and her curiosity is what is helping her not blindly accept things anymore, and when you wake up and realized you are being preyed upon that really can create a catalyst for change.

In Jungian psych there is what is called the dark man archetype, and sometimes I think of blue beard as being similar. Women who have dark man dreams have them because things need to be shaken up. I don't think it is exactly the same as blue beard because it's a more helpful thing and not a predator but they achieve the same thing in the end I guess.

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hollygolightly

I found a blip on p47

" Some psychological thinkers, including Freud and Bettelheim, have interpreted episodes such as those found in the Blue beard tale as psychological punishments for women's sexual curiosity. Early in the formulation of classical psychology women'ts curiosity was given quite a negative connotation, whereas men with the same attribute were called investigative. Women were called nosy, whereas men were called inquiring. In reality, the trivialization of women's curiosity so that it seems like nothing more than irksome snooping denies women's insight, hunches, intuitions. It denies her all her senses."

The woman in the tale, like us, perhaps would not have questioned the punishment for her curiosity because of things Estes mentions above?

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hollygolightly

I can get lost in Estes description of the predator, about what she is really saying it is. As I understand it, bluebeard has two parts. The part that happens in the psychical world and the part that is more like the lurking inner critic. The predator in the psychical world could be a relationship, drug etc.

For me what really hits home is the idea of trying to stuff the wild self, the creative self, desires of self. For me it's that nice girl syndrome as well as giving in to the inner critic. And once I tell myself the truth about how I really feel or what I really want I can't shut it out " And that key, that tiny symbol of her life, suddenly will not cease its bleeding, will not cease to give the cry that something is wrong. A woman may try to hide from devastation of her life, but the bleeding, the loss of life's energy, will continue until she recognizes the predator for what it is and contains it."

I really relate to this because of how often I feel "stuck" and have many ideas for creative projects etc. yet do not seem to move forward with them, that is what I see as the internal predator, the sabotaging force in my life. And when I tell myself the truth it's like that key that won't stop bleeding. But at the same time the process of acknowledging feels so scary it can and has kept me stuck for a while as well.

The part about the brothers being that extra muscle needed, is what I think I need to feel more present and solid making a place for myself in the world. I think that masculine energy is the protector for sensitive self and it can be the part of self that gets things done.

Because of the abuse I have been working with the therapist to identify parts of self that have split and disassociated. I treat them like archetypes, some from Jung and some have personal labels. We just talked about one in particular the other day which should be the part of self that is like the woman's brothers, a protective an proactive force but mine feels very small.

" The stronger and more integrally vast the animus (think of the animus as a bridge) the more able, easily, and with style the woman manifests her ideas and her creative work in the outer world in a concrete way. A woman with a poorly developed animus has lots of ideas and thoughts but is unable to manifest them in the outer world. She always stops short of the organization or implementation of her wonderful images."

I like how Estes deals with bluebeard at the end, his corpse eaten by carrion's or sin eaters and is taken back to the goddess life death mother and reabsorbed. It's like taking all the bad things and making a really good compost. I think its helpful for me to think about it this way because judging that inner critic/predator is like judging self or hating self for making bad decisions or mistakes. And mistakes are the best compost and when something like bluebeard gets taken back into the being of the goddess it's cleansing, it's forgiveness and compassion for that self.

While the whole fairy tale seems like something you would not want to happen to you, I think Estes points out from the beginning how much a part of our life process this is. We start out naive and we don't really gain any wisdom until we have met and conquered the predator, had things shaken up, had our awakening.

Sometimes I think in my life I have woken up and other times I hear the inner critic and feel like I have to re- evaluate.

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