Women who run with the wolves I

January 11, 2010

I started this post on January 3, 2010 – and in reading the comments and emails I have received recently, I am inspired to finish it!


So many of us have had deep experiences of healing and mending while listening or reading the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes – or Dr. E. as she now travels through the ether at The Moderate Voice and SoundsTrue. I need to be working on my thesis – but instead feel inspired to talk a little here about the impact her work had on me.

I first encountered the book Women who run with the Wolves on the shelves at my local Price Club (they are now Costco). I was so enchanted by the title – I picked up a copy and took it home. I must have been just past thirty at the time – the parent of a young boy child and struggling to balance a life as a wife, worker bee, mother, friend, gardener, chef and more.

At that point in my life – I didn’t have the depth to make much sense of the book! I opened it, would read a bit, and instantly fall asleep. I would find my eyelids so heavy, the ideas so heavy, I felt like Dorothy walking through the poppy fields – just couldn’t read it. I now know that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t in a place where I was aware or awake or listening to the summons of my soul. Life was filled with middleworld joys and sorrows and contentments. I was finally doing the ego work of the First Adulthood. I was a late bloomer for sure!

Fast forward a dozen years or so – to a time of immense pain and terrible soul suffering. Salmon Boy (my therapist) recommended that I read WWRWTW – and I told him I just couldn’t, that I had tried before. Yet – because he was a midwife to my emerging soul life – he knew that this would one day be a pivotal work for me so he waited, patiently, as all good therapists do and tried again.

This time – he loaned me a very old, very well worn, tattered audio cassette – Warming the Stone Child. I have written a lot about that here and there and everywhere – the powerful impact it had on me. Clarissa became the mother I had always hoped for – and through her teaching stories, she was the too good mother, the milk mother, the good enough mother and the fierce mother – all in the span of one audiotape of amazing stories. I listened to that tape every day for weeks – maybe months… and then I was ready to tend to my own internal mother and to also branch out into other soulwork. Dr. E’s teaching were an important core element of my soulwork. Listening to the audio work was the missing piece for me to finally begin to grow up and find meaning in the second half of life.

Once I heard her voice – it changed everything about WWRWTW for me. I realized it wasn’t a book I was ever going to read cover to cover – even though millions of women did just that! It was more like a bible for me – more like a sacred text. A book that I would open, whisper a soft prayer of hope, and open it to a teaching story or idea – and see what would come up. And it was always something juicy, nourishing, and succulent. My soul was so well fed during this time!

Knowing the magic of hearing – and the power that had on me – I bought a CD of WWRWTW – and just as with the tape – I listened to it as if my very life depended on it. And my life did depend on it. Through all the other things that were going on my life – this was a constant strand that kept me connected to Mother Night’s fire. In attachment theory – we talk about a secure base – and the need that children (and adults!) have for that stable place that we can venture out from and return to. Dr. E’s audio work has been that secure base for me.

Thank you Dr. E. AND I am so excited about The Dangerous Old Woman – Myths and Stories of the Wise Old Woman Archetype that will soon come out in audio from Sounds True.

Stay tuned!



  1. W.W.R.W.T.W. has changed my life.I have been in recovery for 20 years now, and all of the doctors work has been like the candy sprinkles on the cake for me. I too cannot wait for her new work. In the mean time I have much of her other writins. I am an artist and her c.ds on the creative fire touch my soul deeply.She is very blessed and gifted we are so lucky to have found her words!

  2. I revisit W.W.R.W.T.W at least every two months. I am working, working, forever working on finding my place where I, too, can run. I do not above all else want to suffocate.

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