I can’t even begin to describe this book in a way that does it justice. It can be intimidating at first, especially since Jungian psychology can be a bit off/weird. I highly suggest you look up who Carl Jung was so you can have a better understanding of the points made by the author. Another suggestion is to keep an open mind while reading this book, as not everything is meant to be taken literally.
The purpose of the book is to explore fairy tales or stories by breaking them down into parts. Each one of the elements represents a part of a woman’s psyche and Pinkola does a wonderful at analyzing each deeply.
Just a brief FYI, the term psyche means human soul, mind, or spirit. Therefore, psychology initially was defined as the study of the soul.
It contains a total of 16 chapters, these are some of the stories that were studied:
- The Wolf Woman (La Loba)
- Vasalia the Wise
- Skeleton Woman
- The Ugly Duckling
- The Red Shoes
- Sealskin, Soulskin
- La Llorona
- The Little Match Girl
- The Crescent Moon Bear
- The Handless Maiden
As you can see, a few of these titles are classic fairy tales that we can find in children’s books or that have been told to us by our elders. However, after reading Pinkola’s analysis, you won’t think of them the same way as before.
At the beginning of the book and in between chapters, the author also explains the similarities between women and wolves (hence the title of the book). Yes, it sounds totally weird but the way she portrays the similitudes makes perfect sense.
Women Who Run With The Wolves is filled with ancestral wisdom. It’s not a light read, quite the contrary to be honest. I decided to take my time and read it throughout the course of a year. It’s the type of book that you could have laying around and picking it up whenever you’re in the mood. Another recommendation: don’t just read it. But take your time to do some introspection and see how the stories and explanations made by the author can connect to you. You may not be able to relate to everything described in the book, but I’m sure at least one of the stories will resonate with you.
What I learned is that “wild” is not about being brute or grotesque. Or obscene. Wild is about being authentic and shutting down whatever paradigms your Id or ego are telling you. Paradigms built upon what society expects of women. The main message to basically to ignore all of it, and listen to your intuition.
I’m sure I’ll be rereading this book several times in the years to come. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a spiritual/psychological read on self-growth. While the title says “women”, I’m sure any person of any gender will learn something from this book.
“When there is too much predator and not enough wild soul, the economic, social, emotional and religious structures of culture gradually begin to distort the most soulful resources, both in spirit and in the outer world.”Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves