In a few short years, we’ve definitely worked through some buzzwords- mindfulness, organic, wanderlust, natural, local and recently I’ve been noticing the word “wild”. The world of marketing finds brilliant ways to convince us we can buy mindfulness, that “natural” is enough to make something healthy and that using the word wanderlust makes us more interesting. I think various movements have contributed to the popularity of these words…the controversies within the food industry, the new age movement, efforts to support small town businesses and so on. So what’s with “wild”? Why does this word keep showing up? And what happens when you place it next to the word “woman”? In Women Who Run with Wolves, author Clarissa Estes says “an old, old memory is stirred,” but what is this memory? What makes it so powerful? And why do we want to be wild anyway?
I was at a women’s retreat recently and a teacher pointed out that for over 6600 years we have had predominantly patriarchal societies. Unfortunately, a common agenda in many of these systems has been to keep women quiet, controlled, tamed. It is interesting to think of ourselves that way- tamed (or domesticated)- like an animal. But isn’t that exactly what has happened? Even considering the women’s liberation movement and all the strides we’ve made towards equality, there are still pay discrepancies, hurtful stereotypes, abuse and oppression, role expectations and social conditioning from an early age that tells us what to wear, how to assess our value and what is okay for a woman to do.
It has not always been this way, so I hear. Even in more recent times there have been tribes and cultures where women are regarded as equals and their creativity and free thinking was a gift to the community. I think of our wise woman ancestors who were leaders, healers and teachers and I believe their legacy lives on and perhaps even their memories and infinite wisdom are inside us. Inside our hearts, maybe even deep in our bones. The words “wise woman” nudge that place inside of us; it wakes it up.
So what is this wisdom? This truth? What are we waking up? Who is this wise wild woman?
The wise woman knows her strength. She is a healer. She allows intuition and imagination to guide her. She knows there is value in working with the seasons, the moon, the sun, the dirt, the plants and the rivers for homecoming and healing. She trusts her self and knows her self. There is no single wise woman description, but I bet you know one; a confident woman who embraces all that she is, follows her intuition and seems to have “wisdom beyond her years”.
The wild woman knows her freedom. She speaks from a place of authenticity and responds to her own needs, ideas, whims and passions. She plays with creativity. She fully experiences her body. She has grown strong enough to put her own beliefs, values and permission above society’s. Others may call her silly, unique, crazy, loud, empowering or fun. She may also be quiet and thoughtful. There’s no list of qualities that make one a wild woman, but I bet you know one. A woman who wears flowing, funky or fabulous clothes that make her feel free, a woman who dances to the beat of her own drum (perhaps literally), a woman who embraces her talents and strengths and lives life to the fullest.
At the women’s retreat I mentioned earlier, there were almost 1000 women. I saw bare feet, handmade jewelry, the most beautiful creative clothing, feathers in hair, and costumes for the fun of it. I heard open conversations about love, grief, relationships, sexuality, Mother Earth, healing and “the old ways”. I thought, what would our world be like, if this was the norm? What if all women expressed themselves so openly and felt free enough to talk honestly about our experiences?
One morning at the retreat I was sitting by the lake writing and I heard the wildest noise pierce the early morning calmness. It sounded like a combination of howling and cackling. What on Earth is that? I thought. Moments later about 20 women came dancing and running by, literally howling and cackling! Arms were waving, hair was flying, sheer joy was on every face. Before long, half the place was laughing, howling, and yelling (it was as if everyone just needed someone to get it started)
We’re all wild women, but many of us have learned to be other things first and we have forgotten how to connect to our inner wilderness. We have lost sight of the girl child that climbed trees, told tall tales, had imaginary friends and believed in magic. We have neglected the wild one that plays and creates and dances. We have stopped giving ourselves permission to be free.
Celebrate Your Existence is hosting a writing series dedicated to bringing the wild woman back to life! Inspired by Judy Reeve’s Wild Woman Wild Voices, we will gather together for several weeks to play and write. There will be discussions, reflections, nourishing teas and snacks, a safe space to share openly, plenty or writing, and yes, even some howling. I invite you to join us!