Emma Watson asks questions to Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estés for Our Shared Shelf. (Aug, 2017)


Emma Watson รวบรวมคำถามจากแฟนๆ บนคลับชมรมหนังสือ Our Shared Shelf นำมาถาม Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estés ผู้แต่งหนังสือ Women Who Run With the Wolves ซึ่งเป็นหนังสือที่เอ็มม่าเลือกมาแชร์ประจำเดือนมีนาคม-เมษายน 2017

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"ข้อความจาก Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estés ถึงชาว Our Shared Shelf..

Thank you everyone for your questions. I’m sorry to have taken so long to answer for it takes me a long time to think things through and then to write in response to you. I have also been saving up for eye surgery for as you know, sometimes in age, you lose your acute sight, even though inner sight grows stronger yet. Soon I will be able to read text more easily again. It meant the world to me that you all asked such good questions, and especially dearest Emma, Summoner of 'the people of the book tribe,' thank you so much for bringing my work before the eyes and hearts of all dear readers here. May all be watched over and kept safe till our paths may cross again. In the meantime, I promise my prayers to you all, for your callings and intentions. Remember: All the good you are seeking, is also seeking you. Hold that thought. 
This comes with love, Dr.e

Q (from Christina): Akin to the dark themes in Bluebeard, women in contemporary modern society still face "imprisoning" phenomena like the proverbial glass ceiling and social typecasting. Globally, in less developed parts of the world, the picture grows even dimmer. Other than the more "momentous" events like marches and protests, what are some everyday tools, means, acts with which women can unite in a modern, effective way to break through the myth-holding meta-narratives? 

A: Dear Christina; I can say what I teach and what I do here where I am domiciled: create small groups of support and help, push for, protect, teach, act LOCALLY. The world is made like a giant clock. We can tune the gears to be in better balance in the smaller cultures we all live in. The world clock can ever be better attuned thusly. Educate people so they can know with certainty how to think clearly, how to use their wild instinctual natures to look behind things, underneath things to see what the motives truly are, to test assumptions, to find the ways through, leap like a wolf over walls set against goodness, do an end run, and throw a Hail Mary Pass, meaning, take chances. Your soul, your ever-inquiring child spirit, your goodness of mind, your sanctity of heart will ever guide you. And I know you know not to go off with someone with a beard that looks oddly blue, that will take you from your gifts and gut you. Instead, with wisdom and determination, you go toward what gives light in order to light what is not yet fully lit. Be the first, or the only, or the last one, or one of the many of great good. All shine so others can also see the ways through.


Q (from Kathy): Which female character or characters (from traditional folktales) do you believe would be the best guide for women today? Why? 

A: Dear Kathy, suddenly my fingernails grow long and my hair all white and askew [well the long white hair part is already true, lol] and I step into my mortar and pestle and row through the night seeing just what and whom needs my touch and my prayers. Baba Yaga! She would be but one. I purposely wrote Women Who Run with The Wolves in a certain pattern, with certain poems, family stories, vignettes, autobiographies and commentaries meant to flow into each other in a certain order, with stopping, resting and contemplative places in the text placed just so. I wrote each chapter and often enough each page to stand alone, so one could stop and start easily, if one wished. Thereby each heroine including those who made errors, those who willed out at the end, are all part of our individual psyches. We are the naive sister in Bluebeard until wised up, we are Vasalisa, we are the Handless Maiden, we are the Yaga, we are the Match Girl. We are made of many selves in a sense. Some become background as we learn and grow, some take the lead at different times of our lives. It is not by rote, but again, a customised endeavour. You know yourself best, and by using your wildish impulses and instincts, you know the best way/model for you.


Q (from Alisa): This is brought up as an element in the Vasalisa tale - the jealous/envious stepmother/stepsisters. Vasalisa combats this by casting off her meek nature, reclaiming her intuition and strength, and coming back with the skeleton fire. What are your suggestions for practical application? What is the best way to work with jealous, envious, verbally abusive women? Hypocritical women? How do we reach out to women that are out of touch with their inner feminine and are commandeered by the patriarchy and align with patriarchal values? In a nutshell, women that are "anti-feminist" and don't value intuition, feminine connection, and sisterhood (no matter what they identify as)? Do you think this is making reclaiming the inner feminine more difficult?

A: Dear Alisa; in my family there are many tales in which there is a jealous antagonist. Folklore is filled with them as are mythos and classical works [King Lear, McBeth, La Taviata, Carmen, just to name a few oldest works]. I would like readers to recall that we can learn much by laying aspects of our lives alongside the storyline/ leitmotifs and asking, where is this in my life, subjectively [within] and objectively [outside ourselves]. 

Often one will find correspondence subjectively and objectively. The subjective sense of jealousy/envy we can repair in ourselves as we see fit using not ego, but spirit and soul’s eyes to see what is best value for the wholeness of true self. The outer world may be changed also by our display of having mastered what in curanderismo we call invidia, which means a sickness of 'a twisted heart.’ Meaning our heart of understanding can often assert itself over the ego who keeps a scorecard. 

The heart of understanding has a larger view, what I call ‘the aerial view’, meaning seeing from all sides and from above, knowing another person has a troth with Greater [or ‘lesser values’] in ways we may never comprehend, and that sometimes ‘love and limits’ is the best we can do to preserve ourselves with some of the harmful, limiting, aspects/cultural norms/persons outside ourselves. [As you likely see in my works and in my life’s works, there can also be a time to fling oneself forward in wise plan, in full battle dress with all flags burning…Knowing the difference between love and limits and full metal jacket, is the ultimate wild consciousness]

Most often people’s hearts and minds are filled with love, some dammed up, and often that dam is broken open by loving ways from others. I think it is useful to remember that everyone is suffering about something, and to let each soul know, as you are called, that you want peace and health and happiness for them regarding their concerns. It can be giving a tiny gift. A little card hand written, a hand on the arm, soft eyes. A smile. We never know how we might influence others to good and better. 

And while saying that, too, in full awareness that some hearts twisted will not at our care, be untwisted, for any number of reasons. And to strive to plant good seed: go toward those who may be able with your ministrations over time, to soften and speak to you about their travails. For what twists the heart often and seeks to limit others, is trauma and travail. Some of us decide never to become cruel because we were treated cruelly. But some few take bitterness as their shield against further hurt. We hope to show ways to be better, not bitter. But also, there is an element of destiny in how we all react to pain/exclusion/hammering. 

The wild balance is in assessing each event, condition where in anyone of any gender is abusive from a base of envy and woundedness. We have to take into account our resources of patience, time, wisdom, and either go near the wounded a little, or only from time to time, or not at all for now. These assessments can change from day to day; first is to preserve one’s own spirit and not become tangled as Match Girl does in lighting matches to dream on a fantasy of ‘what could be’ 'if only'…['if only' being a wonderful phrase that tells us our hopes and dreams about many things, but also can cause us to persevere on fantasies that are not able to be made into reality, and must be left to rest until perhaps someday, somehow, there is more evidence that a transformation hoped for can take place. 

I could write a library about the twisted heart, for so many wounded, carry one sometimes, and it is like cutting off their heart’s circulation in a way that is terrible for them and often deleterious for others. Please allow me to just say this then before this does turn into the equivalent of a long epistle. At the end of the Vasalisa story, she is given a skull that emits fire. With this fire she can see in the dark, every and anything. This is the insightful and instinctual intuitive nature that has been restored to her as before she was a dummling believing in good where there was none, bowing to cruelty out of a sense of duty. 

But as she goes toward the forest toward her home, the skull grows so heavy, she thinks to throw it away. In other words, what we see when we are fully in the wild nature, can sometimes be hard to bear… such as deep wounds in some that are not yet ready to be healed and yet the person spews and spews because of the wound. That is so very hard to see, so very hard to bear…for most of us came as healers to this earth, and it is so heart aching to see wounds we cannot touch. For now. 

Compassion for those who still live unlit, is a requirement of all who hope to heal our world. And also strong boundaries and resistance against what seeks to harm our worlds. Knowing the difference again, differentiation, is the critical aspect the wild is expert in.

The balance of compassion in action and boundaries well built, is carried in each soul’s mind and heart, spirit and body, and when carrying the fiery skull of Vasalisa via the mother of all mothers, the Baba Yaga creators, we can see behind, into, underneath and beyond…the conditions each person is in…and in some cases, give the heart of compassion wrapped in a soft blanket, and in other cases, as in the Vasalisa story, burn in ourselves what does not have a heart of compassion, to ash, to a mere cinder, to be returned to the earth, to fall down into humus and start over again. 

The great Feminine to my knowing is a dynamic force in the universe and seeks to inhabit, as does Eros, a place in every heart. It is important to remember that much space is taken up in a heart when the heart is filled with unhealed wound. Then there is not domicile for the Feminine. But as the heart is helped and healed—not to trust others—but to trust oneself—so too, often, bit by bit, the heart can fill with the values and presence of the Wild Mother. 


Q (from Jacinta):  How did you get the idea or inspiration for the phrase "Dogs are the magicians of the universe"? It makes me think of all of the different interpretations people could make of it. 

A: Dear Jacinta: Farm dogs, rural dogs, but also most city dogs too, often melt the hearts even of the most closed persons. I believe canine and their magical ways come from being fierce protectors, absolute forgivers of others' trespasses, joyful greeters no matter the weathers surrounding. Dogs and wolves, as you know are family. I know Wild Woman at her best also shares in the beatific traits of the canine.

" Q (from Ross): Does she think the interconnected world we have now is better environment for expression of the wild women, freedom of ideas through the internet, or does the artificial detached nature of the technology impede the wild woman.

A: Dear Ross: I would say only this, one could Ross, write an encyclopaedia on the brain science, psychology, sociology of any new/disruptive technology such as the immense digital world. I train hundreds of mid-career professionals and helper/healer students from across the world every year, in my works. 

I emphasise ‘face to face’ works/exchanges always. For we are sensory creatures of at least 5 and some note, more senses that that, and we are in some ways like cameras and in other ways like mine sweepers as helper/healers, taking into sensory account the temperatures and colorations of the body in face to face engagements, the words not spoken by looking into the eyes, the embrace of hands to hands that convey warmth, healing, comfort of a kind that is immediate to body and heart, mind, soul and spirit…there is the very fragrance of persons cared for and loved, including changes in scent that occur under duress or in thoughtful contemplation. 

I grew up without television till I was a teenager, and with an 8-party line phone. We conveyed to each other in ‘the old ways’…in the presence and often shelter of one another. Often over a tea and a pastry, yes. Lol. I find the internet magical for many things, especially research into various that once we scholars/writers had to find means to travel to actual library, apply to see the rare collections. Now many are online and it is a feast, it is true. 

Facts on paper or in 1s and 0s, seems alright. And people expressing ideas online seems fine too. Much of our activist work would have taken days by snail mail and now takes often, nearly moments; so that is a boon too. And I hope to keep inoculating our readers with old school and ethnic ideas that have held for thousands of years: the hearts gathering face-to-face, beholding each other in full sensory consciousness. Tactile, sensory are the pillars of memories.


Q (from Emma):  What is your opinion on "the wild woman" for people who are transgender, agender, fluid-gender, or male - can they still find or be a "wild woman" (obviously with a different term needed) even if they do not identify as woman, or if they do identify as woman but are not biological females? 

A: Wild woman archetype is within the psychic reach of all persons Emma, just as is the archetype of Creation, or the Self. My sense of transgender, as you say, agender, fluid-gender souls, is that each is a creation, made from divine and mundane ingredients available to us all. I don’t find a ‘one size fits all’ in the beautiful creation of self.

I find as in nature, utter stunning variation and variegation. As each soul sees fit, in ways that are useful, helpful, strengthening, heart filled, caring, merciful, fierce and kind, and more. Our good instincts are basic I think to all, as are the talents/charisms of insights — and the way we put those together with our life experiences is a customised endeavour. 

Who is to say what is the final edition of anyone? I say with levity, now in my seventies, I am still waiting to see how/if I 'turn out.' Too narrow a carapace does not allow the being to grow beyond the walls the over culture seems intent to squash souls into inordinately small shapes when in fact the soul is wild and oceanic. There is not, as far as I know, and I have over my lifetime consulted with myriad crones, hobbits, faeries, gnomes and leprechauns, any final saying so about what is a woman, what is a man, what is an androgyny, what is whatever our newest words are to try to speak about the sacredness of each life. It is an ongoing work, and you are its creatrix.

We’ve plans in place to grant rights/licenses to collaborate with artists, film-makers, screenplay writers, illustrators, dancers, musicians we already know, and others to bring aspects of Women Who Run with The Wolves to new mediums. To portray, without cutting parts and pieces from the book, the many ways wild woman shows up. Surely there will be portrayals of those who are in process of creating themselves in time honoured ways --and also in ways seldom before seen and those who are resurrecting ways of creating their lives not seen since ancient times. The wild does not discriminate by cultural ‘norms.’ That’s why we call it WILD. And that’s a promise to strive to include all. I only ask for strength and life long enough to bring it. Sincerely, thank you.


Q (from Katrina): I know that there are a lot of women out there who are not feminists but fit into the "wild woman" archetype. I also read a New York Times article from 1993 where you were interviewed, and it says that you "cringed at the label of feminist." Is that still true 24 years later, especially in the world we live in today? What is it about the label "feminist" that makes strong women want to turn away from it?

A: Dear Katrina: The dear man who wrote the NYT article, as many an article about authors in the day, contained personal impressions held by the journalist. Dirk was one of two talented male journalists who interviewed me about Women Who Run with The Wolves 20-some years ago. The other male journalist was a gifted sports writer from another major newspaper. Both were delightful because they were ‘wildly’ interested in life and its twists and turns, and my works were far away from their usual beat. 

“...cringed at the label of feminist” are not my words, but are the journalist’s words apparently about his impression, though I’d respectfully not agree. I remember the conversation well about many topics [mainly because I was so knocked out that any journalist would want to speak with me about my life’s work after so many decades of working in silence], and when asked about feminism [huge amounts of the conversation did not make it into the article], I’d said that for the refugee/immigrant/deportee/ethnically cleansed surviving communities of my family and environs, that often what began over a hundred plus years ago with women trying so hard to make better lives for families and to enter into full rights in many ways…

That where we fastened our faith and determination was that we understood and supported that women ought ever hold voting rights, that women of any race were equal to all others, that taverns and saloons ought not be built practically atop schoolhouses in order to snag the young into things deleterious to their health, that substances sold to the unwitting family members that made them sick unto death including sprays and crop dusting of our food farms and fields should have transparency [telling the people what was actually in the poison and how it would affect their health and their food] and be regulated to spare the people and the plants, that mining and factory work and farm work ought be paid adequately and health conditions for all workers held as sacred…for men and for women. 

That was our way of being women of conscience; to care for all within reach in spirit and body. Much later, a wave of feminism that began on the east coast, about 1200 miles away from where we lived, did not reach our neck of the woods until most of us backwoods raised up, rural and semi-rural folk were already mothers trying to work, raise families and stay as reasonably well as possible, helping our parents, and cooking, cleaning and growing and preserving food and did I mention, sleeping? Yes, lol, that was in there somewhere too. 

If pressed to define bedeck of my soul, it would be love for humanity, although in our tradition, we tend only to call ourselves ‘the people’, and just ‘a person’ who hopefully strives to do good in the world. As an ‘old believer’ catolico, we were from childhood onward, steeped in social justice; meaning in whatever ways we are called and can to spiritually and in reality, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick, watch over the widows and orphans, comfort the grieving, heal the wounded. I’m not sure if there is a word label for striving to do those things, but those facets of our lives are what I hope through my works, can in some way touch, to leave behind a little better than when found, to be mended in a way that will hold. 


Q: (from MeerderWörter) Do you think that there are societies where the Wild Woman is cherished and nourished, and if so, where?

A: Dear MeerderWörter, I think in your heart, in the sacred wild heart of each person who vows to live out one’s charisms, one’s talents for themselves and for others. I call the people who follow my work, my "Tribe of the Sacred Heart: Scar Clan." The members are known to one another sometimes, but most times not. But if we are quiet and just feel our humanity with one another, we all can sense one another across the world, whether in Burundi, in Cairo, in Kinshala, in Johannesburg, in London, in Dublin, in Caracas, in the Arctic circle. We know one another’s hearts and we would recognise one another on sight. 

It is true there are some tribal groups where in women are cut and clamped down on in inhumane ways. There are also tribal groups wherein women have sway: and often within ancient cultural norms. Because of the diaspora of groups across the world, the breaking up of village life by wars  and in peacetime by a certain kind of gentrification, I think it is up to us dear MeerderWörter, to carry the wild heart wherever we go, and like kokopelli, the dancing enspiriter of human beings, ‘impregnate’ any who are willing with the beautiful, balanced wild nature that unleashed beauty and creativity and meaning into this world by the bucketful’s… for whomever has the eyes to see, the ears to hear...


Q: (from Colleen)  My question is what would Clarissa suggest about the wild woman in society today. With the political climate recently is the wild woman a necessity or an option?

A: Dear Colleen: Necessity. Ever. No matter the clime. Ever. Ever and ever. Wild woman is like a lush forest that provides shelter, a place for the young to grow to maturity, a desert in which all life is rich underground, an ocean filled with new life and life waning and life coming back again, a meadowland of wildlife and wildflowers, a guardian consciousness that rises up to care for and if need be, fight for. Ally with the lovingly fierce, the reasoned stalwarts. You already know what I say: This is our time: do not lose heart; we were made for these times. Go forward. Do not tarry"


(c) Our Shared Shelf

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