Book Review of Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

While I keep looking for book recommendations to grow my already exploding to-be-read list, certain books silently find their way into my priority reading queue.
“Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés was one such book that turned out to be an immersive read. The narrative is intense and compelling with a flow that is almost lyrical. It is imbibed with ageless feminine wisdom and insight. The author has used both popular and obscure folk tales, myths from different cultures and personal anecdotes as a powerful medium to lovingly retrieve, examine, explore, celebrate, revere and help reinstate the different aspects of the feminine psyche, the instinctual nature that lies dormant within. It is almost like she has infused the words in the book with something akin to ancient magic…to not just hold a reader’s rapt attention but also to inspire awareness and to remind one of the soul power that lies coiled inside everyone.
She has touched on every aspect of the feminine psyche that unfolds over different phases of one’s life. Young, naive or world weary this book provides a psychological map in the form of well expressed and interpreted metaphors and stories to take charge, navigate and overcome the challenges that arise within. She has covered various scenarios and the underlying psychological states and internal conflicts faced by a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, someone entering a relationship or struggling to be comfortable in one’s own skin, someone hesitant to take that crucial step toward realizing one’s dreams, someone veering off course on a destructive path to appease soul hunger and more. Books such as this are timeless in nature.
A must read for adults and those entering adulthood.

It is difficult to pick a few quotes from a book where every word seems to be carefully chosen with wild abandon and every sentence delivers a meaningful punch. So sharing a few extracts below to give you a glimpse.

“So, the word wild here is not used in its modern pejorative sense, meaning out of control, but in its original sense, which means to live a natural life, one in which the criatura, creature, has innate integrity and healthy boundaries. These words, wild and woman, cause women to remember who they are and what they are about. They create a metaphor to describe the force which funds all females. They personify a force that women cannot live without.”

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”

“To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings—all in the same relationship.”

“Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed of great endurance and strength. They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned with their young, their mate, and their pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances; they are fiercely stalwart and very brave”

“Fortunately, no matter how many times she is pushed down, she bounds up again. No matter how many times she is forbidden, quelled, cut back, diluted, tortured, touted as unsafe, dangerous, mad, and other derogations, she emanates upward in women, so that even the most quiet, even the most restrained woman keeps a secret place for Wild Woman, Even the more repressed woman has a secret life, with secret thoughts and secret feelings which are lush and wild, that is, natural. Even the most captured woman guards the place of the wildish self, for she knows intuitively that someday there will be a loophole, an aperture, a chance, and she will hightail it to escape.”


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