Each of us began our life on this planet in darkness, within our mother’s womb. The planet herself, our Earth, emerged out of an almost fourteen billion year process that began in primordial darkness. When we speak of the Sacred feminine Presence, however we name her, we know intuitively that she is part of the fruitful darkness that is needed for every new birthing.
Statue of the Black Madonna: Holy Wisdom Monastery Chapel in Wisconsin
In recent weeks we have been reading and reflecting upon the gift of darkness in our lives, on our call to “do our work” in the birthing of new life, however it must come, in the darkness of our lives, of our time on this planet.
To last week’s urgings from Helen Luke and Sylvia Senensky, we add the call to deep work given to us by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her name for this Dark Feminine presence is “Wild Woman”:
“The wild force of our soul-psyches is shadowing us for a reason. There is a saying from medieval times that if you are in a descent and pursued by a great power — and if this great power is able to snag your shadow, then you too shall become a power in your own right.
“The great wild force of our own psyches means to place its paw on our shadows, and in that manner she claims us as her own. Once the Wild Woman snags our shadows, we belong to ourselves again, we are in our own right environ and our rightful home.
“Most women are not afraid of this, in fact, they crave the reunion. If they could this very moment find the lair of the Wild Woman, they would dive right in and jump happily into her lap. They only need to be set in the right direction, which is always down down into one’s own work, down into one’s own inner life, down through the tunnel to the lair.
“We began our search for the wild, whether as girl-children or as adult women, because in the midst of some wildish endeavour we felt that a wild and supportive presence was near. Perhaps we found her tracks across fresh snow in a dream. Or psychically, we noticed a bent twig here and there, pebbles overturned so that their wet sides faced upwards….and we knew that something blessed had passed our way. We sensed within our psyches the sound of a familiar breath from afar, we felt tremors in the ground, and we innately knew that something powerful, someone important, some wild freedom within us was on the move.
“We could not turn from it, but rather followed, learning more and more how to leap, how to run, how to shadow all things that came across our psychic ground. We began to shadow the Wild Woman and she lovingly shadowed us in return. She howled and we tried to answer her, even before we remembered how to speak her language, and even before we exactly knew to whom we were speaking. And she waited for us, and encouraged us. This is the miracle of the wild and instinctual nature within. Without full knowing, we knew. Without full sight, we understood that a miraculous and loving force existed beyond the boundaries of ego alone.”
“The things that have been lost to women for centuries can be found again by following the shadows they cast….We women are building a motherland; each with her own plot of soil eked from a night of dreams, and a day of work. We are spreading this soil in larger and larger circles, slowly, slowly. One day it will be a continuous land, a resurrected land, come back from the dead. Munda de la Madre, psychic motherworld, coexisting and coequal with all other worlds. This world is being made from our lives, our cries, our laughter, our bones. It is a world worth making, a world worth living in, a world in which there is a prevailing and decent wild sanity.“ (Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run with the Wolves pp 457-9)
May each of us, graced to live in this time of fecund darkness, know its profound value and work to build a “world worth living in” a motherland woven “from our lives, our cries, our laughter, our bones.”
to the roots of the tree is likewise the way on and up to the spirit of air and fire in the vaults of heaven.” (pp. 15-16)
It is time for humanity to shift from “the extremes of this worship of the bright light of the sun”. Women and men who are not afraid to explore their own feminine side, are called now urgently to do this work, essential for our time, to befriend once more the qualities of earth, moon, sea and springs, to make our way “back and down to those springs and to the roots of the tree.”
“To do this work”: over and over I have read these words, heard them spoken by other carriers of Women’s Wisdom for our time: Jean Houston, Marion Woodman, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Sylvia Senensky to name just a few.
What is our work? How do we make our way back and down to wisdom? And who is there to guide us on the way?
Sylvia Senensky writes that we are companioned by the Dark Feminine, an archetype in many cultures, known by many names:
“We have come to a time when we can no longer remain silent. We are being called upon by the sorrowing and powerful Dark Feminine
“We need to know her as the source of life in the material realm, and to know her sorrow at how we have so unconsciously set out to destroy her…our Mother Earth. She is calling upon us, each in in our way to do our inner work, to become her allies, to become the best human beings we know how to be; to allow our creativity, our compassion and our love to flow to ourselves and to all life forms on this planet. This is the lesson of the Feminine we all need to remember. We need to honour our earth and all creatures, human and other, that she supports. We need to nourish ourselves, each other, all children, and the unbelievable creative potential within each human being….As we come to a place of love and compassion for ourselves, our struggles, and our own vulnerable humanity, we will at the same time begin to kindle a similar compassion for others. Love attracts love. If we flood our planet with loving and transformative energy, our actions will begin to mirror our feelings. We will come home to ourselves.”
(Sylvia Shaindel Senensky in Healing and Empowering the Feminine)