The subconscious is a wondrous place.
I’d been musing on an anecdote I had read once-upon-a-time, I knew-not-where and I picked up my best guess source, Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves. After some diligent searching and skimming, I found the story of interest, right there on page 284. I have since written about this passage for Orthodox Christian Network here if you want to check out the initial prompt down this particular rabbit hole.
I was honestly amazed that I found the passage. I wasn’t even sure if I was searching the right book. I haven’t read the book in close to ten years.
A brief reacquaintance with the text enabled me to realize that this is one of those books that speaks to you differently and significantly at different stages in one’s life. It is more than a collection of folktales—it is a book about how folktales teach us essential truths.
In my twenties, I cherished—and memorized—Estés’ version of “Vasalisa and the Doll” for its secrets in reclaiming and unlocking intuition. In my thirties, I clung to her tale of “The Ugly Duckling” as guidance on how to find true belonging. Here I am now, in my forties, redisocovering the Selkie and “The Red Shoes” and—surprising to me—a story about facing my own inner repressed rage she calls “The Crescent Moon Bear.”
Equally surprising is the steps the woman in the story takes to calm the Crescent Moon Bear. Like the Little Prince taming the Fox, the woman feeds the bear regularly, on schedule, each time inching closer to the bear. Finally she requests the object of her quest—one of his hairs.
Intriguing and amazing and profound that the same qualities the Little Prince uses to foster intimacy—consistency, respect, conveying safety, compassion, approaching gradually—are the same steps the woman in the Crescent Moon Bear story uses to calm the bear and her husband’s rage—and our own unacknowledged internal rage.
Consistency; Respect; Conveying safety; Compassion; Approaching gradually.
Why I am so surprised that these virtues are helpful in a variety of disparate situations?
Wish me luck in making peace with my inner raging bear and offering intimacy to reclaim my own inner child this year.
This year’s resolution: to play more.