I’ve been reading “Woman Who Run With the Wolves” off and on since like October. I was reading the stories in chronological order (like beginning of the book to the end) but then decided that wasn’t very beneficial and chose a story that spoke to me and what I’m going through at the moment intuitively. Chapter 9 which is titled Homing: Returning to Oneself. This chapter or myth is about a seal woman who’s pelt is stolen from her by a lonely man and is tricked into marrying and staying with the man for 3 years or something like that – the woman and man have a child during this duration but the woman during this time is also drying out (she is loosing her lust and joy and wildish nature for life). In the story the seal woman asks for her seal skin back after the time has ended with the lonely man – he doesn’t give it to her saying that she would leave him and their child to be motherless and exclaims that she is a selfish woman. I feel like this narrative happens a lot in romantic relationships with woman. So, many times we are the giver the ones who give up time, dreams, work, hobbies, energy to be there for our men or children. And when a woman asks for some time for herself she is put down or deemed selfish, ungrateful, unfit. As women we are nurturer but many forget that we too need care. This myth resonated with me because as a new mother there are often times where I am not putting enough into myself- I end up feeling drained and tired more than I am excited and replenished from life.
“Among ethnic groups throughout the world, including many in the circumpolar region of West Africa, it is said that humans are not truly animated until the soul gives birth to the spirit (or child), tenders and nurses it, filling it up with strength”.
I want to touch on this passage from the book for a moment as a single mother in the US and with hiphop culture it has been seen almost as bad to be a mother if you aren’t married. And the responsibilities of a mother raising her child doesn’t change whether she’s single or married. There is this whole “baby mama” culture meant to put woman down for simply doing what our bodies were made to do (if we choose). It bums me out that in other cultures pregnancy and motherhood is more important and revered than it is in America. In many ways this chapter of Returning Home- of Returning to the self – was exactly like motherhood. I came from womb from woman just like everyone else on this planet has – and to go through pregnancy – to motherhood. I have come full circle I have returned to myself to my ancestors to the primitive instinctual body that is my soul.
Like most woman my age and younger the relationship I have with my mother is complicated it is not by any means where it should be. I used to believe that it wasn’t my job to fix my relationship with my mother and lately when I think about it I just don’t know how. I went through pregnancy basically on my own. I went and got Medicaid because my parents kicked me off their insurance. I went through all the psychological highs and lows on my own. So, when I think of my relationship with my daughter that’s when I realized how deep these wounds are and how deep the wounds are from my childhood stemming from my mother and her mother and her mothers mother. Somewhere (probably all the way back to slavery) the lineage of mothers mothering their daughters (especially in the African American community) got fragmented where daughters are teaching mothers how to love how to see how to be open after learning this all on their own. No one taught me how to love; not how to love myself or to love others. It took me awhile to forgive my mother but I know she did the best at her 25 years of age with two kids and being in the navy.
In this chapter there are lot of passages about this fragmented relationship between the mother and her daughter and these stories these myths aren’t being passed down in cultures anymore – how this form of storytelling could help these relationships if they were being passed down the lineage. It is intuition that is missing in the woman in the mother daughter dynamic relationship. It is storytelling. It is this innate nature in us to nurture and give until we are used up and dry (like the seal woman) and needing to go back to the water to the sea to be refreshed. It is the relationship from mother to daughter from woman to woman , sister to sister, friend to friend that will help us all to realize and reach our fullness.
Now I am just going to type out a few passages and quotes from the chapter that resonated with me and I hope they resonate with you to:
“Every creature on Earth returns to home. It is ironic that we have made wildlife refuges for ibis, pelican, egret, wolf, crane, deer, mouse, moose, and bear, but not for ourselves in the places we live day after day. We understand that the loss of habitat is the most disastrous event that can occur to a free creature. We fervently point out how other creatures natural territories have become surrounded by cities, ranches, highways, noise, and other dissonance, as though we are not surrounded by the same, as though we are not affected also. We know that for creatures to live on, they must at least from time to time have a home place, a place where they both feel protected and free”.
” The health of the ego is often determined by how well one measures boundaries in the outer world, how strongly one’s identity is formed, how well one differentiates past, present, and future and how closely one’s perceptions coincide with consensual reality”.
“Do not fear “not knowing”.
“They know when they are overdue for home. Their bodies are in the here and now, but their minds are far, far away”.
“Where is home? is more complex ….but in some way it is an internal place somewhere in time rather than space, where a woman feels of one piece”.
“In order to converse with the wild feminine, a woman must temporarily leave the world and inhabit a state of aloneness in the oldest sense of the word. Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one, To be all one meant to be wholly one , to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one”.
This book is simply amazing. Don’t read it cover to cover pick which stories resonate with you in the time that you need to read them and read them learn from them and pass them on.