Women Who Run With the Wolves, Book Review

An appreciation and empowerment of 'Wild Woman' and her power to change the world.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés released "Women Who Run With the Wolves" in 1992. Estés is a poet, cantadora, or "keeper of old stories," and a Freudian psychologist. Her book "Women Who Run With the Wolves" is regarded as one of the most significant pieces of feminist literature, having inspired and empowered countless women, including myself. Written from the perspective of a Jungian analyst, the book offers an innovative perspective on the myth of the ''Wild Woman,'' interpreting myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories from other cultures to gain insight into the Wild Woman archetype of the feminine psyche. The tale of the Wild Woman is a reoccurring archetype in mythology and folklore, and it is represented as a frightening or destructive power. Estés, on the other hand, contends that the Wild Woman archetype is vital for a female path of individuation and depicts the archetype as a powerful leader whom every woman should follow on their healing journey. Dr. Estés believes that women have an underlying, instinctual wisdom that has been suppressed or lost in modern culture, and she encourages women to rediscover their inner self, creativity, and strength. She takes on the loss of one's authentic self through her preface: "Over time, we have seen the feminine instinctive nature looted, driven back, overbuilt," she says. Yet, "women's flagging vitality can be restored by extensive 'psychic-archeological' digs into the ruins of the female underworld." Here, she provides readers the opportunity to discover "women's deepest nature" while gaining access to "the creative feminine," and ultimately training women to "run with the wolves." 

The author's style of writing is both academic and poetic; it is not like typical popular self-help books; it is primarily concentrated on analyzing myths with deep Freudian analytical psychology, therefore ''Women Who Run With the Wolves'' is not for the faint of heart. It was a challenging read for me, and it took me months to finish it. I was unfamiliar with Jungian analysis or analytical psychology at the time, but I began to read the book again after acquiring more knowledge, and it has since gotten better. If you're not familiar with Jungian analysis, this book will seem absurd sometimes. It requires your whole focus and dedication. Dr. Estes' writing is exceptionally poetic, and her frequent application of Jungian psychoanalytic theory to myths, folktales, and fairytales can be jarring at times. This, however, is what sets Estes apart. The author explains the subject in such an engaging way, while incorporating Jungian psychology, that she effectively establishes the fundamentals of women's intuition, serves as a source of encouragement and empowerment for women trying to reclaim their wild and instinctual selves, and increases readers' respect for the ancient feminine and forgotten craft of conveying knowledge through fairy tales, mythology, and allegory. 

Every chapter of the book starts by introducing a myth, fairytale, or folktale, and then the author connects every aspect of that story to the central idea of that chapter in ways you never thought possible. Some of them may appear to be child bedtime stories or silly fables, but there's a deeper meaning behind them and Estes' ability to shed light on symbolic representations is remarkable. Well-known instances, such as ''Blue Beard or ''The Ugly Duckling'', are analyzed from an innovative and enlightening point of view in the book. Allow me to specify how Ester takes on both stories to highlight the unique interpretation. She makes use of the story of ''Bluebeard'' to discuss the power of intuition and the potential hazards of overlooking red flags in relationships. "The Ugly Duckling" story is told in order to bring out the significance of recognizing one's true identity and potential despite being an outcast, as she writes:

''But what if you, being a swan, had to pretend you were a mouse? What if you had to pretend to be gray and furry and tiny? What if you had no long snaky tail to carry in the air on tail-carrying day? What if wherever you went you tried to walk like a mouse, but you waddled instead? What if you tried to talk like a mouse, but instead out came a honk every time? Wouldn't you be the most miserable creature in the world? The answer is an unequivocal yes. So why, if this is all so and too true, do women keep trying to bend and fold themselves into shapes that are not theirs? I must say, from years of clinical observation of this problem, that most of the time it is not because of deep-seated masochism or a malignant dedication to self-destruction or anything of that nature. More often it is because the woman simply doesn't know any better. She is unmothered.”

Some of the other stories used in the book are ''Red Shoes'', ''La Llorona'', ''The Little Match Girl'', ''Withered Trees and Handless Girl''. Each of these sections contributes to a richness of incisive analysis on an extensive range of issues such as the advancement of women in social life, business life, intimate relationships, romantic relationships, as a wife and mother, as a kid, as an outlet of inspiration, as an innovator, and as a creator. As you read the book and observe Estés analyze every one of these instances to emphasize universal truths about the female experience, you realize just how perceptive she is. She additionally offers a great deal of wisdom that belongs to several generations and civilizations rather than hers alone, making it highly worthwhile. The concept of examining numerous aspects of female experience and development through ancient traditional tales is exceptionally creative, making the book enjoyable and stimulating.

I found myself reading some passages over and over and nodding my head enthusiastically owing to my excitement with her interpretation of the classic tales. She serves as a bridge between realms. Estes employs her storytelling abilities to convey information even though many people dismiss stories as fiction, and she demonstrates that storytelling is an art and a powerful way of teaching since it may go beyond rational thinking and impact us on a deep subconscious basis without our being aware of it. It speaks to the part of the wild feminine spirit that longs to be free and run with the wolves. Regardless of how challenging it is to read the book, it is completely satisfying and therapeutic; this is a book that women need to go back to again and again to unleash the wild woman within.