The Wild Flesh

Clarissa Pinkola-Estes has been inspiring my world here again lately. This particular passage of truth nourishes, reminding me why it’s so vital to stay in touch with joyful in-skin, in-flesh awareness and what she beautifully refers to as “Joyous Body: Wild Flesh” in her book “Women Who…” The following is taken from page 200 of her epic work:

“In the instinctive psyche, the body is considered a sensor, an informational network, a messenger with myriad communication systems–cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, autonomic, as well as emotive and intuitive. In the imaginal world, the body is a powerful vehicle, a spirit who lives with us, a prayer of life in its own right. In fairy tales, as personified by magical objects that have superhuman qualities and abilities, the body is considered to have two sets of ears, one for hearing in the mundane world, the other for hearing the soul; two sets of eyes, one set for regular vision, another for far-seeing; two kinds of strength, the strength of the muscles and the invincible strength of soul. The list of twos about the body goes on…

hearing the soul

 …The body uses its skin and deeper fascia and flesh to record all that goes on around it. Like the Rosetta stone, for those who know how to read it, the body is a living record of life given, life taken, life hoped for, life healed. It is valued for its articulate ability to register immediate reaction, to feel profoundly, to sense ahead.

The body is a multilingual being. It speaks through its color and its temperance, the flush of recognition, the glow of love, the ash of pain, the heat of arousal, the coldness of nonconviction. It speaks through its constant tiny dance, sometimes swaying, sometimes a-jitter, sometimes trembling. It speaks through the leaping of the heart, the falling of the spirit, the pit at the center, and rising hope.

The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves. Like a sponge filled with water, anywhere the press is fleshed, wrung, even touched lightly, a memory may flow out in a stream.

vital, responsive, enduring...

To confine the beauty and value of the body to anything less than this magnificence is to force the body to live without its rightful spirit, its rightful form, its right to exultation. To be thought ugly or unacceptable because one’s beauty is outside the current fashion is deeply wounding to the natural joy that belongs to the wild nature. Women have good reason to refute psychological and physical standards that are injurious to spirit and which sever relationship with the wild soul. It is clear that the instinctive nature of women values body and spirit far more for their ability to be vital, responsive, and enduring than by any measure of appearance.”

We so often endure a spiritual tyranny of messages bombarding what could be the experience of wildness, of the unashamed, fearless flesh of skin and spirit. Media, historical decrees from decades gone but their crippling hum sometimes conjured by a familiar event…all of it stirring up the psyche, asking us to tune into the drumbeat below the myriad layers of possible attitudes about the body, about the body’s own intelligence, to tap into a rhythm of whole person acceptance, body, skin, warts, glow. All. Of. Self.

I’ve been aware lately, more than usual, of past messages that filtered through to me in particular. Long skirt for covering the “woman’s body” and no real clarity as to why, what was wrong with me that required I cover up? I saw a woman yesterday with her long skirt, her long braid, her chosen path, grey hairs streaking their own song of meaning. I struggled to accept it. Not her, but the cloaking uniform of adherence to creed, the inadvertant highlighting of her frame in the attempt to cover. I struggle, one part of me in the woods naked and the other part understanding, knowing why we choose our creeds, why we adhere to some religious views. No one path is all good, or all bad. But I wonder at the messages we swallow from such tender ages. What do we want and do we even know? Are our wants even our wants? Did that woman ever have a chance to know her own true desires or did the creeds form her like they sought to form me from a tender age? I have some distinct views on this posing as questions here. I’m trying hard to just dance around the bush. But the truth is, there’s no turning back for her or for me and yet our paths have gone long and winding differently down two opposing trails of meaning. Both are precious in their attempts to treasure what is vital.

So, what of it? I shook away my concern for her and walked away. Past the memories haunting and humming in my own body’s record of historical touch, growth, dance. The activities of my world write their own new stories on my being, even in and on my body, never erasing what was but scribing anew, the ink-jive of their words on the wellspring of soul whisper deep into every one of my fields, spilling seeds of newness, conjuring up that contrasting lush against the backdrop of a desert past.

spirit scene

This is what we can do with the magick of the wild flesh. We gift ourselves with sometimes polar pulses pounding out a new song, a life beyond ruins and into healing as we reach out into life with awareness, with an instinctive sense of our massive power to heal what we desire to heal within and beyond our own wild flesh. Bit by bit, layer by layer we undo the worst of the messages and incorporate those vibrations, those declarations most alive with truth, with awareness, forming -as best we can- desires in accord with the fearless (but wise) soul. Who am I beyond that fear that formed my reaction to life back there around the bend when I declared it my job to protect what was important to _____ (insert person’s name here or whatever applies)? How much has it woven itself into my being, doing, living? What if, what if we can transform motives into something that honors the wild flesh of humanity without fear, without indifference?

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9 thoughts on “The Wild Flesh

    • And here you say it in two sentences succinct, clear. Thank you Jaymie. Shared space does make requirements, doesn’t it? And we get to decide what we’ll compromise in order to gain precious unity while holding to vital individuality. Tricky stuff. And we all live it on some level or another. Your presence is, as always, a beautiful grace. oxo…

  1. Hey! You inspired me to open a beauty shop. It’s posted and ready for business! 😆

    Thank You for the inspiration and the way You all~ways share Your wonderful heart and amazing words! Cheers and Namaste. 🙂

    • I love your beauty shop and how richly it glows with your creative and playful spirit. It’s tremendous when our worlds collide and the resulting “flotsam” is an orderly work of encouragement. 🙂 Namaste…

  2. Oh, jruth!!! You have just HUGELY, GRANDLY, BEAUTIFULLY gifted me. You brought a smile and tears. The pictures You made for illustration were brilliant as well as Clarissa’s words. I read that book when it came out, and now am thinking I will go grab it and visit a chapter a night once again. Am at an age and in a locale where MANY women I know are dying their hair, getting botox and facelifts, and are mortified about getting older. I think that’s GREAT if that’s what makes You happy. Dye away! Botox and lift and tuck away!!! But I want to EXPERIENCE my body in all phases as lovely. A dear friend proclaimed the other day that she thinks women look very ugly with grey hair, and she doesn’t understand why they don’t ‘do something!’ about it. I was sitting right next to her. I laughed about it later, saying, ‘I know You consider my grey hair ugly but You’ll just have to live with it.’ She laughed. So did I. It’s just bizarre. This urgency to avoid ourselves at every turn and to be ‘presentable’. For who? For what? BBBEEEEZARE! I’m leaving Your room howling joyfully with my wild heart glowing and my golden/blonde/brown/starting to grey/silken hair flowing proudly behind me! And my crow’s feet and character lines giggling with all the secrets they hold! HHHUUUGGGGEEEE Hugs and Cheers and Namaste. 🙂

    • Lump in throat. I love your unabashed soul. You know….it strikes me that we all have a long skirt of some kind until we clothe ourselves in self-acceptance. The “long skirt” could be cleavage revealed or a high-neck blouse or a tummy tuck hiding what we don’t want others to see. And in the end, we are allowed. It’s ok. On either side. The long skirt or the short one, they serve a purpose. The wrinkles or the botox. But what a heavy load of shame shite we must swim through sometimes. When voices of rejection create what we become, what a sad event, what a tragically long (or short) skirt or perky facelift. Or. Seems like it’s what we allow our motivations to become that makes all the difference. I can hear the naysayers telling me the long skirt religions are ok. That I just need to accept them. You know what? I have no problem accepting them if the women in those long skirts are not ashamed of their flesh, if they know there is no more need to hide than there is to submit unless it gives them great glorious pleasure to consciously choose to do so for reasons they claim in awareness and in self-acceptance. Same thing with botox. What’s the intent? Where’s the heart and soul in our choices? Are we truly responding to a sense of personal wonder and immeasurable self-value or are we finding new forms of fig leaves? On and on I can go about this one…in any case, thank you for sharing your response to this. It is such a joy. You should see me when commercials come on the telly for different things…I literally start yelling “Oh yes yes! And you TOO can be divorced from the earth of your body even MORE now! Take the grand leap! Free yourself from skin and cycles and being human! Go go go! Be Borg!! Who needs HUMAN?” Argh!

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