Many of you responded to last week’s excerpts from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s version of The Ugly Duckling as told in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. I thought I would offer additional excerpts today, this time providing Estes’s analysis of the fairy tale:
The problem of the exiled one is primeval. Many fairy tales and myths center around the theme of the outcast…
The core meanings we are concerned with [in this story] are these: The duckling of the story is symbolic of the wild nature, which, when pressed into circumstances of little nurture, instinctively strives to continue no matter what. The wild nature instinctively holds on and holds out, sometimes without style, other times with little grace, but holds on nevertheless. And thank goodness for that. For the wildish woman, duration is one of her greatest strengths.
The other important aspect of the story is that when an individual’s particular kind of soulfulness, which is both an instinctual and a spiritual identity, is surrounded by psychic acknowledgement and acceptance, that person feels life and power as never before. Ascertaining one’s own psychic family brings a person vitality and belongingness…
Girl children who display a strong instinctive nature often experience significant suffering in early life. From the time they are babies, they are taken captive, domesticated, told they are wrongheaded and improper. Their wildish natures show up early. They are curious, artful, and have gentle eccentricities of various sorts, ones that, if developed, will constitute the basis for their creativity for the rest of their lives. Considering that the creative life is the soul’s food and water, this basic development is excruciatingly critical.
Generally, early exile begins through no fault of their own and is exacerbated by the misunderstanding, the cruelty of ignorance or intentional meanness of others. Then, the basic self of the psyche is wounded early on. When this happens, a girl begins to believe that the negative images her family and culture reflect back to her about herself are not only totally true but also totally free of bias, opinion, and personal preference. The girl begins to believe that she is weak, ugly, unacceptable, and that this will continue to be true no matter how hard she tries to reverse it.
… Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent. Neither the child’s soul nor her psyche can accommodate this. Pressure to be “adequate,” in whatever manner authority defines it, can chase the child away, or underground, or set her to wander for a long time looking for a place of nourishment and peace.
Know that you are perfect exactly as you are.
Love to you all,
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