Saturday, March 15, 2008

She who cannot howl, will not find her pack.

Its week two of GITB, and we've been looking at creating a sense of safety and self-acceptance.

As part of this we've been looking at an analysis of the fairy-tale The Red Shoes by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her interpretation of this tale is that the red shoes represent a woman's spirit (or soul, or inner creativity). The girl in the fairytale loves her scrappy handmade red shoes - ie, she is a child and she hasn't been taught to supress her own spirit and conform to the norms of society.

After the girl's mother dies she is adopted by a dusty old woman who burns her red shoes and forces her to behave like a 'proper' young lady. But the girl yearns for red shoes. Eventually she gets some red shoes, they are shiny patent leather and she adores them, unable to help herself she wears the shoes to church. - Or in other words, unable to supress her spirit the girl goes overboard and flaunts it, drawing the condemnation of the people around her.

The shoes are cursed and she starts to dance but cannot stop. Eventually she has to cut off her feet to stop dancing and spends the rest of her life a cripple. (I KNOW, horrible, but then most fairy tales are). But what this represents (according to Pinkola Estes) is that the girl supressed her spirit until it burst out of her in a delgue of excess. Once she gave herself the freedom to express herself she didn't have the experience to know where to stop. Pinkola Estes makes interesting parrallells with the life of Janis Joplin, who was forced by the strict environment in which she was brought up to firmly supress her musical creativity, eventually it burst forth and she was unable to control it or herself, and died of a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Don't let things around you supress who you really are.

I love Pinkola Estes' final paragraph...
If you want to re-summon the Wild Woman, refuse to be captured. With instincts sharpened for balance - jump anywhere you like, howl at will, take what there is, find out all about it, let your eyes show your feelings, look into everything, see what you can see. Dance in red shoes, but make sure they're the ones you've made by hand. You will be one vital woman.

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