She Who Knows

SheWhoKnows.

There is the tale that is told so well by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her world-renowned book,  Women Who Run with the Wolves.  When I first encountered this book, I was in an independent bookstore, The East West Bookshop, down the Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I opened the book randomly and read a passage that was relevant to an experience that I recently had.  The hardbound book wasn’t in my budget.  I replaced it on the display table and walked away.  Then, after browsing for awhile, I was drawn back to the book.  Again, I randomly opened it and voila, another passage that claimed me.  I bought the book.  Every weekend, I’d read a chapter and integrate what I was discovering.  This book felt like a woman’s bible to me.  The mythology and tales that were woven in with a Jungian interpretation touched me deeply.  These tales, passed down from generation to generation, transported me into my own psyche in a way that had never happened before.

La Que Sabe, She Who Knows, was one of those stories.  The story goes…

“In the Southwest the archetype of the old woman can also be apprehended as old La Que Sabe, The One Who Knows. I first came to understand La Que Sabe when I lived in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico, under the heart of Lobo Peak. An old witch from Ranchos told me that La Que Sabe knew everything about women, that La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot: This is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything. This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had the ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiché tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking con los ojos vendados, with blindfolds on her feet.”
(excerpt from Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

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When I created this mixed media painting, I had no idea who or what was going to emerge.  But then, she did.  This painting is not about perfection of features…it became about expression of a deep feeling…the woman who has searched inside and encountered her own depths in search of her place in the world.  She does not feign timidity.  Pretense doesn’t work for her.  She decorates herself.  She is radiant and is comfortable with being in her own power.  She is not apologetic for being this powerful.

She has lived her life and learned from it.  She is present with you and deep seeing into human foibles and their underlying strengths.  She understands that wisdom is there for each one of us.  And, she holds patient compassion for herself and others as we sense into our own deep knowing.

Naming Your Ancestors (part two)

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Story is one way that we carry forth the thread of ancestors.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of  Women Who Run with the Wolves, is big on story. Estes wrote about a childhood experience in The Dancing Grandmas. This story is about four elder women of her foster father’s family who came over from Hungary to America when Clarissa was seven years old.  She first met them as they disembarked from the train “looking like Santa Clauses” because they wore all the clothes they owned. The riches she received from them were all about story.

An excerpt:  “…They brought riches just by being.  Even though bereft now of children and husbands, stripped to the bone of their icons, their roadside chapels of worship, their village lives as they had known them; stripped of the simple solace of the ancestral forest they lived near and all its medicines, the satisfaction of the white cloth they wove, stripped of the ability to protect their daughters, their bodies, their modesty, their privacy–even so, they had managed to hold onto the essential and resilient Self…”

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So it is with each one of us.  We each have women and men who in some way modeled something saving and special for us.  We each have precious stories that we file away. Maybe we even forget them until something in the present triggers us and sends us back to a person, place, time…a positive experience that imprinted us in some way.

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WRITING PROMPT:
1) Choose one of the persons from your ancestor’s list.  Recollect and write down the basic facts of a story from your childhood that involved you and this person.

2) Stories often contain a hidden gem.  Take a moment of quiet reflection. Reread your story. What is the gem or gift to yourself within the story.  In one sentence, write down what you perceive as the gem within.

3) If there is more that you want to say about this, please do continue to write.

Note:  The thing about stories, at different stages of our lives they can take on new or deeper meaning for us.  It is, finally, our personal mythology which speaks to us on a symbolic level.