50 Quotes That Will Unleash Your Inner ‘Wild Woman’

joyce huis

I’m a huge fan of Emma Watson, her work with the U.N., and especially her book club with a focus on feminism, Our Shared Shelf. Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. was one of her selected titles, and I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that has made me think or feel more than this.

I laughed, I cried, and if you’re like me and read on public transportation, you know just how utterly embarrassing that must have been. Except, now that I read this book, I’m a Wild Woman too, and nothing embarrasses me anymore, which is why I can write on the internet.

So if you want to be a Wild Woman too, here are some of my favorite quotes. I write in literally all my books just in case I need to remember something important or decide to go to grad school one day, so, you’re welcome for this free version of my cliff notes. I hope they inspire you to become a Wild Woman too.

1. “While it is useful to make bridges even to those groups one does not belong to, and it is important to try to be kind, it is also imperative to not strive too hard, to not believe too deeply that if one acts just right, if one manages to tie down all the itches and twitches of the wildish criatura, that one can actually pass for a nice, restrained, subdued, and demure lady-woman. It is that kind of acting, that kind of ego-wish to belong at all costs, that knocks out the Wild Woman connection to the psyche. Then instead of a vital woman you have a nice woman who is de-clawed. Then you have a well-behaved, well-meaning, nervous woman, panting to be good. No, it is better, more graceful, and far more soulful to just be what and as you are and let the other creatures be what they are too.”

2. “…we must be more interested in the thoughts, feelings, and endeavors which strengthen women, and adequately count the interior and cultural factors which weaken women.”

3. “I’ll tell you right now, the doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

4. “The naive woman tacitly agrees to remain ‘not knowing.’ Women who are gullible or those with injured instincts still, like flowers, turn in the direction of whatever sun is offered. The naive or injured woman is then too easily lured with promises of ease, of lilting enjoyment, of various pleasures, be they promises of elevated status in the eyes of her family, her peers, or promises of increased security, eternal love, high adventure, or hot sex.”

5. “Early in the formulation of classical psychology women’s curiosity was given quite a negative connotation, whereas men with the same attribute were called investigative. Women were called nosy, whereas men were called inquiring. In reality, the trivialization of women’s curiosity so that it seems like nothing more than irksome snooping denies women’s insight, hunches, intuitions. It denies all her senses. It attempts to attack her most fundamental powers: differentiation and determination.”

6. “A wise woman keeps her psychic environ uncluttered. She accomplishes such by keeping a clear head, keeping a clear place for her work, working at completing her ideas and projects. For many women, this task requires that they clear a time each day for contemplation, for a space to live in that is clearly their own with paper, pens, paints, tools, conversations, time, freedoms that are for this work only.”

7. “Intuition is not to be consulted once and then forgotten. It is not disposable. It is to be consulted at all the steps along the way, whether the woman’s work be clashing with a demon in the interior, or completing a task in the outer world.”

8. “Women often crave a mate who has […] endurance and the wit to continue trying to understand her deep nature.”

9. “Sometimes the only way we learn to hold on to our deeper knowing is because a stranger jumps out. Then we are forced to fight for what we find dear—fight to be serious about what we are about, fight to develop past our superficial spiritual motives, […] fight to hold on to the deeper knowledge, fight to finish what we have begun.”

10. “‘If one overlooks a woman’s dual nature and takes a woman at face value, one is in for a big surprise, for when the woman’s wildest nature rises from her depths and beings to assert itself, she often has interests, feelings, and ideas which are quite different from those she expressed before.”

11. “For the naive and wounded, the miracle of the psyche’s ways is that even if you are halfhearted, irreverent, didn’t mean to, didn’t really hope to, don’t want to, feel unworthy to, aren’t ready for it, you will accidentally stumble upon treasure anyway. Then it is your soul’s work to not overlook what has been brought up, to recognize treasure as treasure no matter how unusual it’s form, and to consider carefully what to do next.”

12. “Fear is a poor excuse for not doing the work. We are all afraid. It is nothing new. If you are alive, you are fearful.”

13. “There is an old saying in the backwoods I come from: ‘Ignorance is not knowing anything and being attracted to the good. Innocence is knowing everything, and still being attracted to the good.’”

14. “It is said that all that you are seeking is also seeking you, that if you lie still, sit still, if will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time. Once it is here, don’t move away. Rest. See what happens next.”

15. “In Spanish, the word inocente is understood to mean a person who tries not to harm another, but who also is able to heal any injury or harm to herself. […] To be an innocent means to be able to see clearly what is the matter and to mend it.”

16. “We all have made the mistake of thinking someone else can be our healer, our thriller, our filling. It take a long time to find it is not so, mostly because we project the wound outside ourselves instead of ministering to it within.”

17. “In fairy tales, tears change people, remind them of what is important, and save their very souls. Only a hardness of heart inhibits weeping and union. There is a saying I translated from the Sufi long ago, a prayer really, asking God to break one’s heart: ‘Shatter my heart so a new room can be created for a Limitless Love.’”

18. “In almost all cultures, at the creation the Gods give the people songs, telling them that to use them will call the Gods back at any time, that song will bring to them the things they need as well as transform or banish those things they do not want. In this manner the giving of song is a compassionate act that enables humans to call the Gods and the great forces into human circles. Song is a special kind of language that accomplishes this in a way the spoken voice cannot.”

19. “All humans and many animals are susceptible to have their consciousness altered by sound. Certain sounds, like a dripping faucet or an insistent car horn, can make us anxious, even angry. Other sounds, like the ocean’s roar or the wind in the trees, can fill us with good feeling. The sound of thudding—as in footsteps—causes a snake to feel a negative tension. But being softly sung to can cause a snake to dance.”

20. “Women will draw doors where there are none, and open them and pass through into new ways and new lives. Because the wild nature persists and prevails, women persist and prevail.”

21. “The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life; hold on, for the promise from the wild nature is this: after winter, spring always comes.

22. “For women this searching and finding is based on the mysterious passion that women have for what is wild, what is innately themselves. We have been calling the object of this yearning Wild Woman…but even when women do not know her by name, even when they do not  know where she resides, they strain toward her: they love her with all their hearts. They long for her, and that longing is both motivation and locomotion. It is this yearning that causes us to search for Wild Woman and find her. It is not as hard as one might first imagine, for Wild Woman and find her. It is not as hard as one might first imagine, for Wild Woman is searching for us too.”

23. “If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track. Wild Woman is close by.”

24. “What constitutes a healthy body in the instinctual world? […] the issue is not what shape, what size, what color, what age, but does it feel, does it work as it is meant to, can we respond, do we feel a range, a spectrum of feeling?”

25. “…the wildish woman can inquire into the numinosity of her own body and understand it not as a dumbbell that we are sentenced to carry for life, not as a beast of burden, pampered or otherwise, who carries us around for life, but a series of doors and dreams and poems through which we can learn know all manner of things.“

26. “Though fairy tales end after ten pages our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success. Listen, learn, go on.”

27. “Socially, shoes send a signal, a way of recognizing one type of person from another. Artists often wear shoes that are quite different from those worn by, say, engineers. Shoes can tell something about what we are like, sometimes even who we are aspiring to be, the persona we are trying out.”

28. “Joy is the kind of feeling a woman has when she lays the words down on the paper just so, or hits the notes al punto, right on the head, the first time. Whew. Unbelievable. […] It is the kind of joy a woman feels when she has done something that she feels dogged about, that she feels intense about, something that took risk, something that made her stretch, best herself, and succeed—maybe gracefully, maybe not, but she did it, created the something, the someone, the art, the battle, the moment; her life. That is a woman’s natural and instinctive way of being. Wild Woman emanates up through that kind of joy. That sort of soulful situation summons her by name.”

29. “It often happens in women’s lives. We are in the midst of an endeavor, and feeling anywhere from bad to good about it. We are just making up our lives as we go along and doing the best we can. But soon something washes over us, something that says, This is pretty hard. That gussied-up thing looks easier, finer, more compelling. All of a sudden the gilded carriage rolls up, the door opens, the little stairs drop down, and we step in. We have been seduced. This temptation occurs on a regular and sometimes daily basis. Sometimes it is hard to say no.”

30. “The shadow also, however, can contain the divine, the luscious, beautiful, and powerful aspects of personhood. For women especially, the shadow almost always contains very fine aspects of being that are forbidden or given little support by her culture. At the bottom of the well in the psyches of too many women lies the visionary creator, the astute truth-teller, the far-seer, the one who can speak well of herself without denigration, who can face herself without cringing, who works to perfect the craft. The positive impulses in shadow for women in our culture most often revolve around permission for the creation of a handmade life.”

31. “You can call it anything you like, but sneaking a life because the real one is not given room enough to thrive is hard on women’s vitality. Captured and starved women sneak all kinds of things: they sneak unsanctioned books and music, they sneak friendships, sexual feeling, religious affiliation. They sneak furtive thinking, dreams of revolution. They sneak time away from their mates and families. They sneak a treasure into the house. The sneak their writing time, their thinking time, their soul-time. They sneak a spirit into the bedroom, a poem before work, they sneak a skip or an embrace when no one’s looking.”

32. “Sneaking a counterfeit soul-life never works. It always blows out the sidewall when you’re least expecting it. Then it’s misery all around. It’s better to get up, stand up, no matter how homemade your platform, and live the most you can, the best you can, and forgo the sneaking of counterfeits. Hold out for what has real meaning and health for you.”

33. “It is deadly to be without a confidante, without a guide, without even a tiny cheering section.”

34. “When it’s time, it’s time. Even if you’re not ready, even if things are undone, even if today your ship is coming in. When it’s time it’s time.”

35. “Discontent is the secret door to significant and life-giving change.”

36. “It is interesting to note that if necessary, wolves fight to gain what they want, whether it be food, sleep, sex, or peace. It would appear that to fight for what one wants is a proper instinctual response to being hindered.”

37. “Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in a simple being. It is not virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something—whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity—that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. it is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.”

38. “Remember, if logic were all there really was to the world, then surely all men would ride sidesaddle.”

39. “To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, the sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth.”

40. “Warmth is a mystery. It somehow heals and engenders us. It is the loosener of too-tight things, it enhances flow, the mysterious urge to be, the maiden flight of fresh ideas. Whatever warmth is, it draws us closer, and closer yet.”

41. “There are three kinds of fantasies. The first is the pleasure fantasy, it is a form of mind ice-cream, strictly for enjoyment, such as day-dreams. The second kind of fantasy is the intentional imaging. This kind of fantasy is like a planning session. It is used as a vehicle to take us forward into action. All successes—psychological, spiritual, financial, and creative—begin with fantasies of this nature. Then there is the third kind of fantasy, the kind that brings everything to a halt. This is the kind of fantasy that hinders right action during critical times.”

42. “When an intruder appears, wolves may growl, bark, or even bite the interloper, but also they may, from a good distance, draw back into their group and sit together as a family would. They just sort of sit there and breathe together. Rib cages go in and out, up and down. They’re focusing themselves, regrounding themselves, returning to the center of themselves and deciding what is critical, what to do next.”

43. “We know from kinesiology, and various other body therapies such as Hakomi, that to take a breath causes one to feel one’s emotions, that when we wish not to feel, we hold our breath instead.”

44. “Tears are a river that take you somewhere.”

45. “If a story is seed, then we are it’s soil. Just hearing the story allows us to experience it as though we ourselves were the heroine who either falters or wins out in the end. […] In a very real way, we are imprinted with knowing just by listening to the tale.”

46. “Deep in the wintry parts of our minds, we are hardy stock and know there is no such thing as a work-free transformation. We know that we will have to burn to the ground in one way or another, and then sit right in the ashes of who we once thought we were and go on from there.”

47. “Sometimes a woman says, ‘I am sick of crying, I am tired of it, I want it to stop.’ But it is her soul that is making tears, and they are her protection. So she must keep on till the time of need is over. Some women marvel at all the water their bodies can produce when they weep. This will not last forever, only till the soul is done with its wise expression.”

48. “Leaving a relationship or the home of one’s parents, leaving behind outmoded values, becoming one’s own person, and sometimes, driving deep into the wild lands because one just must, all these are the fortune of the descent.”

49. “As women, we touch many people. We know our palm is a kind of sensor. Whether in a hug or a pat or just a touch on the shoulder, we take a reading of the persons we touch. If we are connected in any way to La Que Sabe, we know what another human feels by sensing them with our palms. For some, information in the form of images and sometimes even words comes to them, informing them of the feeling state of others. One might say there is a form of radar in the hands. Hands are not only receivers but transmitters. […] hands laid upon a person can soothe, comfort, remove pain, and heal.”

50. “…we may appear unchanged outwardly, but inwardly we have reclaimed a vast and womanly wildness. On the surface we are still friendly, but beneath the skin, we are most definitely no longer tame.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chicago-based writer.

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