Inner wilderness

I’ve read Women who run with the wolves (Clarissa Pinkola Estes) twice now and the idea of connection between wilderness and inner wilderness has been with me for a long time as a consequence. Mostly as a theory. I let myself become domesticated and mostly tame a long time ago. My creature self chafed at the bit, and frequently tried to misbehave, get off the leash, wanted to run and hide and do all the needful things that would give me my life back. But I wore the leash for a long time, and it was not wholly of my own making.

The last few years have been a time of retreat for me. We’ve lived quietly, close to nature, with not much stuff. Evenings of candlelight and soft talking. A lot of walks and cycling. I’ve not held responsibility for anything much outside my own family, and I’ve been very much caught up in the practical realities of boat life. That might seem like further taming and domestication, but it hasn’t been. I learned how to howl, and how to laugh from my belly. I learned how to grieve, and how to be angry. Bit by bit, I let that animal self express, and breathe.

I know when to turn the computer off and go outside. I know when, and how to say ‘no’ to anything that needs saying no to. As a side effect I’ve come to feel a lot more able to say ‘yes’ as well.

These last few months I’ve been out in the world again, doing events, seeing people I’d not seen for years, re-connecting. In the last week I’ve been invited to a Druid gathering, and to be on standby as a mummer, just in case. Old threads come into the new weave. I’ve worn skirts again – of necessity it’s mostly been trousers. But I’m dressing more like I did in my college days and I feel more like a me I can recognise. It’s a good process.

I can feel, in a really tangible way, the wildness on the inside waking up again. Not like it was before though. This is a wildness that knows where its roots are. The wildness of a forest tree that has deep and stable connections with its soil. The wildness of birds that know how to do all the things that make them birds and keep them alive. The wildness of my communal, sociable friend the badger, pottering about, wide arsed and badgery. Nature comes in many forms. Wildness is not all growly and in your face and shagging everything, necessarily. My wildness runs on its toes, and dances more easily than walking, and has an uncanny knack for spotting rodents. I know what I am. I know who I am, roughly, and the more I test it, the better I feel about things.

It’s been so much about having the space and quiet to get my head straight, and the support of people willing to accept me as I am, and willing to give of themselves. This week I have explored fear, again, but I’ve also stretched my wings a bit, and remembered that I have them, and listened to the owls calling at night. Nature on the inside is just as important as the nature we find outside of us, and if you can’t work with your own animal self, cannot love the mammal skin you are in and the tides of nature as they flow through your body, loving and honouring what lies on the outside of your skin (which incidentally is a fairly arbitrary place to draw a line!) is not easy either. I learned that one the hard way.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Inner wilderness

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    Great post, Nimue!
    I especially appreciate the mention of “time of retreat.”
    I had something similar occur, and it was solitude I needed badly. So that really rings bells. But then I jumped back into the (brother caretaking bit), with 2 jobs, ending currently at this one which is the 24 hour on call 7 days, and I have just about decided to fly from here if I can make the chance. I have gotten a bit tired of solving everyone else’s problems – so the responsibility end of it rang chords too. Sometimes it is so needful to step back and REALLY step back and re- center. However, having done both, back to back (frying pans and fire) – I have learned a lot, and gotten better at keeping appropriate things in their boundaries. You, having gained the ability to say No, I applaud. Funny how it is almost aghast-feeling to actually DO that, but it also opens up the maybe I will say yes. There is a balance, and I have seen that personally, and experienced it.
    I am still paltry at times, but my wildness has been coming back, creeping i, and sometimes simply demanding me-time, vs other’s priorities.
    Getting the gift of acceptance of self by others, (in whatever condition) – is mindbending – to be able to shed all the constructs built up to live politically correctly among others. And it is amazing just what a toll that can take, aside from stress. Lucky girl to get that, with benes! – and how really OK it is! I have hope here, as i balance my wildness and wilderness, inner and outer. Moving between the quiet low key and the active out there, I think, seems to be a natural cycle. Our own seasons. Loved your post.

  • Angels,peace,magick & love

    Oh wow, I love this, its so descriptive x

  • wisdomwillow

    This is your 1st posting I’ve read & already I’m enamoured of your writing. Thank you for sharing, Im going to enjoy reading more. Beautiful & so honestly written /|\

  • silverbear

    Living close to the wilderness makes me feel invigorated. When I lived in the “city” (it is a small city) I had a decent but run down apartment in a low rent district. It had a large grassy area between all the buildings that was littered with the detritus of illicit actions of underprivileged and unsupervised neighborhood children. My home is now near the woods where I can go and commune with nature. I leave offerings for the animals once a month on special occasions and take my wife and son on small hikes right outside our back door. I could be happier only if I could actually turn into a bear and run through the woods with my wife and son on my back…

  • Alex Jones

    Amongst the ancient Celts the boundaries between inner and outer were often non-existent.

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