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.