Archives for posts with tag: Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The Black Madonna is a Mother who is aware of the hardships that happen to us, in and out of the dark of unknowing, unconsciousness, ignorance and innocence.

-Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


My daughter sent me a warning the other day. Her email’s subject said, “Mercury In Retrograde – Take Precautions.”

Trying to be a ‘cool’ mom, I glibly responded with, “I’m up there with Mercury, holding her hand, demonstrating retrograde behaviour at its finest.” I had always thought retrograde just meant regressive, but after a quick check with Merrian Webster I discovered to my ‘New Age’ delight that retrograde could also mean, moving contrary to a previous direction. Smugly, I thought to myself, “I’m not going backwards after all, I’m going in a new direction!” I immediately felt better about myself. In a typically self-satisfied, ‘I’ve got my karmic act together’, kind of ego – inflatedness, I decided I didn’t need to read the advice on successful navigation when Mercury is in retrograde, and began to answer emails. The wiser Universe immediately proved to me yet again, that my smugness will have me on my knees begging for a second chance to be a more humble person.


Last fall, having joyfully participated in Deepak Chopra’s free 21 Day Meditation Challenge, I was sent his latest offer. Although similar in format, this time Deepak is teaming up with Oprah. Seeing the image of Oprah ‘hugging’ Deepak, I sent the photo below, along with a message to my daughter…(or so I thought it was sent to my daughter)…saying “Is Oprah Strangling Deepak?”  

She Who Laughs last, laughs Alone

But pesky Mercury had me click REPLY not FORWARD, so my message went right back to DEEPAK at the Chopra Institute. I only know this because of the reply I received from the Chopra Institute:

Your request (#48094) has been received and will be reviewed and replied to by our Help Desk staff within 24 business hours of receipt.

Needless to say, I never got a response from the Help Desk, as they probably realized I was beyond any help they could give me! I am writing about this for 2 reasons.

1) Don’t ignore warnings, especially those sent by your more intuitive children, who know your faults and foibles better than anyone.

 2) To share my experience of projection, a Jungian concept that defies comprehensible explanation, and continues to baffle me. But here goes.

In reality, I know nothing of the relationship between Oprah and Deepak. Therefore, my comment about Oprah having Deepak in a half nelson says everything about me…not Oprah. In a projection, I take an unacknowledged, unpleasant quality of my own and instead of owning up to it, I ‘see’ it in another person. In this particular projection, I don’t want to acknowledge my tyrannical tendencies with men, when I don’t get the love I want. I would rather believe and have others believe that I am always a loving woman, just unlucky in love. There is no grace or growth in the endless gossip and tittle-tattle of daily life. I apologize to you Oprah, for projecting my character flaw onto you.


The other day, I was simultaneously searching the net for the most efficacious compost system and the best facial skin rejuvenation technology.

I found experts on both, with whom I discussed my purchase options…and then I had to laugh! With one, the Jura garden composter, I am acknowledging the end of the life cycle…with the other I am fruitlessly clinging to a youth long gone. The juxtaposition of two such wildly opposing attitudes hoisted me onto the cross of indecision. On one side, if I purchase a composter for my new garden, I can contribute to the cycle of organic food feeding my body, creating a ‘natural beauty’. On the other side, if I have my face zapped with radio and light beams, I could create a new and improved me…or could I have both? Unable to decide, I went for a walk on the beach.


Yesterday’s tide was extremely low which meant I could look for treasures in places usually under water…and there it is…the metaphor for uncovering the gems of the unconscious. Given the right conditions, new life manifests. This process needs the synchronistic collision of The Universe and an individual’s intention. The Universe provided the low tide, and I got my ‘imprisoned’ self out for a walk. Typically, I find 1 or 2 pieces of this coveted glass, but yesterday I found at least 50…turquoise, cobalt blue, green and yellow. Uncovering the gems hidden within our unconscious can be equally rewarding. Hidden in the dark swirl of fear, I can stand frozen…the pain of remaining in the place of suffering lays opposite to moving into an unknown world. Immobility over mundane real world dilemmas such as illustrated above(composter vs facial rejuvenation) happens similarly within our inner, psychic world. In both, we can hang frozen, hoisted on the cross of indecision, until we die, or surrender to the creation of a new and better life. The beautiful, broken beach glass that I had found in the past, was thus transformed by my dear friend, Colleen Belyea(This Little Bauble). Below are 2 examples of her creations.

Aspirations for Week 35 of 52

Revisiting Black Madonna of Czestochwa

In 1993, my 86 year old Aunty Mary visited me in Vienna. My middle name is Mary –  a tribute to het being surrogate mother to my mother. My maternal grandmother died in childbirth, leaving 7 children motherless. Aunty Mary and I planned a trip to Poland, our country of origin, so that we could visit Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Incomprehensibly, I was fascinated by her. Up until a couple of days ago, I have not thought much about Black Madonnas…also incomprehensible. But in reading Untie the Strong Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the journey into Poland came flooding back. Historians believe the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, may have been the table top used by the Holy Family. She may have been painted by Luke, the Apostle. Incredulously, this Black Madonna has several battle scars on her face, that have defied countless attempts at restoration! She is considered to be a warrior Madonna and a healer of the crippled, the harmed. Maybe it is she, who has been watching over me, helping me heal my crippled, arthritic body and broken heart.

So in honour of my Aunty Mary and Black Madonna of Czestochowa, I will leave my face to bear the scars of my hard won battles. Just as the beach glass is broken, but still beautiful, so too am I.




It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while, looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires.

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Raging Storms outside my Window

 The raging storm has passed. Weeks of grey water and sky now replaced by a melange of pinks, purples and blues. It’s 7am and the sun has risen. I too am experiencing the end of a stormy period, and feel the dawning of a colourful hue.

The flicker from the flame that is my soul… that is my heart’s desire…it is known to me now. This precious drop of life force resides in the core of my being. It has a potency that propels me out of bed, not because I should be up, but because I want to live. Just as the storm’s wind and water have dislodged the driftwood and the rocks to create a new beach in front of my cottage, I too will never be as I was. The path to oneself contains many periods of disruption and destruction, but I would willingly withstand any number of internal storms, to experience this passion and desire, this palpable wave of libido…life energy.

I am beginning to live the life I once saw only in my imagination. Even as a child, forced to comply with the expectations and rules of my parents, I had a sense that one day, my life would feel different…one day I would feel free of constraint. This ‘knowing’ has been my guiding light, my divining rod. I believe we all possess this tiny oft unheard voice that ‘knows’. The cages of childhood and marriage enslaved my spirit, cowed my joie de vivre. Be polite Be productive Be kind Be virginal Be available Be the best Be giving…  These commands do not serve the heart, the soul, the psyche. Never was it said to me, “And what is your desire?” but I have the power to say this to myself!

My Souls’s Desire is Chasing Rainbows

This week with men! 

Heeding the advice from my wise friend S, I asked 2 men from POF for their numbers, rather than reveal mine. She also suggested I use *67 so that my number remained hidden. Unfortunately, I impulsively phoned Peter, leaving my digits exposed. The virtual conversations with this highly educated man, were snappy and fun and very respectful of my thoughts and feelings. So too, was our hour long phone conversation, other than his creepy revelation that he had googled my phone number, so now knew where I lived… 21st century dating…protect your identity…lesson learned. Later that Saturday, a message came from Peter, asking to meet. I responded by saying that I wrote on Sundays and Mondays, so maybe Tuesday. His response;

Peter: We are complex personalities….unlike you,l do not make rules…it might be a deal breaker…

Me: I agree!

Peter: ohh????

This was followed by an immediate phone call from him, wondering what I meant. I simply responded from my intuitive and knowing self. I said writing was not a rule but a a desire for me, and that I would not be contained by a man.

 He then turned nasty and belligerent, barking like an enraged dog, ‘You are out of touch with reality and will never find a man. You’re a manipulative game player etc etc” Then he hung up! I was nonplussed by his reaction. Sir Gawain this man was not. Sovereignty over my life…not on offer with a man such as Peter. In my process over the last years I have discovered my own thoughts, feelings, morals, opinions and ideals, thus ensuring I will no longer allow anyone to compress my vivid energy! (I have let friends know where Peter lives, in case he continues his tirade)

In wonderful contrast, through sheer serendipity, I spent several hours that same day, in the company of 2 more balanced men.



In the fall of 2008, lost in thought while eating breakfast, a tap on the patio window drew my gaze. Shockingly, I saw the most staggering sight…a magnificent cougar was calmly sitting on her haunches, tapping on the glass, 15 feet(4.5m) from me. For several seconds, we started into each other’s eyes. I broke the magical moment with a frenzied adrenaline rush of ridiculous counter invasion antics. I flew from my chair, ran onto the deck like a crazed banshee, and attempted to shoo her away, brandishing BBQ tools that I pounded on a plastic pail…

Undaunted my my wild gesturing and high pitched shrieks, the graceful cougar, tilted her head my way, as if to say, “I’m not here to harm you but to remind you of your animal side… to tell you to allay your fears, and wrench open the bars of this domestic prison…run into the wild…rekindle your spirit and reclaim your instinctual self.”

Even as the literal person I once was, I knew the cougar visit meant more than a mere animal sighting. Even the scientifically minded Park Warden who visited me to garner cougar details said I should feel blessed, cougars being extremely elusive. Having recently survived 2 brushes with death(sepsis 2006 and life threatening anemia 2008)I began the process of seeking a less contained life. I needed to release my firefly from the jar, before the light of my spirit diminished permanently.

Captured Fireflies

The rigidity of my body, crippled by arthritis, indicated I had lost the flow of the sensual, the creative, the naturally instinctual aspects of woman. I needed to find my voice and use it, operating less from my head, and more from that place of deep ‘knowing’, within my core. Part by part, I have had to reclaim myself, disentangle myself from the static amalgam that was my marriage.

My maternal Grandmother, below, looks like a woman who had urges and desires, that begged to be expressed. Her enigmatic smile, like the Mona Lisa’s, has a depth, an inner knowingness. 

Look into her eyes and see the pulse of life!

And this a woman, who maintained her inner spirit, despite being contained by an ambitious husband, who believed in sowing his seed. A set of twins, my Mother and Uncle, followed after this photo was taken. A few short years later, my Grandmother died in childbirth, exhausted from this life.

Material Success Sublimates my Grandmother”s Lust for Life

I too have yearned to live the life of a free and expressive woman. For my Grandmother, and my Grandmother’s daughters, I will uncage my wild woman. 

So for week 18 of 52, I make a solemn promise to myself and to the women of my family who have been starched flat…I will yowl at the moon.

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