Rebellion of the Wild Bitch in Wonderland: A Faery Tale.
Not all girls were lost princesses who feared the Witch and the Wolf. Not all of us spent long days locked in high towers, and long nights preserved in glass boxes, yearning for our princely liberator. Not all of us were pink and perfect, and our Faery godmothers were not made of flaky glitter and fragile wings.
No, our Faery godmothers, those stalwart, thick-ankled creatures who would walk through the deep mud just to bring us some cake, those crones were the stuff of the hearty feminine, the sturdy roots of the Wild Woman; it is from these full-breasted and bountiful grandmothers that our most meaningful stories come. They did not tell us tales of the weak, whiny woman whose greatest gift was outward beauty and greatest flaw the other women in her life.
Our mighty Faery women told us stories of wildness and absolution. They told us of feminine fortitude. They validated our wounds, and they smoothed our hair while we rebelled against a life we were told to want.
Somewhere, right now, such a Faery godmother is cradling a growing girl in her paper-skinned arm, and she is not whispering a tale of superficial romance and soulless conformity. Can you hear her? Her gravelly voice is rumbling through the story of the Red-Hooded Wild Bitch like summer thunder, and her words shoot out of her mouth like fireballs.
This Faery godmother will grant you no wishes that you are not ready to grant yourself, and this story is not for the unbold:
Once upon a time, there lived a girl whom they had started to call wild. Mind you, she had always been wild; nothing had really changed since she was small-handed and wide-eyed, but only since she’d grown a bit taller, and the boys a bit closer, did they decide to call her out as a wild one.
By day, she did the best she could to please them. The Wild One pinned her hair and wore her skirt long, so she would not be a distraction. She looked down at her feet while she walked, not wanting them to think her too bold, which made her miss greeting friends who passed her by.
Soon, bitch was added to her reputation, and, no matter how hard she pressed herself to be who they wanted her to be, the girl was dismissed as an oddball, a freak, and she-who-did-not-belong.
Her world became a Wonderland of apparently contradictory rules that would tell her to not be too soft or too hard, too sexy or too plain, too sensual or too prudish, too smart or too stupid, too independent or too needy.
Each day, the Wild Bitch would leave her house, promising to be a very good girl, and surrender to the world while others carved out their own wounds on her skin. Each day, she would weep for her hardening heart, and each night she would run into the woods where the trees would not judge her. She’d unpin her ratty hair and get her white dress covered in grass stains. She’d open her legs to the moonlight and let it fill her, and she’d dread the sunrise.
The Wild Bitch wanted no rescue. She wasn’t looking for it, and yet she knew exactly what to ask for when the Faery godmother appeared. It was close to midnight, and she was deep in her own sultry, sacred invocation; she almost did not notice the old, hooded crone and her wolf, but there they stood.
The crone’s face was aged in nature’s beauty, and well-worn by the sun and moon alike. Her wolf’s fangs dripped with the bright red blood of a dying age, and they looked at the Wild One with their four eyes as though they were the first to truly see her. The Witch and her beast saw into the Wild One’s holy feminine center, and they nodded with the first fierce acceptance she had ever received:
I’ve come to grant you a wish, child.
Your wild-ish ways warm my blood to the bone.
I’m so tired of those who are mild,
But you, you were born of stone.
The Wild One swallowed, knowing precisely what she wanted; that one thing that would let her live the life she craved, the thing that would allow her the freedom to be who she was out of the dark, while the sun was still burning. She answered: I want a Red Hood that will keep me hidden during the day, so I can move through the world without the weight of their stares. I want to be invisible, so I do not have to pretend any longer.
The Witch raised an eyebrow and did not seem pleased, but a promise was a promise and crones keep their word. Without ceremony or fanfare, she pulled a red cloak out from under her tattered robes, tossed it at the Wild One, nodded in solidarity, and turned, taking her beast into the darkness.
The Wild Bitch smiled at the possibility of being openly wild during the day. Oh, the rebellion! Oh, the revolution! Yes!
The hood was a blissfully decadent thing with lace and sequins, and she ran right home to try it on. Until dawn, she stared at herself in the mirror, grinning at all the names she would be called if anyone could actually see her in this glamorous garment.
Her mother would say You’ll call too much attention to yourself! Best to look dull, so people actually want to speak to you; that way, you know they’re really interested in you. Even better, ignore your whole body completely; it’s dirty anyway, and will only get you into trouble. The boys would call her a slut to their friends, but pay her all the warm attention they had to spare to her face; the girls would do the opposite.
The Wild Bitch shrugged; it mattered not the things they would say, for they would never see her now. On her way to town, she planned her acts of rebellion.
First, she would dance bare-breasted in the fountain, then she would go to church and sing sacrilegious hymns about sex and she-gods. For her last act of the day — after all, tomorrow was another day for Red-Hooded Rebellion and she needn’t exhaust herself — the Wild Bitch would go to the park and take a nap in the ancient oak.
She skipped along so purposed that she didn’t notice the befuddled looks of the baby-wearing mothers and crowds of mean girls. She didn’t notice the raised brows of the workmen, or that she made the old man drop his coffee while she danced in the fountain. She didn’t hear them when they called her crazy, and she didn’t listen when they told her to stop singing on the altar.
It was plain to everyone else that the Wild Bitch was very visible, even more visible than she’d been before, but the Wild One was so deep in her rebellious revelry that their disdain for her meant nothing.
It wasn’t until she was climbing the tree in the park, her very last rebellious act of the day, that she finally took notice of an inquiring face; a little girl, no more than five, was pointing straight at her. The Wild One was aghast! How could this young, pig-tailed girl see her? She was frozen, one bare leg wrapped around the tree, red-hood askew but still atop her head. How could this be?
She didn’t see the old crone standing in the distance, watching the scene unfold as she willed it, but the Witch saw her and smiled. Yes she hissed. Let’s see who you really are, child.
The little girl walked toward the great tree to get a closer look.
Can you see me? The Wild One asked the little girl. What do I look like?
Yes, the little girl answered. I see you. You look like the Red Queen from Wonderland. Are you going to cut off my head?
The Wild Bitch giggled, realizing that she had not been invisible the entire day. No. No, I couldn’t do that. She hopped out of the tree and moved toward the little girl, whose mother was eyeing them warily. I won’t cut off your head, but I am the Red Queen, and so are you.
She untied her cloak from her neck, knowing she did not need it nor anyone’s permission to be as wild as the winter wind, and wrapped it around the girl’s small frame; it nearly swallowed her whole except her small face. When you wear this, you must be very loud. You must make a big mess, and you must make sure everyone sees you do it.
In the distance, the old crone held her breath and kept listening. The Wild Bitch continued:
When the world seems confusing, and they’re telling you to be someone you’re not, put this red hood on, and be your wild self. Play in the mud with the boys. Play in the mud with the girls. Play in the mud by yourself. Don’t wear the pink dress if you want to wear red pants. Don’t pray to anyone in whom you don’t believe. One day you might want to wear lipstick, and the next day you won’t; both are fine.
Most of all, if anyone says anything bad about you, know that they are the bully, and what they say about you, they’re really saying about themselves. Now go tell your mommy what I told you, and take good care of my red cloak.
The Wild Bitch ran stark naked right into the woods then, waving to all the ones who sought to tame her and leaving her shame in the dust. This wild woman saw Wonderland for what it was, a land where the judgments of strange creatures were no reflection on who she was. The Wild Bitch moved into the woods, has been there ever since, and lived happily ever after.
Somewhere now, the Faery godmother is pulling the covers over the sleeping girl, hoping she heard the last bit of the story, but knowing full well that we did. Tonight, her girl will dream of red hoods and fountain-dancing, and she’ll wake to face the day without fear or shame. She’ll wake to start her own rebellion when conformity means inauthenticity, and write her own faery tale when others seem grossly insufficient.
Danielle Dulsky is a longtime activist for wild woman spirituality and the divine feminine’s return. She is the author of the soon-to-be published Woman Most Wild: Liberating the Witch Within (coming May 2017, publisher New World Library) and is on a mission to inspire women to be fearless creators of their sacred work. She holds the highest designation from Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500, is the founder of the fully accredited Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs, and believes in holistic healing for the sensual, creative, and spiritual self. Her work is grounded in holding space for women to harvest their inner Priestess through personally relevant movement alchemy, intuitive artistic practice, and divine feminine spirituality. Danielle leads women circles, Witchcraft workshops, energy healing trainings, and basic (200-hour) and advanced (300-hour) Yoga teacher trainings in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She believes that all women alive today are meant to be instrumental in supporting positive social transformation through wild woman spirituality, reclamation of the name Witch, and the magick of sisterhood. You could contact her via email.