This Is What the Primal Feminine Smells Like: It’s Not All Roses and Vanilla.


For too long have they romanced it for us, leaving us wandering through manicured forests searching for gentle wolves and white-robed Witches.

For too long have they sold us pre-packaged and one-size-fits-all wisdom about our magick, and for too long have they shown us the pristine and painted wild woman who never gets dirt under her nails or yellow stains on her teeth. I don’t know about you, Sister, but I’m hungry for something heartier than flower petals and chamomile.

Let’s show them what the Primal Feminine really looks like when the lovers have left us and our hearts beat in time with the ritual drums of our ancestors, when our merit and mettle are tested, and when there is no salve sweet enough to soothe the bone-deep ache for the purest and most primitive presence.

It’s not pretty. The Primal Feminine looks like a mama cat devouring her own afterbirth, moments after a long labor has ended. It looks like a wide-hipped Maiden with unapologetic belly rolls and dimpled thighs walking with a sure-footed grace for the first time since she was called too-this and too-that.

It looks like long arms cradling a grieving friend, wet eyes watching another horror on the news, imperfect protest signs scrawled at the last minute, and rowdy masses gathering to honor a willful few.

It’s not all wolf-howls and bare-breasted harmonies. The Primal Feminine sounds like a mother wailing while she cradles a son taken down too soon by institutionalized racism, a door closed quietly on abuse while the beast sleeps so sure of his dominion, and heavy footfalls on concrete steps climbed slow to report a rape that would be inevitably questioned by a backward system.

It sounds like raindrops on a car roof where a mother would rather live with her babes than go home to choicelessness. It sounds like waves crashing and spitting back oil, and it sounds like children playing in the last, dying garden.

It’s not all dark chocolate and sweet wine. The Primal Feminine tastes like the iron-salt of lips bitten bloody and naked Maidens bleeding on the ground to nourish a wounded world. It tastes like sweat running into the mouths of working mothers, bitter tea drunk so sleep may come at long last, and crusty breast milk dried on the last clean shirt.

It tastes like homegrown and not-so-sweet greens, hard and bland bread baked out of what was left in the cabinets, and the dust of fields left infertile by greedy policies and ignorant suits who never set foot on a family farm in their lives.

It’s not all tree bark, mountain lakes, and campfire. The Primal Feminine feels like the cold and anticlimactic rain of vindication after a long-sought justice has been served, after all resources have been exhausted, and after thousands of anguished prayers to every deity in the Pagan pantheon have been said.

It feels like goose-bumped skin after a lover’s ghost whispers in your ear and reminds you of a passion long gone, and it feels like shivering in the shadows waiting to be rescued by anyone who will not shrink back when you tell them your secrets and speak holy truths.

It’s not all sage smoke and cacao. The Primal Feminine smells like the blood of lost pregnancies and nettle tea drunk in a sunbeam the morning after. It smells like unwashed pits and salty skin after sleeping on a beach, not because it was an adventure but because you had nowhere else to go, and it smells like thick, black ink on a fuck-you letter.

It looks like a woman wailing at the protesters outside the clinic. It sounds like belly laughter at the dirtiest joke. It tastes like rust and ire. It feels like raw rage, and it smells like a long night of whole-hearted sex and whole-body love.

It looks like divination in black oil on a driveway. It sounds like saved coins clanking in a jar and toted to the market while a hollow stomach growls. It tastes like nothing and everything blended in a thick tormented stew of overwhelmed depression and the sheer will to survive.

It feels like complete emptiness and all-consuming fruition, and it smells like a wet wool blanket covering shoulders on a long and rainy walk to redemption.

The Primal Feminine is not pure, and you know it. Let’s show them it looks like thick-skinned substance and defiant eyes more than pastel wings and glitter. Howl with me, and tell them it sounds like exhausted sighs as much as it sounds like joyous giggles and high-pitched squeals. Dig your cauldron out of the cupboard, and let’s serve them a big dish of rich, red moon-blood and iron-strong dirt.

Let’s pinch their skin a bit and show them the Primal Feminine can feel like the bee sting of a love suddenly unrequited or a harsh truth spoken without warning.

We’ll stand so close to them, Sister, and they’ll know with all of their senses the Primal Feminine smells not of roses and vanilla, but of fresh and everlasting earthen musk emanating from a soul-deep source more ancient than even our most blessed invocations.


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Danielle Dulsky

Danielle Dulsky

Danielle Dulsky is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. Author of 'Seasons of Moon and Flame: The Wild Dreamer’s Epic Journey of Becoming', 'The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman' and 'Woman Most Wild' (New World Library 2020, 2018, 2017), Danielle teaches internationally and has facilitated embodiment trainings, wild circles, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School and the lead teacher for the school’s Flame-Tender Facilitator Training and online coven, The Hag Ways Collective, an E-RYT 500 and YACEP, a Fire-Keeper for Ord Brighideach, and a dedicant to Irish-Celtic spirituality. She believes in the power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists as well as the importance of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting environmental unconsciousness and social injustice. Parent to two beloved wildings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, art-making, poetry, and intentional awe.
Danielle Dulsky
  1. Joyful Things 24 - SunflowerTeeth Blog

    June 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    […] chinchillas! Their butts are so fluffy! Here is the NYTimes top 52 places to visit in 2017. This article about the wild feminine really makes me want to howl at the moon. Here are some of the oldest […]

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