An Open Call for Wild Women.
Birch trees. Hunks of granite. Tall strands of yellow flowers. My feet fall, one over the other, splashing through puddles. Mud climbs up my legs.
I jump rocks and dodge divots where the earth gives out and my path becomes perfectly imperfect. As I crash through the New Hampshire woods, running alone, something comes loose within me as sweat rolls down my body, my breath hard and fast. I am laughing, arms swinging. But what is this feeling? This foreign thing that has come undone and risen within me?
I have come to identify it as a wildness, a freedom I have rarely experienced as a woman. A feeling made possible in a place where I wasn’t being watched or scrutinized or forced to worry. A place where I could move intuitively, my mind clear, and connect into that thing that was bigger than me, than everything. That wild life-force of nature.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., author of Women Who Run With the Wolves writes, “There are times when we experience her, even if only fleetingly, and it makes us mad with wanting to continue. For some women, this vitalizing “taste of the wild” comes during pregnancy, during nursing their young, during the miracle of change in oneself as one raises a child, during attending to a love relationship as one would attend to a beloved garden. A sense of her also comes through the vision; through sights of great beauty… We see her where we see her…”
Women for centuries have been socialized to keep their impulses in check. To be orderly, neat, to be nice. To bear the burden of responsibility to care for themselves, others, and their surroundings.
Women are often seen culturally as something to be had, grabbed and valued based on their outward appearance, it’s no wonder that we are bred with the need to keep it hemmed in. To fear flaunting it is an open invitation. Walking down a city street in a dress and heels? I learned a long time ago that equates to asking for trouble in the form of unwanted attention.
A few years back, I was teaching a Yoga class to a large group of four-year-olds at a Montessori school. I watched as the girls in the class carefully arranged their bodies into their closest approximation of a gorilla as instructed, while the boys devolved into a writhing pile of limbs on the reading rug.
Yes, the difference observed here between the group of girls and boys could be chalked up to nature, but what if it has more to do with the idea that as girls we are taught from birth, or even subconsciously nurtured, to give up that wild?
“The spiritual lands of the Wild Woman have, throughout history, been plundered or burnt, dens bulldozed, and natural cycles forced into unnatural rhythms to please others,” wrote Estes. But then how and where can we tap into the wild nature of our own hearts, given that history has ritualistically discouraged us from doing so?
I have spent much of my life being the good girl, the good daughter, the good employee. And it wasn’t until stepping into professional roles as a manager and director and professor that I finally realized I didn’t have to ask for permission. I had the authority to make smart decisions on my own.
A Wild Woman is just that — not a call for reckless debauchery, but rather taking the permission needed to show up authentically in our relationships, workplaces, and even during our alone time.
The idea of the Wild Woman is not a new concept. Fiction author Louise Erdrich — with female characters like the infamous Fleur who are charged with the mystical wild nature of the wolf — asks, “So what is wild? What is wilderness? What are dreams but an internal wilderness and what is desire but a wildness of the soul?”
Growing up in the nineties, I ate up books and movies and TV shows that featured the strong female with a wild soul. So what if Buffy’s job was to kill vampires? She was still a model for strength and grace. Hell, even Hester Prynne during sophomore year required reading stood out as admirable — she lived according to her own rules, regardless of that scarlet A.
I believe wild is a state that needs to be accessed by women more now than ever. But how do we cultivate an internal wilderness? Over the past decade, I have searched for it in my own life on the Yoga mat and through writing. I have searched for it on the top of mountains and on solo travel adventures to different parts of the world.
My best approximation of that wild feeling that felt so healing, like a salve or medicine for the spirit, I found most often in nature, free from the trappings of my regular life, while moving, while quieting my mind, while creating.
I have found that incorporating meditation, movement, and creative self-expression daily (or as often as able) is the best way to maintain the slow-steady burning of that wildness inside our hearts.
This could be in droplet forms, in minutes, it could be weeklong retreats dedicated to the cultivation of this freedom, but the more and more we are able to tap into that unknowable (for many of us) nature, the more we are able to be our authentic selves.
So let this be a wake-up call for the wild heart. A wake-up call for those on autopilot to find a direct way to connect deeply with this life in a meaningful, wild way.
Christine Meade is a writer with a decade of experience teaching writing, Yoga and meditation. She is also the founder of the Wild Heart-Collective, which hopes to inspire others through movement, mindfulness, and creativity. To learn more about Christine, visit her website.