Clarissa Pinkola Estés is a poet, storyteller, mythologist, Jungian psychoanalyst and author of Women Who Run with the Wolves (WWRWW). I met with Dr. Estés and about 100 other fortunate women last week at a WWRWW Facilitator Training in Colorado.
Filled with ancient teaching stories (usually called fairy tales), WWRWW is in effect a manual of the initiatory journey from girlhood to womanhood. This is a book for every woman to read, savor, and return to again and again.
Few of us were initiated into womanhood. It our task is to seek out our rites of passage.
At the same time, we must help our sisters (and brothers) embody their fullest, truest, most human selves – particularly children and youth. It is said that only an initiated adult can initiate others, but in this transitional time, we must magically do the “impossible.”
It is possible and it is essential to bring back mentorship and rites of passage.
Walking in two worlds is crucial to re-instating the adolescent rite of passage. To re-igniting all our rites of passage, from birth to death. To healing and wholing individually and culturally. To co-creating the world we want to live in.
What’s most remarkable to me about Dr. Estés
– and what lights the path of initiation -
is her practice of the art of walking in two worlds.
More than any person I’ve ever met, Dr. E. actively embodies this art, this very human way of being.
We all have the innate capacity for both rational thought and for finding truth, guidance and wisdom from that which is greater - call it Spirit, God, Goddess, one's wild instinctual self, one's higher angels, one’s deepest intuition.
Whether the words point to within or without, they indicate the same source of universal Truth, Beauty, and Wisdom.
We are born with this capacity to receive truth and insight from the Greater All.
Observe any child. She is walking in two worlds everyday ... unless she's been taught not to.
We need both the rational and the non-rational to function in a complete, purpose-filled way, to realize our wholeness as humans and to serve this world and the holy in the fullest way. Only a tiny fraction of the information and support that is available to us is found in rational, consensual reality. The world as we know it today is the result of most of humanity being cut off from this magical birthright.
How does one cultivate the ability to walk in two worlds?
“Practice!” says Dr. Estés.
Walking in Two Worlds practices are straightforward, nourishing and accessible to all. Incorporate these into your daily life to cultivate your natural capacity.
You don’t need to visit a South American shaman! You don't need substances (other than good, clean food). Everything you need is contained in your body, mind, soul and spirit.
Simply attune to what is present
within and around you.
Bring awareness, responsiveness, expression and joy to your entire experience. The sensations and perceptions of your body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.
Suggested Practices for Walking in Two Worlds
Choose what calls you and invite them into your life daily.
- Remember, write down, and reflect on your dreams.
- Cultivate those moments of altered consciousness such as when you are half-awake in the morning or when a reverie becomes a waking dream.
- Sing or chant. Make music!
- Be creative – draw, paint, write…
- Move your body expressively and/or intuitively. Dance life!
- Spend time outdoors. Connect with the natural world. For instance, observe trees. What is their gesture? Feel into them. What is it like to be that tree, right now? Listen to them. What can you learn?
- Tune into Sister Moon. Follow Her cycles. What is She inviting? Gaze at Her. Sing to Her. Draw Her down into your body. Today (Tuesday, August 2) we have a Dark Moon in Leo followed by tomorrow’s New Moon, A potent time of possibility.
- Honor the Wheel of the Year, the changing seasons. Today is Lammas (midpoint between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox) in the northern hemisphere – a time to celebrate the early harvest, gratitude for what’s been received, and to ponder how to best serve life with these resources. In the southern hemisphere, it’s Imbolc (midpoint of Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox) – the quickening of new life. What are you growing this season?
- If you have (or had) a menstrual cycle, you are blessed with an initiatory journey each month. Chart your cycle, noting how your intuition ebbs and flows, how your dreams evolve, how your feelings and what calls you changes throughout your cycle.
- Learn from children. They are infused with this magic – until they are taught to ignore and suppress what they see, hear and sense what is not of this world. Let them be your teachers.
And please, hold the space open for children to be the natural shamans they are.
How are you walking in two worlds?
What practices nourish your wild instinctual self?
How have you sought out or offered rites of passage?
Please leave a comment!