Re-Wilding our Imaginations


“What if the way out can be much sexier than buying things or changing legislation? What if it is more fun, and more colorful? What if the way out has to do with “re-wilding” our imaginations, undomesticating our lives, and reclaiming not only our rights but also our health?”  Malia Burkhart


Watercolor painting by Katelyn Mariah BFA

When I read Malia’s blog post about the 99 or One and the occupy movement it struck a chord with me.  I especially like the concept of re-wilding our imaginations, undomesticating our lives and reclaiming our rights and our health. First of all I like the made up words because they go against domestication and move toward reclaiming our wildness.   This reminds me of how I was stirred and inspired in the early 90’s by the Wild Woman movement started by  Clarissa Pinkola Estes and her book “Women who Run With Wolves”.  I was even part of a Wild Women artist group and we did a lot of wild and crazy things together.


This quote from “Women who Run With Wolves” brings up wonderful images of what that might begin to look like:

“Within in every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.  Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.  Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered the treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.  Without Wild Women, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative and trapped.

“To adjoin the instinctual nature does not mean to come undone, change everything from left to right, from black to white, to move the east to west, to act crazy or out of control. It does not mean to lose one’s primary socializations, or to become less human. It means quite the opposite. The wild nature has a vast integrity to it”

“La Loba (Wolf Woman), the old one, the One Who Knows, is within us. She thrives in the deepest soul-psyche of women, the ancient and vital Wild Woman. She describes her home as that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet the place where her mind and her instincts mingle, where a woman’s deep life funds her mundane life. It is the point where the I and the Thou kiss, the place where women run with the wolves”

Another quote from Women who Run With Wolves” compares women’s wild nature to that of the wolf.  “Healthy wolves and healthy women share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and a heightened capacity for devotion.  Wolves and women are relational by nature, inquiring, possessed with great endurance and strength.  They are deeply intuitive, intensely concerned for their young, their mate and the pack. They are experienced in adapting to constantly changing circumstances, they are fiercely stalwart and very brave.”

When I read that passage I find myself saying, “YES”, it is my soul and spirit that she is describing.  Whether the connection is made to wolves or another animal the energy is the same.  Animals follow their natural instincts and the flow of nature.  In the flow they are taken care of and they are operating from the present rather than the past or future.  This is their nature and it is something we as humans have to practice in order to be present.  The nature of our souls is the same as the nature of animals.  The difference between animals and humans is intellect and the ability to think, create and problem solve and often those things get in the way.


It is an excellent book but I feel that it leaves out the unexplored wild nature of men. The instinctual nature of both men and women has dropped behind the veil of the material world to the point of becoming extinct. Through concrete, noise, stress, obligations and responsibilities and fast pace way of life, people have lost touch with their wild nature and true essence.  We have been domesticate yet that doesn’t mean that domestication has to be our primary mode of operation.   Domestication has little to do with our authentic wild self and a lot to do with conformity and fitting in.  It has little to do with what our heart and soul desires and more about being enslaved.

“Nature and human beings are not separate. You can be sure that when the land and creatures are wounded by humans, that those humans are copying their own psychic wounds into the earth and animals as well; what is wounded and without thought, wounds others…” ~From essay “Massacre of the Dreamers, in “Untie The Strong Woman book” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

The Wild Man and Wild Woman are becoming an endangered species. How sad when it is really our true nature to be wild. The word wild congers up all kinds of images of unruly, aggressive, uncivilized behavior but it is also that which is natural and instinctual that can’t and should not be tamed. To some, the wild nature might seem like shadow because it isn’t the “acceptable” way to be.


We are born inspirited and inspired.  Children gravitate toward the earth, nature and the forest when they go out to play.  They play in the mud and eat flowers, jump like frogs and run like horses. They are in touch with their instincts, their imagination and intuition and their worlds are alive. Children talk to animals, to bugs, to birds and to plants because they can feel the spirit in each of them.  Children are in touch with their wild nature and because we were all once children that same wild nature is available to us.


In one of my favorite children’s books, Maurice Sendak tells the story of Max, who one evening plays around his home making “mischief” in a wolf costume.  As punishment, his mother sends him to bed without supper. That is how we were all domesticated, we were punished for doing things that didn’t fit the status quo.  In his room, a mysterious, wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land of the Wild Things. The Wild Things are fearsome-looking monsters, but Max proves to be the fiercest, conquering them by “staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once”, and he is made “the king of all wild things”, dancing with the monsters in a “wild rumpus”.

Our wild nature is chipped away through the socialization process, what  Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the Four Agreements calls domestication.  We are taught to blend in with the pack. Words like “day dreaming”, are used to describe a child who is actually in touch with his spirit.  Children are told they are imaging things when they have a “knowing” about something. These kind of phrases chisel away at the child’s ability to trust their natural instincts. Before they know it they don’t trust their intuition, knowing and dreams because adults told them it wasn’t okay.

Detached from our natural instincts, we shift our prospective away from soul on to ego and begin to live from the prospective of fear rather than love. Fear restricts our energy, disconnects us from spirit and aborts the process of natural manifestation.  We make decisions out of fear and the world responds back in fear. Social programming has left us over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative and trapped.


We have projected our own wounds on how we treat nature and the earth.  I think that is what we are witnessing right now, right alongside of a movement around the world of people banding together to break free of it.  Estes Pinkola and Sendak were planting seeds toward this movement and now those seeds are blossoming.  I think we have reached momentum and that is what we are watching now in the freedom movements across the globe.  People are so tired of feeling fearful, un-creative and trapped that they are willing to give their lives to change things.

We have been away from our wildish nature too long as slaves to domestication and social programming. Men and women are shifting back toward their wild nature, a few at a time. It is exciting to watch people waking up and begin to explore the wild and natural creature that they are. This needs to be nurtured and supported. The wild man and wild woman live imaginative lives.  They are not afraid to dream their dreams and make them a reality. They are using their imaginations and following their instinctive intuition. It is from the place of our wild, instinctual nature that we will be able to survive the shift of time and arrive at a new civilization.

This is not an easy process because it means questioning all the things we were taught as children.  It means letting go of judgment, self-censorship and comparing. It means moving toward acceptance of self and others, of saying what is on our minds and not worrying about what others think and not comparing ourselves to each other in order to fit in and feel accepted because that is where the creative juice and genius is.  That is the edge of the norm and the beginning of new territory.  That is where the gate to the playground is.  From that place we can burst forth a new world and our life, our health and our soul depends on it.

Doesn’t that sound more colorful and sexy than what we have been doing for way too long?

Here is my favorite photo of myself hanging out with wild things…


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