It was a gift which arrived at just the right time (as all good ones do). A book; a real-life-made-with-paper-book which carried the weight of the message inside it. It arrived during our stay in San Francisco from a kind, thoughtful friend and I relished the process of unwrapping it, reading the accompanying message, “All intriguing women should read this book,” and palming the pages in anticipation of the adventure ahead.
“We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD, from ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves.’
As we drove into the historic town of Nevada City in northern California for the next leg of our road trip, I felt my body relax as my lungs expanded to take in the crisp air. Once a mining town built upon the riches contained within its depths, the streets were now lined with a gold of a different sort: yellow fall leaves bathed in afternoon sun.
We drove several miles from the center of town to our home for the next few days; a peaceful retreat surrounded by forest which consisted of a delightful tipi and several small cabins set around a fresh water pond.
I had never been in a tipi before, let alone slept in one and I was thrilled at the prospect of a new experience.
After sharing a delicious wood-fired pizza at a local brewery, we returned to the tipi upon nightfall. It was still early but the forest was shrouded in darkness and there was a severe chill in the air. Thankfully, the tipi came with the modern convenience of electricity so we could find our way around as we added more layers, snuggled into our sleeping bags and pulled the cozy duvet over us.
It didn’t take long for our bodies to warm up. My hands and nose, however, bore the brunt of the chill as I devoured the pages of my new book.
The following day we headed out to explore Nevada City and the neighboring town of Grass Valley. We strolled through parks and along streams and sipped freshly brewed, strong coffee.
That evening, we were treated to a delicious meal by our generous hosts. Chris and Vic built the retreat on land which was once inhabited by Native American people. The conversation flowed easily and the warmth of their hospitality was matched only by that of the roaring wood fire.
They suggested we stay in the nearby ‘Cowboy Cabin’ due to the cold. It was cute as a button and contained a wood stove which heated the small place in minutes. With bellies full of roasted chicken, apple puree from the orchard and freshly baked pumpkin pie, we drifted off to sleep like content puppies.
The next day was spent exploring Lake Tahoe on foot and by road. It was absolutely stunning, made more beautiful by the clear, crisp day which showed off it’s many hues of blues and greens.
It was a spectacular day but as we returned to the cabin to settle in for the night, I felt a nagging restlessness within, a longing for something I couldn’t quite define.
It is a feeling I am not unfamiliar with and one which has lived within me always. While it once tortured me and has often driven me, I have, in these past few years made friends with this yearning, churning feeling when it arises. I have also begun to listen to it rather than suppress it.
“I miss the tipi,” I blurted out to Tyrhone, who was comfortably nestled in bed reading. He gave me a surprised look when I told him I wanted to sleep in it one more time.
He bid me goodnight at the door of the cozy cabin as I clutched a torch and my book and crept toward the tipi under the glow of the almost-full moon.
Inside, I felt comfortable. I found it easier to breathe in the cool, crisp air and I relished the space of my solitude. I am so grateful for my relationship but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the balance of giving myself what I need, when I need it. I needed to be alone.
The dream catchers dangled above me as I flicked through the pages of a book on Native American Animal Medicine. I drew a card from the accompanying deck and flipped it over to reveal the image of a Bear.
The medicine of the Bear is believed to offer us time to be alone to contemplate, rest and reflect. Just as the Bear hibernates over the winter, we too, need to take time to be still and absorb everything we have learned and achieved throughout the year.
Those words filled me with relief. I had been a little anxious about the upcoming winter and wondering if I will be able to maintain my equilibrium without my beloved ocean nearby. The wisdom of the Bear removed my insecurities and I lay back, gazing up at the dream catcher overhead.
The sounds of the forest sporadically startled me throughout the night. Leaves falling on the tipi seemed louder than they should be and I thought I heard some forest creatures scurrying around outside. I surprised myself with how on edge I was about this and had to laugh at my dramatic imaginings of being attacked by a woodland animal.
I sent up a prayer to the spirits of the Wild Women who lived upon those lands before I did. I asked them to guide me on a mini vision quest and show me what I needed to know, even if it made me uncomfortable.
It was a fitful sleep. My mind was going off on tangents and there was some low level fear I had to face. I faced it all. My restlessness, my desires, my fears, my dreams. I did eventually fall asleep because at some point in the early hours of the morning, I woke up.
Though I mustn’t have had more than a few hours, I felt completely renewed, refreshed and undeniably peaceful. I was thankful to the spirits of the Wild Women for untangling my restlessness, helping me see through my fears and guiding me to connect with the Wild Woman who lives within me always.
“The old one, The One Who Knows is within us. She thrives in the deepest soul-pshyche of women, the ancient and vital wild Self. Her home is that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet – the place where mind and instincts mingle, where a woman’s deep life funds her mundane life. It is the point where the I and the Thous kiss, the place where, in all spirit, women run with the wolves.”
Thank you to Glamping Hub for connecting me to this wonderful experience.