Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

From Dr. E: Blessing-Poem, “One Day When I Was Old”

In Blessing-Poems from Dangerous Old Woman fireside on April 25, 2010 at 1:04 AM

Here’s is the blessing-poem  for you from the first release of The Dangerous Old Woman manuscript, fireside #2. It is called, “One Day When I Was Old” and  was written twice, having some of the same lines fore and aft, as in curanderismo chant.

Peace be with you, good souls.

with love,



“One Day When I Was Old”

by CP Estés

I remember one day when I was young,

forty-five years or so old,

I woke up an old woman that morning.

Not quite in body all the way, but close.

And also in mind.

And I thought, “This is good.”

For also, in the face I was changed,

a little bark-chipped and creased,

like a tree long-lived enough

after having been planted so long ago

by some winged bird

accidentally letting fall a semi-sacred seed

into some almost impossible place,

precisely the way most of us came to earth–

unplanned, and yet sticking to the place

where we were dropped,

growing, growing flowers and fruits

set into our DNA–

and this too was good.

I leaned through the window

of my bathroom mirror,

and touched her old, cracked face… Read the rest of this entry »


The Old Woman in the Mirror: A Case of An Art Critic’s Erroneous View of Age

In from The Dangerous Old Woman manucript on April 25, 2010 at 12:51 AM

The art critic says of this work by Bernardo Strozzi:

Here, he portrays an old woman with jaded skin and white hair who is denying herself the dignity of old age. She is having her hair sumptuously styled and ornamented with ribbons and feathers, is wearing a youthful, low-cut dress and admiring herself with pleasure in the mirror.

“The theme of this painting has a long tradition: the old woman who has not learned to give her life any other meaning but that of ornament and vanity, and who is unable to see the truth or recognize her true self in the mirror. Strozzi’s formulation, however, is both individual and new. It makes the most of the surface values, deliberately contrasting the wrinkled skin of the old woman with the fresh complexion of her servant and juxtaposing the firm and rounded forms of youth with the withered slackness of old age. He reveals in the mirror that the old woman’s red cheeks are painted with rouge, and he places a blossoming, scented rose in her wrinkled hand. He also shows us the uncriticizing complacency on her face, leaving it up to the spectator to deduce a sense of embarrassment, emptiness, transparent illusion and moral warning.”

But, Dr. Estés, disagrees and offers the following:

Stand back Critic! I’d just offer this, with a gentler eye and a care for storyline…  This painting, called “Old Woman in the Mirror,” was painted 400 years ago.

I personally do not see what the “art critic” sees, although that could be true for some. Rather, I look at the evidence of love the artist has put into his brush strokes…

This is not a painting of a vain nor vile woman. This is a painting of a woman who has presence. I see her feathered fan, and I feel drawn to love her quiet boldness, and admire her mein and want to know all about her life.

The “art critic’s” commentary tells nothing of what a woman who loves color and artfulness would think or feel– nor a man, as she/ he comes into her/his years. The interpretation is clearly exactly the vapid  view the overculture teaches some to see in age, cheaply that is… as my grandmother used to say, “with so narrow a point of view the person can see through a keyhole with both eyes.”

This time of age is a poignant time for being, dressing, acting, learning, living artfuly. Not in spite of age, but BECAUSE of it. This is our time to flower in any and every way we wish. Not in spite of our challenges, but BECAUSE of them. It is laughable that the overculture would like to define what ‘coming to terms’ with each stage of our lives ought look like, act like… when the overculture still thinks the answer to most challenges is war.

I believe this is a portrait of the artist’s mother whom the artist protected and loved. And she protected him. Note in the mirror, the eye of the younger woman is the same shape as the old woman’s eyes. This is not a painting about vanity; it’s a painting about resonance. about generations.  The painting says she is as gentle, tender, lovely scented, and fresh as the flower she holds, that though the flower is cut, there are more where that came from, and in seasons… Read the rest of this entry »

From Dr.E.: Blessing-Poem, “I Am Not Needed There…Fire! Give Me Fire!”

In Blessing-Poems from Dangerous Old Woman fireside on April 23, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Dear Brave Souls: I’m placing this blessing-poem here for you as encouragement, as support, as knowledge… all of which are far different and often more sustaining than ‘information’ alone. Peace be with you. Til we meet again at the fireside …soon.

With love,

Dr. E



by CP Estés

I am not needed.

There are enough scholars

arguing both or all sides of everything.

(I always laugh when I hear about “equal time”

as though there are only two sides.

There are thousands of sides to everything.)

I am not needed there.

There are enough etymologists.

There are others who can use the beautiful words

like nosology, tautology,

eschatology, exegesis, and omphalos—

(not to mention syzygy)

even though only five-thousand people worldwide

know what those words really mean.

I am not needed there.

There are ever so many beautiful singers,

whose voices are sweet or clear or powerful.

And though I love to feel them play my bones,

I am not needed there either.

There are more than enough people busy

stirring the pot, taking the high road,

knowing all the short cuts,

calling more cooks to supervise the broth,
Read the rest of this entry »