Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Archive for the ‘from The Dangerous Old Woman manucript’ Category

Early Provisions for the Journey Ahead

In from The Dangerous Old Woman manucript on May 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Dear Brave Souls of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart

Just some vittles and nourishments for later, once the fireside of The Dangerous Old Woman is banked until next we meet in the clearing in the night forest once again…

from The Dangerous Old Woman manuscript,

“It is women’s work to bring the ultimate art forward: Living in the soul, rather than living in the overculture. To enter the soul, be it, teach it with as much wit, meaning, grace and grit—and cackles—as possible.”

“One of the best things about gathering years is the right to cackle with impugnity”

“As a woman gathers more years, she becomes more bold, which is not the same as brave: Brave is jumping in. Bold is jumping in led by angels. In age, we learn to know the difference. For certain, ‘older is bolder…’”

“In old tales, there are plenty of bitter old creatures railing about shrieking me me me. One of the masteries of age, is to divest of bitterness which acts as a dam to the inspiratus and to one’s sense of calm in ‘being enough.’ Bitterness is self-imposed ‘prison of unhappiness’ where the feelings of isolation and rage seem to enliven us, but in fact, only deaden us to love and creative force.”

“If you are chronically seething, look not so much to your ‘designated enemy,’ but to your envy and your pride… Try to understand both, strive toward correcting the illusions and delusions that create and feed black jealousy and petrified-eyed pride. Envy and pride are angers that come from forgetting your promesas, forgetting your own El destino, forgetting to put Source without source at center, instead of ego-bilge.”

“Like a very young child learning to crawl who becomes stuck under a chair and cries out til the child’s mother pulls gently at its legs teaching it to crawl backward… learn to back out of the tangle. Your heart and soul will thank you, and Lady Wisdom will smile that you are free.”

“Will there be, no matter how one lives one’s life, a lotus of good witches and  a snarl of ‘bad witches’ somewhere within and-or outside each woman’s life? Count on it. As in the old tales, they all show up in many disguises.”

“In my immigrant and refugee family’s old story handed down, the’ whiteness’ Snow White carries is not about her skin color. It is about the eternal purity of her sweet soul, despite all else contravening.”

Peace be with you entirely.

With love,



CODA: the image above is an applique from my collection of The Sacred Heart I’ve cared for through the decades. It is, I think, an idea about the creative force without Source, able to shine regardless of being pierced by thorns.


Coda, atop is an applique from a little collection of devotional sacred hearts I’ve found and cared for during my lifetime.


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 »