Please check off all below that apply to you:
Feeling -depressed -frail -fatigued -confused -muzzled -unaroused -frightened -weak -without inspiration -lacking Soulfulness -powerless -chronically doubtful -uncreative -shame bearing -blocked -unable to follow through -uncertain -self-conscious -brittle -numb -anxious -fear of caring for another/others -fear of beginning -fear of ending something you know is no good for you -fear of standing up, speaking up, or speaking out -lacking purpose -lacking direction -lacking passion
If you checked more than a few of those off, perhaps you have strayed too far away from your natural, instinctive, Wild Self.
After being recommended to me by many people, I am finally reading “Women Who Run With The Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. If you haven’t read the book, the author is a Jungian psychoanalyst who believes that fairy tales and myths hold secrets that can teach us how to remember our “wildish Self”, the part of us that includes our instinct, our intuition, our resiliency. Our Wild Woman is the part of us that is in tune with our natural cycles. Our Wild Woman has purpose – she knows why she is here and she walks that path steadily and sure-footedly. Integrating our Wild Woman leads to what Jung called individuation, being aware of and accepting all of the contrary parts of our psyche, the lights and shadows. Calling forward your inner Wild Woman leads to psychological and Soul health.
The chapter on the story of Bluebeard and how it relates to reclaiming our Wild Self was very moving to me, I guess because I can relate so well to it, as I am sure many, many women can.
You are probably familiar with the story.
Bluebeard comes calling, a man with a beard so dark it looks black. The youngest daughter of the family, despite her sisters’ misgivings, accepts his proposal and marries the dark stranger. He whisks her away to his castle.
Shortly after the honeymoon he announces he is leaving for a short trip. He leaves his young bride with a huge ring of keys, and tells her she is free to help herself to anything in the castle, and free to go anywhere in the castle, as long as she promises to never use the smallest key on the ring. She agrees, and he leaves.
She and her sisters go riding in the forest, then return to the castle and decide to explore. They begin at the top floor, and work their way through each room, marveling at the many fine things they find. Finally they stand before the last unopened door of the castle, a small door at the end of a long hall at the very bottom of the cellar. At the urging of her sisters, the young bride slips the last key, the smallest key, into the lock and swings open the door. There she is greeted by the sight of bones and blood and gore – the remains of her husband’s previous wives.
She and her sisters flee from the basement, and the young bride realizes that the smallest key on the ring has begun dripping red blood. She tries everything she can to stop the bleeding, but nothing works. She hears Bluebeard returning, so in a panic she shoves the ring of keys into her wardrobe.
On his return, he asks for his keys. She tells him she must have lost them, but he does not believe her. He opens her wardrobe to look for them, and she is horrified to see that the key has bled over all of her dresses, staining them all a deep red. Bluebeard flies in a rage because he knows that his wife has disobeyed him, so he prepares to drag her off by the hair to his basement slaughter room.
She pleads for him to let her have some time to prepare herself for death and he agrees to allow her fifteen minutes. She mentally calls for her brothers, and her sisters hurry to the castle roof to watch for her rescue to come. Just as her time is up, as Bluebeard is smashing her chamber door open to drag her off to her death, her brothers storm into the castle on their horses. They run Bluebeard down, run him through, and leave his remains on the balcony for the buzzards and vultures.
According to Estes, Bluebeard represents the part of us that wants to keep us from connecting with our Wild Woman. He can be created by our upbringing or conditioning, by ancestral trauma, or by any number of things. The dead wives are the parts of us that have been killed or maimed by the predator. The key to opening the door to those dead parts of ourselves is asking the right questions, daring to explore ourselves and being brave enough to stand up to what we may find, no matter how ugly and disturbing.
“In order to ban the predator, we must unlock or pry ourselves and other matters open to see what is inside. We must use our abilities to stand what we see. We must speak our truth in a clear voice. And we must be able to use our wits to do what needs to be done about what we see.”-C.Pinkola-Estes
The chapter inspired me to create a tarot spread, and I’d like to share it with you. I’ve laid the cards out in the form of a key, unlocking our past as a way to grow into a healthier future.
This is a useful spread to read periodically, as the nature of our own personal Bluebeard evolves as we do.
I offered a free reading to a brave soul so I could test drive the spread, and they have given their permission for me to use their reading as an example here. For the sake of brevity for this blog, this is a quick reading – much more depth and nuance can be brought into the reading for a fuller experience.
First, here are the cards I drew (using the Wild Unknown deck, a natural choice for this kind of work).
Card 1: BLUEBEARD: What is the nature of my predator, the enemy of my Wild Self? Remember, the predator is not usually as it seems. Bluebeard appeals to our weaknesses and seduces us into ignorance.
DAUGHTER OF SWORDS : Your inner censor and critic are your worst enemy. The daughter of swords in this position indicates that you may be hesitant to speak your truth, that you may feel muzzled and unable to communicate what you really want to say. Sometimes we stop ourselves from saying what we want for the sake of being nice. This is especially true for women. After all, Bambi’s mother drilled it into a few generations, that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. It’s a way of taming our inner Wild Woman, domesticating our inner Wolf until she is an obedient little lap dog.
Card 2: THE KEY: What do I know deep in my soul that I wish I didn’t?
THREE OF WANDS: You know that you can envision what you want for your self and your life, but you’re afraid to face it, maybe because you know if you face up to it you will have to do something about it. And that can be very scary. Beginnings can be scary. Change can be scary. Especially if your Bluebeard is breathing down your neck, telling you to be quiet, telling you your ideas are worthless, and that you need to stop daydreaming. In the card, you can see your whole integrated self as the swirling rainbow, like you’re looking through a window. The jagged branches around it can be seen as representing your fears – you’re afraid to actually step through the portal into your whole, healthy Self, because you’re afraid you will hurt yourself. Those branches are awfully pointy. So you stay back, you hesitate from moving forward.
Card 3: THE DEAD WIVES: What of myself lays dying or dead? What part of my psyche has Bluebeard preyed upon?
THE SUN: The part of yourself that has suffered by denying your voice is your vitality. You are stopping yourself from shining as brightly as you can. This can manifest itself physically as feeling fatigued, feeling run-down and possibly depressed. You may feel like you have lost your drive and your passion, your zest for life.
Card 4: THE BROTHERS: What can I call upon to help me?
TEN OF PENTACLES: It looks like at this time you have the physical security to be able to explore yourself fully, to integrate with your Wild Woman. Perhaps this means that you have a safe physical space or home life, a place where you feel like you are safe to be yourself and speak your truth.
This card can also speak about legacies, so are there any role models in your ancestry from whom you can learn from and whose behaviour you can model? Perhaps it’s the opposite – perhaps you can see the mistakes of your parents and ancestors and feel secure in knowing you have learned from them, making yourself stronger.
Card 5: KILLING BLUEBEARD: How can I neutralize and disassemble the predator?
MOTHER OF CUPS: You can kill your Bluebeard, your inner critic and censor, with love. Love yourself, all aspects of yourself, with the complete and utter adoration that a mother has for her newborn baby. Love yourself completely. Love yourself complete. Decide to be the sovereign of your emotions and feelings. Own them. All of them. No matter how ugly or disturbing you may find them.
Card 6: THE BUZZARDS: What can the energy of my predator be transformed into?
EIGHT OF WANDS: When you stop censoring and criticizing yourself, you will then be able to start feeling a sense of direction and purpose. By allowing yourself to speak your truth you will be able to finally feel secure in who you are. You will jump start your passions, your drive, your personal power, with the transformative power of a lightning bolt.
The client’s feedback (in part): “The spread and the reading were so completely accurate for me and actually moved me to tears. It made me vow to begin loving myself, all of my parts, and continue to move toward my true self. I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate this reading and what it has done for me.”
I hope this spread is useful for you in working towards wholeness. Please let me know how it works for you. If you would like your own personal Killing Blackbeard reading with me, please get in touch.