A Study in Bones

The following entry may contain triggering material.

I think I mentioned before that I’d read Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés when I was about eight-ish: my family had a copy on the shelf, it was a collection of fairy tales, kid-me thought…okay, a collection of fairy tales, I can totally read this. I wasn’t wrong, I read it all the way through without a lot of difficulty. Words I didn’t know could usually be figured out from context, and more adult concepts that I couldn’t have known sailed right over my head. I didn’t know to skip the commentary. I’d like to think that it imprinted on me an appreciation for meta.

And I remember how particular Estés was about Baba Yaga’s torch with the skull on it, and how wondrously emotive and plotless the dreamlike retelling of La Lorna who sang the bones back into a living wolf, and how futile it seemed for a battered wife to tame a bear for some magic spell to soothe her PTSD soldier spouse (it wasn’t a magic spell that the bear gave, but the skills to “tame a bear”, geddit? Geddit? — Beww! Not cool! Said eight-year-old me.)

I do not remember, from that very early reading, the Skeleton Woman. I’d recently been introduced to this story, though, and the reteller’s meta struck a chord with me.

First, THANK GODS I AM NOT TIGER LILY FICTIONKIN that had been so awkward to carry. My first quest-meeting (or, as Carl Jung called it, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés is a Jungian…active imagination) with Captain Foxglove the Fairy Pirate, that started with the sea creatures eating my fetch to the bones, echo more the archetype of the Skeleton Woman. I can’t even say Skeleton Woman shard or kin, because Jungian psychology and psychospirituality doesn’t have that vocabulary, but it’s probably something sorta maybe kinda like the referent…but not. I can say that I’m the Skeleton Woman because—in this Jungian paradigm, anyway—everyone is and has been, at some time in our lives, the Skeleton Woman, and the fisherman love interest, and the abusive father who turned a flesh and blood woman into the skeleton woman, and the NPC’s like the townsfolk. Each of us are all of them. That’s why Jungian psychology capitalizes Self, inclusive of our ego-self that we identify (or identify as), and of all life experience and the total subconscious psyche.

There is something to be said for applying principles and standards of a paradigm consistently, but the I get back into Jungian psychology, the gladder I am that I have been exposed to these eclectic philosophies. Familiarity with the paradigm of the kyriarchy has been immensely liberating and helpful to me; yet, despite its insistence on universalization, it has no place in this entry and that’s a good thing. Like Jungian philosophy, if it’s your only tool, everything looks like a nail when it’s not. Constructive. To apply. Actually.

I find this a lot in Shadow Work, how Jung frames any and all irritation, pang, pain, or trauma as an opportunity to examine the inner self for the underlying beliefs we hold to that cause such pain.

For instance: A grade-school classmate telling everyone not to talk to me because I had an absent biological father and I was therefore probably demonkin. Why was I so needy and entitled to the attention and conversation of such cruel and illogical peers? Why would I have bought into this idea of a model nuclear family as a value judgment on my own home life? Why did I not take demonkin as a kickass awesome thing to be accused of?

I’m sure the world would also have become a slightly better place had someone taken Trish aside and told her that she shouldn’t use her words to shape people’s behavior like that, or even put out the idea among us grade-schoolers that the Catholic figure of Satan wasn’t so literal that they could be classmates with Satan’s actual child. My inner world would have become a much worse place, had the questions in the paragraph immediately preceding this one had come out of self-loathing rather than curiosity. Like, the words might be the same, but the feeling underneath would be more: Why can’t I just get over it, why can’t I be more independent, my inherent needy nature is so annoying to everyone, the world would be better off without me, I’m a pouty bastard child like Jon Snow-nothing, Otherkin are attention-seeking special snowflakes and demonkin are evil to boot why am I… That sort of attitude or approach, I believe, would be disastrous; but the Jungian method is, I believe, sound enough that it ought not be thrown out the window entirely just because I myself personally could have very easily approached that Shadow Work in a self-harming way that would lead to all-consuming despair and suicide, or just because I might write a lot about the Jungian process but a lot of recovering the wounded inner child was just meeting more people later in life who weren’t colossal dickweeds. Such is life!

The story of the Skeleton Woman introduced to me something like Shadow Work, but the opportunity provided is more positive: upon attraction or desire, treat it the same way as a Jungian would treat pain or irritation—and look within for why.

3,000-ish words under cut about Captain Foxglove and me

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Mini Labyrinth Pictures

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After a disastrous attempt at salt dough labyrinths during a humid, rainy month, one of my coworkers (I have coworkers again! I has a jobs!) introduced me to the wonders to air-dry clay. I’ve been really into this new hobby.

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Clockwise, big white one first: Chartres labyrinth, mirror of Erwin Reißmann’s (blogmymaze) inspired by Lea Goode-Harris’ Santa Rosa labyrinth, classical or Cretan labyrinth, my own zigzag spiral design.


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