The wild woman archetype is, in essence, a woman’s wild soul. It is who she was born to be and who she was before socialization and enculturation. We also call her the feminine principle. She resides in the soulful depths of a woman, as opposed to the spiritual heights of the divine. She lives within our body and instincts. She is the answer to Simone de Beauvoir’s inquiry into who woman was before she was made (formed and informed by our patriarchal culture).
Your personal wild woman archetype wants to build a conscious relationship with you. Your mission: shed your enculturated layers, foster greater self-awareness, and become conscious of the innate wildness that lives within you. “How do I do that?” you may be wondering. Below are some suggestions you can implement to foster a relationship with your individual wild woman archetype.
Challenge the ideas, values, and beliefs you have by asking, “Is this actually my belief, or have I appropriated it from my culture?” Challenge your beliefs. Consider whether it is your belief, your mother’s, your father’s, and/or your culture’s. How does this belief feel in your body? Many complex beliefs (such as our sexuality) can require some time before we gain clarity.
Listen to your body.
The wild woman lives in the body of a woman. She is connected to the instinctual, animal part of our being. It can be hard to reconnect with this wisdom because many of us were taught the opposite at a very young age. Begin to recover it by tracking sensations and naming them. Notice tingling, tension, warmth, cold, pain, pleasure, and so on. Progress from sensation tracking to emotional tracking — how do you feel, what emotion is occurring, and where is it located in your body?
Follow your intuition.
Intuition is different than instinct. Instinct is more of that “gut feeling” you may have about something (or someone), while intuition is subtle and irrational. It is a way of knowing something that defies logic. Intuition will show you a whole picture of a possible outcome. Start to pay attention to your “knowing without knowing”, and trust that information. Intuition shows up in folk medicine, like divination, and even in hands-on-body work, such as Reiki.
Record your dreams.
Many people will say, “My dreams are silly” or “I don’t remember my dreams.” Instead, say, “I am working on my dream recall.” Set the intention and send the message to the wild woman that you want to hear her voice through your dreams. Then, put a journal beside your bed or record a voice memo of it with your smartphone. At some point, you will think, “This isn’t important,” but this is just the voice that has been culturally conditioned. It is important! Your most authentic self is waiting for you to discover it.
Meditation is not for everyone. Some people are better off walking alone in nature. The point is to create conditions where you can observe your mind. Keep track of your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Your mind may wander. Return to your breath. In doing so, you observe your mind creating separation between your consciousness and your thoughts. There is no goal. Be open to eventually hearing that quiet inner voice hidden underneath your busy thoughts. What is that voice saying? Write it down.
Garden or care for plants.
Many women have an innate interest in plants or gardening, even if they are novices. There is earthly wisdom in plants. Gardening (in the Earth or in pots) grounds us in our daily life. Plants teach us about tending to the inner and outer wilds. The earth and the body mirror each other — taking care of one takes care of the other. Ask yourself, “What thoughts am I weeding? What needs more room to grow?”
You can love urban life and still create space and time to connect with nature. Find nearby parks or beaches and make a point of spending a bit of time there each week (or daily if you live close by). Pay attention. Notice what you see (e.g. a bee, bird, frog, leaf, tree, etc.) and track your sensations, inquire into your feelings, let yourself daydream and notice. What does it remind you of? Go slow. Breathe in. Let nature fill your lungs and cells.
Set your intention and let your intuition guide a ritual that feels right for you. Maybe you are ready to release hurtful emotions caused by a past betrayal. One suggestion is to write a letter to the betrayer. Make sure it is uncensored as it is for your benefit and eyes, not theirs. When you have said everything you needed to say, take it to the water, have a little fire (safely in a can or in a small stone circle), and send it away. Maybe you burn it with a plant, like cedar or sage. Your intuition and intention are what matters.
Another ritual for women to practice happens around our moon time. Honor this powerful time of cleansing and shedding. Honor your body as a powerful vessel that creates new life. During menstruation, ask yourself, “What else is being shed so new life has the opportunity to grow?” Journal. Show appreciation for your body’s miraculous power.
Spend time with other women.
The wild woman loves spending time with other women. Choose women who support each other to be their most empowered, authentic expression of themselves. Be spontaneous and see what conversations come up. You can also invite a friend for a walk. Walking — especially in nature — can spur some enlightening conversations.
The wild woman archetype is intensely creative. She likes to create and make. She might make art, food, clothing, and more. Most of all, the wild woman archetype wants to create a wild life. A life that is free from the burden of beliefs, ideals, and values inauthentic to her. Let yourself imagine the life you want to create. Imagine the best life you can without worrying about the “how”. See that image and let her show you the way, one step at a time. She loves to create with you. Let her help you create the life that is already living inside of you.
The Wild Woman in Your Dreams
The wild woman archetype speaks to us symbolically. Her language is universal and not limited by words. She loves images, poems, metaphors, stories, dreams, art, and nature. She also does love a good pun, so watch out for those in your dreams. A pun might show up as a play on words symbolically represented. For example, one night, I asked her for a sign before going to sleep, so she sent me a dream of an eagle — majestic and beautiful — carrying a highway sign in its talons. That was my sign: an eagle-carrying-sign.
Her symbols are not usually literal, so if you dream about getting intimate with your neighbor, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or think you are on course to manifest it. Instead, ask: “What does this person represent?” Conversely, if you are thinking about issues regarding your actual love interest and you suddenly see a bee, maybe the bee represents the sweetness this person brings to your life (or if it is a wasp, the sting). With the internet, it’s easy to quickly research any noun’s symbolic meaning.
Often, the wild woman archetype will show up in your dreams as a feline or a bear. Both of these animals are viewed as powerful forces, so you might be afraid at first. Go slowly towards these theriomorphic representations of the wild woman archetype as it takes time to build trust. She heralds a new way of being in the world — a way that is authentically your own. You can further explore these dreams (and waking experiences) by writing them down and — while in meditation or active imagination — inviting a friend to sit with you while you are in the presence of a big cat or bear (i.e. the wild woman). It’s important to not be afraid of your inner wild woman but to rather embrace her as your most authentic self. It is only then that she can make a positive difference in your life.
Holding a master’s degree and Ph.D. in depth psychology (with a specialization in Jungian and archetypal studies), Dr. Stacey Shelby is an author, speaker, educator, and depth psychotherapist. Additionally, she is a Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC) in Canada and a certified clinical dream tender. You can learn more about her by visiting her website.