Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Wolf's Eyelash

If you don't go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

"Don't go out in the woods, don't go out," they said.
"Why not?  Why should I not go out in the woods tonight?" she asked.
"A big wolf lives there who eats humans such as you.  Don't go out in the woods, don't go out.  We mean it."

Naturally she went out.  She went out in the woods anyway, and of course she met the wolf, just as they had warned her.

"See, we told you," they crowed. 
"This is my life, not a fairy tale, you dolts," she said.  "I have to go to the woods, and I have to meet the wolf, or else my life will never begin."

But the wolf she encountered was in a trap, in a trap this wolf's leg was in. 
"Help me, oh help me! Aieeeee, aieeee, aieeee!" cried the wolf.  "Help me, oh help me!" he cried, "and I shall reward you justly."   For this is the way of wolves in tales of this kind.

"How do I know you won't harm me?" she asked - it was her job to ask questions.  "How do I know you will not kill me and leave me lying in my bones?"

"Wrong question," said this wolf.  "You'll just have to take my word for it." And the wolf began to cry and wail once again and more.

"Oh, aieee! Aieeee! Aieeee!
There's only one question worthy asking fair maiden,
wooooooooor aieeeee th' soooooooool?"

"Oh you wolf, I will take a chance.  Alright, here!"  And she sprang the trap and the wolf drew out its paw and this she bound with herbs and grasses.
"Ah, thank you kind maiden, thank you," sighed the wolf.  And because she had read too many of the wrong kind of tales, she cried, "Go ahead and kill me now, and let us get this over with."

But no, this did not come to pass.  Instead this wolf put his paw upon her arm.
"I'm a wolf from another time and place," said he.  And plucking a lash from his eye, he gave it to her and said, "Use this, and be wise.  From now on you will know who is good and not so good; just look through my eyes and you will see clearly. 
For letting me live, I bid you live in a manner as never before.
Remember, there's only one question worthy asking fair maiden,
wooooooooor aieeeee th' soooooooool?"

And so she went back to her village, happy to still have her life.
And this time as they said, "Just stay here and be my bride," 
or "Do as I tell you,"  or "Say as I want you to say,
and remain as unwritten upon as the day you came,"
she held up the wolf's eyelash and peered through
and saw their motives as she had not seen them before.
And the next time the butcher weighed the meat,
she looked through her wolf's eyelash and saw that he weighed his thumb too.
And she looked at her suitor who said "I am so good for you,"
And she saw that her suitor was so good for exactly nothing.
And in this way and more, she was saved,
from not all, but from many misfortunes.

But more so, in this new seeing, not only did she see the sly and cruel, she began to grow immense in heart, 
for she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gift from the wolf she had rescued.

And she saw those who were truly kind
and went near to them,
and found her mate and stayed all the days of her life,
she discerned the brave and came close to them,
she apprehended the faithful and joined with them,
she saw bewilderment under anger and hastened to soothe it,
she saw love in the eyes of the shy and reached out to them,
she saw suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted their laughter,
she saw need in the man with no words and spoke for him,
she saw faith deep in the woman, who said she had none,
and rekindled hers from her own.
She saw all things with her lash of wolf
all things true, and all things false,
all things turning against life
and all things turning toward life,
all things seen only through the eyes of that
which weighs the heart with heart,
and not with mind alone.

This is how she learned that it is true what they say, that the wolf is the wisest of all. If you listen closely, the wolf in its howling is always asking the most important question - not where is the next food, not where is the next fight, not where is the next dance?....  but the most important question in order to see into and behind,
to weigh the value of all that lives: 
wooooooooor aieeeee th' soooooooool?"
wooooooooor aieeeee th' soooooooool?"
Where is the soul?
Where is the soul?

Go out in the woods, go out.  If you don't go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

Go out in the woods, go out.
Go out in the woods, go out,
Go out in the woods, go out.

Excerpt from "The Wolf's Eyelash," original prose poem from "Rowing Songs for the Night Sea Journey,  Contemporary Chants" ... reprinted in Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype  by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.


  1. Thank you for this amazing story dear Emma! The wolf's eyelash for me represents the recognition of the one light that is within us all, the pure presence of Spirit. Hence the call, "Where is the Soul?" Spirit is truth, and all else are shadows, shadows we believe to be real but in the end they are not. This is discernment, but this discernment is not of the mind but of the heart. It is not a mental faculty like intelligence but a recognition, a remembering. We can only shine light when we get 'ourselves,' our personal identities, out of the way and be an opening for our true Self to shine through. When we learn to recognize the light within ourselves we are also learning to see the light when it shines through others. The young girl was courageous and determined to seek truth, to see what was hidden in the forest. She was willing to sacrifice her life for it. Like her may we have courage to look into our own forests and seek truth.

    1. Thank you for your insights, Joseph. It's true, to exercise our discernment, our faculty of discrimination, can be so important, and for this we need the insights of the heart as well as just what our mind might tell us. And it all begins by taking that first step 'into the forest'!

  2. A wonderful story Emma. Thank you for sharing.
    I bought Clarissa's book a couple years ago and I love it, but I have never been able to read it from cover to cover. I find it easier to pick it up and read pieces here and there. This is one I hadn't read you but it means a lot to me.
    I often feel like the girl in the story. Perhaps a wolf gave me an eyelash too at some point. ♡♡

    1. It's the same for me, LeeAnne. I have not read it through from cover to cover either, but whenever I pick it up - which is often - it turns out to be the right page with the right passage of text for that moment. After I had read the story of Seal Woman I felt so inspired that I wrote a book whose story was woven around that idea, and dedicated it to my youngest daughter. While reading the Wolf's eyelash I was thinking of her all the time.

      And something tells me that you maybe don't always need a wolf's eyelash to see who's who and what's what! Thank you for passing by today ♥