Where is memory of who we really are, who sent us here, and what is our work here … and why are we often so unusual, so different, so eccentric, so belonging often to a tribe of one?
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, published in 34 languages and one of the most far-reaching artist-psychoanalysts of our time, teaches that in archetypal imagination, “Mother Night is the quintessential medial woman, the woman who can walk in two worlds … 'the one who knows' and who can reveal solid ways of living and unleashing creative life in both worlds.”
The program Mother Night presents a new series of audio teachings from the Jungian psychoanalyst and author of Women Who Run With the Wolves. This six-session learning event invites us to tap the generative power of the goodness of the core self—that is, all creativity and understanding that lies out of sight in darkness—often called the unconscious.
Throughout 11 hours of teaching stories, you'll hear 12 stories and myths told here for the first time along with Dr. Estés' commentary, Q&A sessions with her, and special prayers of blessing onto your hearts, bodies, minds, and souls.
According to Dr. Estés, “The most endangered species on earth is the human soul. Many try to stand in one world only, the world of the collective culture, thereby experiencing a sense of standing outside the true self, allowing too much waste into one's life—due in part to over-immersion in the daytime world only. A sense of being 'not in oneself entirely' comes from not returning to the soul's true home, often enough … a home that is not provisioned nor protected by the overculture. Thus, a critical susto (loss of soul nourishment) comes upon us. We are weakly linked or severed completely from the one-of-a-kind wild and wise self that emerges from the realm of mystery, dreams, and shadow.
“I would like to be your traveling companion as we see the way into and back toward home, that is, to return to el mundo doble, the double worldview, one that sees through the eyes of soul as well as through the eyes of the ego. This dual way of seeing, being, and acting is the most direct way to reclaim the gifts and well-being and healing apothecary set into each soul on earth at birth. The archetypal representations of Mother Night, as represented in stories, myths, and amplifications, can show us the way through.”
Session One: Walking in Two Worlds—The Archetype of the Medial Woman
In the first session of the series, Walking in Two Worlds: The Archetype of the Medial Woman, Dr. Estés introduces the Medial Woman, a dominant force in the psyche. She is a representation of the strong-sighted and deep-hearted self who lives simultaneously in the world of light (our conventional, daytime domain) and the world of dark (the hidden realm of potential; the depths of the Soul and its making of things to bear, balance, unleash in goodness in the topside world). The medial woman in mythos since time out of mind remains rooted in both worlds; and listening to her ways and means in stories, we can hear, see, and feel the guidance this vital and soulful sense grants: “to live so strong, so wide, and so very deeply … as we promised to do before we ever came to earth.”
Here, Dr. Estés helps us “learn to see in the dark,” as she brings to life four representations of this archetypal force of restoration and self-empowerment:
- The Erl König
- Cybele—the story of the “helper-healer” medial woman
- Medea—the story of the “twisted” medial woman
- Sophia-Ruach—the story of the “calm-fierce” medial woman
A Q&A with audience members follows Dr. Estés’ teachings, and we conclude with the blessing prayer “Prayer for The Outsider."
Session Two: Throwing Off Over-Acculturation—Reclaiming Gifts and Eccentricities from the Shadow
In Throwing off Over-Acculturation: Reclaiming Gifts and Eccentricities from the Shadow, Dr. Estés discusses how as members of a particular culture, we become habituated to seek that which is similar (“like-kind”). Yet in the process, we suffer the grotesqueries and consequences of relinquishing our individuality and the unique gifts that are our offering to the world. Through her one-of-a-kind telling of the classic Sufi tale “The Conference of the Birds,” a set of small stories wrapped within a larger story, Dr. Estés helps us “learn to be bi-culturate, to learn to live in two worlds, especially mining the gold of the shadow—the storehouse for acute insight, extraordinary strength, and inextinguishable love.”
Following the Q&A session with the audience, we bring Session Two to a close with Dr. Estés’ blessing story “They Tried to Stop Her at the Border.”
Session Three: Curanderismo—Allying with the Immaculate Heart for Guidance and Recovery
In Curanderismo: Allying with the Immaculate Heart for Guidance and Recovery, we explore curanderismo, the practice of the curandera, the traditional healer in native Latino culture. Dr. Estés tells the story of Los Zapatos ("Little Shoes"), and the story “The Bell Ringing Under the Ground,” along with related teachings about susto (the wandering soul), envidia (envy), and mal ojo (evil thoughts that entrap those who think them). “Knowledge of the ways the mainstream collective pollutes the true self and how to do the necessary limpias, cleansings of the mind and heart. These are the keys to creating a consciously strong allyship with the forces of goodness, as well as a code of honorable conduct for effectively helping and healing self and others.
Q&A session with the audience is followed by the blessing prayer “The Heart Pierced by Seven Swords.”
Session Four: Premonitions and Apparitions—Valuable Protection and Grounded Intelligence from “The Other World”
In Premonitions and Apparitions: Valuable Protection and Grounded Intelligence from “The Other World,” we learn that all of us receive visitations from “the other world” in the form of premonitions, dreams, synchronistic events, and more. Dr. Estés helps us first of all see these messages, “which are sometimes subtle and sometimes carry the cyclonic viento of Espirito Santo, the wind of the Holy Ghost, which can knock one off one’s feet in just the right way, or temporarily bewilder or blow one’s mind, and in some cases knock one back into one’s right mind again.”
To help delineate premonitions and apparitions, Dr. Estés will point to science “and indigenous archetypal psychology—the first archetypal psychology regarding all matters of earth, the unconscious, and conscious minds”—as well as stories of legendary seers:
- The Sybil
- Xilonen, the wife of Smoking Mirror
“The Littlest Lazarus,” a special blessing prayer, follows a Q&A session with the audience.
Session Five: Gold in the Darkest Dark—Understanding Repetitive Dreams, Nightmares, and Disembodied Voices
In Gold in the Darkest Dark: Understanding Repetitive Dreams, Nightmares, and Disembodied Voices, Dr. Estés explores the question, “How do we make sense of the sometimes subtle, sometimes harsh, distressing, sometimes extraordinarily loving, sometimes profoundly informative ideas, insights, and data—even summonses and commands given to us by the unconscious?”
Through her family stories of “The Fool and His Feather” and “The Four Rabbinum,” Dr. Estés illuminates four ways of understanding uncanny insights that often arise from the dark, that is, from the unknown side of the unconscious. “The hero and heroine’s darkest challenges are to ever pull away from scorn and under-valuation of one’s own—and others—psychic contents, as well as to not fall into the tar pit of over-valuation of same. But rather to be able to bear, to be able to unlock the mystery that gives the transformative instructions from soul to psyche. The messages of meaning for the dreamer are to be held with inquiry and respect, no matter how odd, misshapen, lumpy, bumpy, distasteful, beautifully fantasy-like they may be. Nightmares, sudden voice-only dreams, and the entire fantasia of dreams are like the map home to center, written in invisible ink until held over the fire built by the soul.”
A Q&A session with the audience concludes with a story regarding Our Lady who repulses and leaches away weakening influences, and then the blessing prayer “We Are the Atomic Children, and We Are Still Dancing.”
Session Six: Mining the Mother Lode—How to Bring Diamonds from the Darkness (for Artists and People Who Want to Create)
In Mining the Mother Lode: How to Bring Diamonds from the Darkness (for Artists and People Who Want to Create), Dr. Estés explains why “those who unleash their craft do not wait for the muse; the muse is like one’s breath, one’s arm, one’s hips, one’s eyes … the muse is always there, waiting to spring into action if only we lay out an empty space. Seed goes first to the places which are most empty.” So here, we will see about the places of psyche and soul and both worlds that seem most empty, unknown, and inaccessible. The stories “The Man Who Sought Treasure Afar,” “The Rebbe in Prison,” and “Coyote Learns to Dance” set out insights about how the psyche taps, nudges, shoves, trying to get its person to unfurl that idea, dare that new venture, complete that meaningful project, go wild and get rid of the "high court of apes" that criticize and condemn any and everything that comes from one’s hands, feet, body, or mind. Our work is not to criticize, condemn, or complain. Our work is to do. And then do again. And again, and know for once and for all, that seeking perfection is the abject enemy of "done."
Following a Q&A session with the audience, we close with the blessing prayer “Mary, Covered in Ashes; Mary, Covered in Diamonds.”