Inner Wild

Inner Wild ~ 4ft by 6ft, oil on stretched canvas SOLD

“Some days, I’m more wolf than woman and I’m still learning how to stop apologizing for my wild” ~Nikita Gill

By about the age of the girl in the painting, our inner child is gone for good. Especially girls, are told to be quiet, be polite, you’re too wild, settle down, be nice, get good grades, don’t get dirty, quit messing things up, don’t be opinionated, don’t be too hard, don’t be too soft, don’t be too loud. Don’t dress like that, don’t make them look at you, don’t invite trouble….

Do you remember, if you’re a woman, the first time your parents made you put a shirt on? I do. I was so mad! It was really hot outside, and my best friend (a boy) and I were running around shirtless in the yard, playing, making mud pies, having a grand old time without a care in the world. I was about 8. And then my dad hollered at me to come put on a shirt. I was so confused! Why did I have to put on a shirt? I never had to wear one before! Why didn’t my friend? I was angry. It was just not fair. And from then on, the gulf between being a girl and being a boy widened. I was never allowed to run around naked again.

I am wild. Wild Woman. “When women hear those words, an old, old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory is our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine, a relationship which may become ghostly from neglect, buried from over domestication, outlawed by the surrounding culture, or no longer understood anymore. We may have forgotten her names, we may not answer when she calls ours, but in our bones we know her, we yearn toward her; we know she belongs to us and we to her. There are times when we experience her, even if only fleetingly, and it makes us mad with wanting to continue.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

Strangely enough, I had not read Women Who Run With Wolves…I had forgotten that the book even existed when I first sketched the picture. Since then, I’ve had countless people ask if that’s where it’s from, but it’s not…

Except really, it is.

My psyche was picking up on the same energy that I’m sure prompted Clarissa to write her book. I’m sure that this painting came to remind me that these were my people, that I was wild…not the woman who I had been striving to be…ambitious, driven, successful. That woman was exhausted, angry, resentful, tired of trying to fit into a box that squeezed too tightly: mother, wife, business owner. I was a definite people pleaser, a perfectionist, terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing, and I desperately avoided any type of confrontation unless it was in defense of someone else. The only shred of my true identity that I had left was “artist”. I have clung so tightly to her for my whole life, even though I’d been using her in the name of ambition, and she was finally reminding me who I really was. I knew after these last few paintings that there was no way that I could go back to painting bears and landscapes for tourists. I could no longer silence my authentic voice which was raging to be heard. I could no longer “be quiet”, shove my emotions, silence my truth.

I have since read the book, as it felt suddenly quite timely…

I had arrived at “…there is a time to reveal your incisors, your powerful ability to defend territory, to say ‘This far and no farther, the buck stops here, and hold onto your hat, I’ve got something to say, this is definitely going to change.’”

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes on rage and creation in Women Who Run with the Wolves, p. 363

I feel like the girl in the painting knows exactly who she is. She knows the pack are her people. She’s chosen them, and they’ve chosen her. But it’s not an easy path, following your wild. It’s not acceptable in our patriarchy where women’s gifts are squashed and silenced. So she is barefoot in the snow, and the forest is thick, misty and undefinable, hard to navigate. She holds a stuffed hare, last link to childhood or a symbol of her intuition? I’m not sure why the hare needed to be there, only that it did. My husband thought that it made the painting cliche, and too “sweet”, but I argued that it wouldn’t have been shown to me if it wasn’t meant to be there.

Again, since reading “Women Who Run with Wolves”, I discovered that oftentimes in myths, the heroine has a toy doll, or stuffed animal that she consults for advice, and that it is a symbol for her intuition…and it is said that Boudicca, the warrior Queen of the Celts, carried a hare in her dress that foretold if she would be victorious…so I’m glad that I kept the hare.

Strangely, the week that I started the painting, I saw wolves three times. The first was a pack that was howling in the woods above me on the hiking trail, so my dog and I made haste away from them. The second was across the river. I had gone for a walk and had just sat down, when on the other side of the river, a black wolf and a white wolf emerged, and sat down on the opposite bank and looked at me for awhile, before moving on down the riverbank. It was such an amazing experience! And the third time that week, on my way home from discussing my painting with a friend, a black wolf ran across the road in front of my car.

I’ve lived here twenty five years, and have only seen wolves one other time, over twenty years ago…

Published by Tahirih Goffic

After a tumultuous past as a goat milker, laundress, fine art major, waitress and restaurant owner, I've now downscaled to running my own Cafe/Gallery in an effort to maintain a social life and make a few bucks. I live a ridiculously idyllic existence in a fairytale village called Bella Coola on the West Coast of British Columbia with my charming musician husband, two amazingly creative children, and a dog whose favourite past time is eating rotten dead fish and rolling in poo. In my not so spare time I love to invent healthy whole food recipes, write YA fiction, play guitar, or curl up in my favourite chair with a great book and a gigantic mug of strong black coffee, all while daydreaming of living in Ireland...

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