|Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild
Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD
In Dr. Estes book (shown below), she uses fairy tales as a method to bring women back to the roots of
their natural selves. Dr. Estes is a Jungian psychoanalyst (analysand) and a teller of stories
(cantadora/ mesemondo), poet, artist, and author. I highly recommend this book, it is good therapy.
ANYWAY, read her words about the way that fairy tales have been changed. She calls the parts that
have been changed the "bones of the stories"
". . . in the case of the brothers Grimm (among other fairy-tale collectors of the past few centuries),
there is a strong suspicion that the informants (storytellers) of that time sometimes 'purified' their
stories for the religious brothers' sakes. Over the course of time, old pagan symbols were overlaid with
Christian ones, so that an old healer in a tale became an evil witch, a spirit became an angel, an
initiation veil or caul became a handkerchief, or a child named Beautiful (the customary name for a
child born during the Solstice festival) was renamed Schmerzenreich, Sorrowful. Sexual elements
were omitted. Helping creatures and animals were often changed into demons and boogeys.
"Most old collections of fairy tales and mythos existent today have been scoured clean of the
scatological, the sexual, the perverse (as in warnings against), the pre-Christian, the feminine, the
Goddesses, the initiatory, the medicines for various psychological malaises, and the directions for
". . . [bones of stories] . . . when and where the bones are missing in a story. Through the centuries, various conquests
of nations by other nations, and both peaceful and forced religious conversions, have covered over or altered the
original core of the old stories.
"The more story bones, the more likely the integral structure can be found. The more whole the stories, the more
subtle twists and turns of the psyche are presented to us and the better opportunity we have to apprehend and evoke
Here are some links from a website called Sacred Texts. You can read through some old fairy tales. The reading is
interesting, but very involved:
The Worth of Fairy Tales
Principles of Selection for Fairy Tales (this is a great page to use in your assignment)
The Telling of Fairy Tales (another excellent page for your assignment)
The History of Fairy Tales.
Anyway, I really recommend you do some searching on this amazing site. It is FULL of fairy tales and legends from
all walks. Look for some on your own, if you want to.
MORE from Dr. Estes. READ THIS PART CAREFULLY. This section of Estes book talks about the passing of stories
throughout generations of humankind. This is the crux of why we study fairy tales anyway.
"Those who have taken on the responsibility of this craft [teller of old stories, cantadora], and are committed to the
numen behind the craft, are direct descendants of an immense and ancient community of holy people, troubadours,
bards, griots, cantadoras, cantors, traveling poets, bums, hags, and crazy people.
"I once dreamt I was telling stories and felt someone patting my foot in encouragement. I looked down and saw that I
was standing on the shoulders of an old woman who was steadying my ankles and smiling up at me.
"I said to her, 'No, no, come stand on my shoulders for you are old and i am young.'
"'No, no,' she insisted, 'this is the way it is supposed to be.'
"I saw that she stood on the shoulders of a woman far older than she, who stood on the shoulders of a woman even
older, who stood on the shoulders of a woman in robes, who stood on the shoulders of another soul, who stood on
the shoulders . . . " (pp. 17--18)
What do you think of this? This is the history of stories and of fairy tales. Use this historical perspective in your fairy
NOW, even though I do not have Dr. Estes' permission, I am going to put just a couple of her stories in here just so you
can see how she has retold them. Her entire book is dedicated to the retelling of these stories, and the use of the
stories in her psychological work with her female patients. KNOW that she holds the copyright to these stories, and all
rights are reserved by her. If she asks, I will immediately remove them from this site.
Bluebeard (pp. 36 -- 40)
The Ugly Duckling (pp. 165 -- 169)
The Red Shoes (pp. 215 -- 218)
The Little Match Girl (pp. 319 -- 320)
Vasalisa and Skeleton Girl are online, as told by Dr. Estes.