There is an Intuit legend that tells the story of a Skeleton Woman. It is beautifully told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her book, Women Who Run With The Wolves. The story goes like this: A woman had been thrown into the sea by her angry, disapproving father, and in time became a skeleton of bones. One day a fisherman hooks her in the ribs, and she struggles to free herself becomes more entangled in the line. The fisherman is certain now he has finally caught the big one as he pulls her to the surface. In horror of his big catch, he knocks her back into the sea with his paddle, and begins furiously paddling towards shore. Skeleton woman, still tangled in his line, is being dragged behind him. He makes it to shore where he runs into the safety of his igloo, but upon lighting his lantern, finds her there in a heap on the cold floor. Some kindness comes over him and he begins to untangle her from the line, then covers her in furs to keep her warm. As the fisherman falls asleep and dreams, he sheds a tear in his sleep which Skeleton woman sees glistening in the firelight. She crawls over to the man and drinks his tear. Then she reaches inside the man, takes out his heart and beats it like a mighty drum, all the while chanting, “Flesh, flesh, flesh!” As she drums and chants her womanly body returns to her. She returns the man’s heart, and wraps herself around him in a good and lasting way. It is said Skeleton woman and the fisherman were forever well fed by all the sea creatures she had come to know in her life under the sea.
While there are numerous interpretations and lessons we can unravel from this magical story, I am focusing on it as it pertains to our attainment of personal transformation. Some of the messages relate to the wounding of women by men, men’s fear of the dark feminine and both men and women’s redemption through love, compassion and kindness. It is a story of love, but not in the romantic sense. It suggests love as a powerful union between two beings with a bond of grit and stamina to prevail through the ups and downs of life’s natural cycles. Yet this type of union requires a dance with the deepest parts of the soul, and a faith in the transformative powers of this dance. Skeleton woman is willing to transcend her dark wounds, empowered by drinking the tears of compassion and embracing love as a healing force.
We are living in a world that has become polarized by the men who would cast their daughter into the sea, aka crimes against women and the earth, and women who are awakening and healing through love, and the transmutation of confronting death. The healing of this polarity is in the power of personal transformation, and the subsequent union to gather strength and endurance.
The wiser earth today is producing thousands of grassroots movements across the globe comprised of skeleton women and the fearless men willing to face the dark feminine, and together move forward in union to endure the renewal and restoration of this wounded world. Though personal transformation may prepare us for the work ahead, it is the ultimate force of union which will carry us into the new world. A world where skeleton woman will no longer be cast into the sea by men who will no longer succumb to such crimes. The mythology of Skeleton Woman demonstrates women’s capacity for deep transformation. The world needs the healing of the heart through love and compassion from these skeleton women.
The thousands of grassroots non-profit organizations existing today are alive and well because of a heart response to the injustices and sufferings of humanity and the planet. Mankind is walking the razor’s edge, precariously imbalanced between the fate of life or death. It is the small acts of love we give and take, both individually and collectively, which will begin to heal our wounds. I believe these grassroots movements are an invitation to take our personal transformation to the next level. We can transcend our differences through the common ground of love, and from the heart’s response comes our true knowings of how to heal ourselves first, and then the world.
Dragonfly says Skeleton Woman was cast back under the sea to her life as nymph where she shed her layers of wounds, and reemerged with the wisdom of love in her heart. She is not just the messenger, but a force to be reckoned with by all who cross her path.