S: Heart Opening
FC: A Tale of Genuine Love | Skeleton Woman
1: 7 Tasks for Real Love a journey from Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
2: Task 1: discover treasure
3: A fisherman is out to sea on a small boat. His hook grabs the ribs of a female skeleton, a woman who long ago was thrown into the sea by her father. He begins to reel her in, unaware. He believes he caught a big one!
4: "... discovering another person as a kind of spiritual treasure, even though one may not at first realize what one has found."
5: TASK 1: THE ACCIDENTAL FINDING OF TREASURE "The first task, the finding of treasure, is found in dozens of tales throughout the world that describes the catching of a creature from beneath the sea. When this occurs in the narrative, we always know that a big struggle will soon take place between what lives in the topside world and what lives or has been repressed into the underworld. In this tale, the fisherman snags more than he ever expected. "Oh, it's a big one," he thinks as he turns to gain his net. He does not realize that he is bringing up the scariest treasure he will ever know, that he is bringing up more than he can yet handle. He does not know that he will have to come to terms with it, that he is about to have all his powers tested. And worse, he does not know that he does not know. That is the state of all lovers at the beginning: they are blind as bats. To lay inert and only dreaming of a perfect love is easy. It is an anesthetization from which we might never recover but for ruthlessly snagging something valuable, yet outside our awareness. For the naive and wounded, the miracle of the psyche's ways is that even if you are halfhearted, irreverent, didn't mean to, didn't really hope to, don't want to, feel unworthy to, aren't ready for it, you will accidentally stumble upon treasure anyway. Then it is your soul's work to not overlook what has been brought up, to recognize treasure as treasure no matter how unusual its form, and to consider carefully what to do next."
6: TASK 2: the chase and the hiding
7: The fisherman reels in Skeleton Woman and in terror, knocks her off the prow and rows the boat to shore, her following closely behind all tangled in his fishing line. He jumps out of his boat, running like mad with his pole. She follows bumping along after him.
8: Skeleton Woman bumps along behind the terrified fisherman. He runs. She follows.
9: Task 2: THE CHASE AND THE HIDING... a time of hopes and fears for both "The Death nature has an odd habit of surfacing in love affairs just at the time we feel we have won over a lover, just as we feel we have landed "a big fish." That's when the Life/Death/Life nature surfaces and scares everyone sideways. That is when more contortions go on about why love cannot, will not, should not "work" for either party concerned. That is where all the diving into the burrow is done. It is an effort to become invisible. Invisible to the lover? No. Invisible to the Skeleton Woman. That is what all the running and hiding is about. But, as we see, there is nowhere to hide. So here are the fisherman and the Skeleton Woman, all tangled up with each other. As Skeleton Woman bumps along behind the terrified fisherman, she begins a primitive participation in life. We see this odd phenomenon in all love affairs; the faster he runs, the more she picks up speed. When one or the other lover attempts to run from the relationship, the relationship is paradoxically invested with more life. And the more life that is created, the more frightened the fisherman becomes. And the more he runs, the more life is created. This phenomenon is one of life's central tragi-comedies. The running-and-hiding phase is the time during which lovers try to rationalize their fear of the Life/Death/Life cycles of love. They say, "I can do better with someone else, " or "I don't want to give up my (fill in th blank)," or "I don't want to change my life," or "I don't want to face my wounds or anyone else's," or "I'm not ready yet," or "I don't want to be transformed without first knowing in absolute detail what I will look like/feel like afterward." There is a vast difference between the need for solitude and renewal, and the desire to "take space" to avoid the inevitable intercourse with Skeleton Woman. But intercourse, meaning exchange with and acceptance of the Life/Death/Life nature, is the next step in order o strengthen one's ability to love. Those who enter int relationship with her will gain an enduring skill for love. Those who won't, won't. There is no way around it. All those "not readies," all the "I need times," are understandable, but only for a short while. The truth is that there is never "completely ready," there is never a really "right time." The work of learning the Life/Death/Life nature has to be done. Put off, Skeleton Woman sinks beneath the water but will rise again and again to give chase again and again. It is her work to do this. It is our work to learn. If one wishes to love, there is no getting around it. Th work of embracing her is a TASK. Without a task that challenges, there can be no transformation. Without a task there is no real sense of satisfaction. To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear. Many, many people come to this "escape-and-hide" stage. Some unfortunately arrive here over and over again. The entrance to this burrow is rutted with all the scrambling. But those who care to love emulate the fisherman. They strive to light the fire and face the Life/Death/Life nature. They contemplate what they fear, and paradoxically, respond with both conviction and wonder."
10: Task 3: Untangle the Skeleton | TANGLED
11: The fisherman runs back to his igloo and is chased by skeleton woman. He doesn't know she is inside with him, in a lump of bones tangled in fishing line, until he lights his oil lamp.
12: TASK 3: "The untangling and understanding of the Life/Death/Life aspects of the relationship and the development of compassion for the task." | Daily Meditative Practice for Untangling Skeleton Woman Sing a song like this: What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? What do I know should die, but am hesitant to allow to do so? What must die in me in order for me to love? What not-beauty do I fear? Or what use is the power of the not-beautiful to me today? What should die today? What should live? What life am I afraid to give birth to? If not now, When?
13: TASK 3: UNTANGLING THE SKELETON "The Skeleton Woman contains a "suitor test" theme. In a suitor test, lovers must prove their rightful intentions and powers, these usually demonstrating that they have the cojones or ovarios to face a powerful and fearsome numinosity of some sort The fisherman shows his rightful intent, his powers, and his increasing involvement with Skeleton Woman by untangling her. He looks at her all bent this way and that and he sees in her a glimmer of something, he knows not what. He had run from her, panting and sobbing. Now he things to touch her. She is touching his heart in some way just by being. When we comprehend the loneliness of the Life/Death/Life nature within the psyche, that one, who through no fault of her own, is constantly thrown away... then perhaps we too can be touched by her travail. If it is love we are making, even though we are apprehensive or frightened, we are willing to untangle the bones of the Death nature. For some, it is easier to think higher, more beautiful thoughts and to touch those things that positively transcend us than to touch, help, and assist the not-so-positive. Even more so, as the story illustrates, it is easy to turn away the not-beautiful and feel falsely righteous about it. This is the love problem of dealing with Skeleton Woman. What is th not-beautiful? Our own secret hunger to be loved is the not-beautiful. Our disuse and misuse of love is the not-beautiful. Our dereliction in loyalty and devotion is unlovely, our sense of soul-separateness is homely, our psychological warts, inadequacies, misunderstandings, and infantile fantasies are the not-beautiful. To untangle Skeleton Woman is to understand that love does not mean all glimmering candles and increase. To untangle Skeleton Woman means that one finds heartening rather than fear in the darkness of regeneration. It means balm for old wounds. It means changing our ways of seeing and being to reflect the health rather than dearth of soul. A person who has untangled Skeleton Woman knows patience, knows better how to wait. He is not afraid to relate to the beauty of fierceness, the beauty of the unknown, the beauty of the not-beautiful. And in learning and working at all these, he becomes the quintessential wild lover. How does a man learn these things? How does anyone learn them? Enter into direct dialogue with the Life/Death/Life nature by listening to the inner voice that is not the ego."
14: Task 4: Sleep of Trust
15: TASK 4: Sleep of Trust " | After the fisherman untangles the skeleton, he goes to his sleeping skins and soon begins to dream. | Next come the relaxing into trust, the ability to rest in "the presence and good will of the other." The fisherman-hunter has brought the Life/Death/Life nature to the surface. He has, outside his will, been "pursued" by her. But he has also managed to face her; he has felt compassion for her tangled state, and he has touched her. All these are leading him into a full participation with her. All these are leading him into a transformation, into love. Sleep is the symbol of rebirth. For love to thrive, the mate must trust that whatever will be, will be transformative. Man or woman, each must let themselves enter that state of sleep that returns one to a wise innocence, one that creates and re-creates, as it should, those deeper coils of Life/Death/Life experiences."
16: Task 5: giving the tear
17: During his sleep, a single tear forms in his eye. Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten and is suddenly thirsty. | She put her mouth on his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank until slaked.
18: Task 5: Giving the Tear (Admit the Wound) "A time of sharing both future dreams and past sadness, these mean the beginning of healing our archaic wounds with regard to love."
19: Task 5: Giving the Tear (Admit the Wound) "When one has ventured this far into relationship with the Life/Death/Life nature, the tear that is cried is the tear of passion and compassion mixed together, for oneself, and for the other. It is the hardest tear to cry. The tear of passion and compassion is most often wept after the accidental finding of treasure, after the fearful chase, after the untangling -- for it is the combination of these that causes the exhaustion, the disassembling of defenses, the facing of oneself, the stripping down to the bones, the desire for both knowledge and relief. These cause a soul to peer into what the soul truly wants, and to weep for loss and love of both. Now this tear, the feeling in a man, is brought to the surface. It is the instruction in loving both self and another. Stripped now of all the bristles and hooks and shivs of the daytime world, the man draws Skeleton Woman to lie beside him, to drink and be nourished by his deepest feeling. In this new form, he is able to feed this thirsty other. The only way to be a knowing man is to go to school in the bones of Skeleton Woman. She is waiting for the signal of deep feeling, that one tear that says, "I admit the wound." There is probably nothing a woman wants more from a man than for him to dissolve his projections and face his own wound. When a man faces his wound, the tear comes naturally, and his loyalties within and without are made clearer and stronger. He has become his own healer; he is no longer lonely for the deeper Self. He no longer applies to the woman to be his analgesic. The tear of compassion is wept in response to realizing the stinking wound. When the man cries the tear, he has thus come upon his pain, and he knows it when he touches it. He sees how his life has been lived protectively because of the wound. He sees what of life he has missed because of it. In th story, the fisherman is letting his heart break -- not break down, but break open. It is not the love of la teta, the breast milk mother, he wants; not the love of lucre, not the love of power or fame or sexuality. It is a love that comes upon him, a love he has always carried within him but has never acknowledged before. A man's soul is seated more deeply and more clearly as he apprehends this relationship. The tear comes. She drinks. Now something else will develop and be reborn within him, something he can give her: a vast and oceanic heart.
20: Task 6: The use of the heart to sing up new life.
21: Skeleton Woman reaches inside him as he sleeps and takes out his heart, the mighty drum. She drums on both sides of his heart with a Bomm Bom... | She sings out: Flesh! She sang her body into being. Her hair grows back, her female form emerges in the flesh. Then, she sings his clothes off, too.
22: HEART BEAT
23: Task 6: Heart as Drum, and Singing Up “The heart symbolizes essence. The psychological and physiological center is the heart. In Hindu Tantras, which are instructions from the Gods to humans, the heart is the Anahata chakra, the nerve center that encompasses feeling for another human, feeling for oneself, feeling for the earth, and feeling for God. When Skeleton Woman uses the fisherman’s heart, she uses the central motor of the entire psyche, the only thing that really matters now, the only thing capable of creating pure and innocent feeling. This story contains a promise: allow Skeleton Woman to become more palpable in your life, and she will make your life larger in return. When you free her from her tangled and misunderstood state and realize her as both teacher and lover, she becomes ally and partner. When a man gives his whole heart, he becomes an amazing force—he becomes an inspiratrice, a role that in the past was reserved for women only. When Skeleton Woman sleeps with him, he becomes fertile, he is invested with feminine powers in a masculine milieu. When a man’s bond with the Life/Death/Life nature will eventually give him ideas by the dozens and life plots and situations and musical scores and colors and images without parallel—for the Life/Death/Life nature as related to the Wild Woman archetype, has at its disposal all that ever was and all that ever will be. So the singing of songs and using the heart as drum are both mystical acts awakening layers of the psyche not much used or seen. The breath or pneuma flowing over us shakes open certain apertures, rouses certain otherwise inaccessible faculties. We cannot say for each person what will be sung up, drummed up, because these open such odd and unusual apertures in the human who participates thusly. However, once can be assured that whatever is enacted will be numinous and arresting.”
24: Task 7: intermingling of body and soul
25: She returned his heart to his body and they awakened wrapped around each other, tangled from their night together, in another way now, a good and lasting way. | TASK 7: The Dance of Body and Soul “So, in the end, in the fleshing-out of herself, the Skeleton Woman enacts the entire creation process, but rather than beginning as a baby, in the way Westerns are taught to think about life and death, she begins as ancient bones and fleshes out her life from there. She teaches the man to make new life. She shows him that creation is a series of births and deaths. She teaches that protectionism creates nothing, selfishness creates nothing, holding on and screaming effects nothing. Only letting go, giving heart, the great drum, the great instrument of the wild nature, only this creates. That is how love relationship is meant to work, each partner transforming the other. The strength and power of each is untangled, shared. He gives her the heart drum. She gives him knowledge of the most complicated rhythms and emotions imaginable. Who knows what they will hunt together? We only know that they will be nourished to the end of their days.”