Self-Image and Beauty

What is it to be a Wild One, and to have a beauty that is natural and soul-shining? Can you be beautiful with twigs in your hair, mud on you face, fingernails caked in dirt? Not in a cute way, but a feral, fierce way that has rejected the cultural norms and so-called standards?

Can I be beautiful, when my hair is thin and curly-wisp and in places seems patchy enough to show the skin underneath? When my chin is covered in black bristle that prickles my Lover’s face?

Can I be a girl, when a girl is supposedly pink dresses and lovely hair and dolls and sweet, clean-soft skin? Or a woman when the fat sits comfortably in rolls and folds around my hips, my breasts are too small, my bum too large, my height short Irish stock, my face long and my eyes made small by strong glasses?

This is where I am bringing love and tears. As the full moon and birthday came this week, these emotions rose to the surface, ready for a healing-alchemy process I asked for today. I felt despair over my hair, that started falling out in my early twenties, after too short a time that I loved my curls and cute bob (years before that, I wanted the 90’s hair, ironed straight or cut in flicky layers, highlights or cool edges). Digging deeper into the emotions that were surfacing rose a thread of repression – that I couldn’t be beautiful, wasn’t allowed to even WANT to be beautiful, and now, as I get older and my hair shows no sign of vibrant recovery, there is nothing to feel but hopeless grief.

This feeling – a defeated, sad and still grief of what was lost, or never was, and never can be – was at the surface of my body today as I begun my healing journey, facilitated by a magical woman Kimberley who has bridged the worlds of art, beauty and energy. I had other feelings too – the excitement-fear and inner trembling that comes when thresholds are approached – and what a threshold.

Putrefaction and Dissolution

After some initial clearing-moving of energy, fear, anger, and then a huge overwhelming urge to throw up in disgust, there arose one of the clearest imaginal-body-images and energy forms I have felt – I could see-feel-was this ghoulish zombie like corpse, ancient, shriveled skin, rotting eyeballs roving around and wounded all over. Kimberley helped me stay with this creature, which was alive and dead at the same time, truly horrifying. I could feel this was me, some part of me, how?! This is my beauty-body? It felt bound, heavy, buried deep in an underworld in fact. Pushed down layers and layers below the simple earth and ground. What did it-she need? The answer came immediately “to be outside”. Grass. Meadow. Sunlight shining on my-her skin, golden and warm. Fresh air. As I took this in, let some of the bindings and bandages unravel, the skin and flesh began to change in places, trying to heal, trying to transform. What is the new form?

The answer is, I’m not sure yet. What happened next was a dissolving – the form, my form, my sense of my own self dissolving into the sunlight, into energy, into something formless….I felt like was on some intense drugs right then, but no, this is it, this is the imaginal realm that is here, and alive, and as real as anything else.

The one place that felt hard – like a box, like a solid rock, like fingertips gripping on to a cliff edge in terror, was in my heart area. I couldn’t let all the form dissolve until that place was held, and felt.

The Girl in the Woods

Who was there? A very young girl. Memories of school class rooms, looking at other girls playing with the dollhouses, playing with the ‘lets be mummy and daddy’ games, feeling so far away, not fitting in. That and other memories – not getting to be a mermaid in the bath tub because my boyish hair was too short to let float and wave in the water. An anguish around being a real girl – this perhaps the start of slamming down the door, burying the emotions, pushing and aspect of self into the underworld. What that little girl needed was to hear the gentle voice of the woman holding me, telling her that there were many ways to be a girl in fact. And also, there are others out their like me. Or rather, that perhaps were in disguise…

She guided me, and the child-me to feel the forest, to call for the goddess of the forest who could show me another form, another way. The Wild-Woman goddess who came was overpoweringly big, very fierce and intense eyes, but not without a presence and compassion to her as well. It felt good to be close to her – in the sense that nothing would dare come close while she was around – and yet also I had the sense of losing my own sense of self, like a candle next to the blazing fire. This is something I am contemplating, because I know that fierce Wild Goddess, and have let aspects of her express in me and through me in my past, felt her fangs and dragon scales and wild claws, felt the Queen of the forest, the power and presence that goes back to something so primal I’m not even sure if it belongs to a cultural myth. The question of my life, my heart, this journey was how to be of the Wild One without losing your own self, your human self and identity. How to express that in this modern day and age. Where are the spaces in between, between that cultured doll-house, and the primal wild? This is the new path, the middle way that I am glimpsing.

Still being supported in my healing journey, I began to explore this in-between – I began getting flashes of clothes, adornments, furs, my mind-imagination looking for, searching for a ‘match’.. however most of them felt like clothes from another time, another place, or high-fantasy clothes that an elf or hobbit or other character might wear. It dawned on me that finding ways to creatively express the wild one without resorting to fantasy costumes, to bring and express that into this time, and this place, is part of finding my new beauty. And I have glimpses of it already – the silver jewellery, feathers and fur, images of beads and bangles. Colours of dark green and forest earth. I feel the possibility that exploring this might be fun, I feel the heart of my child-self warm.

My own body-energetic was forming, smoother, calm, and very much shapeshiftery – for a while my feet felt long like fox-paws and I had a sense of my pointy ears, and an inner laugh that I will never quite fit the human clothes in a human way if my soul is part wolf, part wild. We ended the journey with me watching my girl self playing happily in the leaves in the forest, part girl, part fox. I held my hands over my eyes and saw a distant horizon – a large amount of space and possibility opening up for play and experimenting.

A invitaiton-suggestion though is to come back to this place in the woods, and to invite the others I know to come in, as their girl-child selves, to come and play with me and to see what we all do together. The idea that If I am to be authentic I will always be alone in it, is something that is an old story that needs to shift gently now too…

… in the days since then, I am still feeling the subtle sense of expansion. I’ve felt a desire to play, and to explore seeing my own beauty and self in new ways – I still don’t know how to do it but it doesn’t feel like an impossible thing. It doesn’t give rise to a sense of disgust and loathing. That old corpse-self has and still is releasing and dissolving into potential new energy, preparing for the spring.

As if to tie up all these magics and bring into form, today a beautiful birthday fox necklace arrived in the post from a magical married couple in my tribe…not just a necklace, but one that declares “make a wish and put on your jewelry, don’t be afraid to be bold! Wear this jewelry as a reminder to wish without limits…make it count” It perfectly aligns with the self-image and expression healing process I am now in. What is especially great is that this woman has always seen and loved my nature-magic fox self – her message “Be as ever, bold. This new decade holds even more light that is already yours.” I will take that in my bright white fox teeth and weave it into the new decade’s tapestry. Thank you ^..^

"There's nothing you can do that's more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way, you will find, live, and become a realization of your own personal myth." – Joseph Campbell

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    Catherine Wildfox Written by:

    I'm a woman who is passionate about people claiming healthy, vital living on their own terms. I help people reconnect with and trust in their instinctive wild self & body - this is the key to making health changes that are enjoyable and sustained.

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