Book Club: Untie the Strong Woman

It is not by accident that Holy Mother is called a human being in microcosm, and also a magnitude in macrocosm.
— C.P.Estes, Untie the Strong Woman pg. 314

This week I read Untie the Strong Woman and I loved it. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, has written another incredible book about the wild feminine. Reading this book is like peeking into the brilliant mind of woman who loves Mary with incredible depth of heart. 

This is a book to savor slowly. Her desire is to share the wild, unbridled love of Mary, as opposed to the soft, sweet love of Mary many of us know. She does this very successfully through short stories, poetry, and a chapter full of quotes.

My favorite chapters were chapters three and twenty three. Chapter three is about her experience building an altar to the Virgin Mary in her front yard, and the transformation of the stone mason who works on the project. Chapter twenty three is a collection of quotes from various sources about the Virgin Mary and motherhood in general. This is a rich list to visit again and again.

For example, here's one of the quotes included in the chapter:

We may not yet have maps...but...progress seems to have similar stages: first, rising up from invisibility by declaring the existence of a group with shared experiences; then taking the power to name and define the group; then a long process of “coming out” by individuals who identify with it; then inventing new words to describe previously unnamed experiences...then bringing this new view from the margins to the center.
— Gloria Steinem, Doing Sixty and Seventy

Ms. Estes writes that Ms. Steinem's grid can "most certainly be applied with forward hope regarding the visibility of the force of Mother in the world being seen in new ways." 

And another one of my favorite quotes from this section:

In a world struggling against senseless violence and growing economic disparity, Mary offers a feminine antidote to the poisons of poverty and war...Where society demands competition, Mary teaches cooperation.
— Mirabai Starr, Mother of God: Similar to Fire
Patricia Rose examines her mural in Balmy Alley, San Francisco. 

Patricia Rose examines her mural in Balmy Alley, San Francisco. 

I love this quote, and the next time I find myself in a competitive mode, I hope I remember to shift that sensibility towards cooperation instead.

So, sometimes I didn't love the poetry in the book. Sometimes I felt the need to skip chapters. But sometimes her writing hit me so strongly I had to put the book down and go meditate. 

After reading this book, I will not just work with Mary when I need comfort and love. I will call on her when I need strength, too. I'm very grateful to Ms. Estes for writing this book. 


Excellent! Three books down, 49 more to go! Next week we're moving away from religious texts, and moving into more meditative/metaphysical worlds. We'll be looking at Opening to Channel by Sanaya Roman, and afterwards moving to Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton. I hope you'll join me!