Story and Background

As a child, I found my freedom in the playground. Every lunch break I’d turn from a shy school girl into a fox, playing pretend games with select other children. I didn’t feel like I was pretending though – I felt more real. As a fox, I would roll in the grass, pay attention to the wind, run about in the dirt making dens, and feel the sunshine move on my skin. I was aware, and I was in my environment. The memories are still vivid, as is the sense of liberation from teachers, school grades, complexity.

As I became a teenager, I developed a fascination with werewolf stories, loving the idea of there being a wolf inside me. I still found ways to “turn into” an animal – in imagination, books, dreams, and in social groups with other ‘creature-people’. I remember feeling a growing split – between my increasingly educated mind, and my wolf-self-feelings. Puberty was very much like the werewolf story – shifting from constrained academic student to a creature that felt raw, sexual and with often fierce emotions I didn’t know what to do with.

“The Company of Wolves” is an excellent gothic fairy tale full of symbolism on female puberty. See : Growing Up Female: Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves

Once again, I found my freedom outside the conventional world. Yet I kept the ‘wolf’ as a secret, suspecting it was a bit mad-bad-dangerous. No one had an explanation for it and I couldn’t see how she would fit into the world laid out before me. I maintained a solid wall between my mind and that wolf inside. My mind was my identity – an educated woman excelling in her field of study and work; the wolf and sensation was my escape and freedom.

Living in such a split manner is only viable for so long. It’s exhausting, confusing, and full of unresolved conflict. Eventually I had to make a choice – should I deny and compress that creature self completely, focusing solely on my academic goals and work achievements? Or could I consider another possibility – that my mind was not the full extent of my identity and self. That the “wolf” was not madness, but a route to truth; an aspect of my being that had something to say and deserved to be heard! I chose the second route and began a journey of integration. I gave my wolf a voice : paid attention to her quiet nudges of intuition, gave credit to my gut reactions, felt and explored my desires without fear, and came to enjoy physical pleasures shame-free. It was a journey from mind back into body, and my whole way of being in the world was transformed.

I am grateful for my unwillingness to give up on childhood animal-games : for the “wolf” was my body, my instincts, my sex, and my passionate vitality for life. The part of me that was separate from society rules, ideas, concepts. It was the primal connection that I had discovered within myself, and it led me towards my personal embodied truth. My journey still continues, the question I live now is how can I live in an integrated way, with my heart and mind and body aligned and full?

I have studied widely and collected stories, theories, techniques and approaches – the common thread of which is to embrace, listen to, and honor that creature-knowing inside us. I have seen patients, clients and friends access that vitality that lies underneath – to release the shame and repression, to growl and fight and enjoy their bodies. It is beautiful.

My sense of spirituality is very much grounded in Nature, in experience, in feeling and being in the world. I am suspicious of approaches that encourage further disconnection and transcendence. Our culture already teaches-trains us to be so much in our minds that it’s easy to disconnect even further. I’m not here for that.

fox-painting--print-from-original-alison-fennellI’m here to encourage, support, challenge and guide you on the journey back into your body, your feeling, your passion and your own embodied knowing. This isn’t just a concept – it is a way of trusting yourself and living in the world. When I see people tapping back into their wild selves, a great joy awakens within me. This is a path of fullness, freedom and enjoyment.

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