Monday with the Wolves: Dream baby


Once upon a time, a woman went to sleep and dreamt she held a baby in her arms. The baby was a shape-shifter. Sometimes, it was indeed a round sausage of a baby, then it was the woman’s childhood dog, and still then, her childhood kitten, Candy.

As she looked down at the creature, the woman saw the baby’s skin was damaged. The baby had a big blister on its lower back. In the dream the woman cried out in realisation; she had been neglecting the baby.

And as she looked at the baby’s skin, fearing for the baby, remorseful for her neglect, the woman saw it wasn’t bad. She saw it would heal easily, and as she saw this she experienced a giant wave of love flowing from the baby. She understood the baby loved her and always had, and with such a perfection of love and a never-failingness. And the woman knew all was well.


This is the final in the series based on Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s mighty book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. If you’ve read the book, you may be scratching your head trying to recall reading the story above. Well, it’s not in the book but was inspired by it.

It’s a dream I had during the time I was reading the book. By now, we’re familiar with reading the characters of the stories, or dreams, as aspects of our own psyches. And I think it’s pretty easy to read the dream from this vantage point.  What do you think? Can you read it? Does it speak to you too?


We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed.

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Image: courtesy of Jeanne Curran

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21 thoughts on “Monday with the Wolves: Dream baby

  1. I’ve really enjoyed this series. It’s a curiosity to me that females and wolves appear in lots of fairy tales. Females representing the vulnerable and wolves representing evil or wickedness–I suppose two parts of all of us. But since each quality lives in each of us, those qualities don’t turn on each other (as in so many of these stories), they coexist and learn to harness both to make our way in the world. I just find it interesting that these tales make things seem diametrically opposed, when they are ends of one spectrum of human experience…


    • Dr Estes talks about this aspect of fairytales in being very shocking and extreme. She likens them to the graphic road safety or anti-smoking ads we get on TV. They’re designed to shock and confront us so their lesson is communicated.

      I really think you’d like the book. For her, the wolf is neither good nor evil, what it is is wild. All the tales she tells are instructions to women in the refinding and reclamation of our wildness, our creatureliness, the part of us that is wise, sensing, intuitive; the part that has been suppressed and de-natured by society’s agreements about who we are, how we should be and what we should do.


  2. I have often dreamed of finding a baby, an event that filled me with joy. For me, it usually had to do with a new idea or a new beginning in life. How wonderful that you would have a CPE-inspired dream and then tell us the story that it told you. I do feel a bit sad to hear that this is the last in the series.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed the series, Mrs Daffodil. I think the baby dream for me was definitely associated with a new beginning in life, and it was a beginning that was also a reclamation, a reclamation of some way of being from childhood.


  3. Both the shape-shifter and the animal dreams are a big part of Navajo belief. The term “dog at our heels”, describes exactly where a loyal dog remains; close and protective. In our dreams, the “Something” at our heels can be either good or evil. Your story is intriguing. I have enjoyed the wolves series Narelle.


      • Animals do play an enormous part of the iconography of indiginous people all over the world. And dreaming is a great part of it too. The ingestion of peyote- a type of hallucinogenic mushroom is common, especially among the Navajo. The medicine man (shaman) “dreams” the cure, hoping they can avoid the interference of various “bad” dreams.


      • Fascinating. The shaman dreams up the cure. And Clarissa Pinkola Estes dispenses a dream/fairytale in much the same way, as a cure.

        In the Aust Aboriginal ontology, the little I know of it, every being has a Dreaming, a time before time, akin to “source” in Eastern philosophy.

        So there’ll be, say, a possum dreaming or kangaroo dreaming. This quote from Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man is a beautiful illustration:

        “Outside the hall, the Gulf Country’s night sky was jammed with stars, the darkness vibrating. In 1850, up to a hundred Aboriginal languages were spoken across Queensland alone; now, around Australia, less than twenty indigenous languages are in good health. It is Australia’s great tragedy that most of the song cycles about these stars have also been lost since Europeans came. The songs contained knowledge about the Dreamtime, about the ancestral heroes’ endeavours and epic travels — and therefore about Shooting Star Dreaming, Dingo Dreaming, Black Cockatoo Dreaming, Flying Fox Dreaming, Wind Dreaming, Hail Dreaming, Fog Dreaming, Sugarbag (wild honey) Dreaming … Songlines and ritual song cycles of phenomenal complication.”


      • Beautiful story about the Dreamtime. Franz Boaz pointed out that these same stories and much of the primitive symbolic art was being practiced by native people all over the world at virtually the same time. How did these thoughts and beliefs travel. Think also about the Egyptian belief in reincarmation. Is this a form of Dreamtime? Much to ponder. Sometime ago I wrote about how rapidly we are losing the world’s languages. Some studies suggest that in the future we may be left with only English, Chinese and Spanish. Scary.


      • Boaz’s observation is similar to one I heard a few years ago about some of the great modern Aust Aboriginal artists like Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

        How could it possible, the commentator asked, that this woman who had lived all her life in a remote desert in the remotest part of Australia, and never seen a book or heard about European painting, begin painting with a style and insight that links to, and exceeds, the most startling innovations in impressionism, pointillism, etc?

        Kayti, when I had the experience of enlightenment standing on that street corner, I experienced that everything that ever was and everything that will ever be is coming into being in this moment, in this place, and also with you in your place, in your moment, and so on for everyone who lives now and everyone who has ever lived.

        Everything is all of a piece. And we are the primordial space, the primordial clearing, in which it is coming into being.


      • What an awe-inspiring moment. To feel that you are actually one with eternity. Maybe like matrilineal or collective memory. Ancient memory would be more descriptive I guess. I have experienced some small moments like this. The first many years ago when I was made an honorary memory of the Isleta Pueblo tribe. To think that you are one with the eons of people who roamed this earth so many centuries ago was humbling.


  4. Lovely post once again my dear.

    To me, this is what I read:
    In the evolution of wanting fill our lives with something that we think will make us happy. In this story, the baby was filling the gap in the woman’s life. The shape shifter represents other things in which she has tried to fill her life to gain happiness.

    The blister is her awareness of how she seeks to fill her life with outside influences to feel fulfilled. She is remorseful when she finally is aware and acknowledges this, but with understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, knowledge and time she realises that this is not so bad afterwards and the self healing begins.


      • Again, I hadn’t considered this. In the dream, I felt the baby/dog/kitten represented all those creatures I had loved dearly when I was a child, the baby being myself. A little while ago I saw a little girl of about 7 run out of a shop with her father and there tied up outside was her curly-headed labradoodle and she threw herself down on her knees and gathered up the dog to her. There was pure joy. The dream was like that. The feeling of the dog/baby in my arms.


    • Interpreting these fairytales and dreams in a group like this is very interesting. I’ve been surprised and intrigued at the evidence of how differently we all read things. Your reading is a particularly rich one.

      I hadn’t considered the blister as an indicator that healing was necessary. I was interpreting “causes”, in this case, that something precious had been neglected. Gotta tell you that is so consistent with my particular version of the Predator (in the Blubeard story). The predator for me is always guilt-flavoured!


      • They say what you see is dependant on your experiences. Therefore our minds make the connections that are most close to previous stories/connections that we have experienced. Though it is only what I have read and I don’t hold the psychology qualifications in any stretch of the imagination.

        It would make sense that as we have all had different experiences, therefore we all read something different into it. Highly unlikely however that we would read a meaning into the story that was outside of our previous experiences as we have nothing to make that connection. Does that make sense? It does in my head at least :-)


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