How to Love a Woman

On intimacy and the erotic life of women, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés (a summary by Pat Evert)

Love is to be fully alive in participation with one another. What happens when one does or does not want to bring all their consciousness to the relationship?

The work of Safo, the feminine God, teaches us the erotic love of a woman. There is more to love than being erotic, it is being fully alive. Love is going through the full cycle of life together in genuine relationship. It is to become a master, to rise and fall. One day it’s chicken and than another it’s feathers, feast and famine are both parts of life. The development of love is to ride the cycles of life, to become whole. It’s to make the music we both love.

– Skeleton woman, a story of love
She is reduced to nothing, later she is snagged by the fisherman. She is caught. She is untangled and freed. The fisherman is terrified, he dreams and cries. She takes out his heart, the mighty drum. She sings and her body is again filled out with flesh. Skin against skin, the warmth of the other.

This is about two beings whose strength together is increased. Love is the viable bond that endures the extremes. It invites lady death into the relationship, the one men most fear. To go through decline and return, for a lifelong relationship one has to go up against what they fear most. One must not only be strong, but wise in a relationship of life and death. This is generated in cycles of the unparalleled love, that of devotion through death. Death is part of the natural cycle. We awake in the decline cycle of life, not the arousal. In our madness we ask, ‘Why am I in this relationship? Is it going to be like this from now on?’ Within an enduring relationship there are many endings. We are terrified by even one ending. You are awaking and you’re not sure who this person is beside you. To enter into such a relationship you have to meet lady death, the last thing you want, but the only hope of genuine relationship. It’s the only way to bounty.

Like skeleton woman, Sedna is a goddess who had her limbs cut off by her father and cast into the sea. She is another woman who has suffered misuse. Another life -> death -> life example. Only our inner life source knows the dance of this cycle. Give me the death I need. It takes time to learn her ways, not like the immediate fix that society promotes. But she is an accidental find of treasure. We have no idea what we are in for, like a blind man. We snag a relationship. As long it is under the water it is okay. But, once it surfaces we are terrified. She is the only way to a full relationship. At the beginning of a relationship we are only looking for a little excitement, or a hope to make it through the night. But unwittingly we hook skeleton woman and death is going to have her share. The ego hates it, but has no say in it. We catch more than we can handle. We think, ‘Maybe I would be better off with someone else’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do without such and such.’ HOLD ON! You will come out okay. You will find heartening in the darkness of regeneration. There is life after death. She is brought back to life by taking the heart out of him. We must give our heart to the other to recreate them. A spiritual path of love opens before you. They exchange love and pleasure all night long. The body union is the final stage and it will come along of its own, be patient and don’t hurry it. When a human merges with the skeleton woman, he can afterward fearlessly relate with any.

What holds a relationship together?
The life/death/life nature
Understanding and discovery of new eroticism, one that seeks true beauty in the other, to see them anew
The dual nature of women, two powerful forces within the same person, the inner and the outer, significance and delights/distractions
There is a little shedding of blood in relationships.

Choosing a mate:

  1. Choose as if you were blind, feel their kindness and character
  2. The ability to learn, able to say they are wrong
  3. Willing to be like you, strong and sensitive
  4. They feel pain and willingly share it, communicate
  5. One who has an inner life, spirituality, merged and separate
  6. Has similar passions to your own
  7. Similar values in family, religion, etc.
  8. Compassionate, can listen
  9. Can laugh at themselves, can stop an argument mid sentence
  10. Able to overlook faults,
  11. Able to be friends,
  12. One who makes your life bigger, rather than smaller

We all have the need for solitude. From time to time the woman needs to have time alone, solitude. Let her go. Give her freedom, and you take yours. Then she can come back refreshed. The mystery of love – to gain what you lost because you were willing to give up all to regain it.