First of all, what is a wolf moon?
The Wolf Moon is the first full moon of the year, in January. And, as I write this piece, in 2021, that is tonight – 28th January at 7.16pm. Of course, it won’t be visible until it comes up over the horizon, so keep an eye out around this time.
It became known as the wolf moon, long ago, when it was recognised as the month when the howls of wolves could be heard the most. Back then, our ancestors believed this to be because the wolves were crying out in hunger but we have since discovered that wolves howl for many other reasons, during this time.
Wolves howl to mark their territory, or to communicate with other wolves from afar, and to coordinate hunting, together. They also do it to find each other and to connect with each other. And a chorus of howls is carried out to reinforce family bonds.
And, of course, remembering that wolves are mammals and will also cry out in grief and in pain.
Many people may automatically assume that this term, ‘wolf moon’, originated in America, as, when we think of wolves, our minds tend to take us straight there. However, what many people don’t know, is that once upon a time, wolves roamed our UK lands, too. As did many other amazing animals that have since been extinct, here, due to human ways.
You might be surprised to learn that we had cave lions, cave bears, and beautiful beavers. And we had some of the most fantastic birds of prey!
So, many moons ago, at this time of year, we too would hear the cries of wolves on a cold January night.
I love learning about this kind of thing. While it breaks my heart to learn that we have lost so much, it connects me to something bigger. And simply having this knowledge gives me a sense of hope that if more people can relearn this, their hearts might break, too. And maybe one day, we might have enough broken hearts, that we all begin to demand the return of our lost species and restore our broken ecosystem.
Until then, my goal is to help women reconnect to this deep, ancestral wisdom, hidden inside, that knows this. And that knows that we once gathered in circle together, to bang drums, and dance around a fire, while howling like the wolves and roaring like the lion.
Something of a howling
So, last night, in our Wild Women membership, we gathered, online, to connect during these incredibly disconnecting of times. We gathered to howl! To express something, deep inside, that couldn’t find any other way out. We all were holding this inside of us. Some called pain, some called fear, some called grief. And in our day to day lives, there seems no room for them to ever be let out of their cage. Like some twisted zoo, where people are only happy to step into our lives for a brief minute, to walk past us and observe our outer beauty, so long as we are kept behind bars. Taken out of our real and wild environments, our true home, and forced to live in the madness of control and conformity.
The aim of the evening, was to create a safe space, where the theme of the evening was freedom. A space free from judgement, critical words and destroying eyes. A space filled with real love and listening, real acceptance and validation. A space where we could be free to be our raw, animal selves in all our glory. A soft, gentle place, that makes us feel held and literally builds the dance floor for us to spin our worries away. And I think we really achieved it.
The first part of our howling, was our sharing circle that contained all of this and more. Each woman took her beautiful time to speak and be heard. Fully heard – with no interruption. No one trying to tell her she is wrong. No one trying to fix her. No one speaking over her or changing the direction of her thoughts and words. Just pure, unadulterated listening, holding and validation. All while we let it out and set it free!
Some of us, myself included, found that we had no idea how much we needed to cry, until this room was carved out to catch our tears.
Some of us, myself included, found that we had no idea how much we needed to cry, until this room was carved out to catch our tears. We had no idea the weight we had been carrying, until we all got together and offered to carry it too, for a while. And the relief we felt when we finally lifted it off our shoulders and let it go was amazing. This is pure, unconditional love, in the purest of forms. Something, society has had conditioned out of it, so well, but these women, we are bringing it back. Slowly, gently, and powerfully!
The second part of our howling was in the form of a vocal and movement meditation, where we practiced our breathing and releasing with intent. I guided the others to breathe deep and release big, with some noise and body movement that honoured our inner feelings and searched for where it was held in our bodies. We gradually worked our way up to louder noises, bigger movements and more careful listening of what needed to be released, where, and how. I didn’t give them the answers, or tell them how they should make a noise, or how they should move their bodies. Women have had enough of being told what to do. This was about listening! Eventually, I invited the women to move into any animal noises that felt like they needed to come out. It may have been a howl, it may have been a roar. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were listening and honouring their needs.
At this point, you might be thinking, uh-oh. She’s finally took this whole Wild Woman thing too far! But stay with me…
We know, don’t we? We have this deep, deep knowing that it wasn’t always this way for us women. We weren’t always so strictly domesticated, controlled, and caged, like the animals in the zoo.
Once upon a time women were understood, worshiped, obeyed, cherished, loved, and utterly cared for!
We once were wild and free, in the most purest of forms. Free to be our complete and whole selves. No exceptions. Free to cry out in pain when it hurt. Free to roar when it felt dangerous. Free to howl when we needed to release or communicate with other souls.
Just like our female friends in the animal kingdom (you know, the same kingdom from which we humans originate?), we too have an innate call to make the most raw, animal noises, to support our bodies, minds, and souls, by releasing whatever it is that needs to be set free. Releasing what we no longer need inside of us or expressing a need or communication.
Our history of this is evident in two other parts of womanhood. When we give birth and when we observe our children, as we raise them.
When we give birth, we connect to our raw animal instincts and make noises to help us through each stage. When a woman’s hormones are balanced and flowing as they should, during birth, a woman will spend some time being silent and some time letting out some incredible sounds that help her through each stage of labour.
But, this seems to be the only time it’s accepted that women can make raw, animal noises to express themselves and support a process their body is undertaking. Women who labour, healthily, can make the most amazing roar! And it helps us. It helps to have that big release that we need with every stage.
However, if women shout and scream when they’re being abused or oppressed, they’re often labelled “crazy”, “deranged”, “demented”, “insane”, or “hysterical”. Anything but justified!
Yet, there is plenty of science, now, showing that when we are given the freedom to express what is inside of us and release it, we can work through traumatic damage that has been imprinted on our brains and that haunts us, day in and day out.
And just look at our children, before society gets its hands on them, too. From being a baby, they cry, scream bloody murder, in fact, to let us know they have needs. They can’t speak, they can’t communicate in any other way when they needed holding to feel safe. All they can do is cry. And they can’t communicate in any other way when they are hungry or thirsty. The only way is to cry.
Then as toddlers, when they experience feelings of hurt, anger, jealousy, resentment, when they feel life is unjustified, unfair, or they’re not understood or heard. They will let us know about it with the most incredible noises. Won’t they?
But once our little girls, become little girls, their anger, their screams, their shrills, their complaints are no longer welcome in this world. And we are shut down. Shut down from such an early age. These natural sounds, we so desperately need to make to express ourselves, to communicate, to tell others how we feel – silenced. Gone.
They are shut down, in order to teach us to be proper girls. Proper girls are nice. Good. They don’t make silly noises. They certainly don’t get angry. And we are taught that it isn’t “nice” to get angry or make silly noises.
But just like the baby or the toddler, they too make these noises, when they can’t communicate in any other way. And only connection, love, acceptance, and a little time, can truly teach our girls how to communicate their needs in other ways. Otherwise, they simply stop. They simply hold it in and it gets stuck there, until they can learn to set it free.
And just like those children who couldn’t use their words, as adults, we too sometimes can’t find the words. Can we?
Sometimes we just can’t find the words to explain how we are feeling. We can’t work out how to make others understand what we feel or what we need, with words. And sometimes, when we hold all that in without expressing it, we can let our raw, animal side out on the people we love.
So, what I propose, instead, is to find some time to practice releasing our biggest tensions, frustrations, our grief, even our most happiest moments, with some intentional vocal vibrations and body movement. Let the universe know how you feel and cry out to tell it exactly what you need!
As ever, this is about listening to yourself. No one else knows your mind, body, or soul like you do. No one! So take the time to breathe, to ask yourself important questions, and create the quiet space that is needed to hear the answers when they come.
Ask yourself, as you breathe deep, what is it that you need? What is crying out to be heard. Is it words or is it a noise? Is it a big sigh or a scream? A roar or a howl?
And start to focus on the body, as you ask these questions. Where does you pain and suffering live in your body? And how does your body want to get it out?
Is it with water? Hot or cold? Indoors or outdoors?
Is it by shaking it out or dancing it out, maybe? Should you twirl or stomp. Stay silent or bang a drum?
Just listen. And when the answers come, try to honour yourself and find the courage to take action.
And again, this might take time. This might be incredibly difficult. Give yourself the permission you need to step away when you need to step away. This is YOUR body, YOUR choice!
We had a gentle chat afterwards about how the meditation, the movement and vocalisations made us feel. And agreed that for some it can be hard finding that courage, alone. So we will group together in the membership, more often, to practice it, together. And support each other to find that confidence and freedom. And to find our voice, once again.
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