In 1996 I recorded my dance of the selchies (seal woman’s) story juxtaposed against my own personal story of being a surrogate mother for my psychotherapist and her husband. For months prior to filming I worked with a choreographer and practiced my dance during dance class, on a private beach on California’s central coast, and in a dance studio. When the day of the shoot finally arrived, I danced on a stage that was built from hard metal puzzle pieces. Rivets held the pieces of the stage together. As I danced over the 4 hours of recording the costume that I was wearing was torn and my body bruised. When I finally returned home after we had finished for the day I discovered that my body was covered with bruises.
I remember thinking as I went to bed that night that I was more seal than woman. I had gone onto land and birthed a son while being separated from the waters of my birth and my natural wild Self.
Since that time and while writing my memoir I have revisited my selchie dance and my personal story many times over. I opened Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype today and found some notes scribbled onto a magazine page that I had inserted into the pages of the ‘Homecoming: Returning to One’s Self’‘ chapter. The torn magazine page has two images of women dancing and the word SPEECHLESS set in the middle of the page.
Estes writes, we lose the moleskin by becoming too involved with the ego, by being too exacting, perfectionistic. or unnecessarily martyred, or driven by a blind ambition, or by being dissatisfied–about self, family, community, culture, world–and not saying or doing anything about it SPEECHLESS or by pretending we are an unending source for others, or by not doing everything we can to help ourselves.
Two words I wrote and tucked away in the pages of the selchie story around the year 2010 are PASSION, DREAMS
The wild woman is fluent in the nature of dreams, images, passion, and poetry.
The power of Mary Alice’s story is the heart connections that connect us all while honoring our unique experiences and beliefs.
Muriel Percy, Ontario, CAN
You made it clear that getting in touch with, and living from the heart is natural and simple…. though quite hidden, and perhaps scary for most modern people….. And a sometimes struggle, ….but something which can be taught/discovered and shared together, playfully and creatively. Here is my bravo…. but the story is ongoing…..
Betsy Wetzig, Allentown, PA
**Below you can watch both the selchie dance and 1 of a series of memoir project performances**
How are you fluent in the language of dreams, images, passion, and poetry?