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"Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.




Clarissa Pinkola Estés,


(27 January 1945) is an American poet, psychoanalyst and post-trauma specialist who was raised in now nearly vanished oral and ethnic traditions. She is a first-generation American who grew up in a rural village, population 600, near the Great Lakes.


Dr. C.P. Estés' is a lifelong activist in service of the voiceless; as a post-trauma recovery specialist and psychoanalyst of 48 years clinical practice with the persons traumatized by war, exilos and torture victims; and as a journalist covering stories of human suffering and hope.


She is Mestiza Latina [Native American/ Mexica Spanish], presently in her seventies. She grew up in the now vanished oral tradition of her war-torn immigrant, refugee families who could not read nor write, or did so haltingly, and for whom English was their third language overlying their ancient natal languages. As an older child she was adopted into an immigrant and refugee family of majority Magyar and minority Danau Swabian tribal people. Her families could not read or write, or did so haltingly. But they were wise in the ways of nature, planting, animals, making everything from scratch, from shoes to songs.


Thus she was raised immersed in the oral tradition of old mythos and stories, songs and chants, dances and ancient healing ways.


Her writing is deeply influenced by her family people who were hands-on farmers, shepherds, hopsmeisters, wheelwrights, weavers, orchardists, tailors, cabinet makers, lacemakers, knitters, horsemen and horsewomen from their Old Countries.


Life Works


Similar to William Carlos Williams and other poets who also worked in the health or other professions in tandem, Estés is a poet who uses her poems throughout her psychoanalytic books, spoken word audios, and performance art as healing and expressive therapy for others.


She is a post-trauma recovery specialist and certified psychoanalsyst who has practiced clinically for 48 years. Her doctorate, from the Union Institute & University, is in ethno-clinical psychology, the study of social and psychological patterns of cultural and tribal groups, with an emphasis in indigenous history.


She often speaks as "distinguished visiting scholar" and "diversity scholar" at universities, most recently to young engineers at Colorado School of Mines and Regis [Jesuit] University.


Author of many books on the life of the soul, her work is published in 37 languages, most recently Persian, Turkish, Han Chinese, Serbian, Romanian and Taiwanese. Her book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 144 weeks.


As a post-trauma specialist, Estés began her work in the 1960s at Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital in Hines, Illinois. There she was honored to work with WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam combat soldiers who were living with quadraplegia, incapacitated by loss of, either/or, both arms and legs.


She has worked at other facilities caring for severely injured 'cast-away' children, 'shell-shocked' war veterans (now called Post Trauma Distress Syndrome), and their families. Her teaching of writing in prisons began in the early 1970s at the Men's Penitentiary in Colorado; the Federal Women's Prison at Dublin, California, and in other 'locked institutions.'


Estés ministers in the fields of childbearing loss, surviving families of murder victims, as well as critical incident work. She served at natural disaster sites, where she began developing a post-trauma recovery protocol for earthquake survivors in Armenia.


Since then, her Post-Trauma Recovery Protocol has been translated into many languages, and is used across the world to deputize citizen-helpers to carry on post-trauma work on-site at many disasters,-- for the months and years yet to come, after first-responders have moved on.


She served Columbine High School and community after the massacre, 1999-2003. She continues to work with 9-11 survivors and survivor families on both east and west coasts.


Estés served as appointee by Governor Roemer and Governor Owens to the Colorado State Grievance Board (1993–2006) where she served as Chair in concert with the State District Attorney's office and the Investigators of Department of Regulatory Agencies.


She has been an advisory board member for National Writers Union, New York; an advisory board member of National Coalition Against Censorship, New York; and is a board member of the Maya Angelou Minority Health Foundation at Wake Forest University Medical School. She is an advisor to El Museo de las Americas, Colorado; a contributing editor to The Bloomsbury Review; and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.


Estés, "a former "hard-scrabble" welfare mother" is the recipient of numerous awards for her life's work, including the first Joseph Campbell Keeper of the Lore Award for her work as La cantadora; for her written work, the Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis; the Catholic Press Association award for her writing. She received the Las Primeras Award, "The First of Her Kind" from the Mexican American Women's Foundation, Washington D.C. She is a 2006 inductee into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame which recognizes women "change agents" of international influence.




Estés is Managing Editor for TheModeratevoice.com, a news and political blog where she also writes on issues of culture, soul, and politics. Her columns on issues of social justice, spirituality and culture are archived under her signature title: El Rio Debajo del Rio ("The River Underneath the River") on the National Catholic Reporter website.


She is controversial for proposing that both assimilation and holding to ethnic traditions are the ways to contribute to a creative culture and to a soul-based civility. She successfully helped to petition the Library of Congress, as well as worldwide psychoanalytic institutes, to rename their studies and categorizations formerly called, among other things, "psychology of the primitives", to more respectful and descriptive names, according to ethnic group, religion, culture, etc.


Estés' Guadalupe Foundation funds literacy projects, including in Queens, New York City, in Madagascar - providing printed local folktales, healthcare and hygiene information for people in their own language. These texts are then used for learning to read and write.


Estés testifies before state and federal legislatures on welfare reform, education and school violence, child protection, mental health, environment, licensing of professionals, immigration, traditional medicine, licensure, and other quality of life and soul issues.




"... Much of my writing is influenced by my family people who were farmers, shepherds, hopsmeisters, wheelwrights, weavers, orchardists, tailors, cabinet makers, lacemakers, knitters, and horsemen and horsewomen from the Old Countries." (excerpt from Forte è la Donna: dalla Grande Madre Bennedetta, insegnamenti per i nostri tempi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, May 2011, Milano, Italy)


"We are all los inmigrantes, the Soul is The First Immigrant: The Soul cannot be held back by any imaginary boundary drawn against it; not by mountain ranges, not by rivers, nor by human scorn. The Soul, goes everywhere, like an old woman in her right mind, going anywhere she wishes, saying whatever she wants, bending to mend whatever is within her reach. Wherever she goes, the Soul brings new life."

- from The Dangerous Old Woman spoken word audiobook


"There is no ethnic group on the face of this earth that has not been slaughtered; viz Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Britons, and thousands of other tribes worldwide. When, after a conflict, the best balanced leaders who have a stake in the future of all persons, are bypassed, and instead power is seized by the angriest and most grudge-holding, whose greatest stake is in the past… without new consciousness, and without strong reconciling actions... thus erupts a horrible recycling of living out the least of what is human in this world."

- from "Letter To The Prince on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht"


""As artist-in-residence in schools, I find whereas children used to dream bear, wolf, tiger as both friends and foes, and often… now, so so many children are dreaming Machine; gigantic stomping splints and walking piers of glittering mutant metal.... "

- from essay "Wild Wolf/ Wild Soul" in Comeback Wolves, eds G. Wockner, L. Prichett


"There are not two 'Ms to governing, as many PolySci courses have taught: 'Money and Management.' There are three M's. The third one is Mercy. The third "M" constitutes the difference between a country and a corporation."

- from testimony before Federal Ways and Means Committee on Social Programs, Washington, 1996 Congressional Record.


""Nature and human beings are not separate. You can be sure that when the land and creatures are wounded by humans, that those humans are copying their own psychic wounds into the earth and animals as well; what is wounded and without thought, wounds others..."

- from essay "Massacre of the Dreamers, in Untie The Strong Woman book"


"The wounding of land and creatures reaches to the dream world... and beyond it to impoverish the dreamers as well. Yet there is still time to intervene... but the time is right this instant..."

- ibid


""All strong souls first go to hell before they do the healing of the world they came here for. If we are lucky, we return to help those still trapped below."

- from the poem Abre La Puerta in Theatre of the Imagination (Sounds True), also for Kol Nidre at shul


"Do not lose heart, we were made for these times..."

- from Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times


""The craft of questions, the craft of stories, the craft of the hands - all these are the making of something, and that something is soul. Anytime we feed soul, it guarantees increase."

- from Women Who Run With the Wolves (Ballantine/ Bertelsmann 1992, 1996) (p. 14)


"Just because a woman is silent does not mean she agrees…" - from The Dangerous Old Woman audiobook


""If logic were everything, all men would ride sidesaddle…" - from Women Who Run With The Wolves


"Some people mistake being loving for being a sap. Quite the contrary, the most loving people are often the most fierce and the most acutely armed for battle... for they care about preserving and protecting poetry, symphonic song, ideas, the elements, creatures, inventions, hopes and dreams, dances and holiness... those goodly endeavors that cannot be allowed to perish from this earth, else humanity itself would perish..."

- from The Dangerous Old Woman audiobook


"I admire the psychological thinkers of our times and of times past, who brought together pragmatic, imaginative and effective solutions to human suffering, that includes our own tribal people, as well as those who can read and write." (Podcast interview, with Tami Simon, publisher, soundstrue.com 2011)


''If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time."

- from Women Who Run with the Wolves




** "Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul" (Sounds True Books, HC, USA, Nov. 2011)
[River Wolf Press Ebook 2017]


** Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (Ballantine 1992/ 1996, USA)
[River Wolf Press Ebook 2017]


** The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About that Which Can Never Die (Harper SanFrancisco 1996 USA)


** The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough (Ballantine 1993, USA)


** Tales of the Brothers' Grimm; 50 page introduction by Estés (BMOC/QPB special edition USA)


** Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell 50 page introduction by Estés (Princeton University Press, Joseph Campbell 100th anniversary edition 2004, USA)


** Forte è la Donna: dalla Grande Madre Bennedetta, insegnamenti per i nostri tempi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, May 2011, Milano, Italy)


** La danza delle grandi madri: The Dance of the Grand Madri (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, 2007, Milano, Italy)

** Donne che corrono coi lupi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, 1993, Milano, Italy)


Forte è la Donna: dalla Grande Madre Bennedetta, insegnamenti per i nostri tempi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, May 2011, Milano, Italy)


Estés is a spoken word and performance artist in poetry, stories, blessings and psychoanalytic commentary. Her many audio works, published by Sounds True, are available as CDs and streaming mp3s and have been broadcast over numerous National Public Radio and community public radio stations throughout Canada and the United States.


LIFETIME AUDIO BOOKS in CD's Series and Mp3 streaming downloads 1989 to Present...


--Untie the Strong Woman: To Know and Honor Holy Mother & La Nuestra Señora, Our Lady of Guadalupe (2011) (mp3s/CDs)

--How To Be An Elder: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old
Woman Volume 5 (2012) (mp3s avail now/CDs to come)
--The Late Bloomer: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman, Volume 4 (2011) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman and the Consort Body, Volume 3 (2011) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Power of the Crone: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman and Her Special Wisdom, Volume 2 (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype, Volume 1 (2010) (mp3s/CDs)


--Mother Night: Myths, Stories and Teachings for Learning to See in the Dark (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
--Seeing in the Dark: Myths and Stories to Reclaim the Buried, Knowing Woman (2010) (mp3s/CDs)


--Warming the Stone Child: Myths & Stories About Abandonment and the Unmothered Child (1997) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Radiant Coat: Myths & Stories About the Crossing Between Life and Death (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Creative Fire: Myths and Stories About the Cycles of Creativity (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
--In the House of the Riddle Mother: The Most Common --Archetypal Motifs in Women's Dreams (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)


--Theatre of the Imagination: Volume I (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
--Theatre of the Imagination: Volume II (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of Soul Life (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
--Bedtime Stories: For Crossing the Threshold Between Waking and Sleep (2002) (mp3s/CDs)
--Beginner's Guide to Dream Analysis (2000) (mp3s/CDs)
--How To Love A Woman: Myths and Stories about Intimacy and The Erotic Lives of Women (1996) (mp3s/CDs)


--The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About that Which Can Never Die (1996) (mp3s/CDs)
--The Boy Who Married An Eagle: Myths and Stories About Men's Interior Lives (1995) ( audio cassette)
--The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
--Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories about the Wild Woman Archetype (1989 audio bestseller, released before the completed manuscript was in book form ) (mp3s/CDs)




Estés is the Managing Editor and columnist at international political and lifestyle newsblog, The Moderate Voice.


Her columns are archived at The National Catholic Reporter online


"Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times: Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times" by Estés


"The Church Beneath The Church" by Estés


"Baptism: The Good Fathers" and "Internship: The Bad Fathers (poetry by Estés)


"Slaughter of Innocence" Dr. Estés writing on the pedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic church: U.S. Catholic magazine.


Blog Entry: Estés writes on racism in her article "Don Imus And Bernard McGuirk re "Nappy-Headed Hos""


Archived Google Video of televised "The Charlie Rose Show" 2002, covering Woman.Life.Song production at Carnegie Hall featuring coloratura soprano Jessye Norman, [music by judith weir] and those who wrote the words for the libretto: author Dr. Estés, author Dr. Toni Morrison, and author Dr. Maya Angelou.