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The Boy Who Married an Eagle

Myths and Stories about Male Individuation

Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Book review Copyright © 1993, 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, The Boy Who Married an Eagle: Myths and Stories about Male Individuation. (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 1991). Order on-line



When George Parks heard I was interviewing Dr. Estés, he asked me, "Have you heard The Boy Who Married an Eagle? It was a worthwhile tape, and I thank George for the recommendation. Dr. Estés speaks of the 2 million year old man and El Duende -- what is missing in modern man, the goblin spirit behind the creative force, the unexplainable spirit behind men and the force behind the elements. Male individuation in her view is the process of finding those parts of ourselves that have been hidden away, or thrown away, by the force of our culture and putting them together in a way that makes a dance, a dream, a dream that makes sense of our world. The problem is not simply one of developing our feminine, emotive nature; in many men the feminine is well-developed and the issue is reclaiming the masculine energy that manifests in the world, toughens up, and gets a thicker skin.One problem that many men have, however, is that they want to see results. Discovering El Duende and the secret of the 2 million year old man is a process. Another problem is that we are reluctant to live what we learn. We react to what we retrieve from the unconscious the same way we relate to women. One theory of depth psychology is that men project onto women their desire for the deep self. When a man relates to his Inner Work with a feeling of courtship, of sorrow and desire, and of passionate encounters he is doing exactly what he needs to be doing.

Dr. Estés has two words of advice for men doing this inner work. First, let your wife, lover or partner know what you are doing. You will probably find her to be very supportive, rather than fearful and reactive, if you give her the opportunity to understand. Second, give her as much sovereignty over her own life as possible.

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