In Women who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés begins with the story of La Loba, the collector of bones. The old woman, the crone, who carries a cure for everything. She stops and digs in the desert for a fragment of wolf skeleton and then, as night falls, she lays out every piece of the puzzle. As she chants and raises her hands flesh and sinew bond to the frame and fur materialises. The wolf breathes into her resurrection. She leaps up and runs towards a horizon. Halfway there she transforms into a laughing naked woman who disappears into the wild.
La Loba, much like Baba Yaga, is terrifying and magnificent as an archetype. She is powerful and unpredictable and she doesn’t take kindly to bullshit. If you are lucky you may see her at sunset when you are tired and thirsty and she may take a liking to you and show you something for the soul. In this story bone symbolises the parts of self that cannot decay, that cannot be destroyed, that remain. Bones symbolises the soul. Inspired by Estés, I would like to tell another story. The story of a different bone collector.
Once there was and once there was not… a woman, a girl, a child, a maiden. In the darkest of nights she was shattered to her core. The pieces of her flew far and wide finding homes in other people, broken people, every piece, a small fragment of bone. A ghost now, a hollow shell, she summons her remaining energy to cast a spell – the kind all women know in their deepest desperation. She creates the illusion of bones and flesh, of perfect, shining wholeness. Only out of the corner of your eye can you see the cracks show through. The spell makes her forgetful and blind. She stumbles around in the dark, looking for something to quench her thirst – the deep thirst of emptiness. She finds a boy, a man, a lover, and drinks of him. She feeds him more than she has in return and weaves, unconsciously, a spell around him – the fairy tale of a life, a happy future. She gives too much and drinks all there is until the illusion vanishes, to her surprise, and all is grey and meaningless. Both she and he are devastated but there is nothing she can do to help. She must move on but as she turns to leave she catches a spark out of the corner of her eye: one thing left that is worth taking. She plucks the silver stone from his chest, her own fragment of bone, and leaves the crumbling ruins of the illusion. Slowly she wanders and the cycle repeats over and over. Every encounter seems much the same, every person reveals a little more of herself…
I’m not sure how this story ends. Maybe the girl becomes La Loba, maybe she eventually finds, through gathering the pieces of herself, some kind of wholeness that allows the spell of illusion to be broken.
Astrologically bones are ruled by Saturn and illusions and delusions by Neptune. There is something particularly Saturn in Scorpio about the re-claiming of fragments of bones through intimate encounters – in discovering the self through the mirroring of other people. This kind of projection also relates heavily to Neptune in the 7th house. Those of us with this natal combination are wonderful projection-artists when it comes to relating and relationships. Neptune also embodies the wholeness of surrender and the final, 12th house, stage of the journey. Neptune’s native sign of Pisces is also heavily connected with Resurrection (Jesus fish). So in this story Neptune is both the obstacle and the goal.