Introduction

Traditional psychological theory too soon runs out for the creative, the gifted, the deep woman. Traditional psychology is often spare or entirely silent about deeper issues important to women: the archetypal, the intuitive, the sexual and cyclical, the ages of women, a woman’s way, a woman’s knowing, her creative fire . . .

 

A woman’s issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness. No, that is what has already caused millions of women who began as strong and natural powers to become outsiders in their own cultures.

 

 ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

 

For years, the automatic thought that entered my mind after a near miss on my commute to my holistic psychotherapy practice in Berkeley, California, was: “No, I can’t die yet! I’m not done with my book.” Only then would the horror if I were to get in an accident set in, motivating me to drive extra carefully until I reached my destination.

Now that my book is done, I’m not sure if it will still be in my final thoughts when I leave this earth. It did form the basis of my first meaningful insight as a child, born and raised near the edge of the Amazon rainforest of Suriname, a former Dutch colony the size of Georgia located on the northern border of Brazil. Not many people have heard of Suriname or know that 95% of its land mass is covered by trees, officially making it the most forest-covered country on the planet according to the World Bank.

As a child, I loved to play and roam in the rainforest. Armed with a rusty machete and dressed in old clothes and oversized black boots, I pretended to be Mowgli, Tarzan, or a freedom fighter, like the famous rebel slaves Baron, Boni, and Joli Coeur we learned about in history class. Thanks to my three main girl role models and imaginary friends—Anne Frank, Helen Keller, and Joan of Arc—I began to grasp and channel “my book” around the age of eight, long before I knew what channeling meant and what my story would evolve into.

By then, I'd already gathered that some of my insights, interests, and reactions to people and life were not "normal." I seemed too sensitive, too particular, too precocious, too stubborn, too pensive, too wise, too opinionated, too perceptive, too intense, too passionate, too weird, too ambitious.

I began to separate and collect these parts of myself like out-of-place jigsaw pieces that belonged in a different box. Reading Anne Frank's diary unleashed a deep yearning to collect these rejected puzzle pieces for my own book—a "parenting" book that would show adults what really went on in some children's minds, modern-day Anne Frank-Joan of Arc-Helen Keller hybrids, like me, who were perhaps not abnormal at all, but had gifts and important messages to share.

The more puzzle pieces I collected, the clearer it became that they were creating an image and story that had to do with far more than just parenting—these split-off pieces were influenced by the ancient mystical traditions and the soulful, but marginalized, worldviews of racial and cultural groups that were as diverse and commonplace as the air and wildlife surrounding me. 

 

Because a diary was a luxury that kids my age didn't have, I tucked these insights and puzzle pieces away in a special file in my mind. And I’d regularly breathed in their wisdom, feeling it nourish my cells, blood, bones, and soul through connective karmic tissue that dipped into past life memories, premonitions, and guiding dreams, and through long ancestral roots that spanned various continents—Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. 

My paternal grandparents were from a Hakka village in Southern China. So was my maternal grandfather. My maternal great-grandmother was Creole (West African/indigenous Surinamese ancestry), and my maternal great-grandfather was a Dutch soldier with Portuguese-Jewish ancestry. My parents were born in Suriname but lived and studied in Holland for almost a decade before returning to their native country to start a family. The spiritual streams that run through my veins include Taoist, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, African spiritualism, and nature-based indigenous practices and wisdom.

In February of 1980, a military coup turned my life upside down and, three years later, at the age of thirteen, my family moved to Miami, Florida, in pursuit of a better future—free of violence, terrifying threats, curfews, censorship, and constant turmoil. Not until my potent, daily sanctuary was all of a sudden gone did I slowly begin to appreciate and water the seeds that had been sown into my fertile soul throughout my formative years. 

I didn’t know how to dig up and unlock the secrets and hidden treasures that my soul had inherited from my ancestors and previous lives, but I sensed that they were sacred, mysterious, endangered, and important. A clear and passionate sense of purpose consumed and informed me that it was my job to safekeep them until I'd become "learned" and "the time was right to share them with the right person.” I have a feeling that the time is now and that the right person is you.

 

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