Marion Woodman’s last letter came in February 2011, almost three years after my husband Vic’s death.
I first met Marion in 1988 when I went to my first workshop with her. We had corresponded since 2003. In the last years, her neat and orderly letters became scraps on the back of an envelope or old greeting card. Lines wandered about the page, but she was still there with wise intuitions, reflections, and guidance.
When I needed encouragement to finish my book, Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief, she wrote, “DO IT!” When I needed comfort, she held my raw grief tenderly and wrote of her own marriage and how hard it would be to go it alone.
In her last note scrawled on the back of an old birthday card, she said she was determined to write to me. Her note ended with this: “As you bring to consciousness your feeling and try to work with it. Be Gentle with yourself. Let the warm love flow.”
She was saying goodbye and leaving me with a tough assignment. It’s easier to notice and criticize what I lack or where I fail. But without nurturing myself with love and gentleness, what’s the point of this life?
In 2004, I dreamed of Marion as an ancient Crone handing out cookies to a crowd. Her big belly laugh filled the dream space. I told her the dream at a workshop while we sat in a quiet room, knee to knee. I described the thick blue eye makeup, wild gray hair, and messy maroon lipstick of Dream Marion. As I told Marion the details, she obviously enjoyed being a spiritual clown and wise fool. She laughed from the belly, just as she had in the dream, but instead of cookies, she shared sweet understanding and insight.
She fed me sacred soul food.
Marion taught me to honor the Sacred Feminine. She was devoted to Sophia, St. Anne, and the Virgin Mary, but she found wisdom in all world religions and myths. She nourished me with C.G. Jung, Marie Louise von Franz, and her own books. She recited poetry and Shakespeare by heart and found archetypal wisdom in fairy tales. Through dance, art, ritual, and sound, she helped me connect psyche and body. She was the feminine inspiration I craved after years of studying male philosophers with male teachers.
Thank you, Marion, for standing next to me in the underworld of grief after Vic’s death. Thank you for believing in me and helping me believe in myself. Thank you for teaching me what an authentic woman can be and give. If she dares.
Marion Woodman is an author and retired Jungian analyst who founded Body/Soul Rhythms with Mary Hamilton and Ann Skinner. The Marion Woodman Foundation continues to support this work. l hope you will enjoy this three minute video of Marion and my blog called Falling in Love with Marion Woodman: 2003.