Inspiration from Marion Woodman

April 18, 2009

Dearest Elaine,

…Ross (86, Marion’s husband) and I (80) laugh many times with our faulty hearing…. Tears and laughter are now two sides of one feeling.

I love every workshop, but I’m finding my energy not up to it—not quite. I say my prayers and my love and blessings go to you, dear Elaine,

Marion Woodman 


Photo after Vic’s diagnosis on the Sophia altar at a BodySoul Rhythms workshop

Dearest Marion,

You died in 2018, but my inner soul connection with you feels as strong and supportive as ever. We shared letters for years, sometimes focusing on dreams and sometimes on our love for our husbands, especially after Vic’s cancer diagnosis in 2006 and after his death in 2008. Sometimes you wrote about aging and grief and struggles with health. The hearing issues you shared in 2009 remind me of my challenges now.

I manage Meniere’s Disease with a cochlear implant in one ear, a hearing aid in the other, and medicine for imbalance. I deal with Meniere’s fatigue with more sleep. Still, I’m nearly finished with a polished draft of my book about Monarch butterflies, so I’m not giving up. Instead, I’m learning more about patience and persistence.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker


In autumn, I watched the crimson maple leaves drift to the earth thinking I would finish my book by New Year’s. As 2023 begins, I watch the woodpeckers at the suet feeder while still working on the book. I’ve made progress, but I’m not done. Maybe my creative time is past and I need to let it go, but I can’t. Not quite. Not yet. I want to finish what I started.

Marion, you never gave up wanting to teach and share your knowledge, so I follow your example. You delighted in your creativity and the inspiration you kindled in others.

What would it be like to meet you now? You carried the Positive Mother Archetype for me while sharing both vulnerability and wisdom. In my imagination, you put your arms around me before stepping back to look into my brown eyes with your piercing blues. You see the depth of my feelings and understand my tears. You hold my hand and say what you said when I doubted my ability to write my first book Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief.

with Marion in 2007

“DO IT!”

I look back at old letters from you and you wrote those words twice in all caps, once within a letter and once on the back of a holiday card.

“DO IT!”

When do I give up, Marion? When do I accept that Meniere’s Disease weakens me the way cancer and other illnesses drained you in your last years? How long do I push forward when it takes a will I can’t muster? I repeat your line, “I’m finding my energy not up to it—not quite.”

My energy isn’t up to it today, dear Marion, but that’s not always true. Writing you, I know I will finish this book about nature and transformation. I’m not ready to give up. Not quite. Not yet. A final draft is nearly complete, and I’ll keep going, inspired by magical butterflies, our struggling earth, and you.

With love and gratitude for the inspiration you’ve given me and so many others.


I’ve written about Marion Woodman many times and feel a strong connection with her creative energy. She doesn’t have to be in her body for me to feel that. I have her books, her inspiration, and her letters filled with messages that mean as much today as when she wrote them.

For other pieces about Marion Woodman, see Let the Warm Love Flow: Messages from Marion Woodman. For a piece about Monarch Butterflies, see Dancing with Monarchs, Defying Despair.

  1. Dear Elaine, I’m learning that when we encounter a soul friend (Anam Cara), the course of one’s life is changed, completely. Rarely do they come as family members, though occasionally, for the blessed few, they arrive as lovers, but more often we meet them in the most unexpected ways, and usually through their creativity. Nevertheless, when they do arrive, our life as we know it is over … and rightly so the soul cries!

    Trying to describe this ‘soul reunion’ in just a few sentences is so hard because the experience is uniquely different for each of us … for soul friends tend to enter and leave lives without pomp, ceremony or warning. It’s clear that Marion is your soul friend. I love how you carry your love for her so honourably, devotedly and passionately. I love how she inspires you to create and let the warm love flow.

    This second book of yours has clearly been a labour of love from the very start, seven summers ago now? When you were first called to midwife and mother the Monarchs. I recall how your own creative energies inspired me to put pen to paper and scribe a poem for you, Mama Monarch … one which I’ve included in my new book. I guess there’s no right or wrong time for birth, it comes when it comes. Love and light, Deborah.

    • Thank you, Deborah. Yes, Marion was/is my soul friend, and I’m not alone in feeling that connection with her. I don’t know how many people she corresponded with, but I think it was many. Many of the women who studied with her fell in love, and I’m no exception–and neither was Vic. He was smitten. Marion changed my life dramatically as did my first teacher Anthony Damiani. I remember both of them every day with gratitude for those chance meetings. Both people were a surprise I didn’t know I was seeking. (I’ve written about my first meetings with them.)

      This year will be the 7th season with Monarchs and their magic transformations. I think it’s time for me to share the manuscript with my book development editor Jill, not because I think I’m finished but because I need the experienced eye of someone who knows my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I’ve talked with Jill about this from the first impulse to write the book, but she hasn’t seen a recent version. And it will be ready when it’s ready. It’s easier to raise Monarchs than to write about them. Sending you love as I imagine your new book with a poem inspired by me. (Really!) It won’t be long now until that book is out. I’m impatient. Sending you sweet love.

      • Ah, seven, the magickal number! Tomorrow is birth day for my new book, I can hardly wait as it’s been seven years of “mothering” here too. Seven years of “leaning into love”. See how you inspire me! Surely, it will be the sweetest of sorrows to release our children into the world this year.

        Believe me when I say your love, friendship, kindness and inspiration my dear friend, my soror mystica, have helped me beyond all measure. Thank you so much for being you, your very own beautiful self and inspiring me in a multitude of ways. Sending you love and light, Deborah.

        • I’m watching for your book. Any minute now, on its own time like all births. You always inspire me with your enthusiasm and creativity, so it makes me glad to add a little inspiration to the mix. I want my book to fly, but first I must finish it. This is the best time of year for focused writing.

          Thank you for sharing your friendship and kindness and insights at essential moments in the years since we made contact. And here I am with snoring Willow under my feet, letting the unpolished weak spots show in this blog. That’s important, too. With gratitude for you and with sweet anticipation for the birth of your book.

  2. A beautiful tribute, dear Elaine. I think, as I feel with Al, these relations are even more perceptible than ever. It is now the time in which the light slowly but surely comes out to lighten our life again. I wish you all peace and leisurely in this new year; take care.

    • Thank you, Aladin. I just wrote to Deborah about the two people in my life who inspired me spiritually (she used the term Anam Cara)–although in some ways Vic carried this archetype more than anyone. Still, our relationship was intimate and personal in a very different way than with a spiritual teacher. I’m grateful for the inspired teachers who have helped me lead a meaningful life. Wishing you good health, books full of wisdom, and laughing grandchildren.

  3. Dear Elaine, you certainly had a soul-mate in Vic, but also with Marion, in a different way of course.

    I always look forward to your posts and often find a tidbit, a turn of phrase that pleases me, like this: “Tears and laughter are now two sides of one feeling.”

    And I can certainly relate to the arduous process of book publication. I look forward to hearing more about Monarch butterflies and the physical and spiritual aspects of caring for them. Forward, ho! 😀

    • I agree, Marian. Vic was a soul-mate and physical-mate and we grew up and raised kids together, plus we were good at arguing and making jokes. My relationship with Marion was more distant, of course, but also full of love–and it helped that Vic loved her, too. I loved Marion’s tidbit, too, and it was wonderful corresponding with her when Vic was sick. She understood the challenges. She often wrote honestly and incitefully about marriage and the difficulties and blessings. Today as cold rain comes down, it’s hard to remember that warm colorful summer world of flowers and butterflies, but it will return. And I imagine your book will be out before mine. Yes, forward ho!

  4. You will finish! It takes as long as it takes. The inspiration runs deep, through your heart, down through the ground, out into nature surrounding and sustaining you on this long path to completing this beautiful work of writing. I’m inspired!

    • Yes, I will. Marion insisted. DO IT! And I will. Thanks for encouraging me to keep it going. More coming soon, including a manuscript. You’re the one inspiring me–and I seem to need many cheerleaders. Blessed New Year, Jill. I’m grateful for you.

  5. Thank you for sharing your communication with Marion. She was always so open and authentic and inspiring in everything she did. Her letters still inspire. Though I did not know her well, her books and the magnetism of her sheer presence were enough to motivate me to just “Do it.” I, too, have done my best to follow her example and I’m following it now as I approach 80.

    • Marion was a prolific letter writer, and I’m grateful to have her words of wisdom. When I feel stuck, I search through her letters and find her response to a dream I sent years ago or read a story she wrote about her life. She had many planets in Leo and wasn’t afraid to tell her stories with lots of laughter and drama. I know she inspired so many, including you, to do your good work in your own way. I’m just a few years behind you in age and struggle with Meniere’s Disease symptoms, but I have the juice to finish this book which is so different from anything else I’ve written. Remember the story of the Little Engine That Could? I need to remember it, too, and look at more Monarch photos. Sending you love and a long winter’s rest from the cool wet north.

  6. Dearest Elaine,
    Just stand in the river, until you catch a glint of gold.
    In the meantime, I wish you peace and send you love and restfulness.
    I love the photos, your connection with Marion, and nature, and your mutual understanding and appreciation of partnerships. Blessings and hugs, L.

    • Thank you, dear Lori. It seems I needed to choose this letter so I could share my concerns with supportive friends as I work myself out of a stuck spot. I’ll hold on to your metaphor of standing in the river until I catch a glint of gold–or stand in the field until I catch a glint of orange wings. Looking for gold in the right spot is truly your expertise. With love and gratitude, E

  7. Thanks Elaine, this is inspiring for me. How fortunate you are to have had both soul mates – anima and animus? – in any event, two loving people as companions, one close, one far. You can recall each at times if need, and they respond so that your soul hears –

    • Thank you, Susan. My life has been full of good fortune and helpful people. After I met Vic in my early 20s, the focus of life fell in place and we walked a harmonious path for many years. It was lovely to have a warm day yesterday with all the ice melted on the trails so I could walk out to Vic’s cairn and leave nuts for the woodland critters. I hope all is peaceful (or relatively peaceful) in your world.

  8. Thank you for this beautiful tribute. Her books are like friends, and i visit them often. Your descriptions of Marion’s character remind me so much of you. And i’v come to see you as my soul-mate, my light in the darkness. You held my hand (metaphorically) for five years after Boomer died, and i am forever grateful, for the beauty, nature, joy, hope, and laughter you share, as well as the ongoing creativity and equanimity in the struggle with Meniere’s. Thank you for sharing your life and disclosing your personal joys and sorrow in such a personal, direct way. And, of course, for all your Monarch dedication and work, and details, photos, and inspiration. Your book was the antidote for my intractable grief; i found validation, hope, inspiration, a light in the darkness, emptiness and loss and more love. Bless you.

    • Tears drip here. You are so kind. With Boomer’s death, you endured a sudden loss I can’t imagine but I could feel the shock and pain through you. I hardly know how to respond to your kind words, but you fill me with gratitude and help me do the work on Monarchs I feel I need to finish. (I’m ready to raise them rather than write about them.) I love the paths your new life has taken and honor you for your resilience, curiosity, persistence, care for the earth, and loving friendship. Blessings and a long hug, Patti

  9. I’m very glad you aren’t giving up, because you have so much to give, dear friend. And so much that you have given.

    • Thank you, Harriet. I don’t seem to be good at giving up. Vic often said with a laugh, “They’ll put on your gravestone, ‘She Tried Really Hard.'” I’m still trying. Love to you and the new life emerging around you.

  10. Oh, Elaine, you have touched the lives of so many (humans and butterflies)! And, as your friend Patti wrote, “Your descriptions of Marion’s character remind me so much of you.” (Although I clearly don’t know you well, I certainly feel into your essence.) In particular, I was struck by these words of similarity, “You delighted in your creativity and the inspiration you kindled in others.”

    In particular, it is remarkable to witness (again as Patti wrote), “the ongoing creativity and equanimity in the struggle with Meniere’s.” As someone living with a chronic illness who often wonders, “How long do I push forward when it takes a will I can’t muster?”, I am inspired by the fact that you continue to DO IT , and also continue to share and honor your vulnerability. And, so, forward, ho!

    • Thank you, Anne. Your words lift me out of a morning funk. The dogs and I need a walk, the wood stove needs a log or two, and the usual tasks of life go on, but the good news is I pushed through my resistance and I’m within a few hours or days of finishing a draft of the Monarch book. Years after knowing I wanted to write this book, I’m close to handing it over to editor Jill Swenson. She’s seen earlier hopeless drafts and has been encouraging all the way, but I’ve had to convince myself to keep going. I knew what I had to do. I’m reminded of a quote from the I Ching: “Perseverance furthers.” What else can we do in the face of challenges but keep trying to create something meaningful that brings joy to life?

      I identify with Marion’s persistence in the face of physical struggles. I can also relate to her love of the psyche and mythology. Her creativity and ability to recite exquisite poems from memory are far beyond me, not to mention her intuition and brilliant insights that changed so many lives. My hearing loss and tendency toward vertigo are difficult, but they don’t stop me from writing or admiring the winter birds. I love hearing from you and send you love and flashes of joy.

Leave a Reply