Books by Linda Schierse Leonard

Released: Nov. 13, 1995

Another unconvincing call to women to run with wildlife—this time the reindeer. Leonard (Meeting the Madwoman, 1993, etc.), a Jungian analyst, explores the cross-cultural archetypal meanings of the reindeer. She unearths many myths among Northern peoples, particularly the Sami of Lapland and the Evens of far northeastern Siberia; some cultures see reindeer as shamanic messengers, other believe they are goddesses. She argues that the realities of these animals' lives help to explain their symbolic importance to humans; the seasonal shedding of their antlers, for instance, suggests decay and rebirth. They can also represent survival and even generativity, especially for women, since reindeer annually make their seasonal migration when females are pregnant. The way Leonard integrates myth with natural reality to explain why reindeer are important in northern cultures is often sound. However, she wants to universalize the reindeer's significance in a manner that is not always plausible. The reindeer clearly has a different meaning for New Agers living in San Francisco (Leonard's current home), than for Laplanders who depend on its meat for survival. Some of her analogies between humans and reindeer also seem a stretch, as when she writes, ``Transforming hopelessness into faith requires digging into the depths of the soul, just as the reindeer must dig deep in the snow for lichen''; after all, much of the animal world digs around for food. Leonard's contemporary pop spirituality clichÇs (``reindeer dance,'' ``wisdom,'' ``spiritual pathfinder'') may also frustrate readers whose sensibilities have not already been dulled by such stuff. Foggy logic and bland language will leave many seekers uninspired. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 15, 1993

A vigorous exploration by Jungian analyst Leonard (The Wounded Woman, 1982, etc.—not reviewed) of the ``Madwoman'' archetype, an unsettling image whose negative energy, she suggests, must be recognized and rechanneled as a positive force. The Madwoman appears in literature, dreams, movies, and case studies, all of which Leonard contemplates in rich detail. She describes at length eight different varieties of Madwomen—the Caged Bird, the Recluse, the Muse, etc.—giving examples from literature (Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper), history (Alma Mahler, Rachel Carson), and her own therapy practice. In each instance, she emphasizes the need to become conscious of destructive behavior as a first step, to act for change from one's full potential and unique vision. Leonard also includes more everyday kinds of insights, commenting on the range of feelings of loss engendered by a romantic break-up, or challenging a popular stereotype (the social isolation, for instance, of the rejected single woman) with formidable contrary examples (Rachel Carson's love of solitude as a key to her productivity and strength). Throughout, Leonard writes passionately, seeing the Madwoman as an empowering symbol and the discovery process as a spiritual exercise—a kind of purification and ultimate triumph of the feminine spirit. Women Who Run With the Wolves will feel comfortable with Leonard's sense of women as nature's exiles, her use of myth and dreams for elaboration, and her validation of feminine mystery. Read full book review >