Let the wolf howl in the night

by Anna Guseva

I moved from Russia to a French village founded more than 1600 years ago. In this closed and tight-knit community of the locals I felt like an alien element. As a representative of a distant and incomprehensible culture, I was constantly worried that the locals would not accept me. The fear of rejection was my companion at every meeting, in every conversation.
To overcome anxiety, I turn the processes happening to me into the world of images and perform symbolic actions in it. I resort to the archetype of the Wolf — this is how the name of the river on which the village stands, is translated from French. Its inhabitants call themselves “wolves.”
Wolves live in packs. A pack is a solid social unit. It features internal cohesion, social order, and hierarchy. A wolf protects the area from uninvited guests. This uninvited guest is me.
I want to figure out how I can get the Wolf’s favor. I’m going into the woods to find it. What if it’s following me? How do I recognize its presence? The forest’s wilderness is symbolic of the path I must take. The artifacts I find become evidence of its favor or punishment. I succeed in finding a way out of the forest — out of the dark into the light. This exit represents a victory over my anxiety. Now I can open my eyes and see the reality: the community is friendly to me. A journey toward true integration into a new place begins.