Do you know how you can feel stunted by pure hatred and ignorance. What does ignorance taste like? Bile, of yellow and beige, I think. The same vibe as jealousy. Well, being stunted is not like being in shock, but more like losing all of your senses, but feeing. No matter what you do, you can not stop feeling and you cannot get other senses back.
This happened in 2022. However, as I have discovered over the course of my life, in every tricky situation there is a blessing, a learning and even a transformation. And here I am, having spent the whole year stuck in a place of intense feeling, yet frozen and devoid of imagination and creative sparkle and that freeing sense of flow, I am claiming it all back. What I have felt through the emptiness and the ugliness of the physical and human was the beauty of the spirit. It’s defiance, strength, unwavering loyalty and an unshakable sense of purpose. This year will always stay with me as a year marking my homecoming in the most profound way. There might be and will be, no doubt, more of these periods coming, yet for today, I am here, sitting fully back with myself, writing again with all my senses back together in perfect partnership.
Life is ugly and stunningly beautiful. It is cruel and violent yet filled with tenderness and grace. It is challenging and complex yet profoundly simple. As one great writer once said ‘do not look closely at life’ meaning the beauty is in simplicity, life itself, day-to-day sparks of joy and just being alive. From tragedy come revelations. A brush with death can release and propel us into living harder.
Let us all remember to appreciate the journey and trust ourselves to know the right way forward even though quite often it is simply one day at a time, one step at a time, and when one day an expansive landscape opens up in front of us and we know we belong and feel that God within us like it’s our own heart, that’s what we all thrive for.
Grab that joy with both hands and run with it until our legs are exhausted in satisfaction of being able to feel the earth underneath us and our face hurts from smiling too much and all that light within is a feeling one can never explain only that it tastes sweet and it is pure like heaven on earth.
The key to that heaven is within us all. It is up to us to unlock our own unique way of relating to life in what would feel blissful to us. It will be different for everyone depending on how one relates to all, processes information and what senses and functions dominate in one on an intellectual, emotional, psychical and metaphysical levels. It will also depend where you are at currently in life. Self-reflecting, e.g., as one of the most popular tools in recent psychological history, can actually create hooks, triggers and mental pitfalls that will drag us down further into a place where we eventually would become it. What if we tried to drop reflections, at least for a while. This is a new way of doing things that hopefully can create a strong enough anomaly that would allow you evolve in a new way.
What if we emptied instead of consolidate; cleared ourselves ready not to receive but to learn to just be before we do decide to let things in again. This will apply to all aspects of the emotional spectrum, negative and positive, but before we learn how we discern individually, as it will be different, we need to learn to empty or in other words ‘detach’ from it all.
Think of it as air, a space of light where there’s no density of any kind. It is see-through and intangible. Energy. With practice aligning with the energy of nothingness, so to speak, can produce a highly pleasable sensations to all forms within us – mental, emotional and physical. You might refer to those moments as blissful and heavenly.
As we work ‘backwards’ from emptying to learning to receive rather than react to everything and everyone, as we are used to doing, we create a completely different way of being.
If you are a feeling type, sensitive to all energies and also an intellectual/academic type this might work. Shutting down thoughts in a way of non-engagement, as thoughts create feelings and then behaviours, will create that sense of being light and empty. This is what I have engaged with naturally over the last few weeks post a very heavy period of overwhelm and thinking.
Another aspect I found useful that I think might help going forward, and a part of an ‘emptying’ process is focusing on one thing at a time and doing that for some time, for up to a year. Not engaging in more than one goal, one intention, one task. You need to stick with it too and see if it somewhat aligns things in a positive way long-term. Experiment and play with it. Playfulness and freedom are important factors in this way of engagement.
For example, you might decide to focus on just your family, or just one goal or ambition without letting anything else interfere. You might decide to do this for a week, a month or a year, like I am doing. Make your world small in other words. When in nature, for example, try focusing on the detail rather than on the overall surroundings/whole environment. It does something on the inside that feels cosy and grounding and, therefore, safe. We can all do with feeling more safe. Condense and consolidate in ways that will feel protective and self-contained rather than overwhelming.
Most things that do overwhelm us are actually out of our control and when we focus in that way and essentially disperse ourselves and lose all boundaries it creates a lack of meaning and a feeling of being lost as a result.
I set out to write Baba Yaga: Slavic Earth Goddess at the time when the collective was screaming with pain and fear and the call for making unconscious conscious was becoming ever stronger all around. My work with Baba Yaga intensified a few months prior when she was not just coming forward more but staying around for longer. That is unusual for an elusive and highly private deity. Yes, to me, she’s beyond literary and cultural archetype and a folklore figure. To me she represents the world in both its dark and light manifestations. She is the ultimate alchemist and magician of the highest rank.
Why now, I wondered after seemingly eternity waiting for her to speak? It was time she disclosed a path for collective to take, if unafraid and prepared. It was time for her to whisper, if not speak openly. Feeling overwhelmed and deeply honoured I began to listen to what she said and in that discovering who she really was beyond her collective labels.
The book was born that speaks of Baba Yaga in ways of who she really is. My journey was only just beginning when in 2020 she stayed around for longer than she, perhaps, wanted. She first appears around Samhain and remains throughout winter dwelling in dreams and shadows and post Ostara she begins to loosen her grip on the Earth and allows the Maiden to step forward. This time she stayed for longer to bare witness to events that unfolded and to offer assistance and wisdom, however, unheard of, to myself in writing the book and to the world in its state of chaotic fear.
Apprenticing into her magic is a difficult task, perhaps, one of the most difficult tasks one can undertake as once on the path turning back has serious consequences and if staying transformation is inevitable and profound.
Baba Yaga is a world-famous character with which we are familiarised from early childhood and she stays for many of us in our consciousness for the rest of our lives. This speaks of her power and universal appeal, but why? I believe that is because her mysteries are deep and limitless. She inspires questions and sparks endless curiosity, yet she often remains as a static archetype of a scary Crone who lives in the woods and devours children. She continues to live in fairy tales that tells stories over and over in the same way they had always been told. In our consciousness she does not evolve and that is also for a reason. She’s full of darkness and darkness is a place of immense fear and avoidance for us humans. So, she remains hidden via the narrative and via our lives, as who dares look darkness in the face? Now we are faced with it in all areas of our existence. “Facing the demise of what is familiar and precious and becoming wild again is the quest of brave and raw ones. Are you one?” The thing that I discovered was just how much she resents repetition and lack of evolution and her imprisonment in the collective hive mind infuriates her. As I began my relationship with Baba Yaga, I discovered the light behind the darkness, kindness behind hatred, the well-hidden nuances of this folklore figure, her character, spirit, attributes, and magic.
She calls for a revolution and evolution, for rediscovery of spirit like never before. She is hugely relevant today to all of us individually and the world. For the first time in very long, perhaps, she is willing to offer some wisdom, however unnatural it might seem, as she is private and does not come forward unless there is someone truly ready on the other side. Are we ready? Many of us are. She can offer perspectives on balance, climate change, beauty and aging, motherhood, belonging and connection, partnerships, and gender roles. She is the world, the Earth, nature all wrapped into one energy that is immensely powerful and important and to know her is to know the deepest, the most meaningful and profound truths about yourself, others, and the world.
I heard her say ‘Get on a horse’ and without hesitation I got into my car and drove to the woods that called me. She was all around and Samhain felt near. I felt calm and ready to commune with her.
The woods kept changing atmosphere from grey and wet to light and shimmering. Autumnal light streamed through the golden tops of blackened tree bodies. I felt a sense of intention and joy within. She was near and I was reassured. I realised her confidence-building purpose and quality as I developed my own inner hearing. She is and always has been on the side of the feminine and healing of the wounded maiden was just one intention she carried. Today I truly felt that having been through the maiden and mother stages.
Cronehood is a stage I truly look forward to and even more so with her by my side. I am excited and curious about things to come. Today she was full of lessons and the more I engaged with her the more I felt I could truly understand the symbology and meaning behind her one-sentenced phrases. She doesn’t say much and very intentional with what she discloses. She spoke of the importance of our bodies, physicality and how our disconnection from the animal-selves caused discord and imbalance in many areas as a result. She spoke of nature and landscape as essential parts to any life as they hold the animal-self within offering us to connect back to the earth, the self and spirit of things. Only through deeply feeling into the physical and matter-like within us we can encounter the spirit. It is all interconnected.
She spoke of how we disempower ourselves via covering up by dying our hair, messing about with nails and shaving off what’s intended to be there. And not only that we create a world of shame, unacceptable, conforming and pleasing to the external as a result. We cut off from the natural self by avoiding our own beauty, the natural kind. Our crown becomes dimmed with chemicals and that magic that can be felt in the fingers is dimmed. I can relate to the fingers holding the paper well and am guilty of not looking after myself in that area. I connected instantly to the message of disempowering myself by not being kind and nurturing to myself. It saddened me.
With the crone hood stage we are invited to delve into another stage of coming back to ourselves. I feel excited by it.
Last year she spoke her word to me, which I turned into a book. It comes out in December and I look forward to sharing the message with more women around the world.
“You have given the world a delightful and deep examination of Baba Yaga from your insightful and learned perspective. Thank you.
In a world where uncertainty and fear are the currency of the day, we can become enchanted by a sort of artificial lightness that ultimately only makes us more anxious. We become terrified of the dark. Yet it is in the dimness of our own souls that we find refuge from the harshness of life.
If we are able to peer into this darkness we may see a peculiar little house governed by a curious figure. Baba Yaga, crone of legend, greets us with a glint in her eye, and a question on her lips. “Who are you?” she inquires with a cackle. Natalia Clarke answers this question, while exploring the stories and characteristics of Baba Yaga through traditional lore and personal insights. Merging together her Slavic origins, training in depth psychology, and natural spiritual practices, she is our companion as we venture into the mysteries of this face of the crone. Beautifully written with journal entries, dream explorations, and ways to connect with Baba Yaga, I highly recommend this delightful book for anyone who wants to go deeper into her mysteries.”
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