Updated: Jan 9, 2022
There I was, standing in front of a house supported by chicken legs and surrounded with human skulls with bright fiery eyes lighting up the night. Was it a dream? An old woman slowly creeps out of the door. They call her Baba Yaga. A deformed powerful woman with origins in Slavic folklore and fairy tales. A woman so terrifying and foul no one would dare go near her. She’s known to be ruthless and to eat unruly lost children. She can also be kind, wise and help you if you are seeking the truth. On the condition you complete the incredibly difficult tasks she gives you. She is also representative of the Earth and it’s cycles. She can destroy and create. Be good or bad.
She is born from the rhythm of germinating crops in the spring and then later, the withering harvests preparing for the darkness of winter. It is quite serendipitous that I find myself drawn to this myth once more as I am also exploring the wildness of women in folk tales through the Slavic and Germanic songs and tales. The women who ran with the wolves. Healers, witches, shapeshifters. Magical natural women and how I am influenced and guided by them. I was exposed to women like this when I was a small child. Curanderas, they call them back home on the island of Puerto Rico. I have long been fascinated by these archetypal healers. Their teachings. A part of me has always felt a calling to pursue a path similar to the one these women decided to give themselves to. Though only allowing myself to dip my toes in this notion of wild, natural, freedom. Refusing for some reason or another to immerse myself in their undomesticated ways. I am reminded of one example. Maybe a decade ago. When I was beginning to explore yoga and practicing daily at Yoga to the people NY in the East Village.Trying to find answers as to what the fuck to do with my life. Of course, leave it to the universe to provide you with clues. The teacher grabbed a book and as we were laying down in the last posture, Shavasana. She said: “And now a quote by Isadora Duncan: (the mother of modern dance and all around bad ass female, she didn’t say this. But you should look her up) You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.” I began to cry as quietly as possible. I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. Yet, I refused it’s bidding. I continued to live a life of a different kind of wildness. One not controlled by my true inner healer, witch, wise woman. But by my shadows. What are our shadows? How do we recognize them? And how can we co-exist with these character traits we all have suppressed deep inside?
Our shadows as we call them. Is a term Carl Jung came up with, to describe those aspects of us we keep hidden. Our dark side if you will. It is important that we recognize these shadows in order to truly live a balanced fulfilled life. I omitted happiness from this statement because being only happily fulfilled, in my opinion is not realistic. We have to live in balance with happiness and sadness. Hello, shadow one. I sometimes default to unicorns and rainbows, suppressing the sadness. Thinking that this will help the one who is discouraged, instead of just connecting with and accepting their (mine) state of being. I am still working on this as a highly sensitive em-path. Sometimes I think that by allowing myself to deeply connect with their struggles and mine. I will mistakenly absorb the negativity and be consumed by it. I sit and think about what this shadow really means to me. Very soon, in comes Baba Yaga saying with a low growl “go on and separate all the poppy seeds from that mound of dirt. You foolish woman.” Schize. Fine!
After completing the metaphorical task I was assigned to, I continue with my journey. This time to the small seaside town of Gdansk. The close proximity to the water helps me flow in thought. I visited the archaeological museum in order to take a closer look at the women who lived in this area thousands of years ago. I asked them. How did you connect with your wild, instinctual, feminine side? Of course I get no verbal answer because they are mannequins. I think I know what they would say. “Listen to your shadows. Remember that the wolf you feed is the one who wins.” Baba Yaga agrees. Shadow work is a very interesting process. A never ending one, I think. An inquisitive journey you have to take your time with. I am in no hurry. As I keep working on transforming my physical body. My emotional, mental and psychic body have come along too. Looking back at all of the (sometimes hard) lessons I’ve had this past year. The time has come to fully embrace my wildness. I choose to feed my wolf mother. The caring, inquisitive, connected to the cycles of nature side of me I have rarely explored. I am more free and focused than ever before. I feel a palpable excitement about learning more. To use what I learn to keep traveling the world and sharing these lessons with others. Not only personal lessons. Also, lessons about how to work together with our Mother Earth and our oceans to help protect and revitalize them. It is not an easy commitment to make but I would feel very disappointed in myself if I didn’t try. The money hungry patriarchy is destroying our planet. I believe the key to balancing this struggle is going back to our natural selves. Understanding what our ancestors knew. Ancestors that were not afraid of the shadows wherein lied the chaos of transformation. Both their own as well as that of their surroundings. A cyclical disorder, balanced by respecting the Earth. And other natural environments that renewed themselves, without any regards towards who was in their path of destruction and revivification.
Can this be applied to working with our shadows? The subconscious has absolutely no interest in whether we understand it or not. We have to study it. Understand it’s cycles, it’s patterns. To then be able to sit quietly within the confusion and balance everything out. Could we look at climate change as a chaotic shadow needing balance? Could we reinstate the natural balance between humans and Earth which existed thousands of years ago? Instead of only thinking of sustainability and technological adaptation to this massive crisis. I sure hope so.
If you ever run into Baba Yaga, say hello for me.
Now. Which of your wolves will you feed?