Baba Yaga gave me the gift of a story

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The child of destiny has to face a long period of obscurity. This is a time of extreme danger, impediment, or disgrace. He is thrown inward to his own depths or outward to the unknown; either way, what he touches is a darkness unexplored. And this is a zone of unsuspected presences, benign as well as malignant: an angel appears, a helpful animal, a fisherman, a hunter, crone, or peasant. –Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Bone Soup Press (and Lulu.com) published Girltruth from the Belly. Please check it out! Or buy it (you won’t regret it!)

I love Campbell’s quote above. While navigating into the creation process for girltruth from the belly, I faced a 7 year plus looooong period of obscurity filled with shadows, doubt, tricksters and stuckness. It was definitely a period of danger for me because limbo feels confusing and fragmenting. The irony is that I consciously chose to enter the past in order to free some old parts of me that had gotten stuck in the metaphorical belly of the wolf long ago –parts of me that were fragmented and frozen. I needed and wanted those parts back and I was committed not only to freeing them but changing my future. I believe 100% that it is possible to change your life by re-writing your past.

Baba Yaga, the ambiguous Russian crone witch of the forest/forest mother, became my subversive fairygodmother. She gave me a great many difficult tasks. I tried not to complain. I did what I needed to do and asked her for more. When it was time to leave, I graciously left.

I not only re-discovered and re-engergized lost parts of myself (and more) but I also retrieved my coming of age soul (she needed retrieving). I discovered too that there are some very colorful fairytale heroines living inside of me who do not follow the script of the stories they were once written inside of. Freedom is a huge theme in the book –the discovery of adventure and freedom within the journey to becoming a woman. I’m stronger and more full, sassier and more fiery because of this journey. I made peace with parts of myself and parts of my past that I was ashamed of or which felt embarrassing or which I’d disowned. Making peace with myself is the greatest gift I could give myself and my community.

The underworld felt fragmenting. But I walked through it patiently. I trusted the strange upside down ness of the journey. I stalked stories and I stalked stories and I stalked stories. I held them close. I loved them. I nurtured them. I fed them bone broth. I fed them butter. I danced them and danced them and danced them. until they broke free and poured through my body in an embodied voice.

Because of this important and at times really frustrating work on myself, I am now a very strong and rooted guide/story midwife for others who wish to stalk their stories. I midwifed myself through the process and I like the baby I gave birth to.

I discovered puckwudgenees, fairytale heroines and dead Indian princesses turned nature sprites inside of me. My father came to life within the pages of my book in a mythic, otherworldly way. It was nice to dance with him. My dreams offered treasures and I changed my fate. I changed my fate. I chose the path of destiny and said goodbye to the path of fate.

I even danced with the Devil in underground Moscow.

Baba though…Baba Yaga –the not so good witch of the forest –she sange while I slept beneath Birch and Oak forests. She offered gingerbread when I was down. She gave me bone soup when I was needing more nourishment. She gave me riddles and rhymes in the most subversive ways. She knows that one must emerge from the depths and the roots and tell the tale of the journey in order to fully return from the journey. She knows that this is what truly transforms not only the adventurista, but also, the listeners.

Thanks to Baba I stuck with it. I persevered. I grew. I matured a story seed into a forest of birch, pine and oak stories and I moved the story through my soul, through my psyche, through my emotions, through my mind, through my body and through nature.

I emerged stronger.

I really do want you to read my book. It’s a coming of age story, in my coming of age voice. It navigates small town challenges in a magical realist way, but it also navigates the larger than life story I experienced while living in Moscow, Russia in 1992, during the transition from Communism to Democracy. I discovered my dusha, or soul when I was 19 but I didn’t have the language then to really digest or integrate it. It gestated for a long, long, long, long time into a story that took 7 writing years to integrate and birth.

Please read it and be inspired! I want you to be inspired to tell your story –especially the stories hardest to tell. I want you to really truly know the power of story in your body too and experience the nourishing power of bone and butter stories.
BabaYaga~TiltedHut~Vasalisa~zotsn2

the goddesses are not bound to fate anymore

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The Roman goddess of abundance and Cornucopia is on my mind.  Originally a goddess of grains specifically, cereals and agriculture, corn and the harvest.  She is also known as Demeter. She is to me, an image of thanksgiving and abundance and the laws of attraction and manifestation.

She used to mourn the loss of her daughter, Persephone who was abducted by Hades thousands of moons ago.  I do not imagine her mourning this loss right now. I don’t think the gods or goddesses have fixed stories.  Gods and Goddesses are not bound to live their lives according to the fates bestowed on them thousands of years ago.  Isn’t that liberating?  That means human beings don’t have fixed or bound states either.  I think that by removing the old stories that the Goddesses once were bound naked to, we move our own stories forth into the world in new ways.

Destiny is movable. Stories are changeable.

I feel the energy of her cornucopia seeking, expanding, rippling out from the red soul rock of earth, trying to find its way to anyone willing to say yes.  Yes to the cornucopia!  Yes to the horn of plenty! Yes to the goddess of earth and her changeable, not fixed ways!

Persephone went willingly now to the underworld to go spelunking for treasures contained within the psyche. She knows that transformation is abundant and the soul is alive and happy when she is willingly transforming new stories out of the old.

Persephone paints butterfly wings on the soul and Ceres paints the world in colors of winter (where appropriate).  Abundant evergreens and warm ochre and sunset stones. She points the eye toward the awakening point of cactus (wake up to the abundance pointed directly at you, it is what you focus on, for better or worse, so choose carefully what you wish to put your attention on.

What is my cornucopia, within and without?  What is your cornucopia within and without?

My cornucopia overflows with happiness and wealth of the soul.  This soul wealth ripples into my material world.  Ceres is not mourning the loss of her daughter anymore. She celebrates her daughter’s growth and the growth of the soul.  Finally, she is growing new myths and new stories into being, transforming mortals the way mortals wish to be transformed.  Mortals who embody abundance and wealth and success and happiness and a cornucopia of soul in every part of their lives.

Thank you Ceres, for walking with me this thanksgiving season.  What an unexpected encounter.  Unleash my soul.  Unbind my former stories.  Unwrap my collective unconscious patterns and make room for the cornucopia that is my birthright!

Nest

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I cleaned out my head.  I cut away the dead blackberries and pulled the medicine weeds that I will add to a nourishing bone soup.  I made space for imagination.  This is what is growing.

A sanctuary, a nest has appeared where my technology addiction was before.  My imagination now travels to the stars, to the branches, to the tops and thickets of redwood, oak and apple tree.  My roots meander through my heart, through my belly, down through my centuar thighs and into my feet where they barrel through floorboards and penetrate fleshy forest floor.

Sigh.  I’m coming home again.

And with that, a big flutter and a yes, a tiny sparrow breath

breathing stories into living beings

becoming mythic and magically real.

I’m thankful.  I’m grateful. My imagination is abundant. Pure stardust mingled with the bloodline of ancestral stories told across the breadmaking hearth; told across the evening night with Venus low in the sky beneath stars beneath trees around the fire, hearts resonating with the powerful pull of story ebbing and flowing.  From ocean to sand, tree to root, mushroom to wing.  And returning to nest during dreamtime slumber.

mythic mushrooms

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“Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
― Joseph Campbell

Mushrooms to me are mythic. They are one of the few organisms I engage with, who live off of the dead and give birth to new life. I think of them as Hades buttons, or Persephone pixies. Strange creatures that generate fairy rings that widen and expand year after year. Did you know that there are fairyrings over 600 years old? I love the myth of mushrooms.

I’m curious about the myth of motherhood, as I am now 21 months into my mothering journey. Mother is mythic –creatively, extra-ordinarily mythic and, it is quite ordinary. I journey through the dishes and daily rhythms of humble, unassuming little ordinary magics. Lighting the hearth, doing the laundry, changing the diapers, cooking nourishing meals, cleaning up and putting things away.

I see my daughter in her ordinary toddler body, and I see her mythic buds emerging beneath the rains. I am mushrooming her stories into new forms. I eat from the dead stories of my past so that she need not simmer in my compost, and from teh dead stories, new tendrils and shoots whimsically pop this way and that. Hither and thither come forth my weeds which I pull. These *weeds* are not ordinary weeds but rather the magic of my mothering. All that I was that doesn’t serve me is the food for that which I wish to embody as mama. I refer to my past, to the dead, to the underworld of my foundation and honor it. I don’t let it control my movements. It informs my decisions in every moment. I am awake. I am creating the myth of a new mothering story in every moment and I love how the ordinary moments sparkle and shine.

My daughter’s soul garden is a magical garden. I think every child has a soul garden, and we should tend these gardens with love and respect, joy and lightness, reverence and mirth. Make room for mirth! Pull weeds, pull the old, pull the dying and composting stories and make space for her soul to come in without molding it in some manufactured cookie-cutter style.

to be in touch

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“To be in touch with wilderness is to have stepped past the proud cattle of the field and wandered far from the twinkles of the Inn’s fire. To have sensed something sublime in the life/death/life movement of the seasons, to know that contained in you is the knowledge to pull the sword from the stone and to live well in fierce woods in deep winter.

Wilderness is a form of sophistication, because it carries within it true knowledge of our place in the world. It doesn’t exclude civilization but prowls through it, knowing when to attend to the needs of the committee and when to drink from a moonlit lake. It will wear a suit and tie when it has to, but refuses to trim its talons or whiskers. Its sensing nature is not afraid of emotion: the old stories are full of grief forests and triumphant returns, banquets and bridges of thorns. Myth tells us that the full gamut of feeling is to be experienced.

Wilderness is the capacity to go into joy, sorrow, and anger fully and stay there for as long as needed, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Sometimes, as Lorca says, it means ‘get down on all fours for twenty centuries and eat the grasses of the cemetaries.’ Wilderness carries sobriety as well as exuberance, and has allowed loss to mark its face.”
–martin shaw

The mist is a good kiss on my face today. The rain makes the ground feel supple, lush, spongy. My heart is light with a tinge of thickness, thick clouds blanketing former sorrow. I feel soft and wet, spongy and moist, fertile. Extremely fertile.

We picked the last of the huckleberries today, in our friends’ patch of pygmy forest. It was a gnome-y place. We live in a tall place with trees that loom like giants, friendly giants wearing forgotten alphabets. They speak the language of height, soaring, extension.

To be in touch with the wilderness, for me, is to be in touch with the forgotten languages, the dusky, gnarly, twisted, root languages. The languages that gave birth to what it means to be native, regardless of where you come from. To be in touch with wilderness is to make love to bark, not skin.

mama angel

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I shaved my head. And I finally deactivated my facebook account. I’m going into hibernation mode. I feel a gestation coming on. I want to dive into the fertile darkness.

I shaved my head in 2001 while living in Italy as an au pair. It was an experiment –when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I was in Genova and the family I lived with shaved their heads. The mama, papa and the kids all had shaved heads (they said it was just a lot easier to deal with). So, I said, shave mine too. I thought I looked like a turtle. I went to visit my mom in Rome the weekend that Pope John Paul II was doing some huge blessing of pilgrims. Mom came to visit me and when she saw me she nearly fainted.

This time, I don’t think I look like a turtle. Tony says I look like a llama. He says, Mila, your mama is a llama. Just kidding. He says I look like a lama. I shaved my head because I feel a big transition inside myself. It isn’t a big deal kind of transition. It’s a good transition, a healthy transition. Something is dying and part of what is dying is my old dependency on technology –specifically my pseudo addiction to facebook. Don’t get me wrong. I love facebook. I had a lot of friends and I was also maintaining a cool secret writing group and a cool artsy page where I posted beautiful photos and musings. Now I have this here blog and maybe there are a handful of people who follow it.

Facebook…it’s just that, I neglected other passions. I put all my creativity into facebook. All of it. Tiny little moments of surfing the web added up to tiny little moments of neglecting other parts of my creativity.

I painted the other night for the first time in years, and this here picture is what I came up with. Mila calls it mama angel, so that is what it is.

Mama Angel. I want to spend more time communing with the angels of tree and stone, bark and oak, acorn and moss. I miss what I used to do when there was no such thing as facebook. I cut off the technology tendrils from my brain and am now dancing on the earth, getting my belly smack dab on it and remembering what it is I know when I’m not surfing the ethers.