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Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Herbs, Yoga, and Women's circles by Masha Schmidt, L.Ac

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Alchemical Moon Report

New & Full Moon Reports for navigating changing tides.

Me and Baba Yaga

Masha Schmidt

“She’s dangerous because she can see things in an uncanny light. She knows human nature as it really is. She’s one of your mothers, she’s my mother too.”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD (on Baba Yaga)

When I was a child, Baba Yaga lived on my grandparents fire escape. Now that they have relocated to the spirit world, I’m sure the old witch has moved on, to haunt some other little girl and generally keep an eye on things.

“If you don’t finish what’s on your plate Baba Yaga will eat you up”

“If you’re a bad girl, Baba Yaga will know. She can see near and far.”

In the night, I would run past that window in terror of the things she could do. Eater of little children, flying around in a mortar and pestle, she had the power of fire, of medicine, and of death. When she wasn’t perched on that fire escape in Brooklyn, she made her home at the edge of the borderlands between life and death. Her house was built on chicken feet that could turn in any direction, giving her omniscience. She can occupy many places at once, being magic.

Having only one childhood, and nothing to compare to - I didn’t know that Baba was such an obscure figure. She takes center stage in Slavic folklore and fairy tales, and it is good to understand her value in this world. I think that Americans could use a woman like Baba Yaga.

If you encounter her, she may eat you, put you to work, or give you advice. Do what she asks, and you will be rewarded. She demands that you rely on your intuition when traveling in the borderlands or by fire escape. Don’t be fooled by her ugly toothless face, or her age. Her birch boom can sweep away her own footsteps and can help you remove obstacles.

Why is she dangerous? She’s able to fly, she can pick up and move herself. She doesn’t act her age. She doesn’t accept no for an answer. She has a circle of skulls around her house with flames coming out of their eyes. Sometimes we are in need of fire and she holds the flame. Sometimes she withholds the flame.

If I could go back to that apartment right now, I would ask her for help. Even if I had to accomplish a merciless task, even if I risked being eaten.

I would ask for a little more righteousness in this world, and protection for all of us, but especially young girls. I would ask her to teach us humility and stewardship for this land that we borrow from our children.

Would you risk everything to meet her? And if you encountered her in a quiet forest at night, what would you ask for? If you do encounter the Yaga, be prepared to answer her questions. Are you running toward the truth at the center of the forest, or are you running away from something that is chasing you?

Autumn is the season of Metal

Masha Schmidt

Every year, I get excited as the weather turns cool and we move into the Element of Metal!

The associated emotion is grief, and this can give Metal a bad reputation. No-one wants to experience unresolved, debilitating melancholy, but give yourself a chance to mindfully visit this valuable emotion. As we touch upon old or new grief, it is possible to find greater understanding of our losses. Deciduous trees are losing their leaves, but it inspires us with a flash of color, and reminds us that letting go is a strategy for resilience.

Some things to consider about the Metal Element:

Metal is precise, systematic, and meticulous. In balance, these qualities help us stay even tempered and in control of our emotions. In excess, these same qualities can lead to inflexibility of both body and mind. Physically, make sure to increase stretching as the weather turns cools and the synovial fluid becomes thicker. To tame emotional rigidity, try a regular meditation practice to soften the mind.

The lungs are associated with Metal, and considered the most vulnerable organ. Especially in the Autumn, a Metal imbalance can lead to frequent colds, allergies, or flare ups of asthma. Get that Neti-Pot out and use it often! Eucalyptus and tee tree oil are two immune supporting essential for the season.

The Metal element is linked to our internal alarm system, allowing us to feel things internally before they manifest, and is linked to premonitions. The spirit of Metal is the PO - our ‘animal’ aspect, that ‘6th sense’ function of intuition. To support this and gain insight, spend some time unplugged in nature. You may be surprised at how much information you receive.

Metal is concerned with boundaries, the metaphorical skin between us and the world. This helps us decide what to take in and what to let go. A wonderful practice is dry brushing before a shower with a natural bristle brush. It stimulates blood flow and helps slough off dead cells, allowing the skin to perform its natural functions more efficiently.

The PO lives in the moment, our vitality rides on each breath. Particularly affected by regret, remorse, and a lingering sense of loss - these emotions can obstruct our ability to take in and let go. Grief can actually lead to difficulty breathing. This is when the Pranayama practice becomes crucial - Deerga Swasam and Nadhi Sudhhi can be game changers for dealing with overwhelming emotions.

Have you been using strategies that support the Metal Element? Tell me all about it!

Love and happy Autumn,

Masha

September 11th

Masha Schmidt

17 years ago, on this day - I walked back to my East Village apartment from the World Financial Center. I remember the mild sunlit weather, how it clashed with events of the day. I also remember sounds, smells, impressions of shadow, and the blisters from my new shoes. Later that evening, I couldn’t reconcile my experience with the images on my neighbor’s television screen.

Of course, we were in shock. We understand that people all over the world lived through terrible daily atrocities, in and out of war zones. But those people were not my neighbors. Until that day, all my tragedies had been personal, and this was a collective injury.

In the days that followed, there was incredible camaraderie and tenderness. New Yorkers were loved by the country, the world, and by one another. We watched the smoke settle and rubble covered buses being towed down 4th Avenue. The city was very quiet.

Then we turned outward - and become us vs. them, the heroes vs. the terrorists. All those tender feelings transformed to collective fear and vengeance.

Vengeance is something I haven’t had much use for. I cried more upon hearing we were at war than I cried when those buildings collapsed. Why we didn’t attempt to understand and dismantle the systems that created inequality? Why defend ‘our’ tribe by attacking the ‘other’, what did we hope to achieve? Was all this to create safety for future generations, or were we to breed more hate?

The Evil Other is a popular motif in both fact and fiction - movies, sports, and history books all agree. To emerge victorious, someone else must suffer. There are few examples where people from different backgrounds come together to make a change or help a third party. I’m not sure why culture evolved this way, but it seems a bit dysfunctional at this point.

All divisions of people breed disharmony. Whether we separate by race, religion, nationality, or political views - pain is inherent in perceived separation. It is as though we can poison the water in one part of the world and pretend that ‘our’ own ocean is unaffected. That is one side of human nature. There are others, we are complex and perhaps evolving.

Many things have changed in my life - I left a corporate job to focus on yoga, then motherhood, then acupuncture and other healing. As a a nation, I’m not sure a lot has changed - we seem to still be fighting.

Most days I forget that.

Other days, like today, it feels like a great responsibility to remain tender hearted. An unpopular choice, to refuse the ideas of good vs. evil. It is my sincere hope that more of us will wake up to the lack of separation, and begin to see all of humanity as family. Perhaps then we can be true heroes - coming together in love for our fragile and beautiful world.