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Lessons From Vasilisa

I have returned once again to the story of Vasilisa and Baba Yaga. This story is one that cycles around again and again. I have only heard the first part of this story. I am hungry for more. Just as the lessons we have to learn that come around time and time again so does our understanding of things. Listening to the story of Vasilisa this time I can hear things that I couldn’t before. I have a deeper understanding of what is being gifted here than I did before. I will share a bit but I expect it will take me several posts to fully share what is bubbling in me now.

The Russian female name Vasilisa (Russian: Василиса) is of Greek origin (Greek: βασίλισσα, basilissa), which means "queen" or "empress". It is the feminine form of Vasily, the Russian form of the name Basil.

The keynote medicine of basil (according to Ted Andrews in his book Nature-Speak) is: a time for discipline and protection; express your devotion & have strength.

In the story of Vasilisa her mother and father are perfect, they are archetypal. Of course no human can ever truly live into the full of an archetype. When Vasilisa’s mother dies she gifts her a doll which stays in her pocket for a long time.

After a while Vasilisa’s father marries a woman with two daughter that can’t stand Vasilisa because she is so sickening sweet. The sweeter she is the most they despise her until they create a plan to do her in.

So, let’s just talk about this part of the story. Vasilisa’s mother dies and Vasilisa experiences a trauma. Trauma strips away innocence. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Theatre of the Imagination says, “The worse state in the world is not innocence the worst state is innocent that is stripped away and no intuition has taken its place.” So many of us responded to our trauma by shutting down not turning towards our intuition. This creates injured instinct. Intuition is instinct. When we have injured instruct we are pre for any predator internal and external. When we have injured instinct we lack cognition. Cognition is different from intuition. Cognition helps us tell the difference between a lie that looks like a truth an the truth that looks like a lie.

This is such a new key learning for me because I have always thought that people just need to follow their own intuition and if they did that they would be fine but I never consider that trauma can injure own instinct and therefore our own intuition can be off. I see it as intuition is the arrow and cognition or clarity is the bow.


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