In my continual desire to improve myself, I sign up like a madwoman for many online courses. Right now I am taking two such from Coursera (one on American historical fiction, another on witchcraft – from the University of Barcelona, no less), two embroidery classes from Craftsy, a ukulele class or two, and one on healing through journaling from Daily OM.

I don’t know why I signed up for the last one, as I am far too busy what with all these classes to worry about healing, but I hoped in a way it would help me start journaling again and thus writing, etc, etc. Kind like buying a new writing instrument or a new notebook. Force me to think with a pen.

It’s an interesting course, though. Lots of meditative visualization – of one’s soul, of one’s dark side, of one’s self-house. What might be like Sherlock’s memory palace, though my me-house is a smallish white clapboard house, surrounded by shrub roses and sand and salt grass. Which is nowhere in my memory.

I’ve always envisioned my soul as a candle burning somewhere near my chest, flickering and weak some times, strong others. I can summon it up while meditating, make the candle burn brighter, wiggle the flame. It reminds me of the game in WiiFit, where you have to sit very still or a mean person shouts at you in Japanese and blows the candle out.


Baba Yaga, in her pestle…

But it’s such a blah visual for my soul. I need something more vibrant, more out there. When I needle felted a Baba Yaga, she spoke to me. Her hag-like face, world damaged. Her hairy chin and excessive eyebrows. The startling eyes that see too many things. She seems more like my soul. Capable of many things, some good, some bad. Helpful if you ask her properly.

But powerful.

I don’t know why I am perceived as powerful, me in my short round frame (hardly the skinny legs of Baba Yaga, but I’ve inherited my dad’s nose…), but the perception seems to have stuck, so I guess, approaching 60, I should wear it. I have to thank my mother for it, I think. She could dominate a room in a second, even while wearing discount clothing far too old to be seen outside the house.

In the Daily OM course, you are also asked to visualize your dark side, and the image that came to me instantly was a crow, yawking from the top of a scrawny pine.american-crow-perched-top-pine-tree-calling-alarm-62539764

Crows are not “good” animals. They bear grudges. They eat those smaller than themselves. They have a sense of inquisitiveness and mischief that gets them into trouble. Their sense of humour is often inappropriate to the audience. They can be loud and disturbing. In so many cultures, they are a trickster animal, clever but not precisely helpful. People either love crows, or they hate them. I’ve admired them and wanted to spray them with buckshot, depending on how many of them are in my immediate vicinity.

Like many people, I have an outer self, the one that hangs around most of the time and tries to make me acceptable to the world. It’s the smiling happy me, the one who cheers everyone on, etc, etc. But there’s another me, the one who loses patience with things, that raises its voice, that bites and claws. When it appears, people are shocked, unable to make the connection. It doesn’t come out often enough not to startle.

In my dark self, I know the crow. I know its loneliness. I also know it survives.

Odd that both of my visualizations, soul and dark, have two sides. Though unsurprising, given the many times I’ve had to redefine myself through the years. Two takeaways, I guess – if you treat me well, I’ll do you good, and if you don’t, well, there’s no way to predict how I’ll act. Mwah hah hah!


Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house, scene of many impromptu meals.