The Dreadful Shadows of the Wild Woman: A Necessary 3-Course Nightmare.


Deep within the fertile, wooded abyss of the wild woman’s psyche writhe the most gruesome and bitter shadows, these rejected parts of herself that no longer have light in their eyes or warmth to their skin.

These wayward, soul-bound creatures are so monstrous, such terrible threats to the wild woman’s ego, that she has buried them alive. Only in her nightmares do these three undead shadows ascend from the ground, roaming the wild terrain of her subconscious as dark-hooded zombies come to claim her mind and her flesh.

She wakes shaking and breathless night after night, feeling haunted and hunted under the October moon.

Tonight she has said no more.

Tonight, the wild woman goes willingly into her depths, a lucid nightmare from which she hopes to wake more whole and less fearful, and she goes in hungry. Her body is still and sleeping, but her psyche is pulsing with soul-born virility. In her dream-state, she stands at the treeline, on the edge of a forest so full of horror that it is truly her wild hell.

This place is so far below the god-stars, so removed from the bright light of spirit, only the dimmest beam of moonlight lights her way.

She knows if she walks willingly into the dark, her beastly shadows will find her there immediately. She must be ready. She must be poised to feel the agony of deep self-knowledge and the rib-cracking blow of Kali’s sword. She must acquire a taste for her own blood, and she must become the hunter if she is to survive her own personal night of the living dead.

She can hear them as soon as she enters the void. Just as her feet leave the well-worn path of the known and the familiar, her skin puckers in warning. They snarl, gasp, and call her by name. They whisper aloud her most tightly-gripped secrets, the things she has never spoken, would never dare to share. They speak of her shame, and they demand answers.

The Shadow of Weakness

The first shadow steps toward her in jerked, bird-like movements, coughing and retching bile; its joints are inverted, knees bending backward and elbows bending toward her in accusation. Its skin is like wet paper hung on jagged bones, and, in its hands, this shadow carries its own head. All of the wild woman’s muscles contract in automatic fear, but her impulse to fight is far stronger than her urge to flee.

The thing reeks of sweet rot, like melon left too long in the sun, and she suppresses a nausea of her own.

I will not let you haunt me any longer, Shadow! She crouches, bloodthirsty and battle-ready, and lets the demon come. I demand your surrender! Tell me your name!

The shadow holds its own head high to speak, and its voice is fragile and cracked by emotion. Why have you kept me here so long? I am so afraid of the dark. You’re cruel! You’re the monster!

The wild woman is unmoved, knowing of her shadows’ gifts of manipulation. What is your name? I am calling you out!

The bony face twists into a smirk, and the shadow answers: I have the same name as you, wild woman. I am you. I am the weak, vulnerable one you buried so long ago when you learned to depend on no one. I need someone to hold me when I shiver. I need to be told I will not be abandoned, and I need to be cradled like a baby when the storm gets too loud.

The shadow retches more stinking, bitter liquid at the wild woman’s feet. I am the weeping orphan left to die in the cold. I am the neglected child embodied, and I am you.

No. No! I am not you. I am a sword-bearing Witch Warrior! I am not weak. I am not fragile. I do not need help from anyone. I am my own keeper, and you, Shadow, have no place in my world.

The shadow puts its own head down on the ground and crumples into a quivering heap. You must consume me now the severed head speaks into the mud. Don’t leave me again; if you do, I will continue to twist and fester. I will spit on all of your relationships, and the scent of my rotting flesh will groundswell from deep within your soul, tainting any possibility of deep connection.

Eat me, Priestess, and claim your right to be vulnerable. Sink your teeth into my thin skin, and reclaim the little girl who was not cared for as she should have been. Gnaw on my bones to nourish your growling belly. I am soul-food, Woman. Do it!

Kneeling, the wild woman resigns herself. This is why she has come to this terrible place, after all. She cries all the while, not out of horror but in mourning for the lost years she had spent guarding her heart instead of loving with it. The shadow tastes like hearty warmth, and with every bite the wild woman feels a dark place in her body light up with pranic ignition.

She reclaims every shred of the shadow, and when she is finished, there is nothing left.

The Shadow of Rage

Licking her fingers clean, the wild woman stands and begins moving through the gnarled trees. She steps on something soft every so often, but she refuses to look down. Consuming her first shadow has made her more fearful, and necessarily so, but now she knows she can be hurt. She entered these woods thinking herself invincible, but now she knows the truth.

Her soul would forever be unruined, but her body and heart might well be broken.

The thought of anyone daring to harm her makes her teeth clench together so tightly they ache, and her nails dig deep into her palms until they are bloody. Her belly tightens, and the wild woman releases a howl so guttural she is sure she terrified even the greatest incarnation of evil these woods had to offer.

The next shadow hears her, opening its red eyes, and her boldness acquiesces to gut-born fear when she sees the thing. This new shadow drips with a constant flow of blood running in dark rivulets all over its naked, muscled body. Its face has only two features — garnet, glowing eyes, and dozens of long fangs.

It moves toward her like an immense, feral cat on the hunt, and the salty iron stink of violence is all-consuming.

The wild woman screws up her courage, drawing from a psychic well of self-esteem she did not know she had, and speaks: I know who you are, Shadow, but I want you to say it. Tell me who you are and why you haunt me!

The shadow creature shakes with low-laughter, and the wild woman takes a single step back, gasping. She saw now the ground is covered with shredded corpses, their bodies so dismembered she cannot tell how many there are. Some are human, some are animal; it is the work of a true monster.

I am you, Woman! The shadow speaks finally. I am the rage you keep so neatly under lock and key. You call yourself wild, but you move through your world with such conformity, such social propriety, and all the while I am lying in wait for you to be triggered. I am all of your emotional immaturity that erupts to slap in the face those you claim to love, and Woman, you know exactly why I haunt you.

The wild woman looks pure evil in the face, as it keeps speaking:

I haunt you because you need me. I am the change-agent. Every time you hear of injustice in your world, you cock your head to the side and give me a nod, but you always go about your day as if there wasn’t a silently raging ocean of hell-water swelling in your belly. I am the part of you who does not move on. I am the knives you want to throw at the child abusers and rapists.

I am the midnight torture you want to dole out to the corrupted governments. I am pale-knuckles and spit. I have no strategy. I am raw, unwashed rage, and I am as much a part of you as compassion and grace.

The wild woman can only whimper. No. No, I could never have done this. You are… You are hate, violence, all that is wrong with this world. Her voice grows louder: I despise you! I am not you!

The shadow crouches down before her, bowing its head. Consume me, Priestess. Consume me, and claim your right to change what you say is wrong with this world. Consume me, and know rage as the crucible within which all social transformation is birthed. Bite down on my skin, hard as a shell, and harvest your holy anger. Rip into my warm guts and honor your birthright as a global fire-starter.

I am not hate. I am not violence. I am your soul-mandated ration of fuel. Keep me here in psychic storage no longer! Consume me, and raise your sword against the ego-mad who have no knowledge of their own shadows. Consume me, and together, we shall rise to birth the new world.

Assessing the carnage surrounding her one more time, the wild woman purses her lips together and kneels. With every bite she takes, a spark of passion and purpose nips at her insides. The shadow tastes of spice and smoke, and she has to fan herself as she eats, for the heat of it is like nothing she has ever felt in all her years.

When she finally rises, full and fed, a shock runs through her from root to crown, bridging places long isolated from one another.

Exhaustion might have taken her then. She could drop down to the lowest level of consciousness in that moment and welcome a near-death experience, but a quite flawed, unapologetically loud singing voice crooned to her from the deep darkness.

The Shadow of Divinity

Come and meet me, wild woman! You are not finished yet! This last shadow rolls her hips with all the grace of a temple dancer, swaying and spinning toward her as if she is floating. The wild woman’s mouth drops open at her beauty — ever-glowing skin and thick curled hair down to her knees. She is bare-breasted, this magick shadow creature, and adorned with all the jewels Gaia’s ground had ever housed.

Who… who are you? You are not a shadow, and you don’t belong here among the others. The wild woman frowns, resisting the urge to lie down in full body prostration to this embodied perfection.

Don’t you recognize me? The twirling shadow asks. Surely you know me, my love.

The wild woman shakes her head. No, I’m quite sure I have never met anyone like you. You’re so unashamed, so free, and so glamorous.

Yes the dancing shadow hisses, gliding her hands about the air and arching her back in ecstasy. I am those things, and I am you. Dance with me, Sister!

The wild woman takes the shadow’s hand and awkwardly moves about the ground. I am not you the wild woman argues. I could never be you. You are truly a hallowed deity, the Divine Feminine bound in a body, an earthly Goddess if I’ve ever seen one!

The shadow stops moving and takes the wild woman in a soft embrace, kissing her neck and breathing into her skin: As are you, my love.

She slides to the ground then, kneeling before the wild woman and tilting her head back. Consume me now, Priestess. Take all of me into you, and your work is done. I am the feminine fortitude they refused you when you were a girl born into this world. I am the birthright you have been denied, and I am the part of yourself you buried in order to stay small.

I am the part of you that threatens others’ expectations and predetermined social roles. Consume me, and reclaim your voice. Consume me, and know yourself as raw, red beauty. Consume me, and show your bare-breasted soul to the world. Consume me, and affirm your She-God nature.

The wild woman wants to refuse. She can accept the ugly shadows as parts of her but not this cosmic blessing kneeling before her. Still, she does as she is told, nourishing herself with the Shadow of Divinity; she tastes like sacred nectar and ceremonial chocolate. She tastes like holy water and the body of the Magdalene.

The wild woman’s sex and spirit merge, and when the meal is finished, she stands naked and free in the forest she now rules.

The woodland glows a haunting silver as the moon swells to fullness, and the trees bend back to show her the way out. She knows this soul-work might never be finished, but, for tonight, the nightmare is over.

The long-hidden, so-secret parts of herself she needs most in her life right now have been reclaimed, and she affirms her right to be vulnerable and love deeply in parallel with her right to rage against the injustices of her world. She knows herself as the Feminine Divine, and she wakes the next morning more whole than she had ever been in this life.

She is at once vulnerability, rage, and divinity. She is a shadow-walker, a night-seer, and a diver into the deep psychic seas of the wild feminine soul. Indeed, this wild woman is her shadows, and they her, for she is everything that ever was and ever will be.


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Danielle Dulsky

Danielle Dulsky

Danielle Dulsky is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. Author of 'Seasons of Moon and Flame: The Wild Dreamer’s Epic Journey of Becoming', 'The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman' and 'Woman Most Wild' (New World Library 2020, 2018, 2017), Danielle teaches internationally and has facilitated embodiment trainings, wild circles, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School and the lead teacher for the school’s Flame-Tender Facilitator Training and online coven, The Hag Ways Collective, an E-RYT 500 and YACEP, a Fire-Keeper for Ord Brighideach, and a dedicant to Irish-Celtic spirituality. She believes in the power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists as well as the importance of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting environmental unconsciousness and social injustice. Parent to two beloved wildings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, art-making, poetry, and intentional awe.
Danielle Dulsky
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