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Embracing darkness with Joséphine Klerks

Artist Joséphine Klerks resides in the archipelago of Sweden, on an island an hour north of Stockholm. Each month, she creates the original artwork for The Artipoppe Newsletter using just a few keywords provided. Joséphine embraces a life deeply intertwined with nature, cultivating her own food and utilizing plant medicine and herbs. In this lifestyle, she finds a harmonious connection with her surroundings, fostering creativity and well-being. We explore the creative advantages of the dark days of winter and how to foster a deep connection with nature.

On connecting with nature
“With so much going on in the world, I feel that forming a reciprocal relationship with nature is one of the most potent medicines we have. It’s a fundamental lifeline for us humans. When everything is swirling so intensely in the world, if we aren’t connected to nature, which is not separate from us, we will eventually get sick. If we really desire change, not only for ourselves but for the health of our planet, a connection to nature is essential because it means we are more likely to love. I feel that nature, earth, animals, plants, the elements, and every life form that sustains us play a part in this. And they love us back because we are a natural part of the system as well. When we feel love from something, we want to give that love back, and we want to honor and take care of that relationship.”

On answering the call of nature
“In my first winter in the forest, I remember the darkness feeling like a slap in the face. The stretch of dark months felt overwhelming. Having lived in cities for a long time, the city was always surrounded with light and events happening. Suddenly, we lived in a little cottage, and it was beautiful but meeting the darkness was also very challenging. I began meeting parts of myself I had neglected. As I began to live more in tune with nature, I found myself more and discovered the deep interconnection humans share with nature. It became a reset, a new kind of grounding within myself. I began to feel my creativity thriving, and being in nature regulated my nervous system in a completely new way.”

On creativity and nature
“As I started forming a relationship with nature, I sensed a profound acknowledgment, a witnessing of my raw, full self. Many studies have shown the regulatory effects of the forest on our nervous systems and brain waves. The forest also serves as a reminder of our own wisdom. Spending more time in nature brought clarity to my visions. After about two years, I noticed a shift – my inspiration and the creative process flowed more effortlessly than ever before. Previously, I would become stuck in myself and struggle with imposter syndrome. It became evident that my art could now bloom from an entirely different space.”

On embracing darkness
“Winter invites us to tend to more subtle energies as the outer world dims, allowing us to connect with our inner landscapes. It’s like closing down the senses. I love practicing visual meditations. When I shut my eyes and turn inward, I am able to hear and feel more clearly. If you have the chance to sit in darkness and experience the night sky, it’s very powerful. Even if you don’t, the energy of it is still present. The energy of winter encourages us to transcend beyond the physical realm, creating a fertile ground for creativity. During these times, I find it easier to tap into the source of the creative process. Though the darkness can be challenging, I try to draw nutrients from it because it holds nourishment as well. Small seeds of ideas waiting to be embodied. It’s about relearning our innate connection to the cycles of nature.”

On the invitations of winter
“Winter offers a time for rest and rejuvenation before spring arrives in full force. If possible, use this time to slow down and nurture yourself and those around you. I believe that in the stillness of winter, we can find space to renew and reinvent ourselves. It invites a connection with our core, compelling us to ask: What am I? What do I want? What do I need? Getting outside is also important for regulating our nervous systems and overall health. Even if the weather feels harsh, try to embrace it and lean into the forces of nature’s mood swings.”

On how to rest, repair, and connect
If you can witness the night sky, the simple act of sitting in silence within the darkness is a beautiful practice. No phone, music, or any distractions. Journaling is another good practice during these introspective winter times. Setting aside five minutes on your alarm clock and allowing your thoughts to flow onto paper, releasing everything through the words. I also incorporate herbs during winter. Mugwort, for instance, makes a beautiful tea and is known to enhance dreams and promote female health. It is a dear plant ally my ancestors used. Additionally, I find comfort in candlelit meditations. To try it, simply sit in candlelight in a quiet space, without artificial light, with the candle at eye level. Set an intention, breathe deeply into the moment, and let your emotions flow without judgment. Set a timer for 2-5 minutes and gaze at the candle flame. Be gentle with yourself throughout this practice. Finish the meditation with gratitude to both the light within and without.”

On giving back
“Simply going into nature and sitting in silence is accessible, costing nothing, and even in the heart of a city, a small park can serve as your refuge. Find a spot beside a tree, allowing the beauty of the surroundings to hold you. The practice of grounding is also beautiful. Take off your shoes, stand on the forest floor, and feel the exchange between yourself and the earth. Another sacred practice to honor the lands we walk upon is to give back in different ways. I love offering organic sunflower seeds to the birds during the winter season. Turn it into a beautiful ritual, taking a moment to practice gratitude for the earth’s generosity.”

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