I was 17 years old when for the first time I was overwhelmed by a time of severe melancholy, which has turned into a dark depression. I could not control it, for it was just pouring out of me into the canvas as dark black dirty squares. No idea why I felt what I felt. It was the end of the 90s. Me and my family, we have already survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. I just came from the United States under the FLEX exchange program, spending a year in the US. And when I returned, everything seemed so painfully dull and alienated to me.
I loved my Soviet Union childhood days, and I adored the time spent in the US. And all of that was kept in the past at the moment. I could not return to the USSR, it was gone. I could not go back to the USA, because I had to spend one year in my homeland under the contract. And when you are young, a year seems like forever. It was 1996, and I was trapped in Kyrgyzstan, a newborn independent country that was yet unknown and a bit alienated to me. Everything seemed to fall apart, people and places were drawn into uncertainty and chaos together with me.
One day my dad approached me with a smile of the wisest monk and said: "Well, well, Nariste, who's sad there? Don't hang your nose, warrior-girl, pack your bags and let’s get moving." I looked at him with despair. It seemed like nonsense. I just have returned from New York and now, how can a trip across Issyk-Kul help?
Dad poured a full tank of gasoline into his beige Lada, and our small family, my little sister, dad, mom, and I, we just hit the road for a little adventure.
Oh, boy, we loved to travel! Together or apart, we adored each other and the romance of the wanderlust. The main feeling that has connected us as a family was the longing for the new experiences and the ecstasy of the open roads.
And with Dad, every day was a holiday, and traveling was especially pleasant. He was the best guide — always courteous, fit, cheerful, attentive and inquisitive, with a great sense of humor and impeccable erudition.
“Remember, Nariste, journey is about healing. Nothing lasts forever. And the waves of the Issyk-Kul lake will take away your pain”, – said my dad with calm and quiet confidence. I looked through the rear door glass of the car into the horizon, and I saw the Issyk-Kul. The lake was shining with serenity and stillness of turquoise silver. Since then, whenever I see Issyk-Kul, it has a soothing, almost therapeutic power over me. It reminds me of my father and the poem once written by Langston Hughes:
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
To be so still that way.
My melancholy slightly perished once I saw the sunset through the Broken Heart Cleft at the Jety Oguz Mountains. Sunset red, merlot colored stones of the cleft were standing tall as big proud giants, telling vibrant stories of the past to travelers. According to one of the many legends, the Broken Heart Cleft is the symbol of unrequited love. It is a story about a girl named Jyldyz — the Star.
Once upon a time there was a girl named Jyldyz. She was gentle, good hearted and stunningly beautiful. All men in the village were in love with her, but she had no interest in romance. One day, two best friends came to the valley. Both of them lost their hearts to Jyldyz. But Jyldyz couldn't make a choice. Desperate, two friends turned into rivals and started a bloody and tormented duel. Not willing to give up, friends killed each other. Jyldyz was heartbroken, because she loved them both. The girl took her heart out of her chest, tore it and turned into the red Broken Heart Cleft.
For me, this legend is a great illustration that love to people can be cruel enough to break your heart, therefore, I have developed several coping mechanisms for myself to deal with psychological traumas. Writing together with constant traveling is one of them. Moreover, the love of traveling is something that I have inherited since my childhood from my father and all of his relatives and ancestors.
For my father, moving was equivalent to living. He was a cinematographer and a true traveler at heart. I guess we were made of the same clay that has glued our family together forever and ever, not only because he was my father, and I was his daughter. I guess when you are born to the free spirited family of a cinematographer who is constantly traveling, you belong to the road.
Yes, you do belong to the open road from the day you are born till the day you die. As a kid I understood and accepted my nomadic existence with a complete sense of totality. I was a toddler, when my dad's grandmother took me to the homeland of my ancestors, to the great Naryn, the city of the mighty Central Asian mountains and steppes. It was the first time my parents left me with my great-grandmother, a powerful old woman, whom I feared the most.
Chong-Chong Tai-Ene, that’s how we children called her. She always wore black from head to toe. She was as thin as the birch tree. Her face was wrinkled as the oldest apple in winter. According to dad, his grandmother was no more and no less, a real Kyrgyz shaman — Kara shaman, mysterious healer who can communicate with spirits and travel to the Underworld and to Heaven.
I clearly remember the day when I met Chong-Chong Tai-Ene. It was twilight. It was dark, and it was the day when she came to take me away. I was terrified to meet her, therefore, I ran to the toilet, not willing to come out.
An hour later I came out of the ladies room to the living room, and sat down on the quilted Kyrgyz carpet called toshok and stumbled. Chong-Chong Tai-Ene was as spine-chilling as the spider. Everything about her was mysteriously hypnotizing. I just could not take my eyes off her, and she was staring at me without blinking. Her eyes were dull and her old heart had no mercy. Chong-Chong Tai-Ene smiled with her black tiny lips opening a dark hole in her mouth. She looked into my eyes as if she was a witch of a dark force. I imagined her eating me, chewing and spitting me to the floor with the same delight as she was munching her black nasvay (moist of powdered tobacco).
“Come, sit close to me, my darling”, – my grand-grandmother said to me pointing to her legs tightened with black shiny maasy (Kyrgyz leather boots).
I mumbled something, trying to resist, but her voice is still echoing in my mind after all these years. She said only one line, and it stock forever in the long dark derbies of my unconscious; for it was said to me with such a soft, concise but strict power, as if she was spelling some sort of enchanted spell over me. I had no choice but to surrender, and quietly sit down next to her, right below her feet.
As children we have no choice, but to seek safety in other people and depend on their kindness. Parents at first in my case, and sometimes even complete strangers. In the house where my great-grandmother lived, I found myself alone without parents. I don’t remember the presence of Chong-Chong Tai-Ene, playing or taking care of me. There was nothing to recall. The only thing I remember, is a presence of a complete stranger, an old man. Still I have no idea who he was. An old man with pale skin and sparse beard. He loved to sit in silence against the front door and stare at me. It was uncomfortable of course. His silent presence brought chills up and down my spine.
It is good to know that I was sent to Chong-Chong Tai-Ene only once in my life, and it was enough, because since then I have a strange, unconscious fear of strangers.
From the age of four, my mother left me to stay with her mother, Nohan-apa. I really loved Nohan. She lived at the shores of the Issyk-Kul lake, and I would spend all my childhood summers with her. At seven, I would travel to Issyk-Kul all alone by bus. It takes about 6 to 7 hours from Bishkek to get to the village of Ananyevo where my grandparents lived.
The only companion on these lonely trips I had was a book and a prayer. I wasn’t afraid of strangers on the bus, but I used to pray to God to save me from car crashes. Boorskoon valley was a valley of death with memento mori signs scattered all over the roadside – broken bodies of the burned and tortured dead cars.
To cope with anxiety, I came up with a special ritual for myself — a good prayer. It was a simple prayer to God for protection and salvation. I believe it was helpful, for with it I was always under protection of a great God. I believe it was a good prayer, for it kept me safe till today.
No matter how strange or terrifying our journey might be, it is impossible to get rid of the endless longing for travel. We, the nomadic Turkic people, have a craving for the constant movement within our blood. We are like migratory birds, who have a special compass installed within us by the powers of nature. Sometimes you just feel in advance when it's time to hit the road. No matter how hard I tried to settle down and have a white house with a rose garden, just like all normal people do, it never worked out for me. I tried to settle, to build a family, but failed several times in a row.
You can’t fix a broken glass, no matter how hard you try, for it can never be whole again. Going through divorce is a quite challenging endeavor, and it seems to me I have found the best way to cope with pain. Poetry helps me to process the dark echoes of the past. Therefore, everything I ever wanted to say about my eleven years of second marriage is reflected in these two poems: “Asphodel Meadows” and “Flowers of Elysium”.
Scattered under the Asphodel meadows,
Your love is tight and full of preaching demons.
Your soul of gold, alas, no longer present,
Gone by the wind of gambling, wine and neon nights.
Your sprees are endlessly bipolar,
They turn by midnight into dust.
There is no freedom in your corner,
But hostage of your sins and wanderlust.
You stare at me with opulence, no longer human.
Our love is scorned by raging after-dark.
I’ve had enough, I bounce back to order.
There is no need for me to act.
You’ll overlord the downfall of the kingdom.
You’ll be the center of your own delight.
Flowers of Elysium
I shall not run from the ultimate call of deliverance
Closing the door from what yet to come.
I shall not fear for I have no more tolerance.
For the wretched sheets and bloody scrums.
And I will crown my soul with flowers of Elysium.
Divine thy shields, immune and pure thy shine.
Praise my escape from rivers of dark opium.
The castaway to the lands of heinous grime.
Dominion of mine comes from unworldly power.
There’s no need to mourn the viper in my room.
Forget me not they say, for I shall not answer.
So call me not, dead flowers never bloom.
My marriage is gone, for the second time. Thus, I presume, I shall start this year with the intention not to settle anymore. I have resided in many houses. I have built them from scratch and watched them disappear, slide down through my fingers in vain. So why bother to build something again? Maybe this is a true sign from the Universe to give it all up. Maybe normal life is just not for me? Perhaps my soul is here for some other reason, other than settling down?
“Don’t squeeze yourself in a square, dear. Don’t be afraid of anything. Just turn on the Kyrgyz spirit and move on!” — the voice of my father is calling me through all of these years, assuring that everything will be just fine.
To live is to travel. Therefore, I have placed my apartment for rent, and from now on I will dedicate myself to familiar things, to writing and traveling. And who knows, what shall I find along the way?
Summer was past,
The future’s not present,
The winter is now.
My love is gone.
I packed me a backpack,
And bought me a ticket
First time on my own,
First time all alone.
Your bucket of hatred
My river of tears.
There is no more judgment,
The choice was mine.
Your shallow black roses.
All withered and dry.
I came to Debrecen on a bright winter night, charged with mild December wind. The soft wind of the city was carrying sweet scents of mulled wine, fried sausages and krumplislángos cooked on the big black hot plates of the Christmas markets. Debrecen was surprisingly warm, green and friendly.
The large green cypresses in the garden of the residence greeted me with gigantic dignity and calmness, reminding me of my childhood days spent with my parents at the Ala-Archa mountains. There, in the holy coniferous woodland, I could stroll for hours, amused by the beauty of the enormous ancient mountain forest. Here it was easy to let go of the mortal presence of everyday life and dive deep into the unknown, releasing my flight of fancy by imagining spirit animals and gentle fairies who greeted me with grace, floating from branch to branch.
Today, whenever I see coniferous trees, I consider them to be a good sign. These trees inspire me to think more creatively, pushing me gently to see beyond the bounds of the regular, mundane physical world. Ancient Kyrgyz people believed evergreens to be the symbol of wisdom, purity and longevity. And my health issues proved the wisdom of my ancestors to be true. These days I cannot live without evergreens, especially now, when I have a severe bronchial asthma attacks in summer. The only comfort and freedom from allergy that I might have, is to be surrounded by the coniferous trees. Evergreens comfort me all the way through my childhood days till now, bringing me peace, health and serenity.
Thus, I said thank you to the spirits of the green cypresses, which will definitely protect me from allergy during my stay at the writers’ residence in Debrecen.
It was freezing cold inside the residence. I explored the territory in five minutes. It was an old fashioned apartment, which reminded me of my parent’s apartment in Bishkek. The residence was simple and quite ascetic. I turned on the heat and tried to sleep, but couldn’t, the blanket was a tiny summer blanket, which was helpless for the cold December nights. I turned on the heat and tried to fall asleep, but it turned out that an electric heating system in the apartment was extremely noisy. I assume it has happened due to the respectful age of the system. Three metal boxes seemed to have no respect for my privacy and therefore, they would explode with chit-chat noise all day and all night. They were humming, popping, cracking and clicking. To turn them off would be a bad option for me, of course, so I had to choose — to freeze or go crazy with creaks and noises. I chose the second option, because, perhaps, madness is the best way out in unbearable conditions of existence.
To me, noise is something professional that we deal with in communication studies. It seems that you cannot avoid it, no matter how hard you try to stay peaceful in the presence of complete silence. In silence, we have to deal with the noise of our own mind, an ongoing chit-chatter, which Mexican shamans call “mitote” – uproar or disturbance of human consciousness. I have learned to silence the noise in my mind through meditation. Today, with help of meditation, silence for me is the natural state of my presence, from which I can operate from the state of the here and now with much comfort. I just observe, acknowledge the noise, surrender and release it through breathing technique and awareness.
I’ve learned to enjoy
The simplicity of present
The moment of nothingness
The Here And Now
One night I woke up
In the deep-blue waters.
Tranquility seized me
And I was silenced.
The beauty was present,
And I was gone.
The arms of the heaven
Is here and now.
With eyes wide open.
The flower of life,
The world is divine.
And everything present
Was It and was I.
I woke up at 5 am as usual. Huge windows without curtains were lit up with golden rays of light. I took a shower and started my yoga and meditation practice. Within 30 minutes, the sun sent me a beautiful sign — myriads of small rainbows on the walls and the large windows of the apartment were playing seek and hide with me. Definitely, the spirits of the city were happy to see me. They probably seized my spirit, knowing that I am a rainbow person, for I catch rainbows everywhere I go. And whenever I see my friends, the crescents of light, I know I’ll be fine, and it will be a great day, because rainbows are the signs of inner bliss and harmony.
While doing yoga in the living room and catching morning rainbows, I started to meditate on the aspects of loneliness. I think I have reached such a point in my life, when I am perfectly content with who I am and the world around me.
Through years of transcendental meditation practice, mantra and Bhakti yoga, I know I can embrace the challenges and be the ocean of calmness and gratitude, deriving my power from the bliss within.
I can say now that I am quite content and not troubled by solicitude. For the deep blue valleys of loneliness are the paradise islands of all poets and writers. Therefore, I must commit to aloneness as the main relationship goal for as long as I can.
I am the dust in the wind.
wild and free I fly,
Amidst the stars in the night sky
Who am I?
A particle of the star
in human form.
I am the light
reflected by reality,
chosen to experience
what I should experience,
the life on earth
in human form.
Everything is energy
and so am I.
At 10 am, the bells of the Cathedral started to play. I had no idea how close I was to the church, until I heard the bells. Actually I love the sound of the bells, a low resonant drone fading into mysterious do’s and fa’s. It was a great beginning of the day, filled with December sun, rainbows and the bells of the Cathedral. And I said to myself : “Let’s go! It is time to explore the city!”
I know if I plan my route precisely, it will always go perfectly well, without delays and problems. But for the most part I prefer to travel around unknown cities without a plan. Though I might have some surprises, I am sure that little inconveniences usually turn into something charming and undeniably beautiful.
Through years of traveling, I have realized that the more I roam and wander randomly through the unknown city, the happiest I am. I cherish the rare opportunities to wander around the new city in blissful and unconscious ignorance. I call it acquaintance. It takes some time to get to know the city well. I treasure that childish feeling of joy when you stroll around the big or small cities or even little towns. It provides you with fresh opportunities to look the city in the eyes, to know its soul. And to me the soul of the city is hidden in the eyes of the people walking down the streets, in the parks, alleys, museums and cafés. You can hear the character of the city in the quiet or noisy talks and conversations of the strangers passing by. It is a dance of life itself composed of different surprisingly pleasant pas and pa de de’s.
Light-spirited and carefree, I closed the apartment and went outside to explore the city, especially since the name of the city was calling me for action. Debrecen is the second-largest city in Hungary, and the name Debrecen, according to one version, comes from the Turkic word “debresin”, which means “alive” or “movement”. There is also a Turkish word today, “depresmek”, which means “to move or to play”. It is a great pleasure, indeed, to move along the city, which is so small and cozy, unencumbered with heavy manufacturing or loud traffic.
Strolling along the beautiful neo-baroque buildings has brought me to the main street of Debrecen — Piac street that has hosted famous town fairs for more than 300 years already.
I definitely love this street, quiet and pretty, surrounded with Art Nouveau and Eclecticism architecture and a vintage tramway city line that goes up from the Grand Station to the Great Church and the Great Forest. By the way, it is such a pleasure to meditate and write poetry under the blue sky of the Great Forest of Debrecen.
Winter in Debrecen
Soft and cozy
Are the twilights of the winter,
Silk and velvet are the stars.
In the daylight I enjoy to wander in the Center,
Meditate under the deep blue sky.
I draw the lines of latitude from pansy fields,
To Petofi street and back to Christmas larks.
In the daybreak rainbow from the window,
Sends me greetings from the spring of life.
Smells and bells of the cathedral
Wake me up for better contemplation
Of the rhymes under the mellow lights.
The heart of the Debrecen city is The Great Reformed Church of Debrecen, which is well known for its’ elegant and clean architecture. It is located right in the center of the city and the Christmas market is set up in the square in front of it. There is also Debrecen Eye, Lajos Kossuth Monument and a winter rink with some good jazz and Christmas music playing all day long.
The Great Reformed Church is almost always open during the day for quiet prayer and contemplation. Anyone who would like to have a worship or experience a panoramic view of the center of Debrecen, can enter. The lady at the entrance is nice and friendly. Travelers can buy a ticket and go up the wooden stairs to the top to see the spectacular view. By the way, I would not recommend anyone with agoraphobia and acrophobia to go up the wooden stairs. Because the stairs are quite steep and dangerous, especially if you go up to the roof all alone without a guide. Going up, I was praying to all Gods for mercy and tried to calm down my fear of high stairs with a good prayer and idle reflections about the history of the Great Church.
Built at the beginning of the 19th century and covering almost 1, 500 square meters, The Great Reformed Church is designed in neoclassical style and has the biggest bell of all Hungarian protestant churches.
The attitude to faith in Debrecen is a little bit different and unique to the rest of the country, because Hungary for the most part is Catholic. Protestantism took hold in Debrecen and the Great Reformed Church played an important role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Since then, people call Debrecen a Calvinist Rome.
The Protestant Reformation swept through Central Europe in the 16th century and settled in Debrecen, turning the city into the major spiritual and cultural center of Calvinism. John Calvin has opposed the traditional connotation of the Bible, represented by the Catholic Church. According to Calvin, Christians should return to the essence of Christianity, to honesty, modesty and diligence.
In 1526 began the Battle of Mohács, when the Turkish army of Suleiman the Magnificent overcame Louis II of Hungary. The Ottomans split the country into three parts and Debrecen was located right in the borders. The Ottoman Empire had no interest in turning Hungary into Islam. In 1551, the government of the Debrecen city was fully Calvinist and Catholicism was banned in Debrecen.
Around the 16th and 17th centuries, thanks to Calvinism, printing and book culture flourished, turning Debrecen into the major city of Hungary where publishing and education was flourishing. Even though the Debrecen University was established in 1912, its roots go as deep as to the 16th century as the Reformed Collage.
The Reformed College was developed in 1538 as part of the Great Reformed Church, with the main goal to transform the College into a university. That goal was reached by Hungarian Reformation in 1912, when on the basis of the Collage the Hungarian Royal University of Debrecen was established. Today, Debrecen is a city of students and studies of its own right, with over 27, 000 students from all over the world.
In Debrecen I was lucky enough to catch the golden days of warm and sunny winter with beautiful Christmas Holidays and Christmas markets. I enjoy trying traditional dishes of the cities I visit, but since I turned myself into a sober vegetarian this year, the food game has changed rules for me, and it seems like the national dish option has a very limited perspective due to the presence of meat.
Hungarians love meat and wine, therefore, I have tried some Hungarian vegetarian goulash without meat as well as “krumplilángos” at the Christmas market together with winter wine for children without alcohol. By the way it was impossible to find pure non-alcoholic wine in Debrecen, so even on Christmas night I had to drink water or juice and not a non-alcoholic wine, which today you can easily find even in Bishkek.
Lángos is a traditional Hungarian fried flatbread, sprinkled with salt and smothered in garlic. It is good to have it with sour cream, shredded cheese and pickles. You can find the different variations of lángos across Austria, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Transylvania. But it was interesting for me to find that Lángos traces its origins to the Ottoman Empire and Turkish rule in the 15th & 16th centuries. Together with Lángos, Turkish rule has brought to Hungary and Eastern Europe such culinary delicacies as tomatoes, paprika, peppers, yogurt and black coffee.
“Krumplilángos“ is lángos made with flour, potato, yeast and milk. Smashed potatoes add special fluffiness and extra-good flavor to lángos. “Krumplilángos“ flatbreads are usually served with either garlic, oil or sugar and jam. I tried my Krumplilángos in the Central Square right across the Great Reformed Church.
My “krumplilángos” had a lot of green and red pepper, onions and some garlic cheese. Definitely, it is a quite nice dish to try on a cold winter day at the Piac Street, when the radio station is playing Sinatra’s White Christmas and you can watch happy children figure skating while you enjoy the big and heavy slice of “krumplilángos”.
Women’s initiation is a battlefield
I think everyone should know, and especially men, how hard it is to give birth. It is unbearable to see what women have to go through in their lives. Recently I read an article where one woman from Ukraine said: “If all people knew how difficult it is to give birth, there would be no war”. But unfortunately, today, thousands of women in Ukraine and Syria are giving birth amid the chaos of the war.
According to WHO, women across the world face ill-treatment during childbirth. Birth maltreatment is not just a public health problem, but a violent act of human rights. Parental and neonatal abuse during childbirth is often exacerbated by a lack of awareness of patients’ rights, gender discrimination, and lack of empathy skills.
Today in modern societies people consider childbirth as labor. As if giving birth is the same as to go to work. As if it is something that needs a little bit of effort, an ordinary day-to-day routine such as regular work in our miserable life. And all women need to do is just push harder, to make a little bit of mechanical effort, and all will be done perfectly well. “You have to work it baby, work it hard to make it right!”, “Push harder, labor to succeed!”
This technical attitude to childbirth is rooted in modern life. Life, which is too busy and too mechanically technological. There is no space for magic and sacredness of pregnancy and birth. All of which is lost as a passage of spiritual journey. It is no longer practiced and honored, no it is passed from generation to generation.
Giving birth is such a powerful and yet traumatic experience for women, causing a lot of emotional and physical trauma. Yet still everyone assumes that women should know how to do it, how to give birth and raise children, because it is a “natural act”.
In ancient times of our ancestors, giving birth was considered to be not just “natural” but sacred ritual of womanly initiation. It was a spiritual ritual, the art and the science of becoming a woman. Unfortunately today this knowledge is lost and giving birth is considered to be a medical, robotic conveyor. The sacred feminine is annihilated and buried by patriarchy. Women goddesses that helped women in childbirth and childcare are no longer worshiped. For a long period of history, the cult of the Goddess has almost disappeared from consciousness. And in Europe, only through the studies and research of Carl Jung and his followers, the well forgotten Goddesses have been finally resurrected. During the Soviet period it was almost forbidden to talk about ancient Kyrgyz belief of Tengrianism, not to mention the cult of the Divine Feminine Goddess – Divine Mother Umai who for centuries has helped Kyrgyz women of all ages to live, love, give birth, heal and raise children.
In Tengrian traditional societies giving birth was a tribal ritual, pregnancy was regarded as a sacred time for a woman — a time when a woman expecting a child was treated with special care by the wise women. As the carrier of a new life, she embodied the miracle of creation in her very essence, linking the generations with her every breath to the Goddess Umai and the God Tengri. In ancient rituals babies came into earth with much more care and support from the older and stronger women: midwives, aunts, grandmothers, mothers and sisters. All guiding the one who was giving birth to the new life.
Women need more than medical care, they need unity and encouragement. Modern medicine culture, together with patriarchal neglect towards the needs of women, have created detachment of women from their bodies, from sisterhood and from the Divine Feminine. It is essential that the bravery and sacredness of pregnancy and childbirth be valued again. Every woman should be honored for the act of bravery and devotion. You never know who will and who will not come back. Who is going to survive, and who will be defeated by childbirth trauma or even killed. Therefore, women after childbirth in tribal societies were celebrated as soldiers.
Our ancestors were much more clever than us. In ancient Tengrian societies, people paid precise attention to the sacred practice of pregnancy and childbirth. Tengrians would compare childbirth to the battlefield or the war itself. Men confront the anguish of death in the chaotic battlefield of the war, and women confront death in the bloody field of childbirth.
In ancient Tengrian tradition, the midwife greeted the mother of the newly delivered child with praise and honor for her warrior courage, as if she had just returned from the major battle. In contrast, when I was giving birth for the first time, I was surrounded with deaf and cold medical staff. There was no greeting, no encouragement and delight. And maybe my first time wouldn’t be that traumatic and painful if I was surrounded with the tribal attitude?
Later on, when I was pregnant for the second and the third time, I would watch non-stop YouTube videos of real women giving birth before the camera on their own or with tribal support, without medical help. Those videos were enchanting, they have opened my heart and the mind to the simple truth that women are warriors. I was so happy to see all of these strong women across the world shamelessly sharing their experiences with the world on social media. All these amateur videos were exceptionally empowering and educational. I even once dreamed of opening a holistic school of childbirth for women. And of course I was dreaming about such school just because I myself was in extreme need of one. After all these years, after giving birth to my five healthy children, I still have no idea how I have managed to do it and survive after all.
Thinking about that has led me to write a short story called Initiation, which I dedicate to all the women who survived the most transformative and excruciating process, called childbirth, which is in its’ essence – the initiation into the womanhood. The image of the main character, Shaira, is a collective image of the all the girls who went through severe lessons of the womanhood.
Shaira tried to open her eyes to look around, but the pain flashed through her body with severe electricity. Everything around was dull and blurry. The walls of the hospital had a peculiar, desolate, dirty blue color. She hated this particular color since childhood, for it reminded her of all the Soviet hospitals and schools she had left behind.
The gray ceiling of the spacious corridor was nervously throbbing from the iridescence of an old broken lamp. She envisioned herself dead and transformed into outer space to another planet. She closed her eyes and wished this would have never happened to her.
Shaira wished as a child she had not known all the needless fairy tales written by men about love and marriage, but instead what she craved for was the truth, true stories experienced by the real women. She wished her mother would have talked to her more. But the truth was silenced and hidden. For it was a Gospel. Gospel about womanhood. Gospel about sisterhood. Gospel of the Divine Feminine initiation. For as much as it was a Gospel, as much it was a taboo. Back then and still today, it was what it is – a big dark shameful spot, a taboo.
Shaira thought about it quite often. Why was it shameful to talk about all the womanly things? Menstruation, sex, abortion, childbirth and even childcare. She couldn’t understand why Kyrgyz women never ever shared all of these experiences with their daughters. She had not yet answered this question, but she knew for sure that women have to take their powers back, for the issue of the control over the women’s bodies and lives is the most important political question. No one teaches girls at school how to be a woman. How to grow. How to give birth and to nurture not only a child, but herself.
“Or, no worries,” Shaira’s aunt Rosa, a big fat experienced woman with two children and two divorces behind her back used to say, whenever Shaira tried to start a meaningful conversation with her about womanhood.
“It’s all natural, my dear. Giving birth is like swimming. All you need to do is dive deep into the waters and surrender. Just swim and go with the flaw”. Shaira would stare at her intensely: “What if I have no idea how to swim?” And it was true, the girl had no idea how to do it.
“Not only do I not know, but I am terrified of swimming. Is swimming natural? I do not assume so. Definitely not for me. A lot of people learn how to swim, but still not all of them are good at it. If I go with the flow in the ocean and surrender, I will die,” said Shaira as if she was giving a conscious and mature lecture about her disabilities.
Not willing to deal with childish insecurities, aunt Rosa just laughed at her and said: “Medical doctors will fix you, they will definitely take care of you, darling”. And years later they did of course, leading Shaira to the biggest trauma of her life.
As a teenager Shaira had no one to talk to about important issues of life and death, motherhood and manhood. Parents, friends, teachers. All were alien not only to Shaira, but to topics like this. Everything she knew about life by her 20s was absorbed from art, books and movies. How to live, how to make love and how to give birth, all that kind of science she has learned from mainstream stories of cinema and literature. But almost all mainstream books and films were created by men. And what do men know about women? Some superficial knowledge. They knew nothing, except how to use and abuse women. Sometimes, she thought, the world would have been much better without men’s needless interpretation of women’s experience on earth.
Shaira’s heart was full of admiration towards those beautiful women with the glittering femininity, strong and proud of their womanhood. Restless in service and worship for their household with all the men and children. They were the cradle and the solid rock. For those women, womanhood came naturally, they were the green tall trees in the forest, rising high up to the sky. That definitely was not true for Shaira. She was different. She was a willow tree, gentle and unstable, the one that hangs around the river, always thirsty for another book or two, for a meaningful contemplation or conversation about unearthly matters.
Shaira remembers the nipples of her aunt Rosa, the day after she gave birth to her first child. Her breasts were solid as rocks of the Tien-Shan mountains, they did not want to hide from her T-shirt. They stood proudly strong, dark, hard and meaty, compared to hers, flat as the Sahara desert, and pale as a peony rose in May.
She always looked at her aunt with amusement. Rosa has accepted her body, her breasts, her femininity with ease and fullness. But Shaira was the opposite. She was struggling. Frankly, she looked at everything womanly with disgust, unconsciously practicing the art of inner misogyny. To her the whole process of sex, impregnation, the period of pregnancy was a true torture and shame.
It felt to her as something artificial, almost animal-like, robotic and nonhuman. Even alien. Stranger thing. Was she an alien herself to feel that way? She wouldn’t mind if people in future would have their communication turned into total psychic transmission of thoughts and energy: communicating, speaking, exchanging energies and even making love through telepathic frequencies and vibes. But to her, words, poetry, prose, music and art was enough. There was no need for physical interaction at all.
But there was no poetry in giving birth. In pregnancy, maybe. Yes, there was a moment when pregnancy felt like a bliss to her. There was a special time, even a spiritual one, when she was almost withdrawn from the world, drawn to the core, to the deep down rivers and valleys of herself and the baby within. All her attention went inward. It was a charming moment of time when she lived from a happy, almost meditative state. Shaira never practiced yoga, but during her pregnancy it seemed as if she was turning more and more to her higher consciousness. Before pregnancy she was a meat lover, but the chemistry of the baby within has changed her completely, for she couldn’t stand the scent of meat and onions anymore. What she enjoyed the most was the smell of mandarins and oranges. They felt like heaven. So she would embrace the scent of the oranges with all of her senses. And the rest was humid.
But still, giving birth to her was more than a miracle, it was a miraculous disaster. This part of her life contains so much pain and trauma that she would rather prefer to erase it from her memory. To the very end, to the zero point. But the memories, they have their own agendas, they come and go unexpectedly as clouds on a rainy day.
Shaira always had this bold idea that she was strong. But in her twenties little did she know. She mistakenly assumed that it is not a big deal to give birth. That she will make it. All women do it. It’s natural. She is a survivor and warrior after all.
“You can do it!” That's what her father used to say.
“You are a fighter, Shaira!” Her mothers’ voice was soft and strong.
And she believed them, those voices in her head. But Shaira’s first childbirth proved her wrong. It showed the other side of her, soft and fragile.
Right after birth, she hasn't turned into a strong woman, but into a broken, abandoned little girl.
She was lying on the old medical bed, with her eyes wide open. She just gave birth to her first beloved child. No one would give him to her to hold. Her baby was taken away, while the post-soviet doctor would sew her genitals without any anesthesia. It was as painful as a torture amidst the World War II.
When it was all over, she was naked and broken. There was no encouragement. There was no bliss, no glory. It felt like abuse in the abyss of time. She was all alone, swollen by the darkness of the cold and empty corridor. The agony of childbirth had pushed her gentle soul out of her body.
The body and soul of hers had a dilemma of their own. Shaira’s soul never wanted to have sex, to marry, and to have children. Her soul’s mission was obvious. Her mission was higher than all the earthly things. She was always flying in the heavenly realms. And she just loved words and books. But this body. This body would always drag her down to the earthly realms and mischievous endeavors: to do sports, to take adventures, to fall in love, to reproduce. This time, her soul was ready to sneak away to the heavenly domains. And body, body was just passing over. It was covered with a gray flannel blanket as old as the Shroud of Turin, turned dark purple from the old stained blood of dozens of women who gave birth to their children before her. The blood was all over Shaira’s hips, underneath her legs and chest. Everything was covered with blood. The blood was alive and moving as a floating river going up and down, out and through her body. What else does she remember? It was freezing cold, even though it was a warm summer night. Sometimes she still feels the cold wind howling all over her broken and naked body.
“They just left you to die here,” the soul whispered to the body. “Poor you, I always knew, it was a bad, bad idea to fall in love, to marry and to have children. We came here for a different reason, remember. But you, you always forget, and never listen to me. I was speaking, almost screaming to you. And you? You have ignored me for years. You wanted to live and to know it all. And now, see?! Look at you, you are not a human anymore, they have treated you as a piece of “sh…t”, like meat.”
And it was true. At this very moment during and after birth, Shaira felt as meat, not human. Through pain she lost her soul, her intellect. She was something else. She was It. They say. She was just a biological thing that men call women. A thing with the womb. But it felt even worse. It felt as if ground meat smeared across the medical bed.
The night was dark and empty. Shaira was lying under the open window and the corridor was long and gloaming. She closed her eyes and was ready to surrender. The time passed by, as an old woman driving an old camel in the ocean of the silky desert. Shaira’s soulless body was flying in this very desert between life and the other side. Ready to cross over to the border of the unknown. Her body was thirsty, but it could not move.
In her dream or passing out, Shaira saw the bright light coming from up above, and the big white dove was flying next to her. The dove came closer and turned into a beautiful woman with long curly silver hair. She smiled and embraced Shaira with the most warm hug. She felt so much love shining from the radiant divine presence of the angel-woman.
“Shaira, take a sip,” she heard a voice from a distance. She opened her eyes. Her mother was standing right above her. She gave her water, and it felt like heaven. And her mother was a Goddess or an angel, except for her hair was not silver, but black with hazel strands.
Shaira was always fond of her mother for she was full of stamina and grace. And at that moment her voice was heavenly. It soothed the pain and called her back. Shaira’s soul surrendered. But this time not to death, but to life. The moment she woke up, Shaira thought her hardships were over. Little did she know that it was just the beginning.
The next day, the nurse brought her the baby. Shaira’s son was sent from heaven. The sacrament of a new life was so nurturing, she even sensed the shift in the room, as if the whole Universe was moving and greeting her and the firstborn with the sacred song. Within a moment, lightning struck, and the room was filled with the radiant light. Her boy rolled his big dark eyes, staring at her, and love was growing as the shimmering light within her body and soul, reanimating the blood she just had lost. Within a second she understood the meaning of the Universe and all the writings of the holy scriptures. Ever present, omnipotent unconditional love was radiating through her and her baby.
That was the kind of love that the Universe spreads to all of her children. Every newborn child is a living God, Christ and Buddha, Krishna, each and every mother is a Lakshmi, Saraswati and Mother Mary.
That was the very day when Shaira had found God and experienced the lightning of enlightenment. It was a moment of bliss and calmness. This grace was given to her only for a moment, to be precisely for a day. Only a day. And what came after…
Those women, who shared the same afterbirth room with Shaira, warned her, but she could not understand. They said: “Hey, you, baby with the baby, take care of your boobs, shall ya. Be careful”.
Shaira’s breasts transformed. Within two days, her small breasts turned into two big white onions filled with watermelons. At first, she thought it was so much fun. She always had such small breasts, and now she had big and strong ones. But within a day, her breasts hardened. And the angel baby had turned into a villain. All he wanted to do is to eat. He was always thirsty and hungry. The days and the nights were the same. The baby demanded more. Her nipples were so tiny and gentle that the baby was unable to grab them. They both struggled. He chewed them up, as if they were not human flesh, but some old bubble gum from the supermarket. The blood and the pain were back again. Shaira was pumping and expressing milk mixed with blood for hours, but the pain from the broken nipples was so strong that she would cry her eyes out.
Shaira’s mother-in-law was a post-soviet huckster, strict and bossy. She had white pale skin, tiny-narrow eyes and a thin ugly mouth. She was not much of the help, but rather a destruction with an abusive, unapologetic attitude: “You are such a pussy, Shaira! Endure! Do not cry, dubious girl!”
Shaira mumbled and endured, feeding her baby through unbearable pain and blood. Infection spread was instantaneous, and Shaira’s body turned on fire with severe fever. Within two days her body began to rot with numerous abscesses. Mother-in-law doubled the torture: “Kyrgyz women endure everything! They are stable and durable, but you, look at you! You are weak and shabby! Endure, and the pus will come out by itself through the nipples. No worries. You are such a pussy, dubious girl!”
Shaira endured, slightly passing out to the other side for the second time. And then again, her mother came, just like an angel, she took her away from the hands of the devil, and passed her to the medical doctors.
Shaira has survived two operations. Her beautiful breasts had turned into a five new roads built by five ugly scars. The doctor said to her mother that Shaira will never ever be able to feed her babies with breast milk again. Moreover, he said: “One more day of endurance, and your daughter would have been dead”.
A long, long time ago, there was a small but proud country. One day people of the country stopped praying to gods and turned their heads to greed and envy. The night fell upon the face of the earth and people couldn't see the light and the beauty. All they saw was bitterness, hostility and darkness. People were crying, fighting and cursing, crying, fighting and cursing. And it was a circle. Destructive circle without an end. The gods were willing to help, but people were not willing to ask for help. Communication with gods was lost. But gods were merciful. They sent the most beautiful angel to help the people to see the light.
The angel was born into an ordinary family. Parents were busy. They were overwhelmed with their own bitterness, sadness and despair, unable to take care of the child. The baby was almost invisible to them. Parents would often leave the child in a dark room alone with the old, ugly and broken toys. His head was greasy, his clothes were weary and old. But the boy was happy, he loved to play with his dusty toys.
One day, when the boy turned six years old, he fell in love with the music.
“Mama, I want to play the piano,” he said to his mom. But his mother never liked music, therefore, she had no desire to support her child.
“Papa, I want to play music,” the boy said to his father. But his father was too busy, he couldn't help.
Angel’s love for the piano music was so strong, that he has signed himself up for the piano classes. He played piano with such a deep passion that old evil teachers felt nothing but jealousy. Tormented feelings of envy and disgust started to grow within their tar black hearts.
“Your intonation is too sharp!” Said his first music teacher.
“Your staccato is unstable!” Screamed the second.
Eventually, one of the teachers was so envious and angry at the boy, that she threw the note sheets straight into his face and hit the boy's hand with the fall-board of the piano. The index finger of the child cracked into pieces and fell on the floor.
Since then, the boy could no longer play, instead he began to write beautiful poems and paint strange paintings. Once, he shared his art and poems with his parents and all of his friends.
“This is so ugly,” his friends laughed at him.
“You will never ever be an artist. All artists are mad and poor!” said his mother, tearing his drawings into pieces and throwing them into the garbage.
The boy used to love his parents and friends, but their attitude broke his heart. Sadness, as a blue-black snake penetrated his soul turning the angel into the darkest poet on earth. He was writing dark poetry, he was telling the truth about he saw, felt and experienced.
One night at twilight, evil people heard the poet's poems. They couldn't handle the truth, therefore, they caught him and tied a big gray stone around his neck. Evil people threw the boy into the deep, dark waters of the dirtiest pond in the city.
On the night when the angel died, a white lotus bloomed out of the darkness of the pond. And in the morning, at the beautiful dawn, the white lotus opened, and an angel was born again. This time he was a divine golden child, because everybody knows that angels never die, for they are immortal.
Resurrected, the heart of the angel turned into a flower, for it was pure and loving as ever before. Golden child was radiantly happy, for he has realized how he should serve people — he will not serve them directly, for it is impossible to help those who are asleep. He will rather go to those who are young and yet innocent. He will go to children to plant the seeds of goodness, the seeds of beauty and greatness from his flower into their hearts. For he knows that these seeds of greatness will definitely sprout in the future.
I was caught in the loop of time,
Thrown back to where it all began
— Inception of maturity.
The distant past unraveled
The ancient call
To riddle the secrets of individuation:
Virile spirits of
In the season of Advent
I crossed the sky
Form the land of the ravens
To the city of doves.
The candle of prophecy
Is still alive
Lightning the fire of faith
Of those who worshiped
And the Sky.
From the Central Asian Steppes
To the Western Hemispheres,
Through ancient dust
And smell of hooves,
The sultry blood of ancestors arise.
Great qams and shamans,
The riders of heaven –
The Huns divine.
I know why I came here, to the great land of Macaristan (Hungary). I am here to explore the roots of the proto-Turks, the roots of the Divine Mother and the roots of the Divine Father. For I want to be whole. Thousands of rivers flow through my veins. The blood of my Kyrgyz father and Uighur mother, the blood of my Russian mother, who shared her milk with me, as well as the spirits of the past, inhabitants of the mysterious land of the Central Asian Steppes.
As I was leaving Bishkek and heading to the wonderful Macaristan, I was constantly asking myself, what should I write about. The answer came quickly, first and foremost, to me Macaristan is deeply connected to the stories of Attila, thus, to be here for me means to think and write about the legend of Attila as the representation of the Divine Masculine Archetype of the Nomadic Warrior King, since the Kyrgyz and Kazakhs are the direct descendants of the Huns.
As all great mysteries and stories, legends are like eternity, they never die. The secret of our future is hidden in our past. And if we do not dive into the vast ocean of the past, we shall not reach wholeness. Therefore, I had an intention to concentrate my creative research on the legends of Attila, the sword of Mars, religious beliefs and mythological creatures of ancient Huns, because I want the image of Attila to represent the masculine spirit of one of the leading male characters of the epic story I am writing.
The myths of Attila are especially close to my vision of the Adil Khan character in the epic I am currently writing – “The Journey of Salia to the Underworld”. Personally for me Adil Khan is a contradictory, ambivalent character. As an author, I admire his strength, skills and courage, but as human and pacifist, I despise his attributes of war and aggression. To me, everything about war is evil, because war represents the energy of the lower worlds, the chthonic dimensions.
When I started writing “Salia” several years ago, I thought it would be a fun, youthful fantasy. Frankly, I have naively underestimated the great difficulties that I would encounter, because not only have I discovered, but experienced the uncontrollable power of darkness sealed within the shadow aspects of the Self reflected in the collective human unconsciousness as shadow archetypes. To me it was truly a mind-blowing literary journey with an eye-opening Pandora box effect. On one hand, unfolding the story through archetypes, gives you as the author the authentic power to make the characters more alive and close to the reader. On the other hand, the more I have immersed myself into the characters through archetypes, the more “Salia” book came to live with its terrifying reality of the ancient Tengrian spirits and demons of the Underworld. And it wasn’t just one or two creatures here and there, it was an army of demons and spirits… It was then when through pre-writing and writing itself I have discovered the whole mythologeme of the ancient Kyrgyz armies of the dead. I wonder what would Carl Jung think about that... As I know, for him as well, going through the shadow work and writing his “Red Book” was not an easy task... It seems to me that studying the archetypes of the darkness provides an opportunity for evil to grow and somehow to unravel itself in real life. Therefore, one day I have decided to close the story of “Salia”, and I have promised myself to return to it only when I am genuinely ready. For many years, I have postponed my immersion to study the archetypes of the Underworld, the land of the wars and shadows, because I was petrified of what the story was calling to address – the war between the light and the evil.
Frankly speaking, darkness is always present here and now in the collective unconsciousness.
Today the shadows of darkness are dancing the macabre dance over the people of Ukraine. This imperialistic dance of Russia reminds me of the fact that humans are not peaceful creatures, and man is a subject not only to aggression and self-harm, but to massacres and mass murder. Among all the creatures on the planet Earth, humans are the most cruel species. Erich Fromm in his book “The Anatomy of human destructiveness” particularly underlines the research of Konrad Lorenz and summarizes it in the following thesis: “man's aggressive behavior as manifested in war, crime, personal quarrels, and all kinds of destructive and sadistic behavior is due to a phylogenetically programmed, innate instinct which seeks for discharge and waits for the proper occasion to be ex-pressed.”
As a great scholar of psychoanalyses, Erich Fromm goes even further by distinguishing in man two entirely different kinds of aggression: “The first, which he shares with all animals, is a phylogenetically programmed impulse to attack (or to flee) when vital interests are threatened. This defensive, "benign" aggression is in the service of the survival of the individual and the species, is biologically adaptive, and ceases when the threat has ceased to exist.” And then there is a “"malignant" aggression, i.e., destructiveness and cruelty, is specific to the human species and virtually absent in most mammals; it is not phylogenetically programmed and not biologically adaptive.”
Thus, Fromm underlines that man is a killer. “Man differs from the animal by the fact that he is a killer, he is the only primate that kills and tortures members of his own species without any reason, either biological or economic, and who feels satisfaction in doing so. It is this biologically non-adaptive and nonphylogenetically programmed, "malignant" aggression that constitutes the real problem and the danger to man's existence as a species.” Thus, wars are the quintessence of the “malignant aggression” in men.
Wars are the main reason why I despise humanity. To me, war in any form represents evil. Its manifestation is a sign of ignorance. From the perspective of a peaceful mind, a man of love and wisdom, wars are driven by ego. It is a delusion. The real world in it’s very true aspect is a pure bliss, Sat-Chit-Ananda, which is always by default a good and beautiful place, an attribute of the light of the higher dimensions. Therefore, those who start and wage wars – release in themselves and in other people, in society in particular, the hidden forces of aggression of the lower chakras, much lower than the Muladhara. The chakras below Muladhara are called Tala Chakras and they come from the forces of destruction, the Underground – Malkuth in Kabbalah, Hades in Ancient Greece and Kingdom of Erlik in Tengrian belief – a place of chthonic evil, dense Tamas in Hinduism.
Thus, there is no doubt to me that the archetype of the warrior king in the image of Adil Khan (Attila) represents evil. For me, the pacifist and peace builder, the images of Erlik Khan and Adil Khan (Attila) in particular, are the direct representation of the war and the forces of destruction, therefore, they were too dark and at the same too sacred to approach. But, apparently, it's time to dive deep to understanding the shadow warrior archetype of the Underworld as well as the ruler of the darkness as the representation of the collective shadow of the collective unconsciousness. To make it safe, from now on I will not approach it via spiritual shamanic journey, but through pre-writing creative research based on fascinating myths and legends of Attila.
Who is Adil Khan? Adil Khan is a powerful nomadic king warrior who was not only a glorious king, but a true shaman, who possessed shamanic spiritual abilities. He was a true Kara Shaman, for he was able to lead the army of the living and the army of the dead in the Underworld and the Middle World. Adil Khan reminds me of Attila with his supernatural powers. According to some mysterious epic ballads of Central Asia, preparing for the main battle in his life, Attila deliberately led his innumerable army, if not to a clearly conceived defeat, but at least to the maximum number of losses on his part. Why would he do this?
Attila needed a strong army of the dead, those whom the Germans reverently called "Einherjars". He did this intentionally, for he had a calling from the ruler of the Underworld, the great Erlik, to form the biggest army of the dead on earth. This army can be present forever. It is believed that Kyrgyz shamans can communicate and conduct the armies of the dead of Attila the Hun. Ancient Huns and Kyrgyz people believed that warriors never die, they become spirits of the Underworld and can fight even after death as a horde of the spirits of the God of the Underworld – The Great Erlik Khan. Similar belief is present in the militant Germanic myth of Valhalla, a magnificent hall of the slain situated in the afterlife at the great Asgard, where half those who die at the battlefield happen to reside with the God Odin.
Attila, the great Khagan, Emperor of the Hunnic Empire, most commonly known as Attila the Hun, is an idiosyncratic figure who has become more a legend and a myth than man, not least because much of his life and even death is veiled in mystery. He is, perhaps, the most legendary “barbarian” in history. Attila was the lord of a vast empire spanning two continents, but he is best remembered for what he did not conquer – Rome. Though he seemingly had Rome at his feet and mercy in 452, he ultimately decided not to sack the Eternal City, and a year later he had suffered a mysterious death.
Was Attila murdered by his new bride? Many authors and chroniclers have provided controversial answers to the many questions, but the lack of answers has allowed Attila to become not only the face of ancient barbarity and the embodiment of the furious nomadic conqueror, but a truly magnificent, mysterious figure whose life story had a fascinating influence on literature and history.
What is the most notorious aspect of the Attila story? Of course, the central element of the legend of Attila, the Kyrgyz Hun, the great Kagan of all the Huns, and at the same time the master of the militia of the West Roman army — Magister Militum, — is the fact that he was the only one who have allied peoples of the steppes. As a true king, blessed by omnipresent and omnipotent God Tengri, Attila was the only one who has united the divided tribes of Huns, Skiffs and Sarmatians, as well as many others: Dacians, Skirs, Heruli, Alemanni, Thuringians, Neuri, Gepids and many others.
What is known about Attila was mostly written by Priscus of Panium, Eastern Roman diplomat and historian, who wrote several manuscripts about Attila. During the reign of Attila (434-453), the Hun’s rule expanded to the Danube, with the center in Pannonia, covering the territory from the Volga, Caucasus and to the Rhine.
According to some Tengrian legends, Attila found a magical death, thanks to which he became commander-in-chief in the Underworld. Attila died a year after the battle on the Catalaunian fields, choosing a more magically powerful death. He entered Tam (the world of Erlik in Tengrianism) or Valhalla in Asgard (the world of Odin in Nordic mythology), the world of the gods, during his wedding night. It was not for nothing that he took a woman of German blood named Ildico as his wife. According to the historical version, Attila died of a heart attack of some sort. But dedicated magicians of that era knew that the death by the hand of a woman could give a warrior extraordinary strength in the otherworld.
The death of Attila, intoxicated with love and kumys, horse milk, on the wedding night, seemed "shameful" to historian Jordanes. Priscus was probably more neutral in his assessment of the circumstances of the death of the "Scourge of God''. For Huns, he was a "lucky man" who died not from a wound, but in joy. For Huns, death in joy is the death of a true Hun, a royal death. Although the Huns were fearless warriors, they had thanks to Tengrian beliefs enough wisdom in life and the ability to consider a true luck to die peacefully in the moment of pleasure and bliss. According to Huns Attila was the one who spent the night of love not in the earthly world – Midgard in Nordic mythology and Middle World Earth-Water in Tengrianism, – in the arms of the mortal Ildiсo, but in the realm of the Gods – in Valhalla or Tam, with one of the eternally virgin warriors-valkyries of the god of the dead and shamans.
Nevertheless, the legend that Attila was killed by Ildiсo, according to some version – strangled by the long braids of the beauty, has been circulating for centuries through German monastic chronicles, poetry collections and thick volumes of history books, having acquired a particularly sinister, Nordic-cruel form of sophisticated and insidious revenge in the German heroic epic. This legend is reflected in the Scandinavian epic The Elder Edda, the sister of the Burgundian king – Gudrun killed her drunken husband, the king of the Huns Atli (Attila).
In general, if any wedding night has entered world literature, it is Ildico's night with Attila. Be that as it may, a circle of myths of a similar scale has not developed around any other character in European history, except Attila. And the legend of Attila continues to live on and on.
Nothing is left from Attila, neither a temple nor a mausoleum towers over his body. He disappeared into the Pannonian land without a trace. But the memory of him did not disappear, as did the memory of the Hunnic people who fought in Central Asia, China, Gaul, Germany, Italy, Illyria. For centuries historians would consider that the traces of Huns have perished from the face of the earth, but Kyrgyz professor Amangeldy Bekbolaev considers that Huns did not disappear, and Kyrgyz people are Huns.
Spiritual beliefs of Huns
The Huns practiced Tengrianism, an ancient Turkic polytheistic belief that divine celestial spirits of the Sky, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Clouds, Wind, Thunder, Storm, Sun, Moon, Stars, and Lightning, Rain and Rainbow, ruled our Universe. Among all the Gods, the superiority belonged to Tengri — The God of Heaven, the God of the Great Blue Sky.
The greatness of Tengri was emphasized by the word “Khan” – king. All ever present on the Earth and the Sky belongs to Khan Tengri – the Great Creator of a Universe, the “Spirit of Heaven”. Tengri is the one and only supreme god. He is omnipotent and omnipresent, nothing is hidden from him, good and bad, he holds the judgment and the truth. Tengri is in control of everything, of nature, of life and death. Tengri rules diverse spirits, good and bad, which reside on earth, underworld and in the sky.
Huns had special servants of the Tengri cult — Kams (or Qams) – shamans who were priests, sorcerers and healers. Kam – Shaman or Saman is a Tungusic word, which was not used in the old Turkic language. This word is used in some titles of the Hunnic ruling elite: Ata Kam, in turkic language, means "Shaman-father" and used to represent supreme shaman.
The Kams were destined to communicate with gods and spirits of nature, as well as the spirits of the dead to predict the future. Kams healed the sick and organized religious rituals and sacrifices. However, the Kams were not secure. If their predictions were false, the ruler of the tribe could punish and even kill the Kam.
Tengri gives Khagans (Khans – Kings) wisdom and authority. Thus, it means that Attila was blessed by Tengri to ascend to the throne and to become a son of Tengri. Therefore, in some Chinese chronicles Attila is called the Son of Heaven, the Son of Tengri.
The faith in Tengri of ancient Turkic people and Huns is still practiced and called Tengrianism or Tengriism. Tengrianism is still practiced in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Altai, Buryatia, Tuva, Sakha, and Mongolia.
It is interesting to underline that Huns showed tolerance and respect to the religious beliefs of the conquered people. It seems there was never a push for Tengrianism to dominate other religions. This tolerance came from the main principles of Tengrianism that there is no one true religion of the world. A man may practice any religion, but Tengri is One for All and Omnipresent. Therefore, followers of Tengri practiced tolerance to different religions and beliefs. It is believed that Attila once said: “There is only one God by whom we live and die. But as God gives us different fingers of the hand, so he, the Tengri, gives diverse ways for people to follow and worship Him.”
According to some scholars, as Tengrians, Huns respected Christians and Christianity, so they might have allowed that religion. Attila and his companions showed respect for the Pope and Christianity. And the monumental marble image of the Attila Khagan of the Hun Empire in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is a great illustration of the meeting of St. Leo the Great and Attila the Hun, which depicts the Pope dissuading Attila from attacking Rome in 452.
Alessandro Algardi (1595-1654) Altar of St. Leo the Great, funeral monument of the Saint. Saint Peter's Basilica.
The Abyss is near,
The sky is tar black,
Oh how painful is the path through the dark.
No one knows where the fate will lead us.
Lead us to Glory, Attila Dei!
Lead us to Victory, Attila Dei!
Lead us to Glory with Gladius Mundus,
With Gladius Dei!
Attila really believed that he was led by higher powers, mysterious powers of Tengri and the magic sword. He was known to repeat the story of a magical sword given to him by the Roman god of war, Mars, which contributed to his unprecedented military success.
The Eastern Roman diplomat and rhetorician Priscus of Panium tells how the sword of Mars gladius Martis passed into the hands of Attila. One shepherd boy noticed that a cow from his herd was limping. Unable to find the cause of such a serious injury, the boy began to look for the traces of blood. Finally, he found a sword that a cow had stumbled upon; he dug it out of the ground and took it to Attila. Attila was delighted with the gift and, by the greatness of his soul, he considered it to be an omen of his power, a sign that he would become the ruler of the whole world and that the sword of Mars in his hands would prejudge the outcome of any war.
Attila’s sword is not limited to the "phallic symbol" or "the axis of courage" as the virtue of military occupation, it is not only reduced to the concept of war only. The sword of Attila for Huns of course is the ancient shamanic Tengrian symbol of the axis of the world or Axis Mundi – a Tree of life, which shamans use as the central axis that goes deep through the cosmos to reach the three worlds of the Universe.
Thus, from a deeper point of view, the sword of Mars is actually the sword of God. And it is to this divine dimension of the power of Attila, he is the guardian of the sword of the God.
Holy Name – Flumen Dei, Aquila Dei.
According to the genealogy recorded in the Hungarian medieval chronicle, Attila's descendants can trace the fate of the son of Japheth – Tana, the mythical king of the Scythians, who gave the name to the Tanais River (aka Don) and the city, which was located near the mouth of the river of the same name.
As for the name of Attila, "it was more like a nickname than a proper name", derived from the Gothic word "father" – atta in a diminutive form compared with Latin “atta”, Greek “atta”, Italian “attas” and ancient Turkic “ata”. Its variants were Atli, Etele, Etzel and the Italian name Ezzelino. Anyway, the epithet "father" assured historians that the Ostrogoths gave him his name.
However, there is a significant overlap. Option Etele refers to the Tatar word "water" and connects us with rivers: the Volga River was called Itil, and in the Volga delta the city of Astrakhan once had such a name. Back in 1236, in a letter from Monk Riccardo, who describes to Pope Gregory IX the journey of Monk Julian to Great Hungary, the Volga is called Flumen Magnum Ethyl, the Great Itil River. Then Attila was credited with the symbol of the river, carrying unrestrained power. Entomologist Ernst Jünger compared all the floods with "the invasion of the Huns, the thunderstorms of the Tatar-Mongols".
According to historian Amangeldy Bekbalaev, the Huns came to Europe from Asia and Altai and went back to Tien Shan and Semirechye. Not only the Kyrgyz, but also the ancient Huns spoke the ancient Turkic language, which later acted as a common Turkic language.
Hungarians have a very strong connection to Turkic people. The Hungarian historical conquerors lived and fought as a Turkic people. The folk music is mainly of the Turkic origin. The Greeks called the Hungarian people Turks. The Hungarian language has thousands of Turkic words. Like Kyrgyz and Turkish, Hungarian is an agglutinative language, it is when the suffixes are to be placed to the end of the words. Thus, instead of saying "in the school" Hungarians say "iskoláBAN" etc.
At first it seems logical, that the name “Hungary” comes from Huns but it is presently believed that the word “Hungarian” (Magyar) rather originated from the 7th century Turkic alliance called Bulgaro-Turkic On-Ogour, which in Old Turkish meant “Ten Arrows” or ten tribes.
But what about “H”? The “H” is considered to be a later addition. And yes, it was taken over from the word "Huns".
Totem of Attila
On his military coat of arms, on top of the shield and flag, Attila wore a bird figure resembling a hawk with a crown on his head. According to the Hungarian illustrated chronicle of Simon of Kéza 1282-1283, based on the "Chronicle of the Huns", the hawk on the coat of arms of Attila – none other than the mythical bird Turul. The Chinese Chronicle testified the following: the banners of King Attila, which were depicted on his shield, represented a crowned bird. The crowned bird in Macaristan is called Turul. Thus, we can assume that Turul was probably one of the central totemic birds of the Huns.
For the Huns, as well as for other peoples, for example, the Greeks and Romans, the eagle was a symbol of the supreme, divine creation of the world. In ancient Turkic legends, a double–headed eagle sat at the very top of the Tree of Life – Bayterek. This divine eagle was the son of Tengri himself. He observed the entire world with his all-seeing eyes. Nothing has escaped his sight and the judgement of Tengri. Thus, the eagle acquires special significance as a totemic and symbolic animal and is closely related to the increase in the power of Attila. Therefore, the eagle can often be found on the graves of both men and women who belonged to the ruling elite of the Huns.
The image of an eagle referring to the name of Attila, in the process of explaining the linguistic etymology, is unreasonable, but symbolic: one chronicler calls the ruler of the Huns "the king whose name was Eagle (Aquila)" and also explains the name of the city of Aquileia, saying that it was named after Aquila, the king of the Hungarians.
But Attila is also called an eagle in the northern epic. In The Poetic Edda, Attila's spirit in the form of an eagle flies into the house and stains everything around with blood.
One of the three eddic poems Helgakvidha Hiorvarzsonar, The Song of Helga to the son of Hiorvardhu of the VI or VII century, depicts to us Attila listening to the singing birds in the forest. Here Attila is shown with the divine gift – he understands the language of the birds and enters into dialogue with them. Thus, we see the king of the Huns possessing the same quality that Sigurd acquired by eating the heart of the greedy dragon Fafnir, he was able to understand the language of all the birds around him.
And of course understanding the language of birds is no ordinary gift, it is a gift of the Gods and Angels, thus Attila is not only a warrior and king, but the one who has a connection with higher states of being.
Enchanted by nevermore
I promised myself to never ever buy black again, but look at me, never say never, nevermore, forever more, I had to buy myself a dark black double-breasted coat, black turtle-neck and French beret, looked in a mirror and I think, never-ever I felt better.
I painted my nails with burgundy black, dark-cherry lips and I wore my favorite artesian silver ring with the drops of pomegranate seeds in the middle.
Dark academia and beatniks’ suit suits me well, so I’ll take a walk just like that to the National Library of Budapest with the volume of Shakespeare sonnets in my hands illustrated with beautiful skulls and dark roses and flowers.
You can reach Budapest from Debrecen in two and a half hours by train departing from Nyíregyháza to Nyugati railway station. I do not know why, but I felt really bad in Debrecen railway station. To me it was the most depressive place in the world that I have ever yet seen.
I was channeling deprivation, sorrow and pain there. It reminded me of the gloomy winter days in Bishkek city… So I preferred not to look at people, and instead I stared above the hall, where I saw a communist era mural, which was made in post-cubist style. One might find soviet and post-soviet style architecture and art as sad and depressive, but to me, it is still alluring.
I liked the fact that Debrecen city administration has kept the history alive and present. The mural displayed was telling a story of working class folks working together for the sake of the communist goals and ideals.
Looking at the mural was the only pleasant thing to do here at the station at 6 am, but still, I had no idea why I was channeling such a sad, depressive, and even sinister feel. It was a kind of place that each big city of the world might have. And the name of it in the US is ghetto of course, a breeding ground for those who lost the game of life, stalkers, bums and perverts. Though I lived near the station for almost two weeks, it was not dangerous, despite the fact that there were a lot of drunk people near the doors to my apartment. Overall it seemed like poor people were living here, but they were not aggressive, and still this place was sadly, sadly depressive.
This feeling was so big that I even cried several times, wanting to pack my bags and go home.
I asked this question in mediation, why is this place so sad? Why is it plagued with such dreadful energies? And the answer was that here people have suffered a big loss and tragedy. What was it? I started to read more about the city, and through research, I found some shocking findings.
It was clear to me that the suffering I have channeled was the suffering of the World War II. Throughout the history of Europe, Hungary was a battleground, and it was full of wars. Was it by chance or by destiny? The geopolitical situation probably has a lot to do with it. Hungary is located right in the middle of several powerful Imperial nations: Austro-Germans, Turks and Russians.
During World War II, the city of Debrecen was in the front lines of Nazi occupied Eastern Europe. Therefore, in 1944, the American air force had a special goal — to destroy the ability of Nazi’s army to support its troops through the railroad yards of Debrecen. From June till October 1944 American Flying Fortress bombers caused massive damage to the city and its transport infrastructure. Around more than five thousand citizens of Debrecen have died during the air force attacks and massive tank battle around Debrecen. The first palace of transport — the railway station of Debrecen was completely destroyed.
The first railway station of Debrecen was built in 1894 and for almost fifty years served the city as the point of departure and arrival of thousands of passengers. The old Debrecen rail station was truly beautiful. It was created by Ferenc Pfaff, a great Hungarian architect, who designed the great Hungarian Parliament Building.
The lost Debrecen railroad station was created in neo-renaissance style. I really love the architecture of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the infrastructures of the cities were built in such a way that they were not only beautiful but precisely smart and comfortable for the citizens. The railway stations were generally placed at the heart of the city with profound architectural style, with festive and almost glamorous flair, which made travel a worthy and pleasurable experience.
Definitely, it was a Belle Époque, when travel by train from and to the main cities was a great and of course a new experience. And it seems to me that for 50 years, The Ferenc Pfaff Debrecen Railway Station was a fascinating and elegant place of the city, but with World War II, it went up to ruins and dust. It is so sad that such a great aesthetic was lost, and it probably will never be replaced again, but who knows, Debrecen is the city of courage.
Today the symbol of Debrecen is a mythical bird, the phoenix. It symbolizes the rise of the city from the ashes of destruction, since through its history it has been destroyed many times.
And even though today's new station, which was built around the 1960s, has no glimpse of the stylistic purity and elegance of the Pfaff’s architecture, it still proves the will of the city to rise from the ashes despite all the horrors of the war.
The journey by train from Debrecen to Budapest was quite comfortable. On the road, going through the frozen fields of Hungarian provinces, the landscape was mesmerizing, calm and pure. I saw mint green shades of winter pastures. As I rode in the train, I thought about the languages I love the most —English, Russian, Latin and Sanskrit.
Amongst all the languages in the world, Latin and Sanskrit are the most beautiful. Latin represents to me the beauty of logic and order, and Sanskrit is the reflection of the spiritual treasures and gifts. Both of them are dead languages. So I use them for the sake of beauty, art and inspiration. As for Russian, Russian has always been my first language, the language of my mother's lullabies and fairy tale stories, and the language of the great Russian literature with Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky.
English to me is the language of music — jazz and folk, powerful black ring songs, rhythm and blues, Beatles and beatniks, and of course, English is the language of the great American and British literature — Mark Twain, Faulkner, TC Eliot, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
It was great to meet with Hungarian colleagues, journalists from the literary magazine Debrecen Literature: correspondent Szilvia Szilagy and photographer Janos Miskolczi. In an interview with the beautiful Szilvia, I have shared my Debrecen impressions, my life and work at the writer's residence, as well as with my plans for the future.
I am glad that my time in Macaristan was incredibly productive. Here I have finished two books at once: "Healing the heart" and "White Book". Thus, in Bishkek I will be able to start prepress preparation of the two books! I hope to present them to the world in an unusual, mystical way.
In addition, at the writer's residence in Debrecen, I have started a new series of poems in English. In this cycle there are poems that I have dedicated to Macaristan, in particular to Debrecen and our common ancestor, the great Khan of the Huns Attila. These poems and the material of our conversation with Szilvia Szilagy have been published in the Debrecen Literature magazine.
I intend to continue my new poetic cycle started in Debrecen. New poems will perfectly match the ideas of my third book of poems. I have already decided on the title of the third book — "Call Me Yenisei". This will be my poetic immersion into our great past, to the united, great Turkic roots, to the memory of our ancestors, to the call of the Great Divine Femininity — Mother Umai and the Great Divine Masculinity — Father Tengri.
Spending time on an open road, reading books and writing poetry, traveling around the great Macaristan, what could be better! It’s a gift, a true calling. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to the Petofi Cultural Agency for the invitation and kind welcoming spirit of the writers' residence in Debrecen. From the bottom of my heart, I personally would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Sultan Raev, the Secretary General of the International Organization of Turkic Culture "Turksoy", for his support and for the fact that he wholeheartedly serves literature and promotes Turkic culture to the world. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Hungarian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and personally to His Excellency, Mr. Sandor Dorogi, for his love of culture, history and cinema, as well as for prompt resolution of all administrative issues. An article about my visit to the writers’ residence is published in Debrecen Literature. Translation into Russian and English will be published in the Cultura Nomada magazine.
Today I will visit Csokonai Theater. I am so glad that the Csokonai Theater has invited me to see the well-known Hungarian operetta The Mágnás Miska. What a splendid way to spend my day, indeed. Especially it is pleasant, considering the fact that Csokonai Theater is one of the finest theaters in Hungary and the oldest theater in Debrecen located in the Modern Forum building of Debrecen.
The theater was named after the famous Hungarian playwright and one of the greatest lyrical poets of Hungary, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, whose educational ideas were reflected in the poems "Evening" and “Constantinople”.
The Mágnás Miska operetta stands out as the most successful operettas of Hungary of all times.
It is based on a novel by Károly Bakonyi, lyrics by Andor Gábor, with a score by Albert Szirmai. This funny three-act operetta was first premiered at the Király Színház, Budapest in February 12, 1916.
It is interesting that we, viewers, we have long enjoyed operettas tagged on the stages of Vienna, Moscow, London and Paris, but little do we know that operetta as a theatrical genre has originated in Hungary.
The main character of the Mágnás Miska operetta is Countess Rolla, the daughter of Count Korláthy, who is leading a quite boring life. She is surrounded by the tedious company, Pixi and Mixi, as well as an old granny with kleptomania. One day at the village fair, Rolla sneaks out to the village fair dressed as a maid. There she meets a young railroad engineer, István Baracs, and they fall in love almost instantly. Baracs has returned to his homeland with a special mission — to build a railway near the village. The count settlers try to appease the engineer, but he is not corrupt!
Rolla falls out of love with Baracs, because he opposes her father about the railway. Baracs wants to make the Korláthy family learn important lessons and asks his stable boy Miska to play the dazzled aristocrat — Gróf Amadée, as if he just returned from Africa. Rolla, who is wise enough to see this, asks her kitchen-maid, Marcsa, to pretend to be Amadée’s cousin, the Countess Lizzi.
I’ve decided to dedicate my day to art and history, therefore, I have visited the Déri Museum, which is very close to the Reformed Great Church and it has a beautiful collection of paintings and ancient artifacts that belong to the Neolithic period, Ancient Egypt and Japan.
The Déri Museum was built in the European Baroque style in 1929. The collection of works of art collected by the industrialist Frigyes Déri, Hungarian by origin, formed the basis of the museum in 1930. The entrance of the museum is decorated with majestic columns, as well as sculptures, each of which is a symbol that represents one of the four types of expositions presented in the museum of archeology, ethnography, science and art.
It is notorious that exploration of Déri Museum starts from the Neolithic period and the main theme of the collection is death and death rituals. On the ground floor, the exhibition “The inhabitants of the sky”, introduces the history of ancient cults and cultures of Hungary, showcasing the archeological findings in Hajdu-Bihar.
The pride of the museum is the exhibits from the Déri collection. These are two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi that Frigyes Déri bought in 1918 from Archduke Franz Ferdinand (who brought them from Egypt). Mummies in sarcophagus are the mummified bodies of a man who died about a thousand years BC, and the second sarcophagus contains the body of a young man. Mummies are about 600 years BC.
In another room, a renowned Frigyes Déri’s collection of weapons of different nations are exhibited. This collection is particularly peculiar, since it showcases the weapons of Christian Europe, Italian and German, of the 15th to 18th century. There is also a collection of Muslim weapons, with Ottoman and Persian collections in particular. The collection from the Far East is composed of the items from the Edo era and is considered to be one of the finest in Hungary.
The Central Exhibition of the Déri Museum is dedicated to famous Hungarian painters: Gyula Bénczúr, Miklós Barabás, János Jankó and Mihály Munkácsy. The painting of Mihály Munkácsy is essentially impressive; it is a monumental triptych called “The Christ Trilogy” with “Christ in front of Pilate”, “Golgotha” and “Ecce Homo”. All three masterpieces are the golden treasures and symbols of Debrecen. It is remarkable that James Joyce at the age of seventeen wrote an essay about the painting he saw at the Royal Hibernian Academy at Dublin. The painting he tried to critically examine was Mihály Munkácsy’s “Ecce Homo”. Joyce saw Munkácsy’s painting as “real presentment of all the baser passions of humanity, in both sexes, in every gradation, raised and lashed into a demoniac carnival”.
Chocolate is something special for me. I consider it to be one of mankind's greatest culinary inventions, a cure for sadness and pain, an elixir of joy, beauty and passion. Can't pass by a bar of delicious chocolate, and it's even more difficult to resist the opportunity to take a look at the shop of the best chocolate in Hungary. I was lucky enough to visit one in Debrecen.
On Piac Street 32, there is a chocolate coffee shop of the best Hungarian chocolate factory — Stühmer. When you enter the store, it seems like you are entering an Aladdin cave. On a glossy glass shelf are lined innumerable desserts formed in classical and flower shapes, chocolates, the pralines, truffles, hazelnut chocolate, and sugared white chocolate plates…
This is a secret garden for sure, a paradise for those who love sweets and desserts. And in the left corner of the shop there are magnificent wall shelves with chocolate bars in elegant wrappers, which are significantly and artfully made.
Stühmer chocolate is a true piece of art, and it is absolutely divine — this is one of the best chocolates that I have ever tasted. Velvety smooth and crunchy with a delicious aroma and a unique artistic design, it is definitely a must-have Christmas and New Year gift for family and friends.
Of course, one can buy Stühmer chocolate in any supermarket in Hungary, but a Stühmer branded chocolate shop is something special. This is an ideal place to buy branded Stühmer chocolates and candies as souvenirs.
Stühmer shops are famous for their atmosphere and service; it is warm and cozy here, and it's so nice to sit at a large round table by the window, to write poetry and watch the classic yellow Hungarian trams pass by.
Christmas coffee, chocolate, silence.
Sweet solicitude of mine.
From the tortured past into divine.
Large vintage photo decorations on the walls of the coffee-shop make you wonder about the history of the famous Hungarian chocolate brand, which was established over 150 years ago.
Frigyes Stühmer, a master-patisserie, was born in Mecklenburg, northern Germany, in 1843. He learned the craft of making candy in Ludwigslust, and worked in Hamburg and Prague, until one day he arrived in Pest in 1868 and took over the management of Ferenc Nagy's factory on Szentkirályi Street. Within two years, in 1870, Frigyes Stühmer became the owner of the factory and opened chocolate shops not only in the big Hungarian cities, but also in Paris and Vienna.
In 1883, the factory was already producing sweets, chocolate bars, cocoa powder, nougat, pralines and sweets wrapped in beautiful boxes designed by famous Hungarian artists.
The merits of the German chocolate master were noted by Emperor Franz Joseph I himself, who awarded Frigyes Stühmer with a Crowned Golden Cross of Merit by Emperor Franz Joseph at the Hungarian National General Exhibition in 1885 for his successful role as a leader of the Hungarian chocolate industry.
In the 1880s, Stühmer stores opened all over Hungary, as well as in major European cities, where delicious sweets could be purchased in beautiful and exquisite boxes. Of course, there would have been many more successes and innovations in Stühmer’s life, but, unfortunately, the founder of the best chocolate factory in Hungary died in Budapest on May 11, 1890, at the age of 46.
After the death of the founder, the company was passed to his widow Ethelka Koob and her brother Géza Koob. Later on, before the Second World War Fridgyes' youngest son, Dr. Géza Stühmer, expanded his family's business and saved the factory from bankruptcy by developing a completely new product range as well as entrusting the packaging design to such famous artists as Kató Lukáts and Gitta Mallász. By that time, Stühmer's products were known both in Hungary and abroad for their high quality and artistic design.
After World War II, the company was nationalized and the company’s executives were forced to immigrate to Canada. Following the years of the Soviet regime, Stühmer's chocolate lost its profile as a luxury product so more and more people could buy it, making it an affordable day-to-day product.
In 2008, businessman Péter Csóll bought the Stühmer brand and built a new chocolate factory in the villages of Novaj and Maklár, which still produces quality Stühmer sweets.