Baba Yaga – Witch or Wise Woman?

Last week I shared the story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga. This week, I’ll share a little more about Baba Yaga herself.

Baba YagaBaba Yaga is a popular hag-like figure from Russian folklore. She was said to have teeth of iron, and a nose that reached down to her chin. In spite of eating enough food every day to feed an army, she was little more than skin and bones. She was often used to scare children – off to bed or Baba Yaga will eat you!

As I mentioned last week, she flew through the air in a mortar and steered with a pestle (a mortar and pestle are used for grinding herbs to a fine powder), and she swept away her tracks with a broom made of silver birch. When she approaches, a wild wind makes the trees groan and leaves swirl through the air.

Three riders are her servants: a white rider on a white horse is her Dawn, a red rider on a red horse is her Day, and a black rider on a black horse is her Night. She also has three pairs of hands that appear out of nowhere to do her bidding.

Her house is said to dance around on chicken legs. The windows of her house are like giant eyes, and the hinges on her door are made of finger bones. Her fence is made of arm and leg bones, and there are skulls around the top of the fence whose empty eye sockets glow in the night.

Despite all of this, she is also revered as a wise woman. “Baba” means “grandmother”, a term of respect. For those who are brave (or foolish) enough to face her, she grants wisdom, or helps them on their quest, as in the story of Finist the Bright Falcon. Though she was said to eat over those with a pure heart, or with a blessing.

Often that which is not understood is feared. I have a lot of stories to read, and I will meditate to see what wisdom Baba Yaga has to offer me.

Blessings,

Mary

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