Friday, November 8, 2013
Baba Yaga, Slavic Goddess of Death and Regeneration
Baba Yaga is the Slavic Goddess of death and rebirth. She is seen as a crone Goddess and a dark Goddess. She is portrayed as a hag who travels in a big mortar which she steers with a pestle. Baba Yaga is a wild woman representing our fears of death and the misunderstood. She is called a witch in many cultures. She lives in the forest in a hut which is sitting atop of chicken legs and can move on its own. If someone approaches her hut it will move around and screech until the visitor recites a special incantation to make it stop. Then it will drop and it's door will blow open to invite the visitor in. Her hut is also said to be surrounded by a fence made of bones to keep out intruders. Baba Yaga represents the death of the ego, wisdom and rebirth.
There is a myth involving Baba Yaga about a young girl named Vasilisa. There lived a merchant and his wife who had a beautiful daughter named Vasilisa. The girls mother was very sick. She made Vasilisa a doll and told her that whenever she needed guidance to feed the doll and it would always help her. The girls mother soon died and her father remarried. The woman Vasilisa's father remarried was mean and very jealous of Vasilisa's beauty. She decided to move the family to the edge of the forest where Baba Yaga lived.
One night the stepmother, Vasilisa and her sisters were working on things around the house when the stepmother decided to trick Vasilisa. She extinguished all the candles in the house and then declared "Someone must go to Baba Yaga to fetch us some light as we cannot work in the dark!" So out into the dark night Vasilisa went in search of Baba Yaga. Despite her fear, she fed her magic doll and asked it for advice. The doll assured her all would be well and to go to Baba Yaga to get light. As she walked through the forest being guided by her doll, she met Baba Yaga's three horsemen riding along, one white, one red and one black. She finally approached the hut of Baba Yaga which was supported by chicken legs and was surrounded by a fence made of bones with illuminated skulls on each post.
Baba Yaga came out of the hut and approached Vasilisa to ask her what she was doing here. Vasilisa explained to Baba Yaga that her stepmother sent her here for light. Baba Yaga then told the girl she would give her light if Vasilisa did some work for her. If not she would eat her. So Vasilisa began the work Baba Yaga gave her and was finished by nightfall. Baba Yaga then gave Vasilisa some bread which she fed to her doll and then went to sleep. This cycle lasted for about three days when finally Baba Yaga became annoyed that Vasilisa was finishing all her tasks so decided it was time for the girl to leave.
She gave Vasilisa one of her lit skulls and sent her back home. She walked through the forest until she could see her home and almost threw out the skull when a voice said "You need me for your stepmother and sisters." So Vasilisa kept the illuminated skull. When Vasilisa finally returned home and entered the house with the lit skull, it's glowing eyes searched for her stepmother and sisters and burned them to ashes. Vasilisa buried their remains along with the skull in her garden and she carried the magic doll her mother made her until the day she died.
This story teaches us to always trust and listen to our inner voice. To feed our intuitive abilities which in turn will make us all the more wiser. It also shows us that even in the darkest of times, there can be light. Call on Baba Yaga for her wisdom or for help with listening to and trusting your intuition. You may also call on her when you're trying to come to terms with your darker self or to bring about the death of the ego.
Picture courtesy of The Broom Closet
Posted by Tara at 6:18 PM