Recall Baba Yaga

In Russian myths and folk tales, one of my favorites is the story of Baba Yaga. I only recently re-discovered her about 5 years ago.

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I first was introduced to her in a book my mother gave me, “A Harvest of Russian Children’s Literature”- a collection of stories from Russia and the surrounding regions around her borders, in 1967. That lead me to a many years long pursuit of reading popular Russian literature (with Chekov my favorite).

Only later did I learn from “Anastasia”, in the “Ringing Cedar Series” of deeply held animistic beliefs about energy and spirit, shared by most ‘peasants’ in the area which until very recently, the western mind might dismiss as quaint.

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Baba Yagua is an (ugly) old woman living in a ramshackle house which spins and dances with chicken legs. She can fly anywhere, materialize suddenly, and shape-shift with impunity.

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Being unpredictable, she is to be avoided and considered dangerous- especially since she has magic[1] on her side. She might ‘disappear’ you- make off and enslave, or lead to some other misery if you didn’t behave yourself or were caught unawares by her seemingly benign being-which at first she is, until she judges the interloper as otherwise.

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Baba Yaga’s story is one to teach children about character and intentions- and to keep close to the safety of family (no matter how baa’d-or sheeplike). She seems to query before jumping to conclusion, though she lays traps to catch those unwary. Perhaps she practices a version of Socratic method.

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Baba Yaga lives in a dense wood where a fugitive or lost child might find themselves stumbling through in an endless vista of dark foreboding tree trunks. Even in broad daylight, few shafts penetrate gloom. Shrubs of confusion and overgrown brush of unfinished thoughts snare one’s way with convoluted entanglements. In her woods are tripping vines and magic lakes. Worst of all is no quick way to make an escape. You can cut with a knife, but bearings still are without overview; one can barely tell up from down.

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How one got there is the story; what was it that lead to vulnerable isolation is anyone’s guess. Only the lost one can answer truthfully- (though it might take hypnosis or amytal interview.)

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Then suddenly Baba Yaga’s there in front of you. In her own little clearing made when her house has landed; the clearing you mistook as freedom’s opening.  Instead, now you’re hers; your fate lying in her hands.

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The good news is, when your heart is pure, she’s ally, not foe.

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A trickster she is, Baba Yaga knows a way you can go towards a real freedom; to let you change your story line as she arranges your needed allies.

Suddenly you’re out of the woods in a new place and wearing new clothes! (Though she will have her dues and royalties, too.)

I pray for the highest and greatest good for all beings and may spirit of Baba Yaga appear in Ukraine’s clearings.  Amen.


[1] Magic is  power of at-tone-ment with the four elements and time creating “miraculous” results.

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