Women's Goddess Retreat
September 10 - 12, 2010



Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga or Baba Roga (also known by various other names) is a haggish or witchlike character in Slavic folklore. She flies around on a giant mortar, kidnaps (and presumably eats) small children, and lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs. In most Slavic folk tales, she is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters in other mythological folk stories have been known to seek her out for her wisdom, and she has been known on rare occasions to offer guidance to lost souls. According to Vladimir Propp, she often fulfills the function of donor; that is, her role is in supplying the hero (sometimes unwillingly) with something necessary to further his quest.

In Russian tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as a hag who flies through the air in a mortar, using the pestle as a rudder and sweeping away the tracks behind her with a broom made of silver birch. She lives in a log cabin that either moves around on a pair of dancing chicken legs, is surrounded by a palisade with a skull on each pole, or both. The keyhole to her front door is a mouth filled with sharp teeth; the fence outside is made with human bones with skulls on top, often with one pole lacking its skull, leaving space for the hero or heroes. In another legend, the hut does not reveal its door until it is told a magical phrase: "Turn your back to the forest, and your front to me."

In some tales, the hut is connected with three riders: one in white, riding a white horse with a white harness, who is Day; a red rider, who is the Sun; and one in black, who is Night. Baba Yaga is served by invisible servants inside the hut. She explains the riders if asked, but may kill a visitor who inquires about the servants.

Baba Jaga is the Wise Woman of Fire. Some Romani/Gypsy families portray her as a phuri dai, the words for grandmother or Wise Woman. She represents the element of Fire and harmonizes with the other three: the mortar symbolizing herbs (Earth), bird legs on the cabin represent Air, and the element of Water flows as a creek between the legs.

Baba Yaga is sometimes shown as an antagonist, and sometimes as a source of guidance; there are stories in which she helps people with their quests, and stories in which she kidnaps children and threatens to eat them. Seeking out her aid is usually portrayed as a dangerous act. An emphasis is placed on the need for proper preparation and purity of spirit, as well as basic politeness. It is said she ages one year every time she is asked a question, which may explain her reluctance to help. This effect, however, can be reversed with a special blend of tea made with blue roses.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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