Baba Yaga is the bone crone of Slavic folklore and her realm is the birch forests of old Russia. She is a deity of death and rebirth, regeneration and transformation. She is the wild woman and the wolf goddess, the dark mother and the mistress of the forest, the archetypal witch in the wood. She is the guardian of the Otherworld, and of the fountains of the waters of Death and Life. She is the Healer. She is the old woman of autumn, who lives in the last kernel of the last sheaf of the harvest grain and corn. She is an ancient Slavic goddess of death and rebirth. She is the ancient mysteries. She is mighty and worthy of veneration.
Baba Yaga is the bone crone of Slavic folklore.
Baba Yaga is tall, but her back is so bent from age that she touches the ground with her head. She is as bony as a skeleton and has razor-sharp iron teeth, that gnash and glint. She has a pointy head, long, silvery grey hair and eyes that penetrate. Her nose bends down low - hooked like a bird of prey - her chin curves up high - wizened like the waning moon - and she has warts from handling toads. Her nose is so long that it rattles against the ceiling of her hut when she snores, asleep on her oven. Her chin is lightly grown with bristly hairs and her bosom hangs down to her knees. She has nails that are brown, ridged and long. She is fearsome to behold. She is worthy of awe.
She has nails that are brown, ridged and long.
Baba Yaga rides in a large mortar. She travels perched in it with her knees touching her chin, pushing herself across the forest floor with its pestle. She sweeps away all traces of her trail with a broom made of the silver birch of the trees of her forest. She flies through the air and sky in her sturdy, grinding mortar, paddling with the pestle, concealing her path and erasing the marks of where she's been with the whisk of her besom. The mortar and pestle she uses as a method of transport are symbolic of the destructive (grinding) and nurturing (preparing) qualities of this ancient Dark Mother. The mortar and pestle are the deadly yet regenerating nature of Baba Yaga and the thorough way Nature grinds up and reuses her children. Nothing is lost, all is recycled.
Baba Yaga rides perched in a mortar, with her knees touching her chin, pushing herself across the forest floor with its pestle, sweeping away all traces of her trail with the whisk of a broom made of the silver birch of the trees of her forest.
Baba Yaga lives in a magickal, chicken-legged hut in the deep dark of a birch wood forest. It meanders about on its large bright yellow chicken legs, continuously spinning around and changing direction as it makes its way through the woods. It emits blood-curdling screeches, only coming to a halt - amid much creaking and groaning - to stand at rest with its face to a visitor, when a secret incantation is uttered. Then it becomes eerily still and lowers itself down on its chicken feet, throwing open the door with a loud crash. The windows of the hut are its eyes. The hut is surrounded by a fence made of bones - that moves with it as it moves - topped with skulls whose eye sockets blaze and glow, illuminating the dense darkness of Baba Yaga's domain. The hut has feet for knockers, hands for hinges and mouths filled with filed teeth for keyholes.
Walk through the gate of bleached white bones, set with grinning skulls whose eyes glow with fire. Here is the home of Baba Yaga, on the border between the world of mortals and the world of spirits. Ever watchful, restless, creaking, groaning, it spins on its chicken legs, dancing on the edge of reason.
Baba Yaga's hut is the place where transmutation and divinatory magick occurs. It is the dark heart of the Underworld, and the dwelling place of the dead ancestors who are symbolised by the grinning skulls around her house, which have an eerie green fire in each of them. From such bones, Baba Yaga also brews new life and her home is a great source of abundance. But one cannot just simply show up at her doorstep expecting a meal, since she is also the protective wolf goddess who will quickly devour anyone who enters her den naively and unwitting. When a visitor enters her hut, Baba Yaga will ask them whether they came of their own free will, or whether they were sent. Only one answer is right.
She is the protective wolf goddess who will quickly devour anyone who enters her den naively and unwitting.
Baba Yag rules over the elements. Her faithful servants are the White Horseman, a white rider on a white horse, the Red Horseman, a red rider on a red horse, and the Black Horseman, a black rider on a black horse. She is fond of these mysterious horsemen, and when asked who they are, she replies, "My Bright Dawn, my Red Sun, my Dark Midnight." They are the dawn, the day and the dusk. Also amongst her servants, are three bodiless and somewhat menacing pairs of hands, which appear out of thin air to do her bidding. She calls them "my soul friends" or "friends of my bosom" and she is more than a little taciturn about discussing them with anyone.
Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom, the Bone Mother.
Baba Yaga is a terrifying old crone, but also a helper and a wise woman. The dark mother, though often wild and untamable, destructive and deadly, can also be kind and merciful, gracious and good. Baba Yaga is honourable and keeps her word once it is given. As a wise hag she gives advice and magickal gifts to her devotees and the pure of heart; to those who respect her, who are willing to stand up to her, who carry out her tasks. Her domain is wisdom, knowledge and truth. She is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-revealing to those who would dare to ask. Baba Yaga is the spirit guardian of the fountain of the waters of Life and of Death. She is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom, the Bone Mother. She is a wild nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death of ego, rebirth.
Whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way.
Baba Yaga is an ancient goddess of the Underworld. She rules over symbolic death and birth, the initiation into adulthood when children let go of their playthings and are born anew as adults and responsible, contributing members of society. She will bake the disrespectful child in her oven. In her enormous oven on which she sleeps, she will use a large spatula to shove them and then lock the oven door as they cook. She will eat them once they are done. She eats an enormous amount of food - enough for ten men. She devours her victims. Baba Yaga is the all-powerful, terrifying Dark Mother. She is the Triple Goddess. She is all at once destructive, nurturing and regenerative. She gives life and she takes life away.
Baba Yaga devours her victims.
I have entered Baba Yaga's world, where she reigns in all her terrifying glory as the guardian of initiatory mysteries. I have safely entered her domain; but there are laws. Laws of civility in dealing with her sacred energies. She expects companionship and love, and a sharing of energy that becomes forever a part of whoever partakes. But before bread can be broken with Baba, one must first know how to ask for it, for such food is not freely given to strangers. Baba Yaga should be approached with great humility and intelligence. The difficulty lies in how to speak the truth about complex things. This is essential if you plan to survive in her world. Oversimplification means certain death from this Bone Mother.
Baba Yaga should be approached with great humility and intelligence. This is essential if you plan to survive in her world.
As terrifying as it may be to face Baba Yaga, to survive is to be forever transformed. She would much rather kill our ignorance than ourselves by forcing us to examine ourselves in the dark mirror of the Underworld, and then to resurrect us, pouring forth the Water of Life upon us, and granting us the deep wisdom that only a close bond with the Underworld may bring. Restoration, renewal, nourishment and enlightenment can all be found by surviving a journey to Baba Yaga. It is a difficult journey, which in the past may have been acted out through initiatory rituals. The day you visit Baba Yaga's hut however, is the day you will surely be dragged on a journey towards the spinning vortex of the Underworld.