As a child, my favorite fairy tale featured Baba Yaga (ya-ga), the Russian witch with iron teeth. She has been described as the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth.
While she has scared many a Russian child, I loved her. She was my first role model as to what a woman could be-wise, strong, helpful, powerful, magical and best of all, she didn’t give a damn how others viewed her. She wasn’t all good, but certainly wasn’t the evil witch of many other fairy tales. If your path crossed hers, it would change, often for the better, even though it may not seem like that way initially.
She had a cat that was quite a character and it’s probably why at my first opportunity I adopted one and it isn’t home unless there is a cat lying about. I also liked the fact that she lived in a house that rested on chicken legs. Best of all, she traveled in a mortar and pestle.
My Russian and Slavic friends think I’m a bit nuts for liking Baba Yaga but. I’m finding my childhood heroine to still be an inspiration and it turns out she has the same effect on other women. In France, a group of Baba Yaga’s, women in their 60s and up, have started a house where they can do as they please, support one another and age in place.
Since this December the “take a breaks” will all be about Russian Christmas, I figured the day before Thanksgiving, particularly a snowy one here in Vermont, is a good day to give thanks and enjoy some of my favorite stories of childhood.
• Learn about Baba Yaga