By Phoenix of Elder Mountain ~ In Slavic and some Balkan folklore, there are many stories of Baba Yaga, the fearsome one, the one so powerful she see’s the hideousness in others, and this makes it far too intense to look upon her. And she has a nature to match this power, which is closest to mother earth. She is also known to devours Demons with her iron teeth as a Black Shaman and the shadows of others. You see, those who feared the old ways, reversed everything she was, she was one who hunted demons, but her power was too great, so the fearful projected her as the demon.
Now people accept the tame and dishonored version through fairy tales but her folklore in Slavic villages, although still beloved, her part is played by men in condescending ways (a joke), but those of us who remember, we never accepted such lies of powerful grandmother chiefs of the Slavic and Balkan Tribes. I dedicate this story of Baba Jaga as the same story of the Dark Goddess, the Black Shaman, the Black Madonna, the Bone Mother, Death Mother, Cave Grandmothers and the eldest of the moon cultures before the sun began to rise 2,000 bce.
BABA JAGA / BABA YAGA SYMBOLISM
Origin: Archaic, Dreaming, Caves, Prehistory Cultures of woman;
Phase of Life: Elder, Grandmother; Death & Rebirth, Endings & New Beginnings;
Goddesses: Slavic Goddess Marzanna / Morena (Baba Jaga); other culture names are Lilith, Hecate, Hel, Kali Ma, Baba Jaga, Baba Pehtra, Baba Roga, Baba Percht, Black Madonna, Bird Shaman, Crone Witch, Baba Den, Jezi Baba;
Season of Power: Night which means: Autumn Equinox to Spring Equinox;
Sacred Birds and Animals: Owl, Raven, Thunderbird, Alkonost,
Wild & Domestic Cats, Deer, Pheasants, Chickens (and eggs) and Firebird;
Cultural Colors: White, red, and Black
Moon Phase: Full Moon to Balsamic Moon
“Baba Yaga is a very misunderstood Goddess, she is not just the stereotypical wicked witch, she often appears as a frightening old woman, but can also appear as a beautiful woman who bestows gifts. She is wild and untamed like nature, but also can be kind and very generous. Even in her hag’gard form, Baba Yaga has many gifts to share as she is the powerful female elder who guards “The Waters of Life and the Mysteries of Death.” She is the White Lady of Death and Rebirth, and is also known as the Ancient Woman of the Old Bones.
Bone Mother destroy us,
then resurrect us, even as the
earth from which we have our being
is born and resurrected each year.
Collects our whitened bones, pour
the Water of Life and Death upon us
and whisper your magic songs.
Thus, having died, we my return.
The old bones are symbolic of the things we cling to, but must finally let lie. When we experience a death, darkness, depression, or spiritual emptiness in our lives, we journey to Baba Yaga’s hut, where She washes new life into us. She collects our bones and pours the waters on them, while She sings and chants and causes us to be reborn. She destroys and then She resurrects. Baba Yaga symbolizes the death of ignorance. She forces us to see our true, darkest selves, then She grants us a deep wisdom that we can attain by accepting the dark shadows within ourselves.
We can only receive help from Baba Jaga by learning humility. Her gifts can destroy or enlighten us.”In some stories she sleeps stretched out on her ancient brick oven, which she also uses to cook her meals, including demon people that she catches. She does not seem to bother with those who caste judgment upon her. Her modes of travel is of course dream travel, astral travel, and never leaving a trail behind her, she sweeps away all traces of her path, that was the only thing a broom was every used for. It is also rumored that she can fly through the air in the same manner not even in dreams but as a divine one.
She lives in a cottage or hut in the forest to be close to mother earth who she has direct contact with in a lineage over 2 million years old of a tradition. The legends of the spinning around as it moves through the forest or standing with its back towards a visitor and when approached, is really that the magical powers of Baba Jaga is so strong that it awakens the nature around her and opens portals.
She has an incantation: “Hut, hut, turn your back to the forest and your front to me”. It spins around with blood-curdling wild screeches and creakiness and eventually comes to a stop to face the visitor, where it will lower itself down on its chicken legs and throw open its door. Its windows are sometimes described as its “eyes”. In some stories she has two older sisters, who are also called Baba Jaga, just to confuse you, which is just the triple goddess of old, (her stage as maiden, mother and now wise grandmother shaman) so don’t let that fool you either. Baba Jaga’s maiden stage is Vasilissa the Beautiful.
Although she is mostly portrayed as terrifying, she can also shape shift into the role of a helper and wise woman and looks quite loving. Like all forces of nature, she to is often wild and untamed, and because of this she can also be kind. Her freedom comes not from duty, nor men but from mother earth, and the man who has called her a witch, did not know the difference between a witch and a shaman and either do many witches, but regardless, witch was a word that stood for ugly and out of issues of control, projecting the ugliness of control onto Baba Jaga.
Baba is the true sense of a balanced elder woman, as healer she expresses love to community, and as a powerful woman in both the mystical heroines roles, she has a pure heart. The hero or heroine of the stories are often the crone’s (crown or wise grandmother elder) searching for wisdom, knowledge and truth. There’s also an incantation to be said to Baba Jaga, the hero must say:
“Hey you old woman, first you satisfy my hunger then you satisfy my thirst then let me wash myself in your banya (sauna) then let me sleep in and then you ask me anything”.
Usually Baba does as the hero pleads her as she is the Guardian spirit and keeper of the fountain of the waters of Life and of Death and the Forest Spirit in both the elder woman and young maiden ages. Baba Yaga rules over the elements and her realm is the forests of all the Slavic lands including Russia. Her faithful servants are the White Horsemen, the Red Horseman and the Black Horseman which are the also the Colors of almost all Slavic folk dress colors
When Vasilisa the Beautiful asks her who these mysterious horsemen are she replies: “My White Dawn (Spirit or Birth); my Red Sun (Menses Blood or Life); and my Dark Midnight (Death and Rebirth)”Among those who honor her, in her divine dark goddess or shamanic form, whom she calls “her soul friends” and whom she is reluctant to discuss with visitors are the three bodiless pairs of hands, which appear out of thin air to do her bidding. In older teachings, Baba Yaga is the Primeval One or the Primordial Arch-Goddess, Goddess of wisdom and death, the oldest wisdom on mother earth and the oldest teachings who belong to the grandmothers or (bone mother).
Thus that is how she in the very end became Baba Jaga, the ugly one, and lost was her respectful Black Shaman and Bird Tribe leadership in Natures Culture (which is now returning as religions begins to die in their seasons of death or the great shift its called today).
As more and more burials are revealed on earth, finding burials of prehistory shamans seems to be showing up lately, and you will find many of them are women, although archeologists tend to down play their roles as powerful leaders, powerful spiritual leaders and powerful shamans, we learn the other sources from scholarly woman, female shamans and powerful mystic women.
As the researchers believe, “The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest this burials of an ancient shamans are ones who are also leaders. One of the earliest known graves from the archaeological record is the elder or old woman in question who was buried with ten large stones placed on parts of her body meant to keep it in a certain position, indicating her status was the highest within the community of the Middle Eastern Natufian Tribe.
“The burial of this woman is unlike any burial found in the Natufian Tribe or the preceding Paleolithic periods. We argue that this burial is consistent with expectations for a female shaman’s grave,” shared the specialists. Along with her body, a series of items was placed in the grave, such as whole tortoise shells, as well as body parts from a leopard, an eagle, two martens. Tortoises, cow tails, eagle wings, and fur-bearing animals continue to play important symbolic and shamanistic roles in the spiritual arena of human cultures worldwide today and it seems that woman was the greater number of shamans around the world. It seems that the woman in the Natufian burial was perceived as being in a close relationship with these animal spirits.
Baba brings wisdom and death (just like the wild nature does) and through death, comes rebirth. Behind her story is the figure of the primeval pre-pagan shamans of death and rebirth, whose harvest holds the promise of winter survival and new growth in Spring. The “old woman” of Slav inhabitants of Eastern Europe. Baba passed into Slavic folk legends by Religion who hated woman having spiritual and healing powers, and then began to call her a witch (meaning evil) to destroy elder women and grandmothers wisdom of the Moon Cultures.
Kochamy Baba Jaga, We Love Baba Jaga,
волимо Баба Јага, Baba Jaga milujeme,
Biz baba Jaga seviyorum)
“Baba Jaga’s Tale’s are from before time, before religion, before paganism and even before dinosaurs. Her rivers are the harvest, the deepest rest (sometimes called death), thankfulness and cycles. Her symbols are corn sheaf’s, wreaths of wheat, corn, rye and wild flowers. This Lithuanian/Russian/Polish Goddess of death and regeneration is typically represented as woman and her power. The world does not like powerful bossy grandmothers and women, and thus like most dark goddesses she was judged harshly, seen without wisdom and immortality. But they were wrong, like nature, always returning, she too has returned, only when the world needs her most.
She is the alkonost, and the phantasmagorical and she is women who are not afraid of the shadow yet live a sacred life. As both young and old, she reawakens in us an awareness of a time when time never existed, but nature and her ever-moving wheel of life and seasons, signify as women, our centered power of truth and an ally of natures magic.
I know first hand this life, it is treacherous, full of judgments by others, a dark night of the soul for lifetimes, a sorrow and grief that comes from the inner world, not an outer one. Yet when her initiations are completed, she and this life’s fate is self affirming, entering the dimensions of mother earth and the old grandmothers of the caves and forests throughout all no-time – have witnessed all births of souls over and over.
She is the ultimate destroyer of shadow souls of living human beings (incarnated) and the judge of humans who sell their souls and the destroyer of the middlemen of soul bargaining. Baba Jaga knows her clan as those who can shape shift into Thunderbirds and Firebirds. The pagan and indigenous souls know her as the owl – as a warning to stay away from divinity that does not sell its soul for anything.
Following her traditions won’t make you well liked by any human bein, but without her, karma can never be repaid from any lifetime. Those who do not honor her power this lifetime, will the next. Thank you baba jaga, baba yaga, we older soul Slav’s honor your dignity and kindness and your warrior skills all at the appropriate moment.
Dea Phoebe says: “So, while she is certainly a dark Goddess, a death Goddess, and may even seem ‘wicked’ in ways, Baba Yaga is hardly the villain of her stories and she is not a nice or a civilized Goddess like many who try to fit every goddess into Venus clothing. In the story of Valalisa the Wise, triple Goddess imagery repeats throughout – in Valalisa and her doll’s white, red, and black clothing, (colors traditionally associated with the Maiden, Mother, and Crone,) in the repetition of threes throughout the story (three colors, three enemies in the stepfamily, three riders, three tasks, three questions, three pairs of hands) and in Valalisa, (the maiden beginning her journey), her mother (who has given Valalisa gifts to guide her), and of course, in Baba Yaga as the crone.
As a denizen of the deep forest, Baba Yaga is the wild aspect of the psyche, what Estés calls [in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves] the Wild Hag or the Wild Woman —not the gentle grandmother that bakes you cookies and tells you stories, but the stern grandmother that might just smack your rear with a spoon and tell you to smarten up! She is not pretty to look at, and she represents the deepest mysteries of death. No wonder she has a reputation!
Besides the villages in the Slavic lands where men now took over and dressed as her in Village festivals and rituals since the 13th century, Baba Yaga returned into the general public as a fairytale in the late 1920s and by the 1970s she was a component of many ’70s art-cinema oeuvre, Valentina (Isabella de Funes) is a popular fashion photographer who works as much as possible in all strata of society. In her journey and mingling she comes across an older woman named Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker of How the West Was Won/Baby Doll), who takes a shine to her in a more than friendly way.
Valentina says her pleasantries and moves along, thinking nothing of this encounter. Soon enough, Baba Yaga visits Valentina’s studio to drop off a doll for “protection” and to check out the place and it’s inhabitant. Valentina’s life starts to get crazy, and it all stems from Baba Yaga’s visit and strange manner. Will she escape? What exactly is going on? Why are there Nazis? All answers in due time.
Baba Yaga, the film attacks about a dozen fetishes of ’70s European art film directors all in the span of about ninety minutes. We get sex, violence, fascism, revolution, hippies, revolutionaries, women’s liberation, and S&M all in that time frame. Much of the run time is devoted to Valentina’s decline into what she believes to be madness, but is, in reality, a spell cast by Baba Yaga. I won’t divulge any specific plot points, but suffice it to say that Yaga’s interest in Valentina is more than friendly.