Thursday, Jul. 14, 2011

Baba Yaga

In some old Slavic accounts, Baba Yaga is a wizened hag who rides in a floating mortar that is directed in flight by its pestle. In other Russian tales, she lives in a hut in the woods ringed by a fence of skulls and elevated on a pair of chicken legs. In almost all versions, Baba Yaga is meant to be very, very scary — the creature best suited to frighten ill-behaved children since, according to legend, she has a habit of kidnapping and eating them. The name Baba Yaga derives loosely from generic Slavic terms for old women and grandmothers, but some etymologists and historians have linked it to older fire cults of Central Asia and animist traditions of Siberia. In an age of seers and shamans, she could very well be the original witch.