Today’s Thursday Tale is actually about a specific character, not a specific story. I’ve mentioned Baba Yaga before, when Vasilissa the Beautiful encountered her, but today I wanted to talk a little more about the witch herself. She is one of my favorite fairy tale characters, even though she doesn’t usually have a story of her own, just appears in others’ tales.
Baba Yaga is a strong, powerful, frightening woman who comes to us from Slavic folklore. She is far from your “typical” witch. 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. She flies around on a giant mortar, kidnaps and presumably eats small children, and lives in a hut that either stands on chicken legs, and is sometimes surrounded by a fence with a skull on each pole. Sometimes the hut has a door which is not revealed unless a magical phrase is uttered; Baba Yaga herself flies in and out of the chimney.
In most tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as an antagonist; however, some characters have been known to seek her out for her wisdom. 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. Seeking out her aid is a dangerous act though. Any hero, or heroine, who seeks her out needs to be properly prepared and pure of spirit. He or she also needs to be polite. 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.
“Baba Yaga is 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.”
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams.
I have one copy up for grabs. This giveaway is open internationally, as long as the Book Depository ships to you. Enter through May 1.
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