When I tell the story of Vasilissa, most listeners are as terrified of Baba Yaga as the story’s heroine. She lives deep in the forest in a house that dances and whirls on chicken legs. It is surrounded by a fence made of bones, with skulls that illuminate the yard- making it bright as daylight in the middle of the night.
She is an Arch-Crone. A Wild Woman. A force of Nature not to be tamed- and oh how that ruins one’s reputation in “civil” society. She understands and accepts the Life-Death-Life cycle and is thus a necessary teacher for anyone looking to step into their full Authentic power.
Why does she frighten us so? There’s no doubt that she is an aide to those of a pure heart- Vasilissa being one of them. Do we question the purity of our own hearts and souls? To what degree is her reputation actually based on her nature and actions, and to what degree is it a projection of our own feelings of self-doubt and self-hatred?
By the time Vasilissa comes on the clearing in the woods where Baba Yaga’s hut lives, we’ve seen her slaving away for her step-mother and step-sisters. Every task completed is an excuse for more work to be piled on, and more criticism to be heaped on that when all is said and done. At first, it seems that Baba Yaga will just do more of the same… but something here is different. There is no criticism levied when all is said an done.
Perhaps we got Baba Yaga all wrong… What’s going on here? Is there a meaning to the tasks she’s assigned Vasilissa? What skills would Vasilissa be developing while doing the Baba’s bidding?
We’ll be looking more deeply at Baba Yaga’s character Thursday 7/11/13 at the Food & Folktales event in Downtown Mesa. Join us!