These archetypal, enchanting, foreboding tales lodge in the childish mind, endure and resonate. They hold the key to real-life dangers, hopes, and emotions that the child will confront with recognition in later years when she grows up — unfair bosses, near-impossible assignments, envy, even treachery. As they grapple with these tests they think: Ah, yes Why do I seem to remember this unusual predicament? Though most fairy tales illustrate the perversity of luck, the Russian fairy tales I know bring unusual relish and realism to showcasing the petty failings that undermine human dealings — not just outright wickedness but carelessness, cowardice, forgetfulness, and indiscipline.
This makes them singularly valuable in helping a person reckon with a variety of vicissitudes. Sometimes, we learn as adults, sloth, not virtue, is not rewarded; sometimes, good people undergo horrible trials. But there still can be a happy ending. I am hoping that this new edition of "Vasilisa the Beautiful" will serve for the children in my life and for any other child who discovers it as a gateway tale that lures them into the borderless lands of fiction. Already a subscriber?
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Monitor Daily. Photos of the Week. Monitor Weekly PDF. Baba Yaga, an old witch grandmother: Helen Pilinovsky writes: "One of the most well known figures from Russian folklore, Baba Yaga's name can be roughly translated as 'Granny Yaga. In Western tales, these two roles are typically polarized, split into different characters stereotyped as either "witch" or "fairy godmother. She ate people as one eats chickens: In this tale, Baba Yaga is a cannibal, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.
She might meet the old witch and be devoured: The stepmother is a passive murderer, trying to bring about Vasilissa's death without committing the physical act of murder herself. A basket of flax to be spun: Spinning appears in many folktales across Europe as a chore that causes deformities and ugliness, most notably in the Grimms' The Three Spinning Women. In that tale, the lazy heroine's husband forbids her to ever spin again after their marriage when he sees the flat foot, fallen lips and broad thumb of three spinners.
Perhaps the stepmother assigns the task to Vasilissa with the hopes of damaging her beauty before sending her to Baba Yaga. It also requires neither the steel pins nor steel needles used by the stepsisters for their tasks, hence setting up the scenario in which Vasilissa will be sent out in search of fire.
Then the doll's eyes began to shine like two stars and it became alive. It ate a little and said: "Do not fear, little Vasilissa. Go where thou hast been sent. While I am with thee no harm shall come to thee from the old witch. Whether she walked a short way or a long way the telling is easy, but the journey was hard. The wood was very dark, and she could not help trembling from fear. Suddenly she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and a man on horseback galloped past her. He was dressed all in white, the horse under him was milk-white and the harness was white, and just as he passed her it became twilight: The second horseman in red represents day time.
Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: ""That was my white, bright day. He was dressed all in red, and the horse under him was blood-red and its harness was red, and just as he passed her the sun rose: The second horseman in red represents the sun. Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: "That was my servant, the round, red sun. The wall around the hut was made of human bones and on its top were skulls.
There was a gate in the wall, whose hinges were the bones of human feet and whose locks were jaw- bones set with sharp teeth.
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A third man on horseback came galloping up. His face was black, he was dressed all in black, and the horse he rode was coal-black: The third horseman in black represents night. Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: "That was my servant, the black, dark night. She was riding in a great iron mortar and driving it with the pestle, and as she came she swept away her trail behind her with a kitchen broom: "Like the witches of other cultures, her [Baba Yaga's] preferred method of transportation is an implement commonly used for household labor, though unlike the witches of the West, rather than traveling upon a broom, she chooses to ride in a mortar, rowing with a pestle, and using a broom to sweep away the tracks that she leaves" Pilinovsky, Baba Yaga's Domain , Little House, little House, Stand the way thy mother placed thee, Turn thy back to the forest and thy face to me!
Different characters in other tales with Baba Yaga use a similar device to enter her hut or she uses it herself as she does in this instance. Izboushka , a tiny hut. I smell a smell that is Russian. Who is here? Vasilissa, in great fright, came nearer to the old woman and bowing very low, said: "It is only Vasilissa, grand mother.
The Golden House
My stepmother's daughters sent me to thee to borrow some fire. But if I give thee the fire thou shalt stay with me some time and do some work to pay for it. Ye, my solid locks, unlock! Thou, my stout gate, open! Vasilissa entered behind her and immediately the gate shut again and the locks snapped tight. When they had entered the hut the old witch threw her self down on the stove, stretched out her bony legs and said:. I am hungry. There was enough cooked meat for three strong men. She brought also from the cellar kvass, honey, and red wine, and the Baba Yaga.
Ate and drank the whole: A healthy appetite implies strength. When her hunger was satisfied, the old witch, growing drowsy, lay down on the stove and said: "Listen to me well, and do what I bid thee. Tomorrow when I drive away, do thou clean the yard, sweep the floors and cook my supper.
Take a quarter of a measure of wheat from my store house and pick out of it all the black grains and the wild peas: Marie-Louise von Franz writes:. This is a theme to be found in many Cinderella fairy tales and also comes in Amor and Psyche. It is a typical task in mythology for the heroine. Separating the good from the bad grains is a work of patience, which can neither be rushed into nor speeded up.
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Mind thou dost all that I have bade; if not, thou shalt be eaten for my supper. Then she went into the corner, took the tiny doll from her pocket, put before it a bit of bread and a little cabbage soup that she had saved, burst into tears and said:. Tell me: What shall I do? Then the eyes of the little doll began to shine like two candles. It ate a little of the bread and drank a little of the soup and said: "Do not be afraid, Vasilissa the Beautiful. Be comforted. Say thy prayers, and go to sleep.
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She said her prayers, lay down on the floor and went fast asleep. Then the Baba Yaga shouted: "Ho! When Vasilissa found herself left alone, she examined the hut, wondering to find it filled with such an abundance of everything. Then she stood still, remembering all the work that she had been bidden to do and wondering what to begin first. But as she looked she rubbed her eyes, for the yard was already neatly cleaned and the floors were nicely swept, and the little doll was sitting in the storehouse picking the last black grains and wild peas out of the quarter- measure of wheat.
Vasilissa ran and took the little doll in her arms.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
Now I have only to cook the Baba Yaga's sup per, since all the rest of the tasks are done! So Vasilissa rested all day and was refreshed; and when it grew toward evening she laid the table for the old witch's supper, and sat looking out of the window, waiting for her coming. After awhile she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and the man in black, on the coal-black horse, galloped up to the wall gate and disappeared like a great dark shadow, and instantly it became quite dark and the eyes of all the skulls began to glitter and shine.
Then all at once the trees of the forest began to creak and groan and the leaves and the bushes to moan and sigh, and the Baba Yaga came riding out of the dark wood in the huge iron mortar, driving with the pestle and sweeping out the trail behind her with the kitchen broom. Vasilissa let her in; and the witch, smelling all around her, asked:.
The Baba Yaga went all about the place, tapping with her iron pestle, and carefully examining everything. But so well had the little doll done its work that, try as hard as she might, she could not find anything to complain of.
There was not a weed left in the yard, nor a speck of dust on the floors, nor a single black grain or wild pea in the wheat. The old witch was greatly angered, but was obliged to pretend to be pleased. Friends of my heart! Haste and grind my wheat! The Baba Yaga sat down to supper, and Vasilissa put before her all the food from the oven, with kvass, honey, and red wine. The old witch ate it, bones and all, almost to the last morsel, enough for four strong men, and then, growing drowsy, stretched her bony legs on the stove and said: "Tomorrow do as thou hast done today, and besides these tasks take from my storehouse a half-measure of poppy seeds and clean them one by one.
Someone has mixed earth with them to do me a mischief and to anger me, and I will have them made perfectly clean. When she was fast asleep Vasilissa went into the corner, took the little doll from her pocket, set before it a part of the food that was left and asked its advice. And the doll, when it had become alive, and eaten a little food and sipped a little drink, said: "Don't worry, beautiful Vasilissa!
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Do as thou didst last night: say thy prayers and go to sleep. She said her prayers and went to sleep and did not wake till next morning when she heard the old witch in the yard whistling. She ran to the window just in time to see her take her place in the big iron mortar, and as she did so the man dressed all in red, riding on the blood red horse, leaped over the wall and was gone, just as the sun rose over the wild forest.
As it had happened on the first morning, so it happened now. When Vasilissa looked she found that the little doll had finished all the tasks excepting the cooking of the sup per. She may be talkative or quiet. Allow your meditation to unfold. Baba Yaga gives straight-forward advice, knowledge and wisdom to those who respectfully request and want to improve their witchery skills. Her witchery expertise is in areas of herbology and wildcrafting using wild and natural items found in nature and forests , along with hedge witchcraft. Baba Yaga can help to give wisdom and teachings when it comes to witchcraft folk magick and healing.
She uses natural items in forests and nature that bring healing in herbal salves, ointments and teas and herbs that can be used in folk magick. If you work with herbs in your practice, you can work with Baba Yaga to help you perfect your craft and improve your skills and knowledge with herbs and healing with herbs. You may possibly hear Baba Yaga tell you which on you need which you can then look up to verify and confirm — especially when it comes to any potential side effects. Herbs such as from the nightshade family can be used when working with Baba Yaga to bring healing as some of these herbs in small doses can bring relief and healing.
When working with Baba Yaga, offerings of thanks should be made each time after making a connection with Baba Yaga or asking for her advice, guidance or help. If you know some poetry or words in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish or any Slavic language, you can give thanks to Baba Yaga in these languages.
These offerings can also be left in forests at the foot of a tree or a special area that you dedicated outside for Baba Yaga. Hopefully this post here can help you develop your own connection with Baba Yaga and help to understand more about Baba Yaga.
Working with Baba Yaga can be a personal experience and her grandmotherly wisdom and advice can always be counted on. The Baba Yaga Tarot Reading connects to the wisdom and energy of Baba Yaga to deliver guidance, advice and messages needed the right time. Baba Yaga Tarot Spread. Dark Moon Magick and Spells. What is a Gatekeeper Spirit Guide? You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.