Art Of Baba Yaga

Back in the beautiful 90s (yes, I do miss them very much) deep within a tangled wood in a Yorkshire moorland valley, sat Baba Yaga’s hut. I was seven when I first learned about it, and I was told, extremely convincingly, that it stood on chicken legs and would wander around at will. I was also told that I shouldn’t try to find it.

So, of course, my friends and I scuttled into the woods at the first opportunity and tracked down the old wooden shack. I have to admit I was more relieved than disappointed to learn it didn’t actually stand on chicken legs, though it didn’t diminish my belief that Baba Yaga really did live there.

As a child, I never stepped inside. A friend would push on the door (I didn’t dare) and then we’d run away screaming, pretending the crone was coming after us. At that time, I didn’t know her real home was far away in Russia. If someone would have asked me about her, I would have said, ‘yes, she’s real…she lives in the woods behind the kindergarten.’

About fifteen years later, I had plans to attend a gathering with some old school friends. When I found out it was to be in Baba Yaga’s hut I felt quite the chill shake my bones. When I arrived there, it was twilight and the hut’s creep factor had but intensified over the years. I remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable sitting with my back against the damp walls like something really fucking terrible was about to happen. Nothing terrible did happen, except for when I needed to go and wee and had to thread my way through the trees in the dark. At that moment, I felt like I was chewing my heart, fully expecting gnarled hands to grab me by the shoulders and haul me away through the trees.

Despite the story of Baba Yaga appearing fairly regularly throughout my life in stories read both by school teachers and my parents, I’ve shockingly never written about her myself, so feel as if I don’t have that closeness, that familiarity like I do with other creatures of folklore, such as the Wendigo, the Barghest and Gryla. I want to change this though and will write about her in my next poetry collection.

I do, however, have a writer friend who lived in Russia and who’s written widely about the crone.  Several of her excellent Baba Yaga poems will be featured in the Maiden Mother Crone anthology due for release in August by Slice Of The Moon Books.

Baba Yaga (also spelled Baba Jaga) is the wicked witch of Slavic folklore, though I prefer the terms ‘wild woman’ or ‘dark lady of magic.’ Baba means ‘old woman’ or ‘grandmother,’ and the meaning of Yaga is disputed, though it’s likely to mean ‘wicked.’

Like I mentioned before, Baba Yaga lives in a hut which stands on gigantic chicken legs. It’s often pictured without windows or a door and the fence surrounding the property is made of human bones with skulls on top. At night, the empty eye sockets emit an eerie yet powerful glow.

Baba Yaga is a curious character who, on one hand, is seen as a mother nature type, but on the other, as an evil piece of work who loves nothing more than to cannibalize folk lost in the forest. To get herself around, she flies around in a mortar using a pestle as a rudder. For some reason, this is one of the things that scared me as a child. Oh, and the fact she has iron teeth used to give me nightmares.

The most famous and brilliant story that I’ve heard that features Baba Yaga is Vasilisa The Beautiful. If you want to read it, you can find it here.

Taisia Kitaiskaia, the author behind the brilliant book Ask Baba Yaga looks up to the crone as an aspirational figure. “That image of an old woman living in the woods, doing whatever she wants all day long, continues to be my dream for myself.” I can’t help but agree with this statement thousands of times over.

When I went to search out art on Instagram, like a usually do, my feed was filled with some bloke called John Wick. Who he is and what he has to do with Baba Yaga I don’t know, so I ended my search quite quickly on Instagram and took to Pinterest instead where I found so much art celebrating Baba Yaga that I’m going to have to do a second, even a third blog post about her.

One of my favourite pieces would have to be the one by Bill Crisafi. I’ve been following his work since 2013 and everything he creates is magic of the purest, deepest kind. For now, I hope you enjoy what I’ve gathered and if you have knowledge to share about Baba Yaga, I’m hungry for it!

View this post on Instagram

💀The tale of Baba Yaga, Part Three💀 ~ Baba Yaga senses a strange power in Vasilisa and it intrigues her, so Yaga agrees to give her a light to take to her Stepmother, but at a price. In return for her light, Vasilisa would have to earn her keep and complete an endless list of chores every day before Yaga returned home from her errands. Assuming that Vasilisa couldn’t possibly accomplish the tasks set before her, Yaga felt certain she would fail, and this pleased her. Vasilisa immediately sets to work doing chores and cleaning, fearing that if she fails her tasks, Yaga will surely eat her! . . 📸 @rmattice Baba Yaga @fellfae Vasilisa @auudryad Masks @woodland_shrine Jewelery @wolfteacreations Assistant @iron_baphomet Costumes made by both Rachael and Casey 🖤 Story re-written by me . . Keep an eye on all our feeds for the next part of the tale! We will each be sharing different perspectives. ☠

A post shared by Mélian (@fellfae) on

View this post on Instagram

💀 The Tale of Baba Yaga ~ Chapter 3 💀 . . Baba Yaga senses a strange power in Vasilisa and it intrigues her, so Yaga agrees to give her a light to take to her Stepmother, but at a price. In return for her light, Vasilisa would have to earn her keep and complete an endless list of chores every day before Yaga returned home from her errands. Assuming that Vasilisa couldn’t possibly accomplish the tasks set before her, Yaga felt certain she would fail, and this pleased her. Vasilisa immediately sets to work doing chores and cleaning, fearing that if she fails her tasks, Yaga will surely eat her! . . 📸 @rmattice Vasilisa @auudryad Baba Yaga and storytelling @fellfae Masks @woodland_shrine Jewelery @wolfteacreations Costumes made by both Rachel and Casey 🖤 . . Keep an eye on all our feeds each week for the next part of the tale! We will be sharing different perspectives, so you will not see too many repeats. Some parts will be really graphic and dark, as this is an old faerietale, so you've been warned… 💀

A post shared by Audrey (@auudryad) on

4c8f4b5e9f3a8cabab3d307a3ea17984
Artist : Bill Crisafi
f80eb8ecd92189e8281a5a0868921fae
Artist : Tin Can Forest
0a34fb7638b38eed7a014bcfc04103a7
Tattoo artist unknown
3f41b26d04c74b6d5c6c16cf29ffcd75.jpg
Artist : Lily Seika Jones
4e44d78079dd3e946ac7a093ac9fde87
Artist unknown
0204dd3bf106340049fe64451c39981b
Artist : Tin Can Forest
477e95f44c702786fbac07ff7646ce55
Artist : Milo Neuman
a376fffe71f55ca454e8e4860e9d6a56
Artist unknown
ab7c1ed149e14574a0bdcc5251d347b1.jpg
Artist : Yelena Bryksenkova

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s