Tag Archives: Baba Yaga

To Let Die What One Must Let Die

Vasalisa’s initiation begins with learning to let die what must let die. This means to let die the values and attitudes within the psyche which no longer sustain her. Especially to be examined are those long held views which make life too safe, which over protect, which make women walk with a scurry instead of a stride.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Women Who Run With Wolves

Like the solitary raven I am perched, knowing I can take flight, but not quite sure where to fly to. For now I am at Baba’s examining long held views that kept me safe but also restrained.

Perhaps I will turn to the Tarot to help me identify just what the views are that I need to dismember and let die.

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Working With Baba

Raven and I have decided to stay on in the House of Baba. The soup she gave me has nourished me and inspired me to learn more about aging and moving into a new period of creativity. As I pottered about in her library I stumbled upon the work of Helen Redman. After exploring her site I can feel the creative juices stirring.

Baba’s Ravens

Baba Yaga says, “Intelligence ripens with age.” In Slavic oral traditions, Baba Yaga was the old crone of autumn who lived in the last sheaf of harvested grain. Fittingly, the woman who bound that sheaf would bear a child the next spring, for the old Baba was also guardian of the fountain of the waters of life. Her legend suggests she was the preserver of herbal knowledge and medicinal healing. Let us return this wise crone to glory!

BabaRavens

Deities associated with Ravens include Baba Yaga, Bran, Odin, and the Morrigan. The Morrigan was a raven deity who gloried in battles; she could assume the forms of a hag, a beautiful woman, or a crow or a raven.

In Ireland, the raven was associated with the Morrigan and other battle or death goddesses. Badb, the Raven of Battle, was goddess of war and bloodshed. The Morrigan was a raven deity who gloried in battles; she could assume the forms of a hag, a beautiful woman, or a crow or a raven. The continental Celts had a goddess Nantosuelta whose symbols were ravens and doves. The god Lugh had two magickal ravens as companions.

In Welsh, ubran means “raven,” the name connectin it with the god, Bran the Blessed. One of the greatest heroes in Welsh legend was Owein, who had an army of magickal ravens that fought King Arthur’s men. Although an important totem animal of the Celts, the raven was considered to be of dubious reputation, and they took great care when dealing with it. Ravens were scavengers, one of the birds that frequented battlefields and feasted on the dead. If a raven had any white on it, the bird was consider to be beneficial and mot malevolent.

Ravens were creatures of the Morse-germanic Valkyries, who wore their black feathers when they fulfilled their task as Choosers of the Slain. The Germans called the raven waelceasig (“corpse-choosing”) and a Valkyrie waelcyrge. The skalds, Nordic poets, had a number of kennings (metaphors) for the raven: “blood-swan,” “blood=goose.” They also called dead warriors “feeders of the ravens.”

At Raven’s Beckoning

Raven symbolizes changes in consciousness and is the symbol of a shape shifter. Ravens are prophets, spell-casters, and messengers. Raven offers knowledge of the world to the people for safe keeping. Over the course of generations, this knowledge is passed on, and the spirit of transformation begins to unfold.

When change needs to occur, the Raven flies quickly. She also brings new things, new places, new ideas, and rebirth. Raven helps the worthy, but loves to trick the unsuspecting; and is as full of mischief as she is wonderful. Raven symbolizes the home of our ancestors, our personal stories and imprinted memories. Raven is distinctly earthy, and feminine.

At Raven’s beckoning Baba comes to me with soup, a special elixir for the soul,  strong brew that she thinks will warm the now aching heart where Dougie was comforted as he died.

Baba’s Place

Baba Yaga represents the power of old age, the power of the archetype of witch, and most of all, the power of the cycles of life, death and rebirth. She is also a guardian of the creative fire.

I have come to Baba’s to get a fire stick to rekindle the fire in my personal furnace of creativity.

Accumulative loss and grief have taken their toll and I had ceased to tend to the fire.

Baba is not known for her understanding. She is a harsh task mistress. She is known to burn to cinders those who are not true.

I come carrying a doll, given to me by my mother many years ago. I do know that if I am in doubt, if I feel challenged, it will guide me.

Going to Baba’s

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The House of Baba Yaga and Baba’s Wild Garden are not places travellers rush to. However the brave have been and returned with the creative fire to tell the story. Since Baba is one source of the fire I am going to go, check out some of the messages left behind and work with her for awhile.
Baba Yaga is the fearsome creature, the crooked woman whose nose is hooked like a bird of prey. Her name means ‘to know, to see, to forsee’ and she is the seer associated with the moon crescent. The Baba Yaga has the power to transform herself into a myriad of shapes, often a toad, sometimes a hedgehog, frequently a bird. The Baba Yaga is often depicted as an evil old hag who eats humans, especially children, but she is known by many to be a wise, prophetic old woman. In appearance she is tall, bony legged, pointy headed and has dishevelled hair

Worse the doll informs you that the hut she lives in has a fence around it made of human bones and topped with human skulls and eyes intact. The gate is fastened with human legs and arms instead of bolts and a mouth with sharp teeth serves as the lock.

According to the doll, who seems to be a font of information, one person who lived to tell the story said that “she commands the sun and it obeys her, she changes the stars in their course, she causes clouds to form in the air and makes it possible to walk on them and travel the country. She can turn herself into a young woman and then, in a twinkling of an eye turn herself back into an old woman. She has to the power to turn a man into an animal and she likes to move freely along roads and valleys and over mountains. Her business is to cast spells, gather herbs and stones, make pacts and agreements.”

Baba Yaga, by Ivan Bilibin, 1902

Baba Yaga is the old woman of autumn, the archetype of the fearsome witch. Her roots lie in the ancient Slavic goddess of death and birth, whose wheat sheaves in the autumn fields hold the promise of winter survival and spring’s growth. Baba Yaga flies through the air in a mortar, rowing with a pestle, or in a cauldron, sweeping the traces of her path with a broom. In some tales, she is the guardian of the fountain of the waters of life; in other tales, she lives in a hut surrounded by a fence of bones. In all cases, she is a crone, hideous to look upon, and much to be feared. Her realm is the birch forests, birch being the tree of beginnings and endings. Baba Yaga represents the power of old age, the power of the archetype of witch, and most of all, the power of the cycles of life, death and rebirth.

Baba Yaga
waiting in her
chicken leg house
with bones as
pickets with skulls atop
deep in the forest
awaiting her next
victim

Baba Yaga
traveling in
her mortar chariot
guided by the
pestle oar
clearing the path
with a broom
of human hair

Baba Yaga
controls the
night and day
the rising sun
and the stars
in the sky

Baba Yaga
set me my task
cleaning the house
laundering clothes
sorting the seeds
from the dirt

Baba Yaga
wicked witch
or wise old
crone
ancient goddess
of birth
and death

© Megan Warren 15/8/2004