Greetings all, and welcome to our Mythological Throwback Thursday. This week we’re getting to know a very special lady. From Eastern Europe, it’s Baba Yaga, the wise old crone!
Baba Yaga is known as an archetypal witch, an old lady with strange powers and knowledge. She appears in many tales both as an antagonist and as a donor or patron. Her name is thought to mean ‘old woman’, though nobody is clear on what ‘yaga’ means.
Baba Yaga is very peculiar in her ways. Unlike the more common perception of witches, she doesn’t fly upon a broom. Her preferred mode of transport is a giant mortar, in which she sits with her knees drawn up under her chin. She uses a pestle as a rudder of sorts, sculling around the forest in which she lives, and brushes away her tracks with a sprig of silver birch. Often referred to as ‘bony one’, she is nevertheless said to possess an unnatural appetite, able to eat as much as ten men. She seems to be especially fond of eating children, when she is able.
Perhaps most unusual of all is her home. A simple hut deep within the forest, it is often encircled by a dreadful fence made of human bones and skulls. It is guarded by fierce animals, and it possesses gigantic chicken-like legs on which it rotates and even moves around. People say that while it rotates, it makes a terrible screeching sound, and can only be stopped by someone making the incantation ‘Turn your back to the forest, turn your front to me’.
Baba Yaga has three faithful consorts: a white horseman, a red horseman and a black horseman. Their identities are unknown, as all that Baba Yaga will say of them is that they are her Bright Dawn, her Red Sun and her Dark Midnight. She is also associated with Koshchei the Deathless, an immortal, wild old man who some think served as her herdsman for a time. Last among her allies are her ‘soul friends’, three pairs of spectral, disembodied hands that sometimes appear and obey her commands.
In the Cinderella-esque story of Vasilisa the Beautiful, the heroine is sent to Baba Yaga for light, after her wicked stepmother and stepsisters put out all the lights in the house. Vasilisa travels a long way, and is very frightened by the strange crone, who sets her to work on arduous tasks. With a little supernatural help she succeeds, and in thanks Baba Yaga sends her on her way with a skull-lantern full of flaming coals. The skull incinerates her whole cruel family, and Vasilisa leaves home to be a clothmaker and later marry the Tsar. Well, it’s a more straightforward solution than Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Boo.
That’s all we have time for this week, but if you’d like to hear more stories about young women doing their best in unpleasant situations you should download The Lounge Singer, only on our app Beyond Books. We’ll see you next Thursday too, for another Mythological Throwback!
Beckett tells Castle she's ready to start trying for a baby.
Cute prompt is cute.
“And she was a brave warrior, the knight known round the realms for her bravery and skill in defeating the dragon which had threatened the kingdoms for so long. But though the King offered her any manner of rewards, be they riches or land, they were all declined,” the low rumble of Castle’s voice meets Kate’s ears like a caress, gently pulling her from the nap that she couldn’t remember falling into in the first place.
When she opens her eyes, her husband is on the floor with the full attention of a fourteen month old Sarah Grace Ryan. The girls head full of blonde curls jiggles as she bounces in time to the cadence of the fairytale, her tiny legs working furiously while her hands wave wildly in the air.
It’s a precious and beautiful image, one which prompts Kate to linger on the couch and watch as Sarah Grace’s brown eyes trace Castle’s face and then split into a grin which is only broken by the appearance of tiny teeth.
And then Rick chuckles, his lips pressing a smacking kiss to her rosy cheek, “Until the King offered the one thing the knight truly wanted - him. A life with happiness and laughter, a place where she was loved. And so they married, and lived happily ever after in a world where the Knight continued to slay dragons and the King continued to talk of the brave feats his wife accomplished.”
She chuckles at that, pushing herself up onto her elbows in order to lean forward and drop her own surprise kiss against Castle’s jaw, “Hmmm, I feel like I’ve heard that one before,” Kate teases against the shell of his ear, grinning in response to a second gummy smile from the girl in Rick’s arms.
“Hello there precious girl,” she coos, so completely taken with Sarah Grace and the breathtaking ability which Castle has with children.