Oh hey! There you are. Get under this rock. I’ll explain in a minute. You’ve made it round the corner through Finland to somewhere fairly nonspecifically between Prague and St Petersburg that shares a fairly similar set of mythical tropes. Unlike most mythical tropes, however, this one is flying around overhead in a mortar lobbing fire at us. It may have been something I said.
This week’s Guide to Beasties concerns our friend in the culinary aviator is Baba Yaga, a witch and wise woman figure in Slavic cultures who lives in a tiny wooden hut in the woods that walks around on chicken legs. The hut’s name is Izboushka and it is not very friendly! To get it to let you inside you’ll have to say ‘O Izboushka, O Izboushka, turn your back to the forest and your face to me.’ The only recorded occurrence of this working relates how it gave a horrifying screech, spun round several times, dropped to the ground and let open the door with a crash. Why not.
It lives inside a fence made out of human bones, with a skull with blazing eye sockets for lamps, and an empty spike always ready for the next foolish adventurer who hasn’t read this travel blog properly. Baba Yaga has several spirits in her employ: three riders, white, red and black, who are the dawn, the sun, and the night, and three ‘soul servants’ who appear from thin air inside her hut. She’s kinda touchy about them, I have found. But this is how we learn.
So now she’s angry and screaming across the night sky causing illness and bad luck across the land. That one’s on me you guys! But once this dark night of fear and ill-omen is done (try to ignore the bloody moon and occasional eclipses that will haunt your dreams for life. They won’t go away!) she can also be very generous.
In the tale of Vasilissa the Beautiful, Vasilissa stumbles across Baba Yaga’s hut in the forest, and after completing a number of household tasks with the help of an enchanted doll (don’t ask) Baba Yaga gives her a skull-lantern to light her way home. When she arrives, none of the lamps in her home will light, and the skull’s fire burns her wicked step-mother and step-sisters to ashes. Cinders, you might say. Anyway, Vasilissa becomes a famous tailor and marries the Czar.
But as for right now, yes, we are in mortal danger and no, I don’t have an enchanted doll with me. My bad. If we make it out alive I’ll see you next week!
Where in the world do you want to go fully equipped for the supernatural? Let us know in ye comments sectioune.