Thursday, July 26, 2018

Baba Yaga Folk Lore Part 4

Rebecca Tran

In previous posts Baba Yaga was described as an old crone who flies around in a mortar. The overly large pestle is used as a rudder to steer the mortar and her broom sweeps away any trace of her passing. With a house that has chicken feet, and disembodied hands as servants there is no denying she has magical powers. If you missed the previous three posts you can read them here post 1, 2, & 3.

I remembered reading about Baba Yaga when I was younger but the exact story eludes me. When I started writing my new novella Magic Always Has a Price, I needed to do more research on the old witch. Most of her folk lore was familiar as I read and I thought little of my new project. When people asked me what I was working on though it became apparent that Baba was much more obscure than I realized.

Baba Yaga is making a comeback in pop culture though. My children know more about Baba than many of my contemporaries. It seems like every time a children's show needs a scary or powerful witch Baba Yaga is their fall back character.

Baba Yaga is a regular character in the popular children's show Everafter High. While her character in the show is that of  powerful witch, she is allowed to interact freely with the students. Baba threatens to place curses on other characters but never seems to do any real harm.

In the children's movie Monster Family Baba was actually an unwilling pawn in Dracula's master plan. If she did as the crafty old vampire asked he would release her from his prison and leave her alone. If Baba didn't Dracula would lock her up again. Now whether a vampire was capable of locking up a witch who had two knights named for times of the day was debateable. But hey, it was a kids movie.

There is an older movie called Bartok the Magnificent from 1999 that features Baba as well. Here she is shown as the anti-hero who helps the main character Bartok save the Czar of Russia.

I know Baba Yaga from my personal reading. She appears in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. In Briggs' world, Baba Yaga is part of the Faye community and isn't anyone you'd want to mess with. True to folk lore, Baba will help if she feels like it, but Briggs mentions key traits like her mortar and eating children.

Baba Yaga also made a television appearance on the SyFy channel's show Lostgirl. In season 2 episode 4 Kenzi thought to ask Baba for help and was willing to sacrifice herself in order to get it.
She had no idea what Baba intended to do with her. Kenzi might have thought twice if she did. This episode followed the older folk lore of Baba sleeping on her oven and added a Hansel and Gretel twist to the ending. It made for great fiction and gave viewers a taste of Baba Yaga's darker nature.

I find Baba Yaga's reappearance in modern times quite interesting. Her ability as a character to embody both good and bad qualities make her the perfect choice for the villain, or antihero. So far, I haven't seen anyone brave enough to make her the hero. On that note, I thought I would attempt it in my novella Magic Always Has a Price

Vasalisa Fenenko Danilovna is a normal 21 year-old college student. So far, life is better than she planned. Vasalisa has parent's who love her, Staight A's and she's dating the school's star soccer player. There's just one little problem. Vasalisa's a witch who foretold the death of someone she loves.

This does not have a HEA

Rebecca Tran is a full-time mom, and pharmacist. She writes paranormal romance, fantasy, and science fiction in her spare time. Rebecca started writing many years ago after the death of her father but didn't gain the courage to publish her first novel until 2017. Since then she has released many more titles and won several awards. If you would like to find out more about Rebecca or her work you can find it on her page.

The last post in this series on August 9 will feature Marzanna the goddess of witches.

If you liked this post you may also like Erika Szabo's series on mythology found on her page. 

When will we reach 200,000 views?