The image of the goddess Baba Yaga has long fascinated and intimidated me. It’s not that I am immune to working with deities that tend to have a more shadowy reputation. After all, I have worked closely with a variety of goddesses associated with the Underworld and/or darkness, including Persephone, Cerridwen, and Macha. Yet, something about the mythos of Baba Yaga has always made me reluctant to learn more about her. Perhaps it’s her reputation for cooking and eating children. Maybe it’s the ability she seems to have for looking right through you or the description of her house as being a hut standing on chicken legs. Whatever the reason, the thought of learning more about Baba Yaga has been daunting for me…until now.
I was fortunate enough to be provided with a copy of Natalia Clarke’s Pagan Portal series book entitled, Baba Yaga: Slavic Earth Goddess. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, both in terms of what is happening in the world right now and in terms of my own current trials and tribulations. Natalia Clarke grants her readers an expanded view of the deity known as Baba Yaga. Certainly, she is a fearsome goddess, yet as Clarke points out, she does respond to kindness. Like many other goddesses involved in shadow work, Baba Yaga reminds us that darkness is a vital component in one’s growth just as the darkness of the Earth offers the potential for transformation.
The author’s personal story about her path to Baba Yaga is both heart-wrenching and fascinating. It is a blueprint for how we can work with this Slavic crone goddess to transform our pain into power and healing. Baba Yaga may have a different, more “tough love” approach to overcoming life’s challenges as compared to some other goddesses, but she is an effective ally nonetheless. However, as Clarke emphasizes in her book, one must be willing to be completely honest and committed to undertaking the lessons Baba Yaga has in store for us as she does not suffer fools.
Baba Yaga takes a comprehensive look at a goddess that is more multi-faceted than most people realize. Once Baba Yaga’s story has been told, the reader is exposed to a myriad of tools and techniques for working with Baba Yaga including connecting with Her in dreams, mirror magic, working with bones, skins and skulls, and via correspondences. Chapter 4 delves into Baba Yaga’s companions, known as horsemen, and the connection they have with alchemy. I particularly enjoyed Chapter 5 which illustrates how to “turn fear into fierceness”.
Relationships to the seasons and elements are explored as is the relevance of Baba Yaga in today’s world. The author does an excellent job in presenting information which allows us to go deeper into archetypes of Baba Yaga such as the mother and the witch. There is also a chapter on how to work as an “apprentice” of the Slavic Earth goddess. Throughout the book are poems, the author’s personal journal entries, and thought-provoking questions designed to help draw the reader ever closer to this mysterious goddess.
Baba Yaga: Slavic Earth Goddess has given me a greater appreciation for Her complexity and wisdom. Previously, when I envisioned Baba Yaga, I would see an old woman with a cold stare that seemed to pierce right through me and chill me to my bones. Having read this book, I now envision Baba Yaga in much the same way but this time instead of her fixing me with an intimidating stare she winks at me knowingly and chuckles a bit. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Baba Yaga and/or a desire and readiness to look within.
Be sure to read my book, Persephone: Practicing the Art of Personal Power, available now!