Meeting Baba Yaga

Meeting Baba Yaga October 16, 2017

Baba Yaga is a mythical crone from Slavic cultures who lives in a hut perched atop enormous chicken legs. Some people see her as a transformative witch who helps people in challenging times. However, she can also be a trickster, especially in the stories where she creates daunting tasks for the children who disturb her.

baba yaga spirituality meeting pagan wiccan
Sometimes Baba Yaga is portrayed as flying around in a mortar and carrying a pestle. CC0

The first time I dreamed of meeting Baba Yaga, I was twenty-four. I was going through a transformative phase. After growing up in a new age church, I realized I had been unknowingly squelching some of my ‘negative’ emotions for years. I was coming to terms with everything, and had just started integrating my shadow-self.

Baba Yaga's hut. Wikimedia Commons.
Baba Yaga’s hut. Wikimedia Commons.

In my dream, I climbed up an ancient tree, my shoes grasping the rough bark on the trunk. I had no idea where I was going, but I instinctively kept going. Pushing up on a wooden trap door, I climbed up a few rungs and stepped into what looked like a treehouse. When I turned around, I saw Baba Yaga stirring a cauldron over a fire at a hearth. Her face was lined and gray. Warts and pocks marked her face all over, and she was frowning at me. It looked like I had interrupted her cooking.

I shuffled over to a small kitchen table and collapsed into a chair. A feeling of surrender came over me. Despite all of the scary things I’d heard about her and her glare, I wasn’t afraid. More than anything, I wanted to embrace her and sob in her arms.

“So.” Baba Yaga evaluated me with sharp eyes. “I heard you want to be a witch.”

I nodded sadly, feeling shocked at her words. I hadn’t ever said that I wanted to be a witch, but I felt a deep identification with that in my heart. It was like she had read the truth written on my soul.

Witch of Endor, 1805. Elsheimer. Wikimedia Commons.
Witch of Endor, 1805. Elsheimer. Wikimedia Commons.

Baba Yaga turned away from me. For a moment, I was unsure about my fate. Was she going to boil me alive? Then I saw her ladle soup from the cauldron into a wooden bowl. She hobbled toward me, nudged the bowl into my hands, and urged me to eat.

I lifted a spoon to my mouth and swallowed a hearty potato soup. It was delicious, but I could barely eat. I was so overcome with sadness, and was doing my best to try not to cry into it.

She squinted at me. “You know, it’s a hard path.”

I nodded solemnly. “I know.”

Baba Yaga walked back to the hearth. “Well then, let’s get started.”

 

I don’t remember anything that happened after that. But when I awoke, I remember feeling thrilled. Baba Yaga had taken me under her wing! I felt like I’d just been initiated. I was so honored.

 

It was another five or six years before I remembered dreaming of her again. My life had settled down somewhat. After a wild tromp across the country as a fire dancer, where I finally proved to myself that I was an artist, I moved back to my home town. Things were looking good — I had a good job with my degree, and I was making payments on my student loans.

In the dream, I climbed up the wide tree trunk easily. I opened Baba Yaga’s trap door with a light heart, feeling like I was coming home.

Baba Yaga by Q Doodlebug, Creative Commons 2.
Baba Yaga’s Hut by Q DoodlebugCreative Commons 2.0.

Baba Yaga smiled at me kindly from the hearth. “You’re ready. You don’t need me anymore.”

I shook my head. It couldn’t be over so soon. I wanted to stay longer. I wanted to come back to her crazy hut again and again. “No.” Worst of all, I didn’t remember any of the lessons she’d taught me.

She shrugged at me. “You’re ready.”

She sent me out of her hut, and I haven’t been back since.

 

Sometimes, I wonder what she taught me in those dreams I must’ve forgotten. Ideally, I absorbed the lessons without remembering them. I hope they affected my subconscious. The difference in my life between the first dream of her to the second was quite astounding. I grew in terms of confidence, spirituality, maturity, and so much more.

While I can’t say exactly what she taught me, all I can say is that she was a friend and mother figure to me. I’ll always be grateful to her for her kindness. I feel that despite her scary visage, if you approach her with a humble and true heart, she may assist you as well.

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