In Russian folklore and fairytales Baba Yaga is a supernatural being, sometimes referred to as witch or demon, of ambiguous nature.
She flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, sweeping away her tracks or traces with a broom. She dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs, the fence around the hut is built out of human bones and is topped with human skulls. Visitors to her hut has to say a special phrase to make the hut turn around and let them enter in: “Hut, hut! Stand with your front facing me, and your back to the forest!“
Baba Yaga frequently bears the epithet “bony leg”, which reflects Baba Yaga’s role as gatekeeper between world of the living and world of the dead.
Baba Yaga is both enigmatic and dualistic as she may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out and may even play a maternal role.
In folklore research she is sometimes
summarized as “a many-faceted figure, capable of inspiring researchers to see her as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican or Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image”.
“Baba Yaga: The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale” by Andreas Johns.
Image: “Baba Yaga” by IrenHorrors (Ksenia Svincova).