Monster of the Week: The Baba Yaga

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Baba Yaga of Vertigo's Fables.

Baba Yaga of Vertigo’s Fables.

The Baba Yaga (called Baba Jaga in Poland, Baba Roga in Bosnia, Baba Pehtra in Slovenia, and Ježibaba in the Czech/Slovak lands) is a forest-dwelling witch of Eastern European folklore. She is, in many ways, the archetype of the woodland witch, and traits such as the eating of wayward children and flying with brooms may be attributed to legends of the Baba Yaga. In the Skazki (fairy tales) of Russia, she sometimes appears as a trio of “sister” Baba Yagas, much like the Greek Hecatae or gorgons (though when appearing as a trio, these Baba Yagas are usually less sinister, and often helpful). She is described as having a big nose, iron teeth, tangled hair, bony legs and a long reach. The Baba Yaga is very clever and powerful, having control over the elements and the “three riders”—the white horseman of the dawn, the red horseman of the sunrise, and the black horseman of nightfall. In the oldest Baba Yaga stories, her powers resemble those of a goddess more than a witch, and she and her hut act as guardians/gateways to the underworld. Continue reading