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Author Topic: Baba Yaga  (Read 3790 times)

Juni

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Baba Yaga
« on: August 21, 2013, 02:56:09 pm »
Anyone work with her? (I'm not sure that's the right phrasing, but...)

I've always had a certain terrified fascination with her. Somehow I managed to ignore my grandmother's stern and intense declarations that I was going to hell for not being baptized, but internalized off-handed, very casual comments on Baba Yaga. My mind confuses me on a regular basis.

So, anyone involved with her? Any stories, hints, tips, etc. you care to share? The only myth of hers I'm familiar with is Vasilisa's Doll, though I'm interested in reading others.
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catja6

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 04:57:02 pm »
Quote from: Juni;119574
Anyone work with her? (I'm not sure that's the right phrasing, but...)

I've always had a certain terrified fascination with her. Somehow I managed to ignore my grandmother's stern and intense declarations that I was going to hell for not being baptized, but internalized off-handed, very casual comments on Baba Yaga. My mind confuses me on a regular basis.

So, anyone involved with her? Any stories, hints, tips, etc. you care to share? The only myth of hers I'm familiar with is Vasilisa's Doll, though I'm interested in reading others.

If you have the Guterman (Pantheon Books) translation of Afanas'ev's Russian Fairy Tales, the stories I recommend are:
"The Armless Maiden" (294-99); "The Magic Swan Geese" (349-51); "Two Ivans, Soldier's Sons" (463-75); "Shemiaka the Judge" (625-27); "Salt," (40-44); "The Three Kingdoms" (49-53); "Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf" (612-24); Baba Yaga and the Brave Youth” (76-79); “Baba Yaga” (194-95); “Koshchey the Deathless” (485-93); “Maria Morevna,” (553-62); "Vasilisa the Beautiful" (439-47); "The Maiden Tsar" (229-34)

(Not all of those feature Baba Yaga, but they all give a good sense of the Russian folktale mindset, which will help you parse the specific Baba Yaga stories better. I mean, read the whole collection, but I think those tales are crucial.)

Linda Ivanits has some material on her in Russian Folk Belief, as does W. F. Ryan in The Bathhouse at Midnight. The only single-volume study I can think of off the top of my head is Andreas Johns' Baba Yaga: The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale. I have some issues with this book:  he is waaaaaay too Freudian for my taste; he was a student of Alan Dundes, who is basically the only person who managed to do folklore and psychoanalysis (semi-)successfully, but Johns is not Dundes and isn't nearly as good at dealing with the completely contradictory approaches of those disciplines. That said, there is a metric ton of useful info in there, and I'd class it as required reading.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 04:59:02 pm by catja6 »

Laveth

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 06:26:14 pm »
Quote from: Juni;119574
Anyone work with her? (I'm not sure that's the right phrasing, but...)

I've always had a certain terrified fascination with her. Somehow I managed to ignore my grandmother's stern and intense declarations that I was going to hell for not being baptized, but internalized off-handed, very casual comments on Baba Yaga. My mind confuses me on a regular basis.

So, anyone involved with her? Any stories, hints, tips, etc. you care to share? The only myth of hers I'm familiar with is Vasilisa's Doll, though I'm interested in reading others.

 

Everything I've read and heard regarding Baba Yaga and working with her generally comes down to the same thing: she will find you if she's interested, but it's not necessarily wise to seek her out unless you're smart about it and very very sincere in your efforts.

She's often stated to be the first witch, and is sometimes reported as being the teacher to witches. I'm glossing over the kidnapping, cannibalistic tendencies here, but that's the main reason why there's no tales (that I've come across yet) that depict people seeking her out as a mentor.

That being said, she's supposed to be particularly protective of those she actually chooses as her students and as long as you are in her charge she won't let any (real) harm come to you. Although she will definitely place you in situations that will bring you to (and often beyond) your limits as her choice teaching methods.

I will try to dig out some of the free online stories of her, providing my old resource sites are still active.

If you're interested and if you have any spending money spare, you may be interested in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Baba-Yaga-International-Folkloristics-V/dp/0820467693/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1377123541&sr=8-5&keywords=baba+yaga

I haven't picked it up yet but I really really want to.

savveir

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2013, 11:09:34 pm »
Quote from: Juni;119574
Anyone work with her? (I'm not sure that's the right phrasing, but...)

I've always had a certain terrified fascination with her. Somehow I managed to ignore my grandmother's stern and intense declarations that I was going to hell for not being baptized, but internalized off-handed, very casual comments on Baba Yaga. My mind confuses me on a regular basis.

So, anyone involved with her? Any stories, hints, tips, etc. you care to share? The only myth of hers I'm familiar with is Vasilisa's Doll, though I'm interested in reading others.

 
I grew up reading folk tales about Baba Yaga so I've had that interest for a while.
I sort of have something going on with Baba Yaga, but it's early days so I've not got a whole lot of useful info.
Something I picked up from the stories I read(probably with a large dash of UPG as well) is to be persistent.

As far as stories go, there are a fair amount of places online where you can read some of the stories. I can't vouch for their accuracy though.
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savveir

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2013, 11:10:54 pm »
Quote from: catja6;119581
snip

 
I can see I'll be adding more books to my wishlist.
"I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."
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savveir

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2013, 11:13:06 pm »
Quote from: Laveth;119590
Everything I've read and heard regarding Baba Yaga and working with her generally comes down to the same thing: she will find you if she's interested, but it's not necessarily wise to seek her out unless you're smart about it and very very sincere in your efforts.

She's often stated to be the first witch, and is sometimes reported as being the teacher to witches. I'm glossing over the kidnapping, cannibalistic tendencies here, but that's the main reason why there's no tales (that I've come across yet) that depict people seeking her out as a mentor.

That being said, she's supposed to be particularly protective of those she actually chooses as her students and as long as you are in her charge she won't let any (real) harm come to you. Although she will definitely place you in situations that will bring you to (and often beyond) your limits as her choice teaching methods.

I will try to dig out some of the free online stories of her, providing my old resource sites are still active.

If you're interested and if you have any spending money spare, you may be interested in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Baba-Yaga-International-Folkloristics-V/dp/0820467693/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1377123541&sr=8-5&keywords=baba+yaga

I haven't picked it up yet but I really really want to.

 
Pretty much all this, though I'd not heard about their being protective, I can see it.
"I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."
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Juni

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 12:50:43 am »
Quote from: catja6;119581


 
Cue a happy dance- more books for my wishlist! Thank you, Catja. You are always wonderfully helpful. :)
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Juni

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 01:00:06 am »
Quote from: Laveth;119590
Everything I've read and heard regarding Baba Yaga and working with her generally comes down to the same thing: she will find you if she's interested, but it's not necessarily wise to seek her out unless you're smart about it and very very sincere in your efforts.

She's often stated to be the first witch, and is sometimes reported as being the teacher to witches. I'm glossing over the kidnapping, cannibalistic tendencies here, but that's the main reason why there's no tales (that I've come across yet) that depict people seeking her out as a mentor.

That being said, she's supposed to be particularly protective of those she actually chooses as her students and as long as you are in her charge she won't let any (real) harm come to you. Although she will definitely place you in situations that will bring you to (and often beyond) your limits as her choice teaching methods.

I will try to dig out some of the free online stories of her, providing my old resource sites are still active.

 
On the one hand, I would love to know what she would teach me. On the other, I get a cold sensation and a strong sense of "be careful what you wish for!"

Being the first witch is interesting, though; I wonder if I could placate my interest in her by being reverential to her in that regard, without actually trying to work "with" her, if you know what I mean. Though one wonders about potentially drawing attention if one isn't ready/willing to deal with the consequences of said attention. Things to ponder.
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catja6

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 11:03:32 am »
Quote from: Juni;119630
Cue a happy dance- more books for my wishlist! Thank you, Catja. You are always wonderfully helpful. :)

 
You are so welcome! I teach Russian material in my fairy tales class, and it is a pleasure to look it up again.

Here are some other stories I missed, from the Afanas'ev: "Ivan the Cow's Son," "King Bear," "The Sea King and Vasilisa the Wise," "Prince Ivan and Byely Polyanin," "Go I Know Not Whither, Bring Back I Know Not What," and "Ilya Muromets and the Dragon."  

Thinking more on it, one of the consistent elements of Baba Yaga stories is that she is more likely to be obviously helpful to male heroes; female heroines usually are in more danger, and the help she gives is often reluctant. Johns talks quite a bit about this, using material not just from Afanas'ev, but from a variety of Slavic language sources. Something to keep in mind! :D

veggiewolf

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2013, 12:11:18 pm »
Quote from: catja6;119581
...

 
Catja, you've probably answered this before, but are the Pantheon Folk and Fairy Tales books good in general?
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savveir

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2013, 12:15:50 pm »
Quote from: catja6;119671
You are so welcome! I teach Russian material in my fairy tales class, and it is a pleasure to look it up again.

Here are some other stories I missed, from the Afanas'ev: "Ivan the Cow's Son," "King Bear," "The Sea King and Vasilisa the Wise," "Prince Ivan and Byely Polyanin," "Go I Know Not Whither, Bring Back I Know Not What," and "Ilya Muromets and the Dragon."  

Thinking more on it, one of the consistent elements of Baba Yaga stories is that she is more likely to be obviously helpful to male heroes; female heroines usually are in more danger, and the help she gives is often reluctant. Johns talks quite a bit about this, using material not just from Afanas'ev, but from a variety of Slavic language sources. Something to keep in mind! :D

 
I've just reserved a copy of that book at my uni library. Can't wait for monday.. now that just sounds weird.
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catja6

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2013, 01:40:34 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;119677
Catja, you've probably answered this before, but are the Pantheon Folk and Fairy Tales books good in general?

 
They're collections of folk and fairy tales, and a lot depends on the individual editor/collection--some are old 19th century collections in new translations/editions (the Chinese tales--that's a Victorian collection, with all the issues that entails); others are new collections/anthologies put together in the present day (like the Irish tales, and Briggs' Encyclopedia of Fairies). Like, the Russian fairy tales one is basically the most complete translation of the Afanas'ev tales into English, and has an interesting essay by Roman Jakobson; the Norwegian tales collection, by Asbjornsen and Moe, is likewise very solid--A&M were basically the Norwegian Grimms. The Irish collection is awesome--Glassie is a big-name folklorist, and it's very reliable. Swedish is good, too. The African and American Indian collections are done by good scholars (Abrahams and Erdoes respectively), but because they're covering like entire continents, there's only a few stories from any given group; Abrahams' collection of Afro-American tales is also good. I'm not a fan of their Grimms--the Zipes translation (published by Bantam) is, IMO, the best English version; also, their Andersen I can do without--I'd rather have a complete collection of his tales, or the gorgeous Annotated edition by Maria Tatar (published by Norton). Does that help?

veggiewolf

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2013, 01:49:02 pm »
Quote from: catja6;119685
They're collections of folk and fairy tales, and a lot depends on the individual editor/collection--some are old 19th century collections in new translations/editions (the Chinese tales--that's a Victorian collection, with all the issues that entails); others are new collections/anthologies put together in the present day (like the Irish tales, and Briggs' Encyclopedia of Fairies). Like, the Russian fairy tales one is basically the most complete translation of the Afanas'ev tales into English, and has an interesting essay by Roman Jakobson; the Norwegian tales collection, by Asbjornsen and Moe, is likewise very solid--A&M were basically the Norwegian Grimms. The Irish collection is awesome--Glassie is a big-name folklorist, and it's very reliable. Swedish is good, too. The African and American Indian collections are done by good scholars (Abrahams and Erdoes respectively), but because they're covering like entire continents, there's only a few stories from any given group; Abrahams' collection of Afro-American tales is also good. I'm not a fan of their Grimms--the Zipes translation (published by Bantam) is, IMO, the best English version; also, their Andersen I can do without--I'd rather have a complete collection of his tales, or the gorgeous Annotated edition by Maria Tatar (published by Norton). Does that help?

 
It helps immensely, thank you.  Now I have a better idea of which ones to add to my Wishlist.
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Żmisław Trygławic

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 12:43:45 pm »
Quote from: Juni;119574
Anyone work with her? (I'm not sure that's the right phrasing, but...)

 
Yes, I think "work" is very good word for special relations with Baba Yaga. It's a dark path (don't understand as "evil") and of course not good for everyone (for example: if someone easily become depressed - I won't advice him to contact with Baba Yaga).
I suspect that Baba Yaga require a lot from her followers. I think about destroying personal weaknesses, fighting with fear, taking a risk etc. Probably the best place for contemplating Baba Yaga's nature is cemetery in deep forest at night. I can't imagine better place, because she's so strongly related with forest and death (underworld). One of her legs is boney, because she stay on the border between our world and the world of the dead. The hut on chicken leg(s) can be treated as... the tomb. Long time ago Slavs placed human ashes in urns which they put in a little huts on the wooden piles. Additionaly in some folktales Baba Yaga's hut hasn't door and windows and it's enclosed with boney fence. At the top of this fence are human skulls. I know the hypothesis that she's old Goddess of death (maybe even from so called "matriarchal era").

Not only Russians know Baba Yaga of course. About someone who is very ugly or scruffy Poles say sometimes:"The twelfth child of Baba Yaga" :)
Another polish names for Baba Jaga: Baba Jędza (read: Baba Yendza), Babojędza, Leśna Jędza (Forest Jędza), Jędzona (silesian name) and simply Jędza. In opposte to witches Jędze (plural form of "Jędza") are completely daemonical, not human (desptie of their anthropomorphism). Czech and Slovakian version is Ježi Baba (read: Yezhi Baba).
Southern Slavs know also Baba Roga (literally: "Horned old woman") with one horn in the center of her forehead. Even Chechen and Ingush (non-slavic) folklores tell about Zher-Baba.

Baba Yaga is one of the most fascinating characters from slavic folklore :)

Informations about Baba Yaga you can find also in Vladimir Propp's books: "Morphology of the folktale" and probably in "Theory and history of the folklore" (I hadn't read this second book yet).

savveir

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Re: Baba Yaga
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2013, 07:36:23 am »
Quote from: savvy;119678
snip

 
I just found an online copy of a 1916 edition of Afanasev's work if anyone is interested
https://archive.org/details/russianfolktales00afanuoft
you can choose various formats to view on the left of the page.
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