Baba Yaga - The Hag

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Baba Yaga
The Hag

Baba Yaga, the sacred (or demonic, depending upon perception) Russian forest witch might as well be a prototype for the Hag archetype: she is ancient and haggard, thin but voracious, solitary and all knowing. She is fierce, dangerous, unfriendly, and distinctly not interested in pleasing others. Her physical appearance inspires fear and is often described as grotesque. (She has huge iron teeth and sometimes sports protruding boars’ tusks.) Like many other hags, she is allegedly a cannibal.

Her roots, like those of other hags, lie amid Corn Mother traditions. Baba Yaga is a death goddess: she wears a necklace of human skulls and lives in a bone house. Her myths place tremendous emphasis on her oven and cooking pots.

Just as hag indicates both “witch” and “old woman,” so the title Baba indicates “witch,” but is also an affectionate (or pejorative) term for “grandmother.”

Baba Yaga’s kinship with Nordic hags serves as a reminder that Russia derives from the Rus, a tribe of invading Vikings whose traditions became intermingled with those of the people they conquered. More information about this ubiquitous, primordial witch is found in DIVINE WITCH: Baba Yaga; ERGOT: Corn Mother: Baba Yaga; FAIRY-TALE WITCHES: Russian Fairy-Tales. See also DICTIONARY: Baba.