Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Baba-Yaga - Leg-Bone

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Not finding (yet) anything  suitable to the theme "Witches in fiction... To The Bone" in actual fiction I've read, I again come back to folklore. Russian folklore of course, and my favorite witch Baba-Yaga. Sometimes her name gets that funny sounding in Russian "Kostyanaya-Noga", what means Leg-Bone. Why is that so? Let's find out of course. 
Baba-Yaga has many archetypal references and linked to the pagan tradition of ancient Rus'. I personally incline to the version that under her name is hidden (and most probably forgotten nowadays) image of ancient Slavic Goddess Makosh', you can read a nice article about her here.  In the Russian fairy tales Baba-Yaga always lives in the hut in the deepest part of the forest, and the hut where she dwells is not an ordinary one. It has so called chicken-feet on which it stands..and turns and maybe dances. Now be ready for a scary historical fact:  in ancient times the dead were buried in Domowina - - houses, located above the ground at very high stumps with roots peeking out of the ground, like chicken feet. Domowina staged so that the hole in which it was drawn was turned in the opposite direction of the settlement (village). As you can see in the picture below, Baba-Yaga actually lives in such "house" hence she has connections to the world of the dead, though herself is not dead at all. She is in between, and this is the explanation (according to one of the versions) WHY she is called Leg-Bone.
You can also see that the skulls with shining eye holes usually depicted in the fairy tales as a necessary attribute of hut's exterior. Yes, Baba-Yaga likes bones. I stumbled upon interesting thought  that "Baba-Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth" **.
Here is a cute illustration of my dear witch I found in the internet. 
Another one, more realistic, and scary. But don't be afraid, we are just celebrating To The Bone!
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.

*Image credit (in order from top to bottom):

Monday, 1 April 2013

Drink to Being

Today is the first day of the 4th blogoversary of Magaly Guererro's inspirational "Pagan Culture". This event has got a very intriguing name "Witches in Fiction... To The Bone". The celebration will continue till 13th of April, and I'm sure it's going to bring many interesting posts to live. I'm very grateful for such  idea to mark the event because it will give me a kick to post regularly in Witchcraft and More. Also Magaly will be holding various giveaways in her blog, so there is a chance of winning some nice art pieces and goodies. 
Now, let's celebrate! The very first time I saw the theme of the blogoversary, I immediately recollected a greatly suitable episode from my favorite novel "Master and Margarita". I had made few posts about this novel as it has such rich material for exploration and reflection.
The episode I want to talk about belongs to the series of events at the Ball at Satan's. The last moments of the ball were perhaps the most difficult and most terrifying for Margarita. She appeared on the podium in the middle of the room. Then Woland turned up in the very same look he was in the apartment just some time before, wearing dirty night gown, and home slippers, using his sword as a cane to ease his limping. He stopped beside his podium, and Azazello offered something on the tray... which appeared to be... 

** "a severed head of a man with broken front teeth. 
Woland called out quietly to the head:
 -  Michael Alexandrovich -, and then the eyelids of the killed lifted up, and Margarita, shuddering, saw absolutely lively, full of thought and suffering eyes on the dead face. 
- All come true, is not it? - Woland continued, looking into the eyes of the head - the head is cut by a woman, the meeting did not take place, and I live in your apartment. This is - the fact. And the fact is the most stubborn thing in the world. But now we are interested in the future, and this is not a fait accompli. You have always been a hot preacher of the theory that by cutting off the head life in the person stops, it turns to ashes and goes into oblivion. I am pleased to inform you, in front of my guests, although they serve as proof of a different theory, that your theory is solid and witty. However, because all the theories are all the same. Among them are such, according to which each will be given according to his faith. It might be fulfilled as it is! You go into oblivion, and I will be happy to drink for being out of the ***chalice, to which you turn. - Woland picked up his sword. Immediately head skin darkened and shriveled, then fell off in pieces, the eyes were gone, and soon Margarita saw on the dish yellow with emerald eyes and pearly teeth, and on the golden leg, skull. Skull cap sat on a hinge."

Our heroine of course was shocked and terrified, but what happened next, made it even worse. Another guest entered the ball room through the fireplace. It was baron Meigel, a person, known for spreading the rumors about Woland's visit, and therefore considered to be a spy, he had to be executed by the government  anyways (here author refers to Stalin's regime). In order to "help" him to avoid such destiny, Azazello insensibly stabbed him into the heart, and blood covered Meigel's starched shirt and waistcoat. 

"Koroviev meanwhile put the skull chalice under the spurting, and when it was filled handed it over to the Woland. 
- I drink to your health, gentlemen - Woland said quietly, lifting the cup and touched it to his lips.
Then there was a metamorphosis. The patched shirt and worn-out shoes disappeared. Woland turned to to wear some black mantle with a steel sword on his hip. He quickly approached Margarita, offered her the cup, and said imperiously:
- Drink!
Margarita's head started spinning, she was unsteady, but the cup was already at her lips, and someone's voice, and whose - she could not make out, whispered in both ears:
- Do not be afraid, Queen ... Do not be afraid, Queen, the blood long since gone into the ground. And where it is spilled, already growing grapes."
The ball at Satan's ends here, but Margarita's venture continues... like our journey into the world of fiction with the next To The Bone post! Just let me find something witchy-nice for you :)
Happy blogoversary, Magaly!
* Skull Chalice image credit - Sergei Tunin.
* *Translation of the Russian text is by me. Not perfect, but hopefully is good enough to understand the idea.
*** Read about the symbolism of Chalice here.
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature