In honor of Barbara Spetz Dean, September 29th 1942- October 25, 2003
In 2003, I wrote my Master's Thesis entitled, "Journey to Recovering My Polish Indigenous Mind." I was/am on a quest to recover the ancient healing traditions of my Slavic ancestors. A big part of my writing was on Baba Yaga, the ancient witch/hag/ goddess from Eastern & Central Europe. She is most known as a fairy-tale character. Usually she is portrayed as a mean witch who chases children and tries to eat them. However, I suspected there must be more to her. As an indigenous scientist, I was trained to look into fairy tales and myths to uncover the indigenous remnants of my Slavic pre-Christian culture. I was drawn to Baba Yaga because I first saw her image as flying in a mortar & pestle. Intuitively, I thought, she must be an herbalist.
Here is an excerpt from my thesis:
The stories that kept drawing me in, time after time, were the stories about Baba Yaga. The ancient tales of Baba Yaga (Jezi Baba in the Polish language) are common throughout the Slavic world. Baba Yaga is a fierce old crone who lives in the deepest, darkest part of the woods. She has long greasy hair and a big pointed nose. In older times she was described as a good witch, later she was personified more often as cruel and menacing.
Baba Yaga is clearly a spirit of ancient power and wisdom. She is an herbalist, a healer, and she has the power to both give and destroy life. She is the crone, the aspect of the goddess that presides over the realm of death and rebirth. Maria Gimbutas, feminist archeologist and scholar describes Baba Yaga as the “Killer-Regeneratrix” and the “Goddess of Death and Regeneration”. The ancient Slavs revered Baba Yaga, who was central to their spiritual universe. However, with the onslaught of Christianity, Baba Yaga had been “degraded to a witch.” Gimbutas writes: “(Baba Yaga) is but a loathsome caricature thanks to the enormous energies spent by the missionaries and inquisitors to fight this powerful Goddess ”.
Back in 2003, when writing about Baba
Yaga, she transformed for me from a fairy-tale character into a very real Spirit. Not only was I drawn to her, but so was my
Polish-American friend Barbara Dean. Barbara traveled with me to
At the Circle of Ancestor’s presentation on October 5th, Baba Yaga again made an appearance. She brought to this presentation, by “the Baba Yaga Express” a Polish-American woman whom I had met earlier THAT DAY at a psiber dream conference. This woman, Beverly, happened to send me an email that commented on a dream I had posted. I noticed her last name and asked if she was Polish. I told her that, coincidentally, I was preparing to do a presentation on Polish/Slavic healing ways and in Baba Yaga in particular.
Beverly responded in amazement… she was 100% Polish and her whole life had been dreaming of witches…(http://www.durso.org/beverly /Autobiography-Paper.html)... But never until that moment did she make the connection of her dreams to Baba Yaga.
Since Beverly and I met at a Psiberdream conference (http://asdreams.org ), suspect that Baba Yaga’s powers may also extend into the realm of dreams. Her domains are already healing, death, rebirth, sacred (hallucinogenic) plants….. so it makes sense that dreams would be there as well. I will continue my Baba Yaga Dream Research Project and let you all know what I discover. If your ancestors are from Eastern & Central Europe and you have dreams or stories relating to Baba Yaga, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.