The older I get the more I find myself thinking about Baba Yaga — and the more I read about her, the more I think she is whispering in my ear and has been doing so for quite some time.
Who is Baba Yaga
Someone I used to know traveled to Russia, but before embarking on his trip he asked if he could bring back anything from that part of the world for me. I immediately thought about Baba Yaga and asked him to see if he could find a small effigy of her. I later found out that when he asked local merchants where he could find such a thing, they responded with a worried look and explained that Baba Yaga is much too ugly for any sane person to want to have a representation of her in their home. Clearly Baba Yaga is a most misunderstood character, even in the region she would call home.
My research reveals that Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a larger than life nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth. To give you a more familiar reference; let’s just say that Baba Yaga is most commonly portrayed as a witch-like character with fantastic and terrifying powers. She is depicted in folklore as a wilily old crone, but she also plays the role of helper and wise woman. As the ‘Earth Mother’, and like all forces of nature, she is often wild and untamed. In her guise as wise hag, she sometimes gives advice and magical gifts to heroes and heroines who seek her out in search of wisdom, knowledge and truth. She is all-knowing, all seeing and all-revealing to those who have the courage to ask. She is said to be a guardian spirit of the fountain of the Waters of Life and of Death. But I imagine Baba Yaga to also be a healer with profound knowledge of the natural herbs that would be found in a wild forest and I can also imagine that she would contain the deepest wisdom a woman can carry, handed down through long generations of midwifery.
The 21st Century Baba Yaga
From my perspective Baba Yaga is a rather flamboyant representation of everything it means to become an enlightened mature female human being living on the planet earth. My deeper sense of the character tells me that the reason she is so often depicted as repulsive has to do with the fear that profound life-given knowledge cast into the minds of early Christian leaders – all male, of course – and all terrified of what true female power might do to them.
So, similar to what was done to other archetypal characters at the time (such as turning Bacchus from the god of wine and generosity into the cloven hoofed devil), Baba Yaga was cast into a likeness that would naturally repel good Christian followers, hoping that her story soon would be lost. I must also say that there is a real sense of freedom coming from the mindset represented by Baba Yaga such that as a wise woman she can just let loose and be wholly who she is – particularly appealing today in a society that favors glitzy ‘reality’ shows, everlasting youthfulness and ‘body sculpting’ over a wise mind, craggy wrinkles and arthritic fingers.
How she speaks to me
Baba Yaga and I share a few key characteristics, even more so now that I begin to inhabit an aging body that morphs my sense of personhood on a daily basis. I also have a richly mystical frame of reference that includes an appreciation for the wildness of nature, an awareness of Gaia as a sentient force and a fondness for 2nd dimensional divas and elementals – ideas that don’t always quite fit into the modern 21st century world of geeks and aging yuppies.
My years spent caring for the dying while volunteering for hospice gave me a peek into the deep well of knowledge and understanding only a Goddess of Wisdom and Death could share. A personal and lifelong quest for spiritual equilibrium in a chaotically modern world has taken me ever closer to squelching the ego and brought me nearer to rebirthing my true self – also Baba Yaga’s territory. And I would bet that my interest in herbals and vibrational medicine would resonate with all of the earthy ideals portrayed by the real Baba Yaga.
A visit from a Baba Yaga wannabe
Baba Yaga came to mind recently when I began to realize that the energy of a long dead, blind old crone has been pressing herself into my nonphysical field of awareness –and she’s been invading my field for far too long, though just under the surface and unbeknownst to me.
As an active (distance) energy healer it finally dawned on me that recently, rather than flowing healing energy to people in need – I had been actually and physically taking on the ills and ailments of the people around me. For example a friend of the family told me all about her painful breast ailment, which I dutifully and quite unconsciously absorbed into my own experience. Another friend of mine mentioned something about ‘thinking too much about death’, and wha-lah – months later my life is consumed by background noise filled with sad feelings of death and dying. And more recently, a concern over my grandson’s sinus infection had me awake in the middle of the night, completely and inexplicably congested and unable to breath.
Personifying the dark aspects of healing
So, I gradually became aware of a vision of an old woman and as I put my full attention on this energy, I received information that this blind, crippled up old woman had been a healer in her own lifetime – which was a very long time ago. She chose her particular expression of life as penance for previous lifetimes when she was overly cruel and hateful. As a way to karmically pay her ‘debt’ she chose to become a healer, and the way she healed people involved physically taking on every disease, affliction, pain and sufferance that she lifted from her clients.
The vision of her in my mind’s eye reminded me vividly of Baba Yaga, only in a very dark sense. This spirit may have been a healer in life, but she was quietly filled with a twisted sense of ‘dutiful pain’ – something she seemed to savor in a warped and almost perverted sense. Once I realized this spirit had somehow become attached to me, either via a shared past life, or through some errant and unconscious vibration I was sending out – I became determined to cast her out of my field.
Empowering my inner Baba Yaga
Casting out attachments is a fairly easy process – and one I am sure many are familiar with. And so, my morning meditation revolved around peeling this spirit’s attachments off and away from my energy field – and along with the individual attachment came an even larger vortex of energy filled with dark matter. Apparently, it was the dark matter that continued to fuel this long dead spirit’s insatiable lust for self-punishment through the absorption of other people’s sickness.
In my experience, awareness is nine tenths the battle when dealing with your own spiritual ‘stuff’ and so it was a pretty straightforward process to cast out these negative energies and watch them spin harmlessly out of my field.
After the dust cleared (so to speak) what was left was a healthy archetypal representation of the powerful old woman character, and as a result, Baba Yaga has come to life once again in my awareness. Over the coming days and weeks I will no doubt continue to ponder the positive aspects of tapping into the archetype of a wildly wise old crone, and I willing and joyfully embrace the possibility that I too will be able to express myself with abandon and purposefulness – just like Baba Yaga in the forest of my dreams.