Welcome to another installment of Mythology Explained. In today’s video, we’re going to be travelling all the way to central/eastern Europe- and even parts of Asia, as the topic pertains to none other than Slavic Mythology.
Now- just because the most popular forms of Mythology, like Greek, Roman, and Norse are often in the limelight, it certainly doesn’t mean that other parts of the world have failed to establish their own mythology. In fact, Slavic myth, though lesser-known, has deep roots. In fact, the roots of Slavic mythology can be traced back to the Proto-Indo European period, possibly even as far back as the Neolithic era.
In today’s video, we’re going to be focusing on a pivotal figure in Eastern European folklore- the BABA YAGA. If you aren’t familiar with Eastern European folklore, but still recognize the name Baba Yaga, then it’s probably because you heard it mentioned in the popular John Wick film franchise:
Viggo Tarasov: John was once an associate of ours. They call him Baba Yaga.
Iosef Tarasov: The boogeyman?
Viggo Tarasov: Well, John wasn't exactly the boogeyman. He was the one you sent to kill the f****** boogeyman!
And while John Wick is a bonafide killer- the Baba Yaga is certainly no slouch either. Let’s peel back the layers of the tale of the Baba Yaga- the child eating witch of Slavic folklore. I’m going to warn you- this thing is terrifying.
Described as "one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in eastern European folklore"- The Baba Yaga is a supernatural being resembling a deformed and ferocious looking old woman. The first clear reference to Baba Yaga occurs in Mikhail Lomonosov's 1755 text Rossiiskaia grammatika. In Lomonosov's text the Baba Yaga is mentioned twice among other figures largely from Slavic tradition. She was a guardian of the fountains of the water of life, and is said to have lived with two sisters (who were also known as ‘Baba Yaga’). Together they lived in a forest hut which stood on chicken legs. The stories dictate that the house would eerily spin atop the legs, and that the fence surrounding the home was topped with skulls. Many of the skulls atop the fence were said to have belonged to the children that she cooked and ate.
Because of her long, stretched out almost ‘skeletal’ appearance- Baba Yaga earned herself the epithet "bony leg". Consistent with many of the adaptations of the folklore that featured her, she would often be described as “stretched out over the stove” or “reaching from one corner of the hut to another”. This only further contributes to her terrifying appearance.
One thing worth mentioning, however, is that within Slavic folklore, the baba yaga has been portrayed in a few different ways. According to Vladimir Propp's folktale morphology, the Baba Yaga comes across as either an aid, villain, or something else altogether. Her depictions vary greatly across tales, ranging from a child-eating monster, to helping a protagonist find his missing bride.
Andreas Johns, an expert on Slavic folklore- has identified the Baba Yaga has highly "enigmatic" - known for exhibiting behaviour in accordance with “striking ambiguity". He describes her as "a many-faceted figure, capable of inspiring researchers to see her as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image".
However, one of the most common depictions of the Baba Yaga is the one that bears darker undertones- a ‘witch’ that bears a pestle and accompanies death on his travels, devouring newly released souls. This same Baba Yaga rides through the air in an iron kettle- releasing tempests as she moves.
There is no ‘one story’ of the Baba Yaga- as her presence is interwoven with slavic folklore as a whole, however, what you should take away from this video is that her existence is largely ‘ambiguous’, something that is emphasized through the diversity of her character in folklore.
That’s it for today’s video! If you enjoy the content, please like the video and subscribe to support the channel. As always, leave your video suggestions down below.
Until next time
“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark.”
Still loving these vids, just wish they were much longer, if you have any ideas that you could stretch closer to 15/20 mins that would be great
I was just thinking about this channel right before the notification came, best timing ever!!❤️
Wow so you are going to be making videos now on every mythology that's great.
Please make some Percy Jackson theories just like the Harry potter ones !! Love your vids as always ❤
????♀️?♀️first time I type "first" hahaha
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