BABA YAGA AND THE GODS
Longtime readers of the blog may remember that I have a devotional relationship with Baba Yaga. This is part of my practice of Slavic polytheism. I hadn’t really anticipated forming this relationship, and frankly I would discourage others from doing the same,* but it’s been rewarding and challenging in all kinds of unexpected ways.
People attempting to reconstruct a Pagan past have a habit of over-interpreting and finding Gods where there aren’t any. Baba Yaga is not exactly a deity.
And yet I worship her. I make offerings of vodka and chicken bones, per an agreement (or rather, a command) made years ago. I keep her image in my home. I wear a garish skull ring that draws lots of uncomfortable questions. I am engaged in ongoing acts of devotion to this strange figure from Russian folklore.
So if she’s not a Goddess, what is she? And why do I worship her?
I think she’s beyond the Gods, older and bigger and greater than all of them. At one point, a couple of years ago, I had a vision& of the heat-death of the universe. I saw galaxies collapsing, stars dying, and matter disintegrating. And the very last thing remaining in the universe, before all of existence blinked out—outliving even the Gods themselves—was Baba Yaga’s hut on its chicken legs. I don’t know exactly what Baba Yaga is, but whatever she is, that is a part of it.
Thor has to wrestle Utgarda-Loki’s frail, elderly nurse. She defeats him, and he is humiliated to have been bested in combat by a weak old woman, until it is revealed that she’s not just an old woman. Elli is old age itself, which none can defeat.
That, to me, is the sort of thing that Baba Yaga is. I don’t know if she’s an exact analogue to Elli, but I see a similar principle in her. She is the embodiment of something powerful and ancient, even beyond the Gods.
I see her as the embodiment of two principles that are beyond even the Gods: She is age and she is fate, embodied.