BABA YAGA – The Great Mother in Russian folklore is a large supernatural crone. She is wilder and older and odder than we can imagine. Like Sheela-na-gig or Kali she is a dark Goddess expressing life and death, birth and destruction. Baba Yaga draws our attention to the fact that she can be the very good mother or the very terrible mother. Her tale tells of her living far away from civilization in a hut in the woods full of birch trees. If people approached she would either joyfully eat them up and grind their bones or she might offer aid and compassion to those who have found themselves lost in their darkness.
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, a Jungian psychoanalyst says in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves, that Baba Yaga is a kind of prototype of primal womanhood, a being of enormous wild power. “Baba Yaga,” she writes, “is the very essence of an instinctive and complete soul. She knows everything that was before. She is a keeper of heavenly and earthly secrets. She inspires fear because she simultaneously personifies a destructive power and the power of creation and life.” Clarissa Pinola Estes describes Baba Yaga as, “…a representation of a great woman who sees clearly, is decisive and knows the patterns of the universe.”