Wild Woman Archetype: Who is Baba Yaga?

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

Wednesdays I devote the blog conversation to what I love about my genre — fantasy — and what I think y’all love about it, too. While I don’t have a Baba Yaga-like character in my YA fantasy novel, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, I do have an old mysterious and little bit scary witch. You’ll just have to read it if you’re curious for more!

Turns out Baba Yaga is more popular in the arts than I realized, having been featured in movies, games, comic books, novels and music.

She’s an old witch in Slavic and Russian folk tales. I associate her with these motifs:

  • Fire
  • A house that runs on chicken legs
  • She eats maidens
  • A rites of passage
  • Young adulthood
  • Scary
  • Thrill
  • Adventure
  • Ferocious
  • Cackling
  • The smell of rotten eggs and bean soup

For me: She mandates that we grow up, that we face our fears and see them for what they are: manifestations of the unknown.

She is the archetype of the wild woman crone. She we will become if we’re lucky enough to survive our fears and move mountains with our magic.

What was Baba Yaga like when she was 16 years old? Was she a scared girl walking into the woods to gather firewood?

What do you know and appreciate about Baba Yaga? What Wild Woman Archetype do you love?

Beth Barany writes young adult fantasy novels to empower girls and women to be the hero of their own lives. More at her author site here.

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  • Sara Haasis says:

    Orson Scott Card’s book Enchantment puts Baba Yaga in today’s world and explores a clever origin for her association with the house on chicken legs. I could see how the other characters grow up and abandon some of their childishness for their encounters with her. Other than that, I can’t think of anything else I’ve read where she was a character.

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