In Slavic folklore, there is a character who goes by the name of Baba Yaga. She is the epitome of the crone; the spirit of the wholly integrated, wild woman archetype. And she is, perhaps, one of my greatest idols and allies as of lately. Being a woman of Slavic descent, Baba Yaga's whispers trace the stories of my own familial bloodline, although her image has been tainted and teachings damned somewhere along the line of Christianity's influence. If you're not familiar with Baba Yaga, I highly suggest getting to know her - she's full of surprises, in the best of ways and has plenty of wisdom to offer us, if we dare seek her out. But that, you will have to do of your own volition. Today, I'm providing you with a piece of writing by Eve Lubin Bradford to inspire that rekindling with Baba Yaga's ancient spirit. We all suckled from her breast once upon a time...
An Open Letter to Baba Yaga
I heard you call my name, and so here I come
lost and found again.
I come barefoot into the forest
seeking the dark of trees beyond lampposts
seeking the wet density
the hollow logs.
I come in a blood-stained dress, bramble-torn
and smelling of the animal inside me.
I am listening for your vulture call
for the sound of cracking bones
of boiling fat.
I come hungry and mostly unafraid,
though shivers run my spine.
I would climb inside your cauldron
I would be your winter soup
your midnight snack,
your final meat.
I hear you call out from those forgotten places
from the choose-your-own-adventure gone awry
screeching and clawing at the library door.
at first I thought it was our cat gone into heat
at first, I thought it was the wolf
come to blow blow blow my house down.
at first I was sure I heard uneven footsteps just beyond the gate
but then I heard my name amidst the howling
amidst the thunderstorm of shattered glass
and then my egg tooth began to chatter,
to gnaw my knuckle bone
and then my skin began to crawl
into the twilight
into the compost pile
into name we have for fecundity.
I felt the center of me blush
and rush to meet the sea.
of course they had warned me against you
with the tallest tales of stolen simmered children
lost to the hungry hearth of the chicken-footed house.
they told me the dew-covered dawn was your youngest son and servant
and the dusk your firstborn, dark and strong.
how they carry the faces of day on horseback
how your every wish is their only command
how they are the ones who know the song to make your house stand still long enough to come in,
or get out.
then, they lower their voices, and glancing over their shoulder
they tell me how your tongue is the snake
how your flying grinds bones into meal
how your bloody mouth never stops screaming the death of the world
how all the darkest shadows do your bidding.
alas they never told me
that your bidding was for the rising stars to keep up with their dancing
for night to always turn back into day.
they never told me that the death you offer brings all the world to life again
and spins a web of story, fine,
into which, at our best,
we become woven.
I heard you call you my name, and so here I come,
lost and found again.