Do you like scary stories? This is one of my favorite. The characters and imagery are rich with lessons beyond the obvious warning to children not to wander into the woods alone. This story is about the innate inner voice of intuition that lives in each of us. As we approach Halloween and urban legend abound of spooks and ghosties, I am reminded of the real life terrors that keep the media rich with stories. When I feel myself shaken by tales of wrongs done to one lovely soul by another, I have to remember the inner warning system that I have been given. When I am scared, I just remember the Slavic fairy tale of Vasalissa and her encounter with dreaded witch Baba Yaga.
Once upon a time, because that is how most dark tales begin, a girl named Vasilissa wandered into the woods in search of a light. There she met with the dread witch, Baba Yaga. The witch tested the girl and made her do impossible tasks with the promise to kill her if they were not done to the witch’s pleasing. What the witch didn’t know is that Vasalissa had been given a special doll by her mother as her mother was dying. Her mother told her to keep the doll in her pocket and promised that the doll would take care of her. The doll helped Vasalissa complete the impossible tasks. The doll also helped her understand when to hold her tongue so as not to ask the wrong questions and anger the testy witch. One day, a pair of disembodied hands reached out to help the witch. The hands terrified the girl, but she could feel the doll jumping up and down in her pocket warning her not to ask about them. When Baba Yaga asked the girl why she didn’t ask about the hands and how she was so fortunate as to complete the impossible tasks, the girl told her she had been blessed by her mother. The witch became enraged and screamed, “I will have no blessings here!” She tossed the girl a skull with eyes glowing from a burning ember inside. The girl ran from the woods, grateful to her little doll, the blessing she had been given by her mother, for helping her to escape. She returned to her home, light in hand.