On my way to Baba’s

10 08 2006

On the Road to Baba Yaga’s 

I trot down the hillsides, leaning back as far as I dare to retain my balance (all of life is the Search for Balance, the gentle voice of my spirit whispers)

One sloping meadow after another, separated by small bluffs, or sometimes a scarring of scree on the hide of the mountain.

As I have travelled, I have sought gifts appropriate for Baba Yaga.  They are often a symbol for a gift I have been blessed with, for I wish to serve Baba with all of my gifts and skills.

I have a silvery-white feather, that looks as though it ought to have been shed from Pegasus himself, as he alighted on Mount Cynthus, and brought forth the Poets’ Sacred Spring.

It is believed that, if one drinks so much as a swallow of this precious water, they will know poetic fancy, and beautiful words thereafter.

As I wish to share my gift of words with Baba Yaga, this is kept and stroked to its original smoothness. I will bestow her with this as I bow humbly.

There is a sharp-edged stone, to stand for the events that shape us, and carve away what is no longer needed.

I found a wedge of deep green bottle glass, worn smooth and harmless by the gentle insistence of the water.  The glass will shine for the truth, “Change comes Slowly.”

Gathered while they were fragrant with dew, I bear dried flowers and grasses, representing the fecundity, and beauty of creativity.

Finally, I bring a pair of pearl earrings, for everyone’s spirit and creative self is a pearl of great price.

With these gifts in hand I approach Baba Yaga’s home.  It is pouring golden light from the windows and a fragrant curl of smoke punctuates the chimney.

Yes, this has to be the place; there is the fence and gate I have been warned about.  They should be ghastly, yet, they seem comfortable as they are, happy to be performing their function in Baba’s life.

Baba Yaga motions me in with a silencing motion of her finger to smiling lips.  I am waved into a sparsely furnished alcove. 

There on a desk of well-loved mahogany is a stack of parchment and a number of quill pens and pots of ink.  This is where I am to sit and Register.

I begin to fill out my registration; “I wish to serve Baba Yaga in the role of Librarian, so that all of Her precious Knowledge will be saved and shared.”

“I respect the power of the written and spoken word, I honour books by treating them with respect.  I do not break spines, or fold pages over to mark my place.”

“Organisation is one of my strong suits, my own grimoire is eclectic, and well-treated.  My entire library is arranged by the Dewey Decimal System, as are my 45’s, LP’s, Cassettes, CD’s and DVD’s.  I will bring this attention to detail to my work for Baba Yaga.”

“I will honour always, the gift of Baba’s hospitality, and celebrate the knowledge she can impart to me alongside the Flame.”

“In honest humility I give my gifts and time freely and joyously to Baba Yaga.  May She find them to be acceptable.”


Earth Honour Roll – Baba’s House

5 08 2006

Bugs, beetles and gnats surrounded the house and the darkness was pitch coloured, like Baba’s hair.  Belenus and I were peering through the glowing window, like we had when we were small.  It was quiet, and she was stirring her cauldron, singing a melancholy tune about things that were falsely labelled.  Her shelves were full of old jars and tins, and every now and then her wise eyes moved from her attention to the boiling cauldron, to the false labels on the shelf items.  “It never works,” we heard her say under her breath, lamenting in a fine howl “…the parade never stops.  The novelty never stops, the hurrying never stops.  Did I breed a child to make it wild, a world child running amok.”  And suddenly then, she cocked her head, instinct driven as she was, we knew she had sensed us at the window.  “You better own up and say we’re back,” I said to Belenus.  “Why me?  And face her wrath?  You do it, all your talk of circles and seeing things anew.”  Piercing him with my eyes in the darkness, I said, “How would you feel if every word you ever said went unheeded?  You don’t know about that because you are always at one with society.  And people say yes to you, but no to her.  If the situation were reversed, you would be feeling just like that.”  Belenus looked shocked, and shuffled his small hoofs in the dirt.

Baba’s voice called to us, a low dissatisfied query, to show ourselves or risk being eaten by her ill mood, and the creatures in the shadows.  Baba never liked folks messing around, you had to be to the point, and know why you were there.  I felt a bit sad for Belenus, and his pain hurt me, so I decided to move into the house and declare our presence there.  We sat in lame retreat on two wooden stools near a roaring fire.  Baba’s eyes glowed and speared us, not unkindly.  Belenus was shaking a little, and I sighed. 

“We haven’t been able to do what you asked,” I said, making a gesture of impotence with my hands.  “…er…and very little has come to pass.”  Baba sighed, and said:  “What do you mean?  Since you last came you are grown, indeed, much has come to pass.”  In her shelves there was a tiny globe of the world, lit up, suddenly growing larger, and she put down her stirring spoon and reached for the globe, placing it on the table before us.  She eyed the string that accompanied us, wrapped around my hand securely and Belenus’ left hoof, and smiled:  “I see also your navigating methods have changed, also, improved.  But you are still impatient, which is your greatest fault.”  “Blame him,” I said, in a knee jerk reaction, “He is the one who wants things done yesterday and wants to know everything without feeling it.”  Belenus looked crushed.  Baba ignored us, and bade us look at the globe, and spun it in her strong, earth/seed/root-like hands. 

“So many rushing, so many lights burning, but not many in the bodies I see rushing to and fro, too fast to read my signposts, my labels, my directions.  My jars and tins are labelled differently to those in the world, and I was gifted some, for research, as you can see.  Last visitor brought them, there have been many come lately, to be certain.”  I read them, and Belenus did so eagerly, saying the names aloud, “Win now,” “Grow thin”, “Eat this”, “Do this”, “Don’t think”, and “Do that without thinking, and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams”.  Baba made a face.  That last one was a long one, but Belenus could see it was on dozens of cans.  And as he read them out, his voice became quieter and quieter.  Then he remembered reading something about the Grail, and how its wisdom was paraded before the seeking knight hundreds of times before he became wise.  “So people are looking at the wrong labels after all.  And they sound good, indeed, there is nothing unsound about the words, except a certain lack of something.  A lack of substance.”

“Well done,” said Baba. “Will you both give me your labels of impatience and I will give you a little fire, to stir up your better memory?”  The fire roared suddenly, and we realised compared to it, ours had been all stifled by rules and labels, sticky notes and being called wrong names.  I looked at the shelf of earthly jars and tins, and noticed one labelled ubiquitously “Spam”.  This has become one of the most widely known labels, and everyone knew what it meant, whether it was for their greater good or not, I could not say.  And it actually really didn’t mean anything.  “Yes, yes of course we will,” we both said, our eyes being mesmerised, made heavy by the spinning globe.  She picked up our gifts and held them to the fire light, well pleased by those, but wasn’t very happy about how she had been drawn in the book of fairy tales, but said she would overlook it, as we weren’t the artists that drew them.  Belenus looked relieved.

“Sleep now, but mind, surrender those labels to the fire.  Both of you, curl up by the fire and sleep…just while I tend the cauldron of change, stir things up a little.”  We hesitantly did as asked, and nodded into a strange, but restful sleep as the smoke drifted out of the chimney, and into the dark night. 

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

The Road to Baba Yaga

4 08 2006

The path was long and hard. It twisted and twined, constantly turning back on itself; spiralling in and out like a circular labyrinth. The stones and pot holes were many, and the flowers were few. Even in the midst of a hot and warm summer, the sun hardly shone any of its rays on this road, preferring to let the clouds keep it hidden from view. On such a night as this then and on such a terrible journey into the fearsome unknown, I was glad to have in my safe keeping the doll that my good mother had bequeathed to me before she crossed over to the next world. It was enough just to touch her in order to feel her strength and grace infuse my innermost being. Through her presence I discovered my own courage to continue on, even in the face of the darkest fears.

Certain it was that Baba Yaga would see me, for she is the one who sees and knows all. It is even said that she can see into the future. She has known for a long time who it was who would be travelling on this path, on this dark, dark night, with only a dim crescent moon to illuminate the way. Knowing that Baba Yaga had the power to transform herself into whatever she chose, I watched fearfully from under my hood. Stumbling over tree roots and fallen branches, and tripping across stones and rocks that were strewn across the path, I fell forwards rather than walked, going deeper and deeper into the darkness, and the dense forest. Perhaps this is what the dark night of the soul looks like. Suddenly, without any warning sound of breaking twig or rustling leaves, a shadowy figure materialized ahead. So great was the fright that I was certain that whatever it was could hear the thudding beat of my heart. My hand found its way to the doll and, gripping her tightly, I asked this being in a trembling voice who it was, and what it wanted from me. Cackling loudly in response, the being, whatever it was, disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

Breathing deeply in an attempt to calm down, I slowly walked onwards. But some new and imperceptible force had entered my soul. The time had come to turn attention outwards, shifting the focus away from constant considerations of internal turmoil, and instead to become fully and totally present to the moment as it was at that very point in time . From here on I needed my wits about me. If I was to be ready for the next visitation, (for that there would be another, of that I was sure) it was necessary to be awake and aware — listening, hearing, seeing everything that lay in the surrounds. To do that required lowering my hood, and disrobing myself of that which offered shelter and comfort. It also meant acquiring a whole new, unknown, level of sensory perceptions.

The night sky seemed to grow darker, and the trees and undergrowth thicker, as the path went deeper into the forest. The only sounds to be heard were the creaking limbs of trees which made an eerie groaning noise as if they were issuing a warning to turn back now before it was too late. But I continued onwards. After some time a new sound became apparent. It sounded like the vague indistinct murmurings of whispers, and it seemed to be emanating from near me. After some investigation it transpired to be the doll talking, telling stories, incessantly speaking. For a long time it was impossible to decipher her meaning, if meaning there was to be found in what appeared no more than the mutterings of a mad one. But then slowly, very slowly it seemed as if perhaps some of the words made sense. The words grew into phrases, and then turned into sentences, and this is what I heard: ’’See with your inner eye. Hear with your inner ear. Touch with your heart. Feel with your soul. Remember always that you are not alone. Do you remember? Do you? Do you want to remember? Do you want to know who you are? Gaze at the moon. The moon and woman are one. Her mysteries are your mysteries. Be not afraid. Feel your way forward. You are going home.’’

For the remainder of the journey the doll, who appeared to be in full voice now, guided my every step. And so it was that after many more hours of wanderings through the dark woods, I finally came upon a cottage set in a glade. From a distance it looked like any other cottage, but as I came closer to it, it was evident that this was no ordinary house. This then must be the House of Baba Yaga.

Collecting and Wearing Badges – For Baba

4 08 2006


A young medical student writes, saying that “It goes without saying that we should be smartly dressed (in a white coat where appropriate) and have a prominent identification badge, but the real way that we distinguish ourselves as students is by taking the time to correctly identify and introduce ourselves to the patient concerned. Having given a reason why we are requesting their participation (as part of our ongoing learning), we then ask their permission to take a history and examine them, as medical students.

In my experience many doctors still choose to wear their white coat (the “classic trademark” of a medical student). In hospital we wear our stethoscopes around our necks because the pockets of our white coats are crammed full with textbooks and note pads, not because we want to be indistinguishable from doctors. Lets get real, the stethoscope is a medical instrument and not a badge of honour for doctors. Let your communication skills do the talking and not an obscure and arcane system related to the display (or not) of the symbols of our profession.

What badges of honour will you wear in order to help introduce yourself to Baba?


The Watcher

4 08 2006


The Watcher keeping me safe on the journey….


Photomontage: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006

Wandering Huts

2 08 2006

I have my doll. I will post her picture in due course. She has been with me for some time now, her wise beaded face taking care of me in dark times. I have tried several times to make another doll like her, but she is truly unique, a crone, witch, but also a beauty.

I am to go into the forest to meet the fearsome Baba Yaga. I have known about her from my earliest childhood. My grandparents were from Eastern Europe and she has been in my subconcious mind all my life. I did not realise her hut moved on its chicken legs. That I must see.

Before I leave I have to pack a bag for myself yet again. What to take this time? My journal, my camera, some photos of family, and my dog for company. When I ran away from home to get married for the first time I carried with me some clothing, my metronome and some volumes of piano music, Bach Beethoven Chopin and Schumann. I have always travelled light, and it seems appropriate to do so this time as well.

Now to see what I can find as I go. Baba Yaga – I am on my way.

Baba Yaga and I go way back

2 08 2006

We met again in this lifetime when I was still a young girl, when I found stories about her in my favorite magazine, Jack and Jill. That was before the Disney images eclipsed all the wonderful old art and primal fairy stories. I read and re-read those old Russian tales until the pages wore out. Now I realize that I’ve been doing labors for the Baba Yaga for eons, until I’ve lost count. I keep going back for more.

This time I have a powerful ally, my Coyote Gypsy Woman doll, whose electrifying red hair keeps trying to escape from my pocket. Baba Yaga almost smiles when she sees me, though it’s hard to tell since her face is so wrinkled. She senses the presence of my ally but indulges me because she knows she will win, in the end.

I’m ready for the next task, ma’am, I say, dropping my eyes out of respect. She hands me a twig broom that’s so worn it doesn’t appear that it could sweep anything.

Get busy, she mutters. Cleanse every corner of beliefs and attitudes that don’t serve you. You’re going to need all that psychic energy for more important tasks later.

I set to work sweeping her cottage. I feel at home in this place, surrounded as it is by skulls and bones. The wind also sweeps the high treetops, moaning and whistling at us. I feel that anything could happen here, that I’m in touch with the roots of the world.