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sexta-feira, 26 de outubro de 2007

BabaYaga e Wassilissa com a Festa da Partilha...

Vamos fazer 'uma primeira apresentação' do que estamos a construir com base na história de 'BabaYaga e Wassilissa'...

... ainda nos faltam alguns detalhes, por isso, esta primeira apresentação será enquadrada num registo de 'hora do conto' inserido nas comemorações da 'Festa da Partilha'

Desta apresentação seguirá o percurso de concepção deste espectáculo. Será um momento único de primeiro contacto, primeira fusão...

Quanto á Festa... segundo as tradições celtas por volta do dia 31 de Outubro, celebra-se o 'Samhain' conhecido entre nós como a Noite de Todos os Santos.

É uma festa de despedida, de transformação, de reflexão e de inícios.

Comemora-se a passagem do tempo, num ponto em que a Roda completou o seu ciclo, em que o fim e o começo se interligam.

Nesta data, relembram-se com amor os antepassados e as pessoas queridas que não estão já entre nós; e brinda-se ás crianças que nasceram. É uma celebração da morte e da vida.

O MACAPI chegou ao ponto de ligação entre o fim de um ano e o inicio de outro... e com o desejo de partilhar com os amigos, companheiros que nos acompanham e certamente acompanharam... vamos realizar dia 31 de Outubro, a partir das 17h, na Tuna Euterpe União Penedense situada na Aldeia do Penedo a 'Festa da Partilha da Noite de Todos Os Santos'

Uma festa que partilha várias comemorações...

Aqui depositamos toda a informação sobre a Festa...


segunda-feira, 3 de setembro de 2007

Hut On Hen’s Legs



The hut on hen’s legs in which the mythical Baba Yaga dwells is an interpretation of
an ordinary construction popular among hunter-nomadic peoples of Siberia. It was
invented to preserve food supplies against animals. A doorless and windowless log
cabin was built upon supports made from the stumps of two or three closely growing
trees cut at the height of eight to ten feet. The stumps, with their spreading roots,
resembled chicken legs. The only access into the cabin was via a trapdoor in the
middle of the floor. Bears are strong, smart and stubborn enough to break into any
door, but they couldn’t use a ladder or climb a rope to reach the trapdoor.

A similar but smaller construction was used by Siberian pagans to hold figurines of
their gods. Recalling the late matriarchy among Siberian peoples, a common picture
of a bone-carved doll in rags in a small cabin on top of a tree stump fits a common
description of Baba Yaga, who barely fits her cabin: legs in one corner, head in
another one, her nose grown into the ceiling.

There are indications that ancient Slavs had a funeral tradition of cremation in huts
of this type. In 1948 Russian archaeologists Yefimenko and Tretyakov discovered
small huts of the described type with traces of corpse cremation and circular fences
around them; yet another possible connection to the Baba Yaga myth.

sábado, 1 de setembro de 2007

BabaYaga - The Black Goddess





I have been thinking and thinking about the image and story of Baba Yaga now for months and wondering how girls and women can resolve the seemingly paradoxical story of a bony heartless witch with the image of innocence of a rejected and abandoned girl. The following essay outlines how we use myth and story to perpetuate unconscious mindsets and it also unveils the gifts that these stories unfold in our inner psyche.
The story of Baba Yaga is prime among many images of the Black Goddess. The Black Goddess is at the heart of all creative processes and cannot be so easily viewed. Men and women rarely approach her, except in fear. Women are learning of her through the strength and boldness of elder women who are not afraid to unveil her many faces.
Sofia as wisdom lies waiting to be discovered within the Black Goddess who is her mirror image. Knowing that, until we make that important recognition, we are going to have to face the hidden and rejected images of ourselves again and again.

As women, we are confronted throughout our lives with unavoidable body messages regarding the uniqueness of our form and the inevitable changes that characterize aging and the passage of time. Although aging presents difficult challenges for both men and women, women confront some specific difficulties because of their gender. In traditional narratives, the end of biological fertility has relegated women to the status of "old women" who are stereotypically viewed as poor, powerless, and pitiful in our sexist and youth oriented culture. Baba Yaga, often referred to as the Black Goddess, and Vasalisa, often representing Sophia (Matthew's 1992, p. 289-90), are intrinsic to the psyche of girls and women because they shows us that the illusion of form can hide wonderful qualities within.



One of the cruelest of stereotypes that older women face is the "menopausal woman." These are accentuated by the very fact that younger women are often rejecting or distancing to older women in society, unwilling to identify with women older than themselves. These experiences are painful confirmations that the aging woman no longer meets the social criteria of a physically and securely attractive woman. The common result for most women is the activation of shame -- as if becoming/looking older means that something is deeply and truly wrong with oneself.
Conscious femininity is a cyclic process (Woodman 1990) and involves an awakened awareness of the triple form of the Goddess - Mother, Virgin and Crone - and how she exists simultaneously and continuously in all of our psyches, each taking center stage in awareness at different moments. These archetypal patterns are considered intrapsychic modes of consciousness in the individual, and the primordial image of a powerful and integrated woman, crowned with wisdom gleaned through real experience, is again reemerging through both the individual and collective psyches of humanity. First, however, women must learn to embrace, respect and honor their changing bodies, abilities, capacities and WISDOM. We can learn a lot from Baba Yaga!
An archetype is a universal symbol, an inherited mental image to which humankind responds, and which is often acted upon as an unconscious reaction to human experience. These stories are no different and the story of Baba Yaga exemplify this phenomena. The female experience is symbolized by and archetypally corresponds with the ancient Triple Goddess as the creator and destroyer of all life -- "the ancient and venerable female divinity embodying the whole of female experience as Virgin, Mother, Crone" (Mantecon 1993, p. 81). The archetypal figure representing the end of a woman's childbearing years, or the "third age" for women, is the third aspect of the Triple Goddess, the Crone.
At the climacteric or menopause, women are often forced to stand precipitously between the culmination of past experiences, to realize that youth is left behind, and prepare a new space within whereby a fresh image will coalesce as she envisions her future. This is real labor. The traditional constructs that are available to women are largely influenced by patriarchal standards of youth and beauty and we need fresh constructs that honor the diversity of life in all of its forms.
When a culture's language has no word to connote "wise elder woman," what happens to the women who carry the "Grandmother" consciousness for the collective? Prejudicial (prejudged) attacks throughout history against older women symbolized patriarchy's feminization of fear: the ultimate fear of annihilation, to be nonexistent (no existence). Centuries-long indoctrination limits our imagination so that we see this ancient aspect of the feminine only in her negative forms. We see her as the one who brings death to our old way of being, to our lives as we have known them, and to our embodied selves.
Our fear of the unconscious makes the Crone or Baba into an image of evil. The prevalence of paranoid masochism finds its expression through feminine perversion. Kristeva (1986) writes from "Stabat Matar" that: "Feminine perversion is coiled up in the desire for law as desire for reproduction and continuity, it promotes feminine masochism to the rank of structure stabilizer" (p. 183).
Structure stabilizer! Natural death is to be feared, hidden away, certainly not recognized as part of the natural rhythm of cycles of birth, death and rebirth? Only when death becomes projected does it become a monster to be feared. There is an unconscious belief that a woman who has outlived her husband has somehow used up his life force. Walker (1985) claims that the secret hidden in the depths of men's minds is that images of women are often identified with death. Women have also bought into this mindset largely because of lost connection with their own spirituality and the natural cycles of nature!

To be sent to Baba Yaga was tantamount to being sent to one's death, but Vasalisa was actually helped by Baba Yaga. By facing her own worst fear -- death itself, Vasalisa became liberated from her previous situation and immaturity.
The myths of our society tell us much about the attitudes and world view of the myth-owners (Kaufert 1982), and these attitudes are the products of women's roles within the wider society. Myth arises out of the collective level of humankind's experience, which is presented through images and symbols that resonate within our psyche. It is something we inherit from our ancestors and it is expressed through our genetic, racial memory. Kaufert (1982) reminds us however, that "myth is a system of values presented as if it were a system of facts" (p. 143).
The symbol of the Crone is unique to a feminine worldview where the face of the Virgin and the fecund Mother, the Virgin Mother Mary, was absorbed in Western tradition into Judeo-Christian imagery. Likewise, we see the image of Vasalisa embodied as this innocence. The Crone has retained much of her pre-patriarchial character where she has haunted the fringes of Western culture, largely ignored, unacknowledged and rejected; one that often strikes fear into the hearts of men and some women because she has tremendous power and cannot be confined (Hall 1992). "Wise women," in the past, were literally seen as having the power of life and death. They symbolized maturity, authority, attuned to nature and instinct. They were women whom men could not bind by making pregnant. They personified, as Hall (1992) writes:


That aspect of life that men would most like to control but against which they are powerless: death. The Crone was healer, seer, medicine woman and, when death arrived with inexorable certainty, she was the mid-wife for the transition to another life (p. 170).



Over time, and in recent history the Crone became associated with the dark side of the feminine; the withered old hag, the witch. Ironically, the word "Hag" used to mean "holy one" from the Greek hadia, as in hagiolatry, "worship of saints." (Starck 1993). And during the middle ages hag was said to mean the same as fairy.
In deconstructing these familiar images of the older aging woman, we must first identify their symbolic roots and challenge them in order to allow for potent, vital images that energize women's potential creative spiritual evolution. In this quest it is crucial to find valued female images that present creative and spiritual power, that offer a paradigm of ongoing formation and integration. If we do not do so, we risk encountering images of women that reinforce stereotypical models and moreover, can only alienate us from our own truest selves.
The Crone is a figure who incorporates both dark and light, life and death, creation and destruction, form and dissolution. The doll [Vasalisa's doll, given to her by her dying mother] becomes the symbol of the Sibyl, a figure of inspiration and intuition. She acts as a guide through the great passages of life, leading a woman into her own inner knowing.



We see this in the story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga, the innocence of the maiden coming of age through a series of tasks. Baba Yaga forces Vasalisa to look within through intuition (the doll) and she awakens to the illuminating light that is carried in her heart. Within the simple limits of a folk story, the interactions of Sophia (Vasalisa) and the Black Goddess (Baba Yaga) are demonstrated. Baba Yaga or the Crone also embodies the inner archetype of Sophia, feminine wisdom. Hall (1992) writes:
Sophia is a Wise Woman, one who epitomizes feminine thought. This thought is of a particular kind. It is 'gestalt' or whole perception; it synthesizes and looks at the overall pattern; it is logical but empathetic, and combines acute observation with intuition. It is relational (taking account of the past in order to project forward into the future), and it arises out of care and concern for man and womankind. It uses both the left and right brain modes of thought. It is creative and concerned with vision and solutions -- attributes which are an integral part of the Wise Woman (p. 179).
Sophia plays, hides, adepts, disguises, and brings justice. Interestingly, we see these very same qualities attributed to the wise woman as being Vasalisa's, only not fully formed. Thus affirming the feminist perspective of the Goddess in all of her aspects and that all ways to wisdom are valid paths. Girls and women are encouraged to rely on their own subjective experience or on the communal experience of other women This is a very important point!
From a feminist perspective, the entry into the third phase of women's life is seen as a time of spiritual questing, renewal and self-development. It is a time where women are encouraged to explore themselves through interaction with other females who are providers of friendship, support, love, even sexual satisfaction, rather than a woman's family.



Likewise, the young girl growing into maidenhood needs the guidance and wisdom that elder women can provide. She must receive the gifts that the wise ones can give her. Baba Yaga may appear as a witch, yet she is instrumental in folk traditions. She aids heroes to find weapons, simplifying tasks and quests when she is treated with courtesy. Her transposed reflection is none other than Vasilisa the fair - the young righteous maiden who defeats her opposite aspect by truth and integrity (Matthews 1992)
The older woman is the keeper of the wisdom and tradition in her family, clan, tribe, and community. She is the keeper of relations, whether they be interpersonal or with all of nature. Every issue is an issue of relationship. It is assumed that she has a deep understanding of the two great mysteries, birth and death.
Another quality is the ability to be mediator between the world of spirit and earth. She is emancipated from traditional female roles of mothering and is free to make a commitment to the greater community. As a result of this freedom, there is an abundance of creativity unleashed in this phase of life; often expressed through art, poetry, song, dance, and crafts, and through her sexuality as she celebrates her joy (Joussance).
This elder time must again become a stage of life revered and honored by others and used powerfully in service by women themselves. The elder "Wise-woman" can represent precisely the kind of power women so desperately need today, and do not have: the power to force the hand of the ruling elite to do what is right, for the benefit of future generations and of the earth itself.





Like Baba Yaga, the Crone must help us by her example and "admonish us to revere all peoples and all circles of life upon this earth . . . not only important for the dignity and self-esteem of each woman, but vital for the countenance of life on our sweet Mother Earth" (Eagle). Since men define power as the capacity to destroy, the Destroying Mother Crone must be the most powerful female image for them, therefore, the only one likely to force them (us) in any new direction.
A woman who denies her life process at any time in her development, clinging desperately to outmoded images, myths and rituals of her past, obscures her connection with Self, the Divine, and therefore, with her spiritual heritage, the natural universe. The same holds true for our daughters, maidens who are coming of age. There is a kind of internal balance and sense of holiness available to us when we accept ourselves as part of a world that honors cycles, changes, decay and rebirth. It is time for women to reflect and give form to the authentic self in its evolving, formative process. The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age with labor. There are not many who will help her with that birth. To Crone is to birth oneself as "Wise-woman," and see the world through new eyes.
We have not had the safety valve of feminine metaphor in our spiritual understanding; consequently, the Feminine, both Divine and human, have appeared monstrously contorted, threatening and uncontrollable.
The Black Goddess lies at the basis of Spiritual knowing, which is why her image continuously appears within many traditions as the Veiled Goddess, the Black Virgin, the Outcast Daughter, the Wailing Widow, the Dark Woman of Knowledge.
The way of Sophia is the way of personal experience. It takes us into the realm of "magical reality," those areas of our lives where extraordinary vocational and creative skills are called upon to manifest. Those treasures of Baba Yaga and Vasalisa lie deep within each of us, waiting to be discovered.



Author of text is unknown.

REFERENCES:
Matthews, Caitlin. (1992) Sophia Goddess of Wisdom: the divine feminine
from black goddess to world-soul. London, Eng.: Thorsons, p. 289-90)

Starck, Marcia. (1993) Medicine ways: cross-cultural rites of passage.
Freedom, CA: Crossing Press.

Tijerina-Jim, Aleticia. (1993) Three native american women speak about
the significance of ceremony. Women and therapy: a feminist quarterly, 14 (1/2), p. 33-39.

Audio
Eagle, Brooke Medicine. Grandmother wisdom: lessons of the moon-pause.
Guerneville, CA: Harmony Network Productions

Wassilissa

Vasilissa the Beautiful is a Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.

Another of the many versions of the tale also appears in A Book of Enchantments and Curses (under the title Vasilissa Most Lovely), by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
Aleksandr Rou made this fairy tale into a film, Vasilissa the Beautiful in 1939; it was the first large budget feature in the Soviet Union to use fantasy elements, as opposed to the realistic style long favored politically.

Synopsis

A merchant had, by his first wife, a single daughter, who was known as Vasilissa the Beautiful. When she was eight years old, her mother died. On her deathbed, she gave Vasilissa a tiny wooden doll with instructions to give it a little to eat and a little to drink if she were in need, and then it would help her. As soon as her mother died, Vasilissa gave it a little to drink and a little to eat, and it comforted her.
After a time, her father remarried, to a woman with two daughters. Her stepmother was very cruel to her, but with the help of the doll, Vasilissa was able to perform all the tasks imposed on her. When young men came wooing, the stepmother rejected them all because it was not proper for the younger to marry before the older, whereas none of suitors wished to marry Vasilissa's stepsisters.
One day the merchant had to embark on a journey. His wife sold the house and moved them all to a gloomy hut by the forest. One day she gave each of the girls a task and put out all the fires except a single candle. Her older daughter then put out the candle, whereupon they sent Vasilissa to fetch light from Baba Yaga's hut. The doll advised her to go, and she went. While she was walking, a mysterious man rode by her in the hours before dawn, dressed in white, riding a white horse whose equipment was all white; then a similar rider in red. She came to a house that stood on chicken legs, and was walled by a fence made of human bones. A black rider, like the white and red rider, rode past her, and night fell, whereupon the eye sockets of the skulls became luminous. Vasilissa was too frightened to run away, and so Baba Yaga found her when she arrived in her mortar.

Baba Yaga said that she must perform tasks to earn the fire, on pain of death. For the first task, Vasilissa must clean the house and yard, cook supper, and pick out black grains and wild peas from a quarter measure of wheat. Baba Yaga left, and the doll did the work while Vasilissa cooked. At dawn, the white rider passed; at or before noon, the red. When the black rider rode passing, Baba Yaga returned and could complain of nothing. She bade three pairs of disembodied hands seize the grain to grind it, and set Vasilissa the same tasks for the next day, with the addition of cleaning poppy seeds that had been mixed with dirt. Again, the doll did all except cooking the meal. Baba Yaga set the three pairs of hands to press the oil from the poppy seeds.
Vasilissa, having gained courage as well as permission, asked about the riders's identities and was told that the white one was Day, the red one the Sun, and the black one Night. Other details are not explained, on the grounds that Baba Yaga preferred to keep them secret. In return, Baba Yaga inquired into the cause of Vasilissa's success. On hearing the answer "by my mother's blessing", Baba Yaga sent Vasilissa home. With her was sent a luminously-eyed skull, to provide light for her in-laws. The said light literally burned the in-laws to ashes.
Later, Vasilissa became assistant to a maker of cloth in Russia's capital city, where she became so skilled at her work that the czar himself noticed her skill. He ultimately married Vasilissa for her beauty.

Variants

In some versions, the tale ends with the death of the stepmother and stepsisters, and Vasilissa lives peacefully with her father after their removal. This is unusual in a tale with a grown heroine, but is found in few other tales, although some, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, do feature it.

Commentary

The white, red, and black riders appear in other tales of Baba Yaga and are often interpreted to give her a mythological significance.
In common with many folklorists of his day, Alexander Afanasyev regarded many tales as primitive ways of viewing natures. In such an interpretation, he regarded this fairy tale as depicting the conflict between the sunlight (Vasilissa), the storm (her stepmother), and dark clouds (her stepsisters).

BabaYaga

Baba Yaga (Russian: Ба́ба-Яга́), is, in Slavic folklore, the wild old woman; the witch; and mistress of magic. She is also seen as a forest spirit, leading hosts of spirits.

Etymology

The name differs within the various Slavic languages. "Baba Yaga" is spelled "Baba Jaga" in Polish and as "Ježibaba" in Czech, and Slovak. In Slovene, the words are reversed, producing Jaga Baba. The Russian is Бáба-Ягá; Bosnian is Baba Roga, Bulgarian uses Баба Яга and Ukrainian, Баба Яґа; all of the last three are translated as Baba Yaga.
In South Slavic languages and traditions, there is a similar old witch: Baba Roga (Croatian and Bosnian), cyrillic equivalent Баба Рога (Macedonian and Serbian). The word Roga implies that she has horns.
The name of Baba Yaga is composed of two elements. Baba (originally a child's word) means an older or married woman of lower social class or simply grandmother in most Slavic languages. Yaga is a diminutive form of the Slavic name Jadwiga: (Jaga/Jagusia/Jadzia, etc.), although some etymologists conjecture other roots for the word. For example, Vasmer mentions the Proto-Slavic ęgа.

Folklore

In Russian tales, Baba Yaga is portrayed as a hag who flies through the air in a mortar, using the pestle as a rudder and sweeping away the tracks behind her with a broom made out of silver birch. She lives in a log cabin that moves around on a pair of dancing chicken legs. The keyhole to her front door is a mouth filled with sharp teeth; the fence outside is made with human bones with skulls on top — often with one pole lacking its skull, so there is space for the hero or heroes. In another legend, the house does not reveal the door until it is told a magical phrase: Turn your back to the forest, your front to me.


In some tales, her house is connected with three riders: one in white, riding a white horse with white harness, who is Day; a red rider, who is the Sun; and one in black, who is Night. She is served by invisible servants inside the house. She will explain about the riders if asked, but may kill a visitor who inquires about the servants. Baba Yaga is sometimes shown as an antagonist, and sometimes as a source of guidance; there are stories where she helps people with their quests, and stories in which she kidnaps children and threatens to eat them. Seeking out her aid is usually portrayed as a dangerous act. An emphasis is placed on the need for proper preparation and purity of spirit, as well as basic politeness.
In the folk tale Vasilissa the Beautiful, the young girl of the title is sent to visit Baba Yaga on an errand and is enslaved by her, but the hag's servants — a cat, a dog, a gate and a tree — help Vasilissa to escape because she has been kind to them. In the end, Baba Yaga is turned into a crow. Similarly, Prince Ivan in The Death of Koschei the Deathless is aided against her by animals whom he has spared.
In another version of the Vasilissa story recorded by Alexander Afanasyev (Narodnye russkie skazki, vol 4, 1862), Vasilissa is given three impossible tasks that she solves using a magic doll given to her by her mother.
Baba Yaga in Polish folklore differs in details. For example, the Polish Baba Jaga's house has only one chicken leg. Bad witches living in gingerbread houses are also commonly named Baba Jaga.
In some fairy tales, such as The Feather of Finist the Falcon, the hero meets not with one but three Baba Yagas. Such figures are usually benevolent, giving the hero advice or magical presents, or both.

Cabin on chicken legs

A "cabin on chicken legs with no windows and no doors" in which Baba Yaga dwells sounds like pure fantasy. In fact, this is an interpretation of an ordinary construction popular among hunter-nomadic peoples of Siberia of Uralic (Finno-Ugric) and Tungusic families, invented to preserve supplies against animals during long periods of absence. A doorless and windowless log cabin is built upon supports made from the stumps of two or three closely grown trees cut at the height of eight to ten feet. The stumps, with their spreading roots, give a good impression of "chicken legs". The only access into the cabin is via a trapdoor in the middle of the floor. Bears are strong, smart and stubborn enough to break into any door, but they cannot use a ladder or climb a rope to reach the trapdoor.[citation needed]
A similar but smaller construction was used by Siberian pagans to hold figurines of their gods. Recalling the late matriarchy among Siberian peoples, a common picture of a bone-carved doll in rags in a small cabin on top of a tree stump fits a common description of Baba Yaga, who barely fits her cabin: legs in one corner, head in another one, her nose grown into the ceiling.[citation needed]
There are indications that ancient Slavs had a funeral tradition of cremation in huts of this type. In 1948 Russian archaeologists Yefimenko and Tretyakov discovered small huts of the described type with traces of corpse cremation and circular fences around them; yet another possible connection to the Baba Yaga myth.


Baba Yaga in popular culture

Baba Yaga has been featured in music, film, roleplaying games, modern fiction, videogames, comic books, and other media as well.

Film

Baba Yaga is a favorite subject of Russian films and cartoons. The animated film Bartok the Magnificent features Baba Yaga as a main character, but is not the antagonist. Indeed, the film Vasilissa the Beautiful by Aleksandr Rou, featuring Baba Yaga, was the first feature with fantasy elements in the Soviet Union.

Music

There are two well-known musical references to Baba Yaga. The ninth piece in Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite originally composed for piano (though more famous in its orchestration by Ravel), is entitled "The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)". When the progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer performed an adaptation of Mussorgsky's suite, they included Mussorgsky's piece about the hut of Baba Yaga as well as a new track entitled "The Curse of Baba Yaga." In the symphonic poem "Baba Yaga" (Op. 56) by Anatoly Lyadov, the music depicts Baba Yaga summoning her mortar, pestle and broomstick, then flying off through the forest.

Modern Fiction

She makes a brief appearance in The Sandman: Fables and Reflections, where she receives the emerald heart of Koschei.
She is also a character in Bill Willingham's graphic novel series, Fables (Vertigo). She is introduced in Volume 4, entitled March of the Wooden Soldiers.

Games

Baba Yaga has made several appearances in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. Baba Yaga's hut is mentioned as an artifact in the first edition Dungeon Master's Guide (1979), by Gary Gygax. Two adventures taking place in Baba Yaga's hut were also published for the game.[5] She has also appeared in computer games, such as Quest for Glory, where she is the main villain.

Vasilissa the Beautiful 1

IN a certain Tsardom,2 across three times nine kingdoms, beyond high mountain chains, there once lived a merchant.3 He had been married for twelve years, but in that time there had been born to him only one child, a daughter, who from her cradle was called Vasilissa the Beautiful. When the little girl was eight years old the mother fell ill, and before many days it was plain to be seen that she must die.4 So she called her little daughter to her, and taking a tiny wooden doll5 from under the blanket of the bed, put it into her hands and said:

"My little Vasilissa, my dear daughter, listen to what I say, remember well my last words and fail not to carry out my wishes. I am dying, and with my blessing, I leave to thee this little doll. It is very precious for there is no other like it in the whole world. Carry it always about with thee in thy pocket and never show it to anyone. When evil threatens thee or sorrow befalls thee, go into a corner, take it from thy pocket and give it something to eat and drink. It will eat and drink a little, and then thou mayest tell it thy trouble and ask its advice, and it will tell thee how to act in thy time of need."6 So saying, she kissed her little daughter on the forehead, blessed her, and shortly after died.

Little Vasilissa grieved greatly for her mother, and her sorrow was so deep that when the dark night came, she lay in her bed and wept and did not sleep. At length she be thought herself of the tiny doll, so she rose and took it from the pocket of her gown and finding a piece of wheat bread and a cup of kvass,7 she set them before it, and said: "There, my little doll, take it. Eat a little, and drink a little, and listen to my grief. My dear mother is dead and I am lonely for her."

Then the doll's eyes began to shine like fireflies, and suddenly it became alive. It ate a morsel of the bread and took a sip of the kvass, and when it had eaten and drunk, it said:

"Don't weep, little Vasilissa. Grief is worst at night. Lie down, shut thine eyes, comfort thyself and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening." So Vasilissa the Beautiful lay down, comforted herself and went to sleep, and the next day her grieving was not so deep and her tears were less bitter.

Now after the death of his wife, the merchant sorrowed for many days as was right, but at the end of that time he began to desire to marry again and to look about him for a suitable wife. This was not difficult to find, for he had a fine house, with a stable of swift horses, besides being a good man who gave much to the poor. Of all the women he saw, however, the one who, to his mind, suited him best of all, was a widow of about his own age with two daughters of her own, and she, he thought, besides being a good housekeeper, would be a kind foster mother to his little Vasilissa.

So the merchant married the widow and brought her home as his wife, but the little girl soon found that her foster mother was very far from being what her father had thought. She was a cold, cruel woman, who had desired the merchant for the sake of his wealth, and had no love for his daughter. Vasilissa was the greatest beauty in the whole village, while her own daughters were as spare and homely as two crows, and because of this all three envied and hated her. They gave her all sorts of errands to run and difficult tasks to perform, in order that the toil might make her thin and worn and that her face might grow brown from sun and wind, and they treated her so cruelly as to leave few joys in life for her. But all this the little Vasilissa endured without complaint, and while the stepmother's two daughters grew always thinner and uglier, in spite of the fact that they had no hard tasks to do, never went out in cold or rain, and sat always with their arms folded like ladies of a Court, she herself had cheeks like blood and milk and grew every day more and more beautiful.

Now the reason for this was the tiny doll, without whose help little Vasilissa could never have managed to do all the work that was laid upon her. Each night, when everyone else was sound asleep, she would get up from her bed, take the doll into a closet, and locking the door, give it something to eat and drink, and say: "There, my little doll, take it. Eat a little, drink a little, and listen to my grief. I live in my father's house, but my spiteful stepmother wishes to drive me out of the white world. Tell me! How shall I act, and what shall I do?"

Then the little doll's eyes would begin to shine like glow- worms, and it would become alive. It would eat a little food, and sip a little drink, and then it would comfort her and tell her how to act. While Vasilissa slept, it would get ready all her work for the next day, so that she had only to rest in the shade and gather flowers, for the doll would have the kitchen garden weeded, and the beds of cabbage watered, and plenty of fresh water brought from the well, and the stoves heated exactly right. And, besides this, the little doll told her how to make, from a certain herb, an ointment which prevented her from ever being sunburnt. So all the joy in life that came to Vasilissa came to her through the tiny doll that she always carried in her pocket.

Years passed, till Vasilissa grew up and became of an age when it is good to marry. All the young men in the village, high and low, rich and poor, asked for her hand, while not one of them stopped even to look at the stepmother's two daughters, so ill-favored were they. This angered their mother still more against Vasilissa; she answered every gallant who came with the same words: "Never shall the younger be wed before the older ones!" and each time, when she had let a suitor out of the door, she would soothe her anger and hatred by beating her stepdaughter. So while Vasilissa grew each day more lovely and graceful, she was often miserable, and but for the little doll in her pocket, would have longed to leave the white world.

Now there came a time when it became necessary for the merchant to leave his home and to travel to a distant Tsardom. He bade farewell to his wife and her two daughters, kissed Vasilissa and gave her his blessing and departed, bidding them say a prayer each day for his safe return. Scarce was he out of sight of the village, however, when his wife sold his house, packed all his goods and moved with them to another dwelling far from the town, in a gloomy neighborhood on the edge of a wild forest. Here every day, while her two daughters were working indoors, the merchant's wife would send Vasilissa on one errand or other into the forest, either to find a branch of a certain rare bush or to bring her flowers or berries.

Now deep in this forest, as the stepmother well knew, there was a green lawn and on the lawn stood a miserable little hut on hens' legs, where lived a certain Baba Yaga, an old witch grandmother. She lived alone and none dared go near the hut, for she ate people as one eats chickens. The merchant's wife sent Vasilissa into the forest each day, hoping she might meet the old witch and be devoured; but always the girl came home safe and sound, because the little doll showed her where the bush, the flowers and the berries grew, and did not let her go near the hut that stood on hens' legs. And each time the stepmother hated her more and more because she came to no harm.

One autumn evening the merchant's wife called the three girls to her and gave them each a task. One of her daughters she bade make a piece of lace, the other to knit a pair of hose, and to Vasilissa she gave a basket of flax to be spun. She bade each finish a certain amount. Then she put out all the fires in the house, leaving only a single candle lighted in the room where the three girls worked, and she herself went to sleep.

They worked an hour, they worked two hours, they worked three hours, when one of the elder daughters took up the tongs to straighten the wick of the candle. She pretended to do this awkwardly (as her mother had bidden her) and put the candle out, as if by accident.

"What are we to do now?" asked her sister. "The fires are all out, there is no other light in all the house, and our tasks are not done."

"We must go and fetch fire," said the first. "The only house near is a hut in the forest, where a Baba Yaga lives. One of us must go and borrow fire from her."

"I have enough light from my steel pins," said the one who was making the lace, "and I will not go."

"And I have plenty of light from my silver needles," said the other, who was knitting the hose, "and I will not go.

"Thou, Vasilissa," they both said, "shalt go and fetch the fire, for thou hast neither steel pins nor silver needles and cannot see to spin thy flax!" They both rose up, pushed Vasilissa out of the house and locked the door, crying:

"Thou shalt not come in till thou hast fetched the fire."

Vasilissa sat down on the doorstep, took the tiny doll from one pocket and from another the supper she had ready for it, put the food before it and said: "There, my little doll, take it. Eat a little and listen to my sorrow. I must go to the hut of the old Baba Yaga in the dark forest to borrow some fire and I fear she will eat me. Tell me! What shall I do?"

Then the doll's eyes began to shine like two stars and it became alive. It ate a little and said: "Do not fear, little Vasilissa. Go where thou hast been sent. While I am with thee no harm shall come to thee from the old witch." So Vasilissa put the doll back into her pocket, crossed herself and started out into the dark, wild forest.

Whether she walked a short way or a long way the telling is easy, but the journey was hard. The wood was very dark, and she could not help trembling from fear. Suddenly she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and a man on horseback galloped past her. He was dressed all in white, the horse under him was milk-white and the harness was white, and just as he passed her it became twilight.

She went a little further and again she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and there came another man on horseback galloping past her. He was dressed all in red, and the horse under him was blood-red and its harness was red, and just as he passed her the sun rose.

That whole day Vasilissa walked, for she had lost her way. She could find no path at all in the dark wood and she had no food to set before the little doll to make it alive.

But at evening she came all at once to the green lawn where the wretched little hut stood on its hens' legs. The wall around the hut was made of human bones and on its top were skulls. There was a gate in the wall, whose hinges were the bones of human feet and whose locks were jaw-bones set with sharp teeth. The sight filled Vasilissa with horror and she stopped as still as a post buried in the ground.

As she stood there a third man on horseback came galloping up. His face was black, he was dressed all in black, and the horse he rode was coal-black. He galloped up to the gate of the hut and disappeared there as if he had sunk through the ground and at that moment the night came and the forest grew dark.

But it was not dark on the green lawn, for instantly the eyes of all the skulls on the wall were lighted up and shone till the place was as bright as day. When she saw this Vasilissa trembled so with fear that she could not run away.

Then suddenly the wood became full of a terrible noise; the trees began to groan, the branches to creak and the dry leaves to rustle, and the Baba Yaga came flying from the forest. She was riding in a great iron mortar and driving it with the pestle, and as she came she swept away her trail behind her with a kitchen broom.

She rode up to the gate and stopping, said:

Little House, little House, Stand the way thy mother placed thee, Turn thy back to the forest and thy face to me!

And the little hut turned facing her and stood still. Then smelling all around her, she cried: "Foo! Foo! I smell a smell that is Russian. Who is here?"

Vasilissa, in great fright, came nearer to the old woman and bowing very low, said: "It is only Vasilissa, grandmother. My stepmother's daughters sent me to thee to borrow some fire."

"Well," said the old witch, "I know them. But if I give thee the fire thou shalt stay with me some time and do some work to pay for it. If not, thou shalt be eaten for my supper." Then she turned to the gate and shouted: "Ho! Ye, my solid locks, unlock! Thou, my stout gate, open!" Instantly the locks unlocked, the gate opened of itself, and the Baba Yaga rode in whistling. Vasilissa entered behind her and immediately the gate shut again and the locks snapped tight.

When they had entered the hut the old witch threw her self down on the stove, stretched out her bony legs and said:

"Come, fetch and put on the table at once everything that is in the oven. I am hungry." So Vasilissa ran and lighted a splinter of wood from one of the skulls on the wall and took the food from the oven and set it before her. There was enough cooked meat for three strong men. She brought also from the cellar kvass, honey, and red wine, and the Baba Yaga ate and drank the whole, leaving the girl only a little cabbage soup, a crust of bread and a morsel of suckling pig.

When her hunger was satisfied, the old witch, growing drowsy, lay down on the stove and said: "Listen to me well, and do what I bid thee. Tomorrow when I drive away, do thou clean the yard, sweep the floors and cook my supper. Then take a quarter of a measure of wheat from my store house and pick out of it all the black grains and the wild peas. Mind thou dost all that I have bade; if not, thou shalt be eaten for my supper."

Presently the Baba Yaga turned toward the wall and began to snore and Vasilissa knew that she was fast asleep. Then she went into the corner, took the tiny doll from her pocket, put before it a bit of bread and a little cabbage soup that she had saved, burst into tears and said: "There, my little doll, take it. Eat a little, drink a little, and listen to my grief. Here I am in the house of the old witch and the gate in the wall is locked and I am afraid. She has given me a difficult task and if I do not do all she has bade, she will eat me tomorrow. Tell me: What shall I do?"

Then the eyes of the little doll began to shine like two candles. It ate a little of the bread and drank a little of the soup and said: "Do not be afraid, Vasilissa the Beautiful. Be comforted. Say thy prayers, and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening." So Vasilissa trusted the little doll and was comforted. She said her prayers, lay down on the floor and went fast asleep.

When she woke next morning, very early, it was still dark. She rose and looked out of the window, and she saw that the eyes of the skulls on the wall were growing dim. As she looked, the man dressed all in white, riding the milk-white horse, galloped swiftly around the corner of the hut, leaped the wall and disappeared, and as he went, it became quite light and the eyes of the skulls flickered and went out. The old witch was in the yard; now she began to whistle and the great iron mortar and pestle and the kitchen broom flew out of the hut to her. As she got into the mortar the man dressed all in red, mounted on the blood-red horse, galloped like the wind around the corner of the hut, leaped the wall and was gone, and at that moment the sun rose. Then the Baba Yaga shouted: "Ho! Ye, my solid locks, unlock! Thou, my stout gate, open!" And the locks unlocked and the gate opened and she rode away in the mortar, driving with the pestle and sweeping away her path behind her with the broom.

When Vasilissa found herself left alone, she examined the hut, wondering to find it filled with such an abundance of everything. Then she stood still, remembering all the work that she had been bidden to do and wondering what to begin first. But as she looked she rubbed her eyes, for the yard was already neatly cleaned and the floors were nicely swept, and the little doll was sitting in the storehouse picking the last black grains and wild peas out of the quarter- measure of wheat.

Vasilissa ran and took the little doll in her arms. "My dearest little doll!" she cried. "Thou hast saved me from my trouble! Now I have only to cook the Baba Yaga's supper, since all the rest of the tasks are done!"

"Cook it, with God's help," said the doll, "and then rest, and may the cooking of it make thee healthy!" And so saying it crept into her pocket and became again only a little wooden doll.

So Vasilissa rested all day and was refreshed; and when it grew toward evening she laid the table for the old witch's supper, and sat looking out of the window, waiting for her coming. After awhile she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and the man in black, on the coal-black horse, galloped up to the wall gate and disappeared like a great dark shadow, and instantly it became quite dark and the eyes of all the skulls began to glitter and shine.
Then all at once the trees of the forest began to creak and groan and the leaves and the bushes to moan and sigh, and the Baba Yaga came riding out of the dark wood in the huge iron mortar, driving with the pestle and sweeping out the trail behind her with the kitchen broom. Vasilissa let her in; and the witch, smelling all around her, asked:

"Well, hast thou done perfectly all the tasks I gave thee to do, or am I to eat thee for my supper?"

"Be so good as to look for thyself, grandmother," answered Vasilissa.

The Baba Yaga went all about the place, tapping with her iron pestle, and carefully examining everything. But so well had the little doll done its work that, try as hard as she might, she could not find anything to complain of. There was not a weed left in the yard, nor a speck of dust on the floors, nor a single black grain or wild pea in the wheat.

The old witch was greatly angered, but was obliged to pretend to be pleased. "Well," she said, "thou hast done all well." Then, clapping her hands, she shouted: "Ho! my faithful servants! Friends of my heart! Haste and grind my wheat!" Immediately three pairs of hands appeared, seized the measure of wheat and carried it away.

The Baba Yaga sat down to supper, and Vasilissa put before her all the food from the oven, with kvass, honey, and red wine. The old witch ate it, bones and all, almost to the last morsel, enough for four strong men, and then, growing drowsy, stretched her bony legs on the stove and said: "Tomorrow do as thou hast done today, and besides these tasks take from my storehouse a half-measure of poppy seeds and clean them one by one. Someone has mixed earth with them to do me a mischief and to anger me, and I will have them made perfectly clean." So saying she turned to the wall and soon began to snore.

When she was fast asleep Vasilissa went into the corner, took the little doll from her pocket, set before it a part of the food that was left and asked its advice. And the doll, when it had become alive, and eaten a little food and sipped a little drink, said: "Don't worry, beautiful Vasilissa! Be comforted. Do as thou didst last night: say thy prayers and go to sleep." So Vasilissa was comforted. She said her prayers and went to sleep and did not wake till next morning when she heard the old witch in the yard whistling. She ran to the window just in time to see her take her place in the big iron mortar, and as she did so the man dressed all in red, riding on the blood red horse, leaped over the wall and was gone, just as the sun rose over the wild forest.

As it had happened on the first morning, so it happened now. When Vasilissa looked she found that the little doll had finished all the tasks excepting the cooking of the supper. The yard was swept and in order, the floors were as clean as new wood, and there was not a grain of earth left in the half-measure of poppy seeds. She rested and refreshed herself till the afternoon, when she cooked the supper, and when evening came she laid the table and sat down to wait for the old witch's coming.

Soon the man in black, on the coal-black horse, galloped up to the gate, and the dark fell and the eyes of the skulls began to shine like day; then the ground began to quake, and the trees of the forest began to creak and the dry leaves to rustle, and the Baba Yaga came riding in her iron mortar, driving with her pestle and sweeping away her path with her broom.

When she came in she smelled around her and went all about the hut, tapping with the pestle; but pry and examine as she might, again she could see no reason to find fault and was angrier than ever. She clapped her hands and shouted:

"Ho! my trusty servants! Friends of my soul! Haste and press the oil out of my poppy seeds!" And instantly the three pairs of hands appeared, seized the measure of poppy seeds and carried it away.

Presently the old witch sat down to supper and Vasilissa brought all she had cooked, enough for five grown men, and set it before her, and brought beer and honey, and then she herself stood silently waiting. The Baba Yaga ate and drank it all, every morsel, leaving not so much as a crumb of bread; then she said snappishly: "Well, why dost thou say nothing, but stand there as if thou wast dumb?"

"I spoke not," Vasilissa answered, "because I dared not. But if thou wilt allow me, grandmother, I wish to ask thee some questions."

"Well," said the old witch, "only remember that every question does not lead to good. If thou knowest overmuch, thou wilt grow old too soon. What wilt thou ask?"

"I would ask thee," said Vasilissa, "of the men on horse back. When I came to thy hut, a rider passed me. He was dressed all in white and he rode a milk-white horse. Who was he?"

"That was my white, bright day," answered the Baba Yaga angrily. "He is a servant of mine, but he cannot hurt thee. Ask me more."

"Afterwards," said Vasilissa, "a second rider overtook me. He was dressed in red and the horse he rode was blood- red. Who was he?"

"That was my servant, the round, red sun," answered the Baba Yaga, "and he, too, cannot injure thee," and she ground her teeth. "Ask me more."

"A third rider," said Vasilissa, "came galloping up to the gate. He was black, his clothes were black and the horse was coal-black. Who was he?"

"That was my servant, the black, dark night," answered the old witch furiously; "but he also cannot harm thee. Ask me more."

But Vasilissa, remembering what the Baba Yaga had said, that not every question led to good, was silent.

"Ask me more!" cried the old witch. "Why dost thou not ask me more? Ask me of the three pairs of hands that serve me!"

But Vasilissa saw how she snarled at her and she answered: "The three questions are enough for me. As thou hast said, grandmother, I would not, through knowing over much, become too soon old."

"It is well for thee," said the Baba Yaga, "that thou didst not ask of them, but only of what thou didst see outside of this hut. Hadst thou asked of them, my servants, the three pairs of hands would have seized thee also, as they did the wheat and poppy seeds, to be my food. Now I would ask a question in my turn: How is it that thou hast been able, in a little time, to do perfectly all the tasks I gave thee? Tell me!"

Vasilissa was so frightened to see how the old witch ground her teeth that she almost told her of the little doll; but she bethought herself just in time, and answered: "The blessing of my dead mother helps me."

Then the Baba Yaga sprang up in a fury. "Get thee out of my house this moment!" she shrieked. "I want no one who bears a blessing to cross my threshold! Get thee gone!"

Vasilissa ran to the yard, and behind her she heard the old witch shouting to the locks and the gate. The locks opened, the gate swung wide, and she ran out on to the lawn. The Baba Yaga seized from the wall one of the skulls with burning eyes and flung it after her. "There," she howled, "is the fire for thy stepmother's daughters. Take it. That is what they sent thee here for, and may they have joy of it!"

Vasilissa put the skull on the end of a stick and darted away through the forest, running as fast as she could, finding her path by the skull's glowing eyes which went out only when morning came.

Whether she ran a long way or a short way, and whether the road was smooth or rough, towards evening of the next day, when the eyes in the skull were beginning to glimmer, she came out of the dark, wild forest to her stepmother's house.

When she came near to the gate, she thought, "Surely, by this time they will have found some fire," and threw the skull into the hedge; but it spoke to her, and said: "Do not throw me away, beautiful Vasilissa; bring me to thy stepmother." So, looking at the house and seeing no spark of light in any of the windows, she took up the skull again and carried it with her.

Now since Vasilissa had gone, the stepmother and her two daughters had had neither fire nor light in all the house. When they struck flint and steel the tinder would not catch and the fire they brought from the neighbors would go out immediately as soon as they carried it over the threshold, so that they had been unable to light or warm themselves or to cook food to eat. Therefore now, for the first time in her life, Vasilissa found herself welcomed. They opened the door to her and the merchant's wife was greatly rejoiced to find that the light in the skull did not go out as soon as it was brought in. "Maybe the witch's fire will stay," she said, and took the skull into the best room, set it on a candlestick and called her two daughters to admire it.

But the eyes of the skull suddenly began to glimmer and to glow like red coals, and wherever the three turned or ran the eyes followed them, growing larger and brighter till they flamed like two furnaces, and hotter and hotter till the merchant's wife and her two wicked daughters took fire and were burned to ashes. Only Vasilissa the Beautiful was not touched.

In the morning Vasilissa dug a deep hole in the ground and buried the skull. Then she locked the house and set out to the village, where she went to live with an old woman who was poor and childless, and so she remained for many days, waiting for her father's return from the far-distant Tsardom.

But, sitting lonely, time soon began to hang heavy on her hands. One day she said to the old woman: "It is dull for me, grandmother, to sit idly hour by hour. My hands want work to do. Go, therefore, and buy me some flax, the best and finest to be found anywhere, and at least I can spin."

The old woman hastened and bought some flax of the best sort and Vasilissa sat down to work. So well did she spin that the thread came out as even and fine as a hair, and presently there was enough to begin to weave. But so fine was the thread that no frame could be found to weave it upon, nor would any weaver undertake to make one.

Then Vasilissa went into her closet, took the little doll from her pocket, set food and drink before it and asked its help. And after it had eaten a little and drunk a little, the doll became alive and said: "Bring me an old frame and an old basket and some hairs from a horse's mane, and I will arrange everything for thee." Vasilissa hastened to fetch all the doll had asked for and when evening came, said her prayers, went to sleep, and in the morning she found ready a frame, perfectly made, to weave her fine thread upon.

She wove one month, she wove two months-all the winter Vasilissa sat weaving, weaving her fine thread, till the whole piece of linen was done, of a texture so fine that it could be passed, like thread, through the eye of a needle. When the spring came she bleached it, so white that no snow could be compared with it. Then she said to the old woman: "Take thou the linen to the market, grandmothers and sell it, and the money shall suffice to pay for my food and lodging." When the old woman examined the linen, however, she said:

"Never will I sell such cloth in the market place; no one should wear it except it be the Tsar himself, and tomorrow I shall carry it to the Palace."

Next day, accordingly, the old woman went to the Tsar's splendid Palace and fell to walking up and down before the windows. The servants came to ask her her errand but she answered them nothing, and kept walking up and down. At length the Tsar opened his window, and asked: "What dost thou want, old woman, that thou walkest here?"

"O Tsar's Majesty" the old woman answered, "I have with me a marvelous piece of linen stuff, so wondrously woven that I will show it to none but thee."

The Tsar bade them bring her before him and when he saw the linen he was struck with astonishment at its fineness and beauty. "What wilt thou take for it, old woman?" he asked.

"There is no price that can buy it, Little Father Tsar," she answered; "but I have brought it to thee as a gift." The Tsar could not thank the old woman enough. He took the linen and sent her to her house with many rich presents.

Seamstresses were called to make shirts for him out of the cloth; but when it had been cut up, so fine was it that no one of them was deft and skillful enough to sew it. The best seamstresses in all the Tsardom were summoned but none dared undertake it. So at last the Tsar sent for the old woman and said: "If thou didst know how to spin such thread and weave such linen, thou must also know how to sew me shirts from it."

And the old woman answered: "O Tsar's Majesty, it was not I who wove the linen; it is the work of my adopted daughter."

"Take it, then," the Tsar said, "and bid her do it for me." The old woman brought the linen home and told Vasilissa the Tsar's command: "Well I knew that the work would needs be done by my own hands," said Vasilissa, and, locking herself in her own room, began to make the shirts. So fast and well did she work that soon a dozen were ready. Then the old woman carried them to the Tsar, while Vasilissa washed her face, dressed her hair, put on her best gown and sat down at the window to see what would happen. And presently a servant in the livery of the Palace came to the house and entering, said: "The Tsar, our lord, desires himself to see the clever needlewoman who has made his shirts and to reward her with his own hands."

Vasilissa rose and went at once to the Palace, and as soon as the Tsar saw her, he fell in love with her with all his soul. He took her by her white hand and made her sit beside him. "Beautiful maiden," he said, "never will I part from thee and thou shalt be my wife."

So the Tsar and Vasilissa the Beautiful were married, and her father returned from the far-distant Tsardom, and he and the old woman lived always with her in the splendid Palace, in all joy and contentment. And as for the little wooden doll, she carried it about with her in her pocket all her life long.

Wheeler, Post. Russian Wonder Tales. New York: The Century Company, 1912.
Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback.

---- Este texto é acompanhado por números que fazem referência a estas notas:



1. Vasilissa the Beautiful: Vasilissa, also known as Vasilisa, is a common and often generic name of heroines in Russian fairy tales, similar to Gretel in German tales.
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2. Tsardom: From the American Heritage Dictionary (available on TheFreeDictionary.com):

czardom n. Usage Note: The word czar can also be spelled tsar. Czar is the most common form in American usage and the one nearly always employed in the extended senses "any tyrant" or informally, "one in authority." But tsar is preferred by most scholars of Slavic studies as a more accurate transliteration of the Russian and is often found in scholarly writing with reference to one of the Russian emperors.

czar 1. also tsar or tzar (zär, tsär) A male monarch or emperor, especially one of the emperors who ruled Russia until the revolution of 1917.

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3. A merchant: Note that Vasilissa is not a peasant, but is of the middle to upper class as the daughter of a merchant. This tale, like many Cinderella stories, is a riches to rags to riches story. Beauty in Beauty and the Beast is the daughter of a merchant also.
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4. She must die: Protagonists with dead mothers are common in fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Snow White, Donkeyskin and Hansel and Gretel.
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5. Wooden doll: Maria Tarar writes:

Whereas Cinderella and her folkloric cousins usually receive assistance from nature (trees, fish, brooks) or from a fairy godmother, Vasilisa is given a cultural artifact, a figure that can be seen as a miniaturized version of herself or as a symbolic form of her mother. While the doll protects and helps Vasilisa, it is also something to be nurtured and cared for, thus strengthening the fact of her own agency in escaping from villainy at home (Tatar 173).

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6. Give it something to eat and drink. It will eat and drink a little, and then thou mayest tell it thy trouble and ask its advice, and it will tell thee how to act in thy time of need:
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7. A cup of kvass: Kvass is:

... a fermented mildly alcoholic beverage popular in Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Kvass has been a common drink in Russia since ancient times. It has been both a commercial product and homemade. It is consumed widely in Ukraine, and in almost every city there are kvass vendors on the street.

It is made by the natural fermentation of bread made from wheat, rye, or barley, and sometimes flavoured with fruit, berries, raisins or birch sap, collected in the early spring. For modern homemade kvass, most often black or rye bread is used, usually dried or fried beforehand, with the addition of sugar or fruit (e.g. apples or raisins), and with a yeast culture, zakvasskova ("essence of kvass"), added for fermentation. In strength kvass can be almost non-alcoholic and at its strongest is only around 2.2%. It is often flavoured with fruits or herbs such as strawberries or mint ("Kvass" Wikipedia 2006).

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My dear mother is dead and I am lonely for her

Then the doll's eyes began to shine like fireflies, and suddenly it became alive. It ate a morsel of the bread and took a sip of the kvass, and when it had eaten and drunk, it said:

"Don't weep, little Vasilissa. Grief is worst at night. Lie down, shut thine eyes, comfort thyself and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening."

Now after the death of his wife, the merchant sorrowed for many days as was right, but at the end of that time he began to desire to marry again and to look about him for a suitable wife. This was not difficult to find, for he had a fine house, with a stable of swift horses, besides being

A good man who gave much to the poor

. Of all the women he saw, however, the one who, to his mind, suited him best of all, was a widow of about his own age with two daughters of her own, and she, he thought, besides being a good housekeeper, would be a kind foster mother to his little Vasilissa.

She was a cold, cruel woman, who had desired the merchant for the sake of his wealth, and had no love for his daughter. Vasilissa was the greatest beauty in the whole village, while her own daughters were as spare and homely as two crows, and because of this all three envied and hated her. They gave her all sorts of errands to run and difficult tasks to perform, in order that the toil might make her thin and worn and that her face might grow brown from sun and wind, and they treated her so cruelly as to leave few joys in life for her. But all this the little Vasilissa endured without complaint, and while the stepmother's two daughters grew always thinner and uglier, in spite of the fact that they had no hard tasks to do, never went out in cold or rain, and sat always with their arms folded like ladies of a Court, she herself had cheeks like blood and milk and grew every day more and more beautiful.

Now the reason for this was the tiny doll, without whose help little Vasilissa could never have managed to do all the work that was laid upon her. Each night, when everyone else was sound asleep, she would get up from her bed, take the doll into a closet, and locking the door, give it something to eat and drink, and say: "There, my little doll, take it. Eat a little, drink a little, and listen to my grief. I live in my father's house, but my spiteful stepmother wishes to drive me out of the white world. Tell me! How shall I act, and what shall I do?"

Then the little doll's eyes would begin to shine like glow- worms, and it would become alive. It would eat a little food, and sip a little drink, and then it would comfort her and tell her how to act. While Vasilissa slept, it would get ready all her work for the next day, so that she had only to rest in the shade and gather flowers, for the doll would have the kitchen garden weeded, and the beds of cabbage watered, and plenty of fresh water brought from the well, and the stoves heated exactly right.

How to make, from a certain herb, an ointment which prevented her from ever being sunburnt: Maria Tatar writes:

Vasilisa's chief attribute is her "fairness," and the sun represents the greatest threat to her beauty. For this reason the stepsisters try to force her to work outdoors, where the wind and sun can spoil her perfect complexion" (Tatar 175).

Never shall the younger be wed before the older ones!: Historically, Vasilissa's stepmother is well within her rights and tradition to expect the older daughters to marry before the younger one. Many cultures have

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Beating her stepdaughter:

It became necessary for the merchant to leave his home and to travel to a distant Tsardom: Note that while the father has been living with the family during the abuse already described, his departure will allow even more to occur at a greater intensity to the threat of death. Absent fathers--both emotionally and physically--are common in tales of wicked stepmothers and their victimized stepdaughters, such as Cinderella and Snow White.

His wife sold his house, packed all his goods and moved with them to another dwelling:

Edge of a wild forest: "Baba Yaga's domain is the forest, widely acknowledged as a traditional symbol of change and a place of peril, where she acts as either a challenger or a helper to those innocents who venture into her realm" (Pilinovsky, Baba Yaga's Domain, 2004).

"The forest of Baba Yaga symbolizes more than the forest; it is also the otherworld, the 'land of the living dead,' also known as 'the thrice-nine kingdom'" (Pilinovsky, Baba Yaga's Domain, 2004).

Green lawn: A green lawn is not as common deep in a forest where little sunlight reaches the ground to nourish the grass. The green lawn implies a magical clearing where Baba Yaga's hut is found.

A miserable little hut on hens' legs:

My favorite usage of Baba Yaga's hut in modern literature appears in Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty using Russian folklore, especially Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga travels to the future, hijacks a 747, and returns to the past where the plane is seen as a hut on chicken legs.

Baba Yaga, an old witch grandmother: Helen Pilinovsky writes: "One of the most well known figures from Russian folklore, Baba Yaga's name can be roughly translated as 'Granny Yaga.' In Russian Myths, Elizabeth Warner notes that Baba Yaga brings many of the dominant themes of Russian fairy tales together: she travels on the wind, occupies the domain of the leshii, the forest spirits, is associated with death, and is an acceptable surrogate for the generic ved'ma, or witch" (Baba Yaga's Domain, 2004).

"...she acts as either a challenger or a helper to those innocents who venture into her realm. In Western tales, these two roles are typically polarized, split into different characters stereotyped as either "witch" or "fairy godmother." Baba Yaga, however, is a complex individual: depending on the circumstances of the specific story, she may choose to use her powers for good or ill" (Baba Yaga's Domain, 2004).

She ate people as one eats chickens: In this tale, Baba Yaga is a cannibal, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel.

She might meet the old witch and be devoured: The stepmother is a passive murderer, trying to bring about Vasilissa's death without committing the physical act of murder herself.

A basket of flax to be spun: Spinning appears in many folktales across Europe as a chore that causes deformities and ugliness, most notably in the Grimms' The Three Spinning Women. In that tale, the lazy heroine's husband forbids her to ever spin again after their marriage when he sees the flat foot, fallen lips and broad thumb of three spinners. Perhaps the stepmother assigns the task to Vasilissa with the hopes of damaging her beauty before sending her to Baba Yaga. It also requires neither the steel pins nor steel needles used by the stepsisters for their tasks, hence setting up the scenario in which Vasilissa will be sent out in search of fire.

"Thou, Vasilissa," they both said, "shalt go and fetch the fire, for thou hast neither steel pins nor silver needles and cannot see to spin thy flax!" They both rose up, pushed Vasilissa out of the house and locked the door, crying:

"Thou shalt not come in till thou hast fetched the fire."

Then the doll's eyes began to shine like two stars and it became alive. It ate a little and said: "Do not fear, little Vasilissa. Go where thou hast been sent. While I am with thee no harm shall come to thee from the old witch." So Vasilissa put the doll back into her pocket, crossed herself and started out into the dark, wild forest.

Whether she walked a short way or a long way the telling is easy, but the journey was hard. The wood was very dark, and she could not help trembling from fear. Suddenly she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and a man on horseback galloped past her.

He was dressed all in white, the horse under him was milk-white and the harness was white, and just as he passed her it became twilight: The second horseman in red represents day time. Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: ""That was my white, bright day."

He was dressed all in red, and the horse under him was blood-red and its harness was red, and just as he passed her the sun rose: The second horseman in red represents the sun. Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: "That was my servant, the round, red sun."

The wall around the hut was made of human bones and on its top were skulls. There was a gate in the wall, whose hinges were the bones of human feet and whose locks were jaw- bones set with sharp teeth.

A third man on horseback came galloping up. His face was black, he was dressed all in black, and the horse he rode was coal-black: The third horseman in black represents night. Later in the tale, Baba Yaga explains: "That was my servant, the black, dark night."

She was riding in a great iron mortar and driving it with the pestle, and as she came she swept away her trail behind her with a kitchen broom: "Like the witches of other cultures, her [Baba Yaga's] preferred method of transportation is an implement commonly used for household labor, though unlike the witches of the West, rather than traveling upon a broom, she chooses to ride in a mortar, rowing with a pestle, and using a broom to sweep away the tracks that she leaves" (Pilinovsky, Baba Yaga's Domain, 2004).

Little House, little House, Stand the way thy mother placed thee, Turn thy back to the forest and thy face to me!: This refrain is not unique to the tale. Different characters in other tales with Baba Yaga use a similar device to enter her hut or she uses it herself as she does in this instance.

"Izboushka, Izboushka! turn thy back to the forest and thy front to us!" (Izba, a hut. Izboushka, a tiny hut.) is an example from: Blumenthal, Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de. "Baba Yaga." Folk Tales from the Russian. New York: Rand McNally & Co., 1903.:

"Foo! Foo! I smell a smell that is Russian. Who is here?": Reminiscent of the giant's smelling of Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Vasilissa, in great fright, came nearer to the old woman and bowing very low, said: "It is only Vasilissa, grand mother. My stepmother's daughters sent me to thee to borrow some fire."

"Well," said the old witch, "I know them. But if I give thee the fire thou shalt stay with me some time and do some work to pay for it.

Eaten for my supper:

." Then she turned to the gate and shouted: "Ho! Ye, my solid locks, unlock! Thou, my stout gate, open!" Instantly the locks unlocked, the gate opened of itself, and the Baba Yaga rode in whistling. Vasilissa entered behind her and immediately the gate shut again and the locks snapped tight.

When they had entered the hut the old witch threw her self down on the stove, stretched out her bony legs and said:

"Come, fetch and put on the table at once everything that is in the oven. I am hungry." So Vasilissa ran and lighted a splinter of wood from one of the skulls on the wall and took the food from the oven and set it before her. There was enough cooked meat for three strong men. She brought also from the cellar kvass, honey, and red wine, and the Baba Yaga

Ate and drank the whole: A healthy appetite implies strength.

, leaving the girl only a little cabbage soup, a crust of bread and a morsel of suckling pig.

When her hunger was satisfied, the old witch, growing drowsy, lay down on the stove and said: "Listen to me well, and do what I bid thee. Tomorrow when I drive away, do thou clean the yard, sweep the floors and cook my supper. Then

Take a quarter of a measure of wheat from my store house and pick out of it all the black grains and the wild peas: Marie-Louise von Franz writes:

This is a theme to be found in many Cinderella fairy tales and also comes in Amor and Psyche. It is a typical task in mythology for the heroine. Separating the good from the bad grains is a work of patience, which can neither be rushed into nor speeded up. (1972)

. Mind thou dost all that I have bade; if not, thou shalt be eaten for my supper."

Then she went into the corner, took the tiny doll from her pocket, put before it a bit of bread and a little cabbage soup that she had saved, burst into tears and said:

A difficult task

and if I do not do all she has bade, she will eat me tomorrow. Tell me: What shall I do?"

Then the eyes of the little doll began to shine like two candles. It ate a little of the bread and drank a little of the soup and said: "Do not be afraid, Vasilissa the Beautiful. Be comforted. Say thy prayers, and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening." So Vasilissa trusted the little doll and was comforted. She said her prayers, lay down on the floor and went fast asleep.

Then the Baba Yaga shouted: "Ho! Ye, my solid locks, unlock! Thou, my stout gate, open!" And the locks unlocked and the gate opened and she rode away in the mortar, driving with the pestle and sweeping away her path behind her with the broom.

When Vasilissa found herself left alone, she examined the hut, wondering to find it filled with such an abundance of everything. Then she stood still, remembering all the work that she had been bidden to do and wondering what to begin first. But as she looked she rubbed her eyes, for the yard was already neatly cleaned and the floors were nicely swept, and the little doll was sitting in the storehouse picking the last black grains and wild peas out of the quarter- measure of wheat.

Vasilissa ran and took the little doll in her arms. "My dearest little doll!" she cried. "Thou hast saved me from my trouble! Now I have only to cook the Baba Yaga's sup per, since all the rest of the tasks are done!"

"Cook it, with God's help," said the doll, "and then rest, and may the cooking of it make thee healthy!" And so saying it crept into her pocket and became again only a little wooden doll.

So Vasilissa rested all day and was refreshed; and when it grew toward evening she laid the table for the old witch's supper, and sat looking out of the window, waiting for her coming. After awhile she heard the sound of a horse's hoofs and the man in black, on the coal-black horse, galloped up to the wall gate and disappeared like a great dark shadow, and instantly it became quite dark and the eyes of all the skulls began to glitter and shine.
Then all at once the trees of the forest began to creak and groan and the leaves and the bushes to moan and sigh, and the Baba Yaga came riding out of the dark wood in the huge iron mortar, driving with the pestle and sweeping out the trail behind her with the kitchen broom. Vasilissa let her in; and the witch, smelling all around her, asked:

"Well, hast thou done perfectly all the tasks I gave thee to do, or am I to eat thee for my supper?"

"Be so good as to look for thyself, grandmother," answered Vasilissa.

The Baba Yaga went all about the place, tapping with her iron pestle, and carefully examining everything. But so well had the little doll done its work that, try as hard as she might, she could not find anything to complain of. There was not a weed left in the yard, nor a speck of dust on the floors, nor a single black grain or wild pea in the wheat.

The old witch was greatly angered, but was obliged to pretend to be pleased. "Well," she said, "thou hast done all well." Then, clapping her hands, she shouted: "Ho! my faithful servants! Friends of my heart! Haste and grind my wheat!" Immediately

three pairs of hands appeared

The Baba Yaga sat down to supper, and Vasilissa put before her all the food from the oven, with kvass, honey, and red wine. The old witch ate it, bones and all, almost to the last morsel, enough for four strong men, and then, growing drowsy, stretched her bony legs on the stove and said: "Tomorrow do as thou hast done today, and besides these tasks take from my storehouse a half-measure of poppy seeds and clean them one by one. Someone has mixed earth with them to do me a mischief and to anger me, and I will have them made perfectly clean." So saying she turned to the wall and soon began to snore.

When she was fast asleep Vasilissa went into the corner, took the little doll from her pocket, set before it a part of the food that was left and asked its advice. And the doll, when it had become alive, and eaten a little food and sipped a little drink, said: "Don't worry, beautiful Vasilissa! Be comforted. Do as thou didst last night: say thy prayers and go to sleep." So Vasilissa was comforted. She said her prayers and went to sleep and did not wake till next morning when she heard the old witch in the yard whistling. She ran to the window just in time to see her take her place in the big iron mortar, and as she did so the man dressed all in red, riding on the blood red horse, leaped over the wall and was gone, just as the sun rose over the wild forest.

As it had happened on the first morning, so it happened now. When Vasilissa looked she found that the little doll had finished all the tasks excepting the cooking of the sup per. The yard was swept and in order, the floors were as clean as new wood, and there was not a grain of earth left in the half-measure of poppy seeds. She rested and refreshed herself till the afternoon, when she cooked the supper, and when evening came she laid the table and sat down to wait for the old witch's coming.

Soon the man in black, on the coal-black horse, galloped up to the gate, and the dark fell and the eyes of the skulls began to shine like day; then the ground began to quake, and the trees of the forest began to creak and the dry leaves to rustle, and the Baba Yaga came riding in her iron mortar, driving with her pestle and sweeping away her path with her broom.

When she came in she smelled around her and went all about the hut, tapping with the pestle; but pry and examine as she might, again she could see no reason to find fault and was angrier than ever. She clapped her hands and shouted:

"Ho! my trusty servants! Friends of my soul! Haste and press the oil out of my poppy seeds!" And instantly the three pairs of hands appeared, seized the measure of poppy seeds and carried it away.

Presently the old witch sat down to supper and Vasilissa brought all she had cooked, enough for five grown men, and set it before her, and brought beer and honey, and then she herself stood silently waiting. The Baba Yaga ate and drank it all, every morsel, leaving not so much as a crumb of bread; then she said snappishly: "Well, why dost thou say nothing, but stand there as if thou wast dumb?"

"Well," said the old witch, "only remember that every question does not lead to good. If thou knowest overmuch, thou wilt grow old too soon. What wilt thou ask?": From Wikipedia:

According to some versions of the myths, Baba Yaga ages a year every time someone asks her a question. This is why she is often portrayed as a cranky old hag — she is frustrated and angry about having been asked so many questions. The only way for her to de-age herself is by drinking a special tea she brews from blue roses. Heroes who bring her a gift of blue roses are often granted wishes as reward for their aid ("Baba Yaga" Wikipedia 2006).

"That was my servant, the black, dark night," answered the old witch furiously; "but he also cannot harm thee. Ask me more.": Marie-Louise von Franz writes:

The divine rank of this figure [Baba Yaga] is clearly proved by the fact that she has three riders at her disposition--"My Day," "My Night," and "My Sun." She is a cosmic Godhead. (1972)

But Vasilissa, remembering what the Baba Yaga had said, that not every question led to good, was silent.

"Ask me more!" cried the old witch. "Why dost thou not ask me more? Ask me of the three pairs of hands that serve me!"

"It is well for thee," said the Baba Yaga, "that thou didst not ask of them, but only of what thou didst see outside of this hut. Hadst thou asked of them, my servants, the three pairs of hands would have seized thee also

"The blessing of my dead mother helps me."

"I want no one who bears a blessing to cross my threshold!": Marie-Louise von Franz writes:

...Baba Yaga, who here is almost completely evil, though when she hears that the girl is a "blessed daughter" she tells her she does not want her in her house. So, in a hidden way, she [Baba Yaga] is not thoroughly evil, and sometimes even helpful; she wonderfully portrays the Great Mother in her double aspect.

Vasilissa ran to the yard, and behind her she heard the old witch shouting to the locks and the gate. The locks opened, the gate swung wide, and she ran out on to the lawn. The Baba Yaga seized from the wall one of the skulls with burning eyes and flung it after her. "There," she howled, "is the fire for thy stepmother's daughters. Take it. That is what they sent thee here for, and may they have joy of it!"

Vasilissa put the skull on the end of a stick and darted away through the forest: Ivan Bilibin created a well-known illustration of Vasilissa with the skull on the stick. You can see it here.

Whether she ran a long way or a short way, and whether the road was smooth or rough, towards evening of the next day, when the eyes in the skull were beginning to glimmer, she came out of the dark, wild forest to her stepmother's house.

Now since Vasilissa had gone, the stepmother and her two daughters had had neither fire nor light in all the house. When they struck flint and steel the tinder would not catch. and the fire they brought from the neighbors would go out immediately as soon as they carried it over the threshold, so that they had been unable to light or warm themselves or to cook food to eat. Therefore now, for the first time in her life, Vasilissa found herself welcomed. They opened the door to her and the merchant's wife was greatly rejoiced to find that the light in the skull did not go out as soon as it was brought in. "Maybe the witch's fire will stay," she said, and took the skull into the best room, set it on a candlestick and called her two daughters to admire it.

The merchant's wife and her two wicked daughters took fire and were burned to ashes:

dug a deep hole in the ground and buried the skull

Old woman who was poor and childless: Maria Tatar writes:

The crone in this final episode represents another surrogate mother, one who brings Vasilisa's skills as a spinner and seamstress to the attention of the tsar. The host of maternal figures and maternal substitutes strengthens the argument that 'Vasilisa the Fair' is about the empowerment of the daughter through the mother" (Tatar 183).

My hands want work to do:

Flax: From Wikipedia:

Flax is grown both for seed and for fibre. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets and soap. In addition to the plant itself, flax may refer to the unspun fibres of the flax plant.

Flax fibre is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fibre is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fibre but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope. Flax fibre is also a raw material for the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes and rolling paper for cigarettes ("Flax" Wikipedia 2006).

Vasilissa sat down to work: Note that while the doll performed most of the tasks for her in the earlier part of the story, Vasilissa performs her own work in making the linen and subsequent clothing for the tsar. The doll provides aid in building the frame upon which to weave the linen, but Vasilissa does the rest of the work herself. Her impeccable work, suited only for a tsar, demonstrates her domestic qualities and worthiness to be a wife.

. So well did she spin that the thread came out as even and fine as a hair, and presently there was enough to begin to weave. But so fine was the thread that no frame could be found to weave it upon, nor would any weaver undertake to make one.

Then Vasilissa went into her closet, took the little doll from her pocket, set food and drink before it and asked its help. And after it had eaten a little and drunk a little, the doll became alive and said: "Bring me an old frame and an old basket and some hairs from a horse's mane, and I will arrange everything for thee." Vasilissa hastened to fetch all the doll had asked for and when evening came, said her prayers, went to sleep, and in the morning she found ready a frame, perfectly made, to weave her fine thread upon.

Linen: From Wikipedia:

Linen fabrics have a high natural luster and their natural color ranges between shades of ivory, tan, or grey. Pure white linen is created by heavy bleaching which is not good for the fabric. Linen typically has a thick and thin character with a crisp and textured feel to it, but can range from stiff and rough to soft and smooth. When adequately prepared, linen has the ability to absorb and lose water rapidly. It can gain up to 20% moisture without feeling damp. When freed from impurities it is highly absorbent and will quickly remove perspiration from the skin. Linen is a stiff fabric and is less likely to cling to the skin and when it billows away it tends to dry out and become cool so that the skin is being continually touched by a cool surface. It is a very durable, strong fabric and one of the few ones that are stronger wet than dry. It does not stretch and is resistant to damage from abrasion. However, because it has very low elasticity it can break if it is folded at the same place repeatedly. Mildew, perspiration, and bleach can also damage the fabric, but it is resistant to moths and carpet beetles. Linen is relatively easy to take care of since it resists dirt and stains, has no lint or pilling tendencies and can be dry cleaned, machine washed or steamed. It can withstand high temperatures and only has some moderate initial shrinkage. A characteristic often associated with linen yarn is the presence of "slubs", or small knots that occur randomly along its length. However, these are actually defects associated with low quality. The finest linen has a very consistent diameter with no slubs ("Linen" Wikipedia 2006).

of a texture so fine that it could be passed, like thread, through the eye of a needle. When the spring came she bleached it, so white that no snow could be compared with it. Then she said to the old woman: "Take thou the linen to the market, grandmothers and sell it, and the money shall suffice to pay for my food and lodging." When the old woman examined the linen, however, she said:

"Never will I sell such cloth in the market place; no one should wear it except it be the Tsar himself, and tomorrow I shall carry it to the Palace."

Next day, accordingly, the old woman went to the Tsar's splendid Palace and fell to walking up and down before the windows. The servants came to ask her her errand but she answered them nothing, and kept walking up and down. At length the Tsar opened his window, and asked: "What dost thou want, old woman, that thou walkest here?"

"O Tsar's Majesty" the old woman answered, "I have with me a marvelous piece of linen stuff, so wondrously woven that I will show it to none but thee."

The Tsar bade them bring her before him and when he saw the linen he was struck with astonishment at its fineness and beauty. "What wilt thou take for it, old woman?" he asked.

Seamstresses were called to make shirts for him out of the cloth; but when it had been cut up, so fine was it that no one of them was deft and skillful enough to sew it. The best seamstresses in all the Tsardom were summoned but none dared undertake it. So at last the Tsar sent for the old woman and said: "If thou didst know how to spin such thread and weave such linen, thou must also know how to sew me shirts from it."

And the old woman answered: "O Tsar's Majesty, it was not I who wove the linen; it is the work of my adopted daughter."

"Take it, then," the Tsar said, "and bid her do it for me." The old woman brought the linen home and told Vasilissa the Tsar's command: "Well I knew that the work would needs be done by my own hands," said Vasilissa, and, locking herself in her own room, began to make the shirts. So fast and well did she work that soon a dozen were ready. Then the old woman carried them to the Tsar, while Vasilissa washed her face, dressed her hair, put on her best gown and sat down at the window to see what would happen. And presently a servant in the livery of the Palace came to the house and entering, said: "The Tsar, our lord, desires himself to see the clever needlewoman who has made his shirts and to reward her with his own hands."

Vasilissa rose and went at once to the Palace, and as soon as the Tsar saw her, he fell in love with her with all his soul. He took her by her white hand and made her sit beside him. "Beautiful maiden," he said, "never will I part from thee and thou shalt be my wife."

So the Tsar and Vasilissa the Beautiful were married, and her father returned from the far-distant Tsardom, and he and the old woman lived always with her in the splendid Palace, in all joy and contentment. And as for the little wooden doll, she carried it about with her in her pocket all her life long.

...


BABA YAGA

Caminho pela floresta

e falo intimamente com os animais

Danço descalça na chuva

Danço nua

Viajo por caminhos

que eu mesma faço

e da maneira que me convém

Meus instintos e meu olfato são aguçados

Expresso livremente minha vitalidade

minha alegria pura e exuberante

para agradar a mim mesma

porque é natural

é o que tem de ser

Sou a selvagem e jubilosa energia vital

Venha e junte-se a mim



Baba-Yaga é uma velha, muito velha, que vive em uma cabana sobre pés-de-galinha. Ela se alimenta de ossos humanos moídos em seu pilão, mas há quem diga que também come criancinhas com seus dentes de ferro. E voa dentro de um almofariz de prata, muito veloz. Contam ainda que o rastro de cinzas que deixa pelo céu, rapidamente a danada vai apagando com sua vassoura.
Importante figura no imaginário do povo russo, Baba-Yaga está presente em muitos contos tradicionais, no caminho de Vassilissa, a bela, ou do destemido Príncipe Ivan, como nas bilinas (narrativas em verso) de grandes poetas românticos, entre eles, Gogol, Puchkin, Liermontov. Igualmente na música clássica daquele país, alguns compositores se dedicaram a fazer-lhe um “retrato sonoro”: temos três poemas orquestrais com Dargomíshky, Balakirev e Liadov; ela também aparece na suíte Quadros de uma Exposição, de Mussorgsky, e no Álbum para Crianças, de Tchaikovsky. Talvez, a primeira antologia de literatura russa de tradição oral, que o público de língua portuguesa teve acesso, fora feita por Alfredo Apell, nos idos da década de 1920. No Brasil, a bruxa aparece na história de encantamentos “A princesa-serpente”, na coletânea Contos populares russos organizada por J. Vale Moutinho (Nova Crítica, 1978 e Princípio, 1990), mas coube à escritora Tatiana Belinky o resgate mais bem divulgado como literatura para crianças: a velha Yaga e a magia das skáskas (narrativas maravilhosas) estão em Sete contos russos (Companhia das Letrinhas, 1995). Mais recentemente, foram publicados, em três volumes, os Contos de fadas russos, organizados por Aleksandr Afanas'ev, a partir de 1855, com o título Narodnye russkii skazki, base destes trabalhos e outras formas adaptadas (Landy, 2002 e 2003).

Quase sempre, Baba-Yaga é a temível bruxa, a malvada, la maliarda. Às vezes, ela parece ser apenas uma grande conselheira ou a guardiã de muitos segredos, moradora da escuridão numa densa floresta. Sob esta faceta, Baba-Yaga seria assim como a representação da Mãe-Natureza, igualando-se às antigas deusas, uma divindade com poderes sobre a vida e a morte porque rico em mistérios é seu perfil. Contudo, nossa maneira apressada de encarar as realidades imaginárias acomodou-se sobre a lógica a dividir o mundo em partes e posições irreconciliáveis. Quando se pensa em bruxas, evocam-se as fadas e uma eterna rivalidade, ou seja, a luta entre o Bem e o Mal.
Ora, a designação “bruxa” dada às velhas sábias surgiu muito antes do cristianismo lançar sua caça à elas, e referia-se a uma casta de sacerdotisas de um sistema religioso antigo e diferente, com caracteres próprios ao paganismo: uma religião de culto à Terra. Durante a baixa Idade Média (até meados de 1400), as bruxas eram tidas em consideração pelos campônios, aldeões e demais homens das vilas. A bruxaria era, para o Clero e a Coroa, uma simples superstição e, de modo algum, estava associada aos poderes do Mal. Reconhecidamente, as velhas que prestavam serviços para toda a comunidade na condição de parteiras, curandeiras, conselheiras, eram bruxas. Acreditava-se (uma tradição que ainda hoje se mantém) que essas mulheres tinham poder e influência sobre o corpo de outras pessoas e podiam curar doenças, bem como havia a crença de que sua magia e outras formas de projeção podiam favorecer a boa colheita. Com suas ervas milagreiras, a antecipação do futuro e outras simpatias, as bruxas eram respeitadas. A Medicina era ainda uma ciência incipiente, atendendo prioritariamente às camadas mais altas da sociedade medieval, como a nobreza e o clero; mesmo assim, os resultados a que chegava eram menores e mais incertos que os milagres operados pelas velhas sábias do povo.
No entanto, com a crise que a igreja medieval enfrentou junto às classes populares, as bruxas acabariam por cair em desgraça. Política e religião uniram forças e passaram a difundir novas imagens e idéias a respeito do curandeirismo e outras superstições relacionadas às velhas. Tornaram-se agentes do Mal, foram demonizadas dentro dos tribunais, em oposição a um sistema que representava a visão do Bem. Como portadoras de uma maldição divina, as bruxas se transformaram ideologicamente em consortes do próprio Diabo — ao mesmo tempo em que, na iconografia da época, o anjo soberbo ganhava novos contornos, assemelhando-se ao traçado animalesco e profano do antigo deus Pã. Fora criado igualmente o conceito de sabá, a grande festa orgíaca em que a devassidão, a gula e a beberagem tomavam a cena, gerando terror e histerismo entre o povo.
O velho conselho de uma bruxa não continha mais sabedoria, tornou-se um maledicente sussurro como um vento sequioso, frio e corruptor. E, entre os véus e alguma penumbra da fantasia, surgiram voláteis fadas, numinosas entidades, obrigando as mulheres-bruxas a esconderem-se em refúgios cada vez mais ermos. Os contos populares de magia são pródigos nas imagens do sítio abandonado, da alta torre, do castelo debaixo da montanha ou imerso no mar, como a casa perdida no meio da floresta em que ninguém ousa penetrar.
Vassilissa, a Formosa, andou e andou, e só ao entardecer do dia seguinte ela chegou à clareira onde ficava a cabana da Baba-Iagá. A cerca em volta dessa isbá era toda feita de ossos humanos, encabeçados por crânios espetados neles, com olhos humanos nas órbitas. E o trinco do portão era uma boca humana cheia de dentes aguçados. E a casinha era construída sobre grandes pés de galinha. (Belinky 1996: 25-6)
Longe do convívio humano, Baba-Yaga tem o domínio pleno e solitário da floresta, suas árvores e as sombras, revelando-se como uma das manifestações do arquétipo feminino da Grande-Mãe, com quem, em última instância, todos buscam um consolo ou ajuda. O encontro de Vassilissa com ela guarda certas semelhanças com uma versão primitiva pouco conhecida do conto de O Chapeuzinho Vermelho, que remete não apenas a um rito de passagem, mas à transmissão de poderes da mulher velha para a jovem (Kaplan, 1997).

É necessário um período de convivência naquela cabana e abandonar os temores e a curiosidade infantis, para que uma nova aprendizagem se estabeleça.
É ilustrativo o diálogo com Vassilissa, a respeito dos três cavaleiros que a menina vira passar (o branco, o rubro e o preto), quando se dirigia à cabana sobre pés-de-galinha. A velha responde que eles respectivamente são “meu dia, minha tarde, minha noite”. Não poderia se expressar de outra maneira, não fosse a verdadeira senhora da passagem do tempo. “Podemos chamá-la de Grande Deusa da Natureza”, afirma Marie-Louise von Franz, mas “obviamente, com todos esses esqueletos em volta de sua casa, ela é também a Deusa da Morte, que é um aspecto da natureza” (1985: 208). Baba-Yaga compreende igualmente os dois mistérios extremos da Vida, o nascimento (criação) e a morte (destruição).
A Grande Mãe nem sempre é Boa Mãe. Na escala grandiosa, o seu aspecto negativo, devorador e asfixiante, denomina-se a Mãe Terrível [...] Nos mitos, aparece como a mãe devoradora que come os próprios filhos. Conhecemo-la como a cruel Mãe Natureza, que procura repossuir toda a vida — toda a civilização — com a finalidade de colocar tudo de novo dentro do ventre primevo. Como terremoto, abre literalmente o ventre para sugar o homem e suas criações de volta a si mesma. (Nichols 1995: 105)
Além de suas qualidades dóceis e férteis, o arquétipo da Grande-Mãe simboliza a destruição necessária para uma nova ordem. O sorriso malévolo de Baba-Yaga pode ser comparado com inúmeras representações de um tipo de mãe-fera, como é o caso da deusa Kali da tradição hindu. Sedenta de sangue, Kali pode surgir inesperadamente diante de seu expectador com a língua vermelha estirada para fora — antevendo o prazer da devoração.
Do bosque saiu a malvada Baba-Iaga. Viajava dentro de um almofariz e segurava na mão o pilão e a vassoura.
— Cheira-me aqui a carne humana! — suspeitou a terrível bruxa.
Vassilissa estava tão aterrorizada que se sentiu desmaiar. Tudo em volta era sinistro e Baba-Iaga tinha um ar ameaçador. Mas resolveu encher-se de coragem. Já que ali estava, pelos menos ia tentar a sorte e pedir ajuda àquela horrível bruxa. Assim, aproximou-se da velha, inclinou-se e disse:
— Olá, avozinha! As minhas irmãs mandaram-me vir ter contigo, para te pedir lume. (Beliayeva 1995: 81)
Quando nos depararmos com o temível, ou mesmo com o nariz e as rugas de Baba-Yaga, intimamente sabemos algo de sua força e sua ancestralidade mágica.

Tratá-la com respeito é o primeiro passo para conquistar respeito em troca. Quando Vassilissa encara a feiticeira com sinceridade, sem soberba ante o perigo, assegura as chances para uma cumplicidade e convivência pacífica com a velha. Não cair em sua ira devoradora significa ter acesso aos conhecimentos dessa potestade arquetípica. Durante a estadia na isbá da bruxa, há de recuperar essa memória, os segredos de quem sabe ouvir a música das correntezas subterrâneas. Ao mesmo tempo em que vai demonstrando sinais de afeição, a menina reconhece na outra o saber, ainda que inconsciente, na verdade é seu. Afinal, que imagem o espelho de seus olhos refletirá?
Enquanto Baba-Yaga jantava, Wassilissa ficou ali perto, silenciosa. Baba-Yaga disse: “Por que é que você está me olhando sem dizer nada? Você é muda?”
A menina respondeu: “Se pudesse, gostaria de lhe fazer algumas perguntas.”
“Pergunte”, disse Baba-Yaga, “mas lembre-se, nem todas as perguntas são boas. Saber demais envelhece!”

(von Franz 1985: 206)




A honestidade que a busca espiritual exige de nós é ilustrada nos contos russos de iniciação sobre Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga é uma velha de aparência selvagem que mora no meio da floresta, está sempre mexendo o caldeirão e sabe de tudo. Ela assusta, pois quem a procura é obrigado a entrar na escuridão, a fazer perguntas perigosas, a deixar o mundo da lógica e do conforto.

Quando, empenhado na busca, o primeiro jovem chegou tremendo à porta de sua cabana, Baba Yaga perguntou: “Você está aqui por conta própria ou foi mandado por alguém?” Como a família do jovem apoiava sua busca, ele respondeu: “Fui mandado pelo meu pai.” No mesmo instante, Baba Yaga o jogou no caldeirão e o cozinhou. A segunda pessoa a procurá-la, uma moça, viu o fogo crepitando e ouviu a risada de Baba Yaga. Novamente, Baba Yaga perguntou: “Você veio por conta própria ou foi mandada por alguém?” Essa jovem tinha ido para o bosque sozinha em busca do que encontrasse. “Vim por conta própria”, respondeu ela. Baba Yaga a atirou no caldeirão e a cozinhou também.

Mais tarde, um terceiro visitante, uma moça profundamente confusa diante do mundo, chegou à casa de Baba Yaga no meio da floresta. Ela viu a fumaça e percebeu o perigo. Baba Yaga a encarou: “Você veio aqui por conta própria ou foi mandada por outra pessoa?” A jovem respondeu com sinceridade: “Em parte vim por conta própria, mas em parte vim por causa de outras pessoas. Em parte vim porque você está aqui, por causa da floresta e por causa de alguma outra coisa que esqueci. E em parte nem sei por que vim.” Baba Yaga ficou olhando para ela por um momento e disse: “Você serve.” E a convidou para entrar na cabana.