There are many myths and folktales in the world that have become a name of infamy but one of my favourite myths that have stood the test of time is the story of the Baba Yaga. Though there is no clear singular origins for the entirety of the name, Baba may come from the word grandmother from several different languages such as those from Slavic countries, as well as connotating associations with things that are taboo. The ‘yaga’ element is the one that is more up for debate, with several different threads being drawn.
The story of Baba Yaga isn’t just one singular story. Like many fairy tales, there are several different iterations of Baba Yaga in different tales that are told. Some say that it is just one, others say that the name is shared by three sisters. She travels around in a mortar and her house is said to stand on bird legs, usually described to be that of a chicken. While some suggest she is a negative figure, what with her stealing and her eating of her victims, usually children, some myth suggests that she may be a guardian between two worlds. That of the living and the dead. The fence around her house is said to be decorated in skulls. Some myths suggest that she is blind, which is an idea supported by Propp who suggests it is symbolic of the idea that the dead cannot see the living.
Some stories survive. Perhaps not in their entirety and perhaps not forever. There are many stories in the world irrevocably changed by the passage of time and perhaps, though I a not sure we would know it, the Baba Yaga stories may be one of these things.