Fairy Tale Characters: Baba Yaga, the Slavic Witch

Fairy tale characters: Baba YagaAs fairy tale characters go, the Slavic-born Baba Yaga is one of the greats.

She lives deep in the forest, as the witches of folk tales are wont to do, but has a number of colorful things that distinguish her from the rest of the pack.

For instance, she flies about on a giant mortar, with pestle in hand, rather than on a broomstick. She can be cruel and evil, but also helpful and often plain ambiguous. And, oh yeah, her hut has a pair of giant chicken legs, so that it can get up and move from place to place. I wonder if this was the inspiration for Howl’s Moving Castle?

I love surreal details like those surrounding Baba Yaga, they give a story the power of dream. And that really is a power in story-telling.

Think of Yubaba from the animated masterpiece, Spirited Away. She is another of my favorite witches. She runs a Japanese bathhouse where we meet endless bizarre characters, but they make sense in her dreamlike world.

Mythology, folk tales, and fairy tales are filled with characters like these, from Bluebeard to Rumpelstiltskin. Do you have a favorite character from these stories? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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