With Halloween approaching and images of raddled witches cackling from every corner, I felt it was a good time to reblog an entry from a site my artist friend Michelle Anglin and I once shared. It speaks to Baba Yaga, prime mover in the mythic cosmology of Russia – She who epitomizes the very essence of crone.
While Baba Yaga may have her more benign moments, in truth, she is a terrifying creature of great power; a cannibal, said to have devoured the flesh of those whose flaming skulls form a palisade around her chicken-legged hut. Cannibalism seems repulsive and horrible to modern eyes, but originally people ate bits of the dead in order to share their manna, their spirit, and make it their own. Taking a bite of one’s ancestor meant incorporating some of her/his power and wisdom into oneself and opened a door to communication with the dead. In the same way, eating some of one’s enemy allowed access to their courage and intelligence. In a way its about conservation, recycling and continuity; learning from the past and bringing its lessons forward.
Skulls served the same purpose. Many ancient cultures from Celts to Mayans collected skulls and incorporated them heavily into their culture and…
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