Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend by Mike Dixon-Kennedy

By Mike Dixon-Kennedy

Covers the myths and legends of the Russian Empire at its maximum volume in addition to different Slavic humans and nations. comprises old, geographical, and biographical history info.

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The second toasted the Apprentice who had secured her tablecloth and crimson wand, and the third toasted the Apprentice who now held her bracelet. When the Apprentice heard these toasts in his name, he made himself known and was welcomed to their table. After they had eaten, the three houris sat in sad and silent contemplation. When the Apprentice asked them what was wrong, they told him that they had a brother who had been taken captive by the giant Azrail, and that no one had ever been able to set him free.

Baba-Yaga is thus a chthonic earth deity who encompasses life from conception through birth and life to death, and beyond—although her role in the underworld is merely that of guardian: According to her pleasure, she may redistribute souls to newborns or keep them in the underworld for all eternity, never to be reborn. Some commentators insist that the bones around Baba-Yaga’s house indicate that she has a very strong connection with the spirit world. Some even go so far as to say that her house guards the point where the two worlds—the world of the living and that of the dead—meet.

This may explain why in some cases she is benevolent to humans, her purpose being not to send people into the afterlife but rather, like the Greek Cerberus, to stop the dead from escaping. Others say that she is a portrayal of the gates of hell themselves, lying in wait for her victims with her jaws agape, swallowing any who are unfortunate enough to seek shelter in her mouth with its razor-sharp iron teeth. BABA-YAGA (-JAGA, -IAGA) Baba-Yaga possesses truly awesome power, for time itself is in her hands: The Sun, the Day and Night, obey her implicitly, as do all the laws of nature.

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