Vasalisa the Brave + Baba Yaga
Today was a beautifully *normal* kind of day. My kids have the week off from school and there was just lots of not a whole lot, and still plenty that filled our house today.
Dishes and laundry were done, music was played and practiced, a couple of emails were sent, art happened, waiting for friends happened and then a little crafting happened.
My kids and I have always really loved the story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga, and today we made little medicine dolls inspired by the doll Vasalisa mama makes and gives to her before she dies. Vasalisa carries the doll in her pocket throughout her journeys.
In case you aren’t familiar with this story I’ll give you a little mini version of it but please go seek it out in it's fullness because I absolutely will not do justice to it here!
Vasalisa is a young Russian girl who’s been thrown some pretty awful circumstances including losing both her parents and being left with a vicious and jealous step-mother and her daughters.
In an attempt to rid themselves of Vasalisa for good, the step-family sends her out into the woods insisting that she find Baba Yaga and ask her for fire which she is to bring back to their cottage - should she survive.
Baba Yaga is a Slavic witch who’s known to be horrifically ferocious yet also sort of and occasionally maternal. She is an old woman who flies around in a mortar with a pestle + broom by her side and lives in a house made of human bones that stands on chicken legs.
She is known to have an outrageously large appetite… human beings her favorite food.
Needless to say heading out into the dark woods to search for Baba Yaga’s home is not a task for the easily frightened. Vasalisa though, is a gentle girl and not particularly fierce, an unlikely match for Baba Yaga and her wicked ways.
But there is something special and even essential she carries in her pocket that comfort and guides her.
Something gifted to her from her own mother to support her through her journey.
Vasalisa carries a simple and beloved doll, a doll made by her mother and filled with her mothers love and wisdom. Throughout this story it is the doll that both saves her and guides her.
This whole story is so rich and meaningful, but it’s the piece about the doll that’s just so beautiful to me.
What more could we hope for when sending our children out into the sometimes treacherous world, but that they would always carry a sweet piece of their childhood with them, a piece of our essential wisdom and love, and that in their maturing they would have the awareness to seek counsel from that place within?
And so we made dolls!
Typically when we make dolls we leave them faceless so that they are free to express whichever emotion we’re needing them to play out at any given moment but today we used what we had available which were these sweet and happy beads, so we’ll trust that they’re perfect just as they are.
Well, that and when I tried using embroidery thread to wrap the heads, it was a hot mess (I’m a very messy crafter)!
Do you have a favorite story or craft or both? I’d love to know about them, what feeds your soul in the everyday? How do you fill the emptier days?
“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories... water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
If you want to hear more stories of bravery you can listen to me and Emily Ann Peterson (of Bare Naked Bravery) talk about essentialism, potency, truth and vulnerability by clicking here.
Our next Photography for The Journey Workshop is happening this Saturday in Orange County, California. We’d LOVE to have you, these workshops are for all levels and focus on both seeing in a more creative and expressive way and also on gaining enough technical know-how that you can go out and create photographs that you love. Also, we have goodies from Lotus Wei + Wei of Chocolate for all of our participants… (honestly, that’s enough reason by itself to join us!!). Click here to grab your spot, it’s super fun to do with a friend, partner, or a tween or teen. See you there!