Seasonal Salon

Baba Yaga's Hut

Shirley's fascination with Baba Yaga started when she was in preschool.  Her mother had a subscription to Jack and Jill Magazine, which serialized myths and stories for children.  From the first time Shirley read about the "Russian Witch, Baba Yaga," she was hooked on this tale of the scary old woman who worked powerful magic in the woods.  Shirley says, "I drove my mother crazy between issues of the magazine, unable to wait for the next chapter about Baba Yaga. I was so eager that I learned to read faster, just to keep up with the story." 

As an adult she came to see the myth of this frightening hag, who could wield life and death to any visitor, as a fairy tale corruption of a Great Goddess. 

"Her symbols were so clear:  the skulls on the fence posts, the house on chicken legs, or her broom to sweep away her tracks so that no one could follow her.  The cat and owl are her power animals.  And, grinding grain with her mortar and pestle is similar to the magic of spinning goddesses, who are also creating the world from a simple household task.

"There's nothing sweet about Baba Yaga.  But, she is a great protector and she offers life-giving help to those who respect her power."


Shirley Tannenbaumis an artist and scholar who has studied shamanism and goddess myths for most of her adult life.  She practices her shamanic arts under the watchful eyes of the bears on the mountaintop in South Mountain PA, where she was a longtime member of the South Mountain WTI group.

Category: Fall Equinox 2018