I have always loved myths and folk tales, and aside from perhaps Greek mythology, the Russian tales of Baba Yaga have long been my favorite. Baba Yaga is an enigmatic figure, an old crone-witch who gobbles up children and flies around in a mortar and pestle. In some stories she is three women; in some stories she marries a bear. In nearly all stories, she lives in a house that walks on chicken legs, and if anyone but Baba Yaga approaches, the house will turn its door away from them.
The timing of this tattoo (which will be colored in by the end of January; look for more photos soon) is important to me as well. In 2019, both of my brothers announced they were expecting their first children. Now I have known for a long time I was not having children of my own, but that never kept me from dreaming of the day when I would become an aunt — and now, by some witchy magic (or, sigh, by regular ol’ happenstance), I had two nieces or nephews on their way at once.
I told my brothers that I want my “aunt name” to be Baba Yaga. (As in, “Uncle Dan and Baba Yaga.” If grandparents get names, why can’t I?) It would absolutely delight me to know that my brothers’ kids see me as mysterious, strange, witchy, maybe just a bit frightening. (Hand to God, I will never eat them.)
Baba Yaga-ing has also become my goal for 2020, by which I mean that I’d like to dedicate the year to becoming the witchy aunt I’ve always dreamed of being. More art in my life (if that’s possible)! More color! Strange gifts sent at random times! More mystery! Learn to read runes, I don’t know! I want to be the kind of person who, for all you know, has a house that walks on chicken legs.
It will take some time for my niece (hello Fiona!!) and niece-or-nephew (hello!!) to have any concept of who I am, and by then I want to be firmly ensconced on my self-designed Baba Yaga throne. My beautiful, bizarre tattoo (by Cambria, of course — she really gets me) is just the beginning.
(Below: a book I recently accidentally summoned. Ask me about it some time.)
Earlier tattoo pictures and stories:
Nesting doll (August 2019)
Cuckoo clock, color (April 2019)
Finch and satellite (February 2019)
Cardinal (November 2018)
Cuckoo clock, line work (September 2018)
Lavender and key (August 2018)