Witch

Baba Yaga and the Twins

Somewhere, I cannot tell you exactly where, but certainly in vast Russia, there lived a peasant with his wife and they had twins — a son and daughter. One day the wife died and the husband mourned over her very sincerely for a long time. One year passed, and two years, and even longer. But there is no order in a house without a woman, and a day came when the man thought, “If I marry again possibly it would turn out all right.” And so he did, and had children by his second wife.

The stepmother was envious of the stepson and daughter and began to use them hardly. She scolded them without any reason, sent them away from home as often as she wished, and gave them scarcely enough to eat. Finally she wanted to get rid of them altogether. Do you know what it means to allow a wicked thought to enter one’s heart?

The wicked thought grows all the time like a poisonous plant and slowly kills the good thoughts. A wicked feeling was growing in the stepmother’s heart, and she determined to send the children to the witch, thinking sure enough that they would never return.

“Dear children,” she said to the orphans, “go to my grandmother who lives in the forest in a hut on hen’s feet. You will do everything she wants you to, and she will give you sweet things to eat and you will be happy.”

The orphans started out. But instead of going to the witch, the sister, a bright little girl, took her brother by the hand and ran to their own old, old grandmother and told her all about their going to the forest.

“Oh, my poor darlings!” said the good old grandmother, pitying the children, “my heart aches for you, but it is not in my power to help you. You have to go not to a loving grandmother, but to a wicked witch. Now listen to me, my darlings,” she continued; “I will give you a hint: Be kind and good to every one; do not speak ill words to any one; do not despise helping the weakest, and always hope that for you, too, there will be the needed help.”

The good old grandmother gave the children some delicious fresh milk to drink and to each a big slice of ham. She also gave them some cookies—there are cookies everywhere—and when the children departed she stood looking after them a long, long time.

The obedient children arrived at the forest and, oh, wonder! there stood a hut, and what a curious one! It stood on tiny hen’s feet, and at the top was a rooster’s head. With their shrill, childish voices they called out loud: “Izboushka, Izboushka! turn thy back to the forest and thy front to us!”

The hut did as they commanded. The two orphans looked inside and saw the witch resting there, her head near the threshold, one foot in one corner, the other foot in another corner, and her knees quite close to the ridge pole.

“Fou, Fou, Fou!” exclaimed the witch; “I feel the Russian spirit.”

The children were afraid, and stood close, very close together, but in spite of their fear they said very politely: “Ho, grandmother, our stepmother sent us to thee to serve thee.”

“All right; I am not opposed to keeping you, children. If you satisfy all my wishes I shall reward you; if not, I shall eat you up.”

Without any delay the witch ordered the girl to spin the thread, and the boy, her brother, to carry water in a sieve to fill a big tub. The poor orphan girl wept at her spinning-wheel and wiped away her bitter tears. At once all around her appeared small mice squeaking and saying:

“Sweet girl, do not cry. Give us cookies and we will help thee.”

The little girl willingly did so.

“Now,”gratefully squeaked the mice, “go and find the black cat. He is very hungry; give him a slice of ham and he will help thee.”

The girl speedily went in search of the cat and saw her brother in great distress about the tub, so many times he had filled the sieve, yet the tub was still dry. The little birds passed, flying near by, and chirped to the children:

“Kind-hearted little children, give us some crumbs and we will advise you.”

The orphans gave the birds some crumbs and the grateful birds chirped again: “Some clay and water, children dear!”

Then away they flew through the air.

The children understood the hint, spat in the sieve, plastered it up with clay and rilled the tub in a very short time. Then they both returned to the hut and on the threshold met the black cat. They generously gave him some of the good ham which their good grandmother had given them, petted him and asked: “Dear Kitty-cat, black and pretty, tell us what to do in order to get away from thy mistress, the witch?”

“Well,” very seriously answered the cat, “I will give you a towel and a comb and then you must run away. When you hear the witch running after you, drop the towel behind your back and a large river will appear in place of the towel.

If you hear her once more, throw down the comb and in place of the comb there will appear a dark wood. This wood will protect you from the wicked witch, my mistress.”

Baba Yaga came home just then.

“Is it not wonderful?” she thought; “everything is exactly right.”

“Well,” she said to the children, “today you were brave and smart; let us see to-morrow. Your work will be more difficult and I hope I shall eat you up.”

The poor orphans went to bed, not to a warm bed prepared by loving hands, but on the straw in a cold corner. Nearly scared to death from fear, they lay there, afraid to talk, afraid even to breathe. The next morning the witch ordered all the linen to be woven and a large supply of firewood to be brought from the forest.

The children took the towel and comb and ran away as fast as their feet could possibly carry them. The dogs were after them, but they threw them the cookies that were left; the gates did not open themselves, but the children smoothed them with oil; the birch tree near the path almost scratched their eyes out, but the gentle girl fastened a pretty ribbon to it. So they went farther and farther and ran out of the dark forest into the wide, sunny fields.

The cat sat down by the loom and tore the thread to pieces, doing it with delight. Baba Yaga returned.

“Where are the children?” she shouted, and began to beat the cat. “Why hast thou let them go, thou treacherous cat? Why hast thou not scratched their faces?”

The cat answered: “Well, it was because I have served thee so many years and thou hast never given me a bite, while the dear children gave me some good ham.”

The witch scolded the dogs, the gates, and the birch tree near the path.

“Well,” barked the dogs, “thou certainly art our mistress, but thou hast never done us a favor, and the orphans were kind to us.”

The gates replied: “We were always ready to obey thee, but thou didst neglect us, and the dear children smoothed us with oil.”

“The children ran away as fast as their feet could possibly carry them.”

The birch tree lisped with its leaves, “Thou hast never put a simple thread over my branches and the little darlings adorned them with a pretty ribbon.”

Baba Yaga understood that there was no help and started to follow the children herself. In her great hurry she forgot to look for the towel and the comb, but jumped astride a broom and was off. The children heard her coming and threw the towel behind them. At once a river, wide and blue, appeared and watered the field. Baba Yaga hopped along the shore until she finally found a shallow place and crossed it.

Again the children heard her hurry after them and so they threw down the comb. This time a forest appeared, a dark and dusky forest in which the roots were interwoven, the branches matted together, and the tree-tops touching each other. The witch tried very hard to pass through, but in vain, and so, very, very angry, she returned home.

The orphans rushed to their father, told him all about their great distress, and thus concluded their pitiful story: “Ah, father dear, why dost thou love us less than our brothers and sisters?”

The father was touched and became angry. He sent the wicked stepmother away and lived a new life with his good children. From that time he watched over their happiness and never neglected them any more.

How do I know this story is true? Why, one was there who told me about it.

From:

Folk Tales From the Russian, by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal, (1903)

Queen of Ghosts

Queen of Ghosts,
Images of you on gate posts,
Highest priestess.
In the darkest dress.

Crowning a mare,
In the underworld Lair,
A hound at your side,
The serpent around your arm in a bind.

Protecting homes.
As the ghost spirit roams,
Ghostly hounds,
With your spirit crown.

Master of Magic,
Your death tragic,
Patron of Witches,
At your side two bitches,

Protecting from spirits,
When pleased you grant it,
Dark Magician,
Your priestess Medicean.

~source

Witch’s Rune Traditional

Darksome night and silvery moon
East then south then west then north
To thee we sing a witch’s tune
To call the ancient powers forth

Cup for water, airy sword
A pentacle to touch the earth
Fiery wand all in accord
Lady guide us to rebirth

Cord and censer, scourge and knife
Power of the witch’s blade
Waken all ye into life
Come ye as the charm is made

Queen of heaven, queen of hell
Ancient huntress of the night
Listen as we sing this spell
All love and pleasures are your rites

By all the powers of land and sea
By the light of moon and sun
As I will, so mote it be
Chant this spell, so be it done.

From: The Pagan Library

The Witch’s Tune

This is another version of the Witch’s Rune, called the witch’s tune. The words were adapted by Aldan.

Dark of night and rising moon,
East, then south, then west, then north
To each we sing a witches’ tune
That calls the ancient powers forth.

Cup for water, fiery sword,
A pentacle to touch the earth,
Airy wand, all in a cord;
Lady, guide us to rebirth.

White for birth, and green for life.
And black for all the worlds between,
Cauldron, censor, scourge and knife
All celebrate the triple queen.

Queen of heaven, earth and hell
Ancient hunter of the night,
Join us as we sing this spell:
All love and pleasure are her rites.

By all the powers of land and sea,
By all the might of moon and sun,
As I will, so mote it be:
Chant the spell, and be it done.

From: The Pagan Library

The Coven Chant

O ancient ones of heaven, earth and sea,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!
To music of the night-wind blowing free,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!

The owl hoots within the hollow tree,
The black cat runs by night silently,
The toad beneath the stone dwells secretly,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!

To moon that draws the tides of air and sea,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!
To god that bides beneath the greenwood tree,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!

By witches’ garter bound about the knee,
By staff and cauldron and all powers that be,
We will the thing in our minds we see,
We chant the coven spell, thus shall it be!

(Pause…)

The Spell is flowing like the sea,
The spell is growing like the tree,
Like flame that burns and blazes free.
We chant the spell, thus shall it be!
We chant the spell, thus shall it be!
We chant the spell, thus shall it be!
IT IS!

From: Witchcraft for Tomorrow

The Old Witch Hare

hare-moon2
In the black furror of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered “Whsst! witch-hare,”
Away like a ghostie o’er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

~Walter de la Mare

Twelve Wild Swans

cover800

Far away in the land to which the swallows fly when it is winter, dwelt a king who had eleven sons, and one daughter, named Eliza. The eleven brothers were princes, and each went to school with a star on his breast, and a sword by his side. They wrote with diamond pencils on gold slates, and learnt their lessons so quickly and read so easily that every one might know they were princes. Their sister Eliza sat on a little stool of plate-glass, and had a book full of pictures, which had cost as much as half a kingdom. Oh, these children were indeed happy, but it was not to remain so always.

Their father, who was king of the country, married a very wicked queen, who did not love the poor children at all. They knew this from the very first day after the wedding. In the palace there were great festivities, and the children played at receiving company; but instead of having, as usual, all the cakes and apples that were left, she gave them some sand in a tea-cup, and told them to pretend it was cake. The week after, she sent little Eliza into the country to a peasant and his wife, and then she told the king so many untrue things about the young princes, that he gave himself no more trouble respecting them.

“Go out into the world and get your own living,” said the queen. “Fly like great birds, who have no voice.” But she could not make them ugly as she wished, for they were turned into eleven beautiful wild swans. Then, with a strange cry, they flew through the windows of the palace, over the park, to the forest beyond. It was early morning when they passed the peasant’s cottage, where their sister Eliza lay asleep in her room. They hovered over the roof, twisted their long necks and flapped their wings, but no one heard them or saw them, so they were at last obliged to fly away, high up in the clouds; and over the wide world they flew till they came to a thick, dark wood, which stretched far away to the seashore.

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