The Call of the Wilderness

THREE calls come from the desert. The first is the call of God, who manifests himself in the wilderness, as he did to Moses. It is in the desert--or so the early Christians believed--that we can really make contact with the other, supernatural, transcendent world. It is there that the essential word can be heard.

The second call is one of disgust and contempt for the world and for a corrupt, condemned society in which God's presence is obliterated by commerce, by the family and by a thousand and one mundane, pernicious desires. In contrast, the solitude and aridity of the desert seem pure, unsullied. Ironically, despite the lack of vegetation, the desert is where the last traces of paradise can be found.

The third call is sounded by the trumpets of the apocalypse. During the early centuries of the Church, the founding fathers of Christianity were certain that the end of the world was nigh. At any moment the heavens might split asunder and exterminating angels with flashing swords surge forth. When that terrible vision came to pass, woe betide those caught in a state of sin or even of forgetfulness; they would be hurled forever into Gehenna. When the end of the world comes, we should be in a state of retreat and prayer, as near to God as possible. That is why the desert is there.

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Week 19

The Enchantress gives me a doll.
A doll…
After all these years.

The day I put my dolls away
High in my closet
I cried.
My step-daddy insisted
I didn’t have to put them away.
But I knew it was time
To put them
For good…

The Call of Baba Yaga - Creative Fire

In the House of the Serpents courtyard at dawn.

Everyone gathers, expectant. Everyone has heard the call of the wild, the call of Baba Yaga. It is Baba Yaga who is the keeper of the creative fire.

Baba Yaga is the fearsome creature, the crooked woman whose nose is hooked like a bird of prey. Her name means 'to know, to see, to forsee' and she is the seer associated with the moon crescent. The Baba Yaga has the power to transform herself into a myriad of shapes, often a toad, sometimes a hedgehog, frequently a bird. The Baba Yaga is often depicted as an evil old hag who eats humans, especially children, but she is known by many to be a wise, prophetic old woman. In appearance she is tall, bony legged, pointy headed and has dishevelled hair.

Enchanteur arrives and tells everyone that their guide for this journey is the doll she is giving each traveller. (Find a doll or make one) Before leaving she reminds everyone to keep their bags close to themselves and that if anyone should lose their way, or be in need of help, all they have to do is ask the doll what to do. She says that the doll will assist, that everyne must keep her with them at all times, that they must not tell anyone they meet about her and that they must feed her when she is hungry and give her drinks if she is thirsty.

You greet your doll and introduce yourself and when you look up again everyone has gone. What is it with everyone rushing off like this? The dolls says that you have to go through the woods and ask the old lady who lives by the lake the way to Baba's. She assures you that she will know how to get there.

Having read all your fairy stories you realise that going to ask the Baba Yaga for creative fire could prove interesting. The hut she lives in has a fence around it made of human bones and topped with human skulls and eyes intact. The gate is fastened with human legs and arms instead of bolts and a mouth with sharp teeth serves as the lock.

According to the doll, who seems to be a font of information, one person who lived to tell the story said that "she commands the sun and it obeys her, she changes the stars in their course, she causes clouds to form in the air and makes it possible to walk on them and travel the country. She can turn herself into a young woman and then, in a twinkling of an eye turn herself back into an old woman. She has to the power to turn a man into an animal and she likes to move freely along roads and valleys and over mountains. Her business is to cast spells, gather herbs and stones, make pacts and agreements."

Right! you think. If this is the only way to get to the creative fire....

You check your bag for the journal, sketch book, spectacles with fairy qualities of sight, anchor, unicorn talisman etc and find someone has added a card with the address.

You head down the mountain, past the mill and the Gypsy Camp which is silent now, bar for a barking dog.

About Baba Yaga

In a number of East European myths, a Baba Yaga (there are more than one) is a cannibalistic witch who lives in a hut on the edge of the forest. The hut stands on chicken legs and will only lower itself after Baba Yaga said a certain rhyme. A picket fence surrounds the hut and she places the skulls of her victims on it. For transportation Baba Yaga uses a giant mortar which she drives at high speed across the forest floor by steering the pestle with her right hand and sweeping away all traces of her passage with a broom in her left hand. A host of spirits often follows her.

Baba Yaga is often represented as a little, ugly, old woman with a huge and distorted nose and long teeth. She is also called Jezi-Baba or Baba Yaga Kostianaya Noga ("bone-legs"), referring to the fact that she is rather skinny. She is regarded as the devil's own grandmother.

In old Hungarian folklore, Baba ("old woman") was originally a good fairy but was later degraded to a witch. A Baba Yaga is a hard bargainer, and will threaten to eat those who do not fulfil their part of an agreement.