I have written a retelling of Baba Yaga, set in modern day Florida. My use of Eastern Orthodoxy as the setting for the tale and their traditions and heavy reliance on the natural world for ritual and beliefs made a good backdrop for the entry of the Baba Yaga. A young woman ventures from her home in Florida where her grandmother has shown her the bounty of nature and its healing properties and uses in religious practices and goes out into the wild woods of Florida, a wilderness with which I feel an affinity, being that I am practically native.
When I had finished writing the story, I realized I wouldn’t have been able to write it had I not helped myself as well as the reader become fully immersed in the natural world. We are just not as well versed in so many aspects of the outside world, nor are other readers. Context becomes vital in order to grasp the full meaning of what it means to encounter a witch in a story and not via a movie screen or video game.
I intend to write another draft of my story this fall and hopefully eventually publish it. I have a private online writers’ group I started this summer called Word Warriors. I plan to share my story in a couple of weeks. Let me know if you would be interested in participating in a three to four month intensive in the coming months, fall and winter. I hope what I learn from my feedback with my group is what I can use to improve my project and continue re-envisioning it.
Here is an excerpt from this wonderful blog post….I am so glad I discovered this blog tonight. I hope you will explore it. Peace.
“Recently I read Sara Maitland’s book From The Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairy Tales where she writes, ‘Forests to the [early] Northern European peoples were dangerous and generous, domestic and wild, beautiful and terrible. And the forests were the terrain out of which fairy stories, one of our earliest and most vital cultural forms, evolved. The mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forest are both the background to and source of these tales…’”
Fairy tales are filled with the dark forest. One of the very first fairy tales that I can recall having been read to me was that of Hansel and Gretel, whose very father takes them deep into the forest to leave them there to die. Forests run throughout all of the Northern European fairy and folk tales. These forests are places of peril and triumph for the protagonists. Maria Tatar, the German folklore and children’s literature scholar at Harvard University, wrote, “Forests are sublime and dangerous, full of mystery, magic, terror, and monstrosity; an enchanted place where anything can happen. On one hand, [the forest] is a site of threats, the precinct of monsters—the wolf waiting for Red Riding Hood, the witch for Hansel and Gretel, the briars covering Sleeping Beauty’s castle—but it’s also a place where abandoned children can take refuge: Snow White flees to safety in the forest…
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