Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia
Ask Baba Yaga: Folkloric Advice From Taisia Kitaiskaia | Haute Macabre

Ask Baba Yaga: Folkloric Advice From Taisia Kitaiskaia

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a Russian-American poet and writer with not one but TWO forthcoming books you’ll want to add to your stack. The first is Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers (co-created with artist Katy Horan) and the second, Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles, just opened pre-orders. Though American perception often has Baba Yaga as merely a witch, she is much more — like the Crone form of the Goddess, Baba is a woman at the intersections of the mortal and immortal realms, dispensing invaluable advice to folkloric protagonists. Think of her like a cross between Dear Prudie and a late-night psychic hotline, but with more bones.

Kitaiskaia, who calls Baba a “dangerous, slippery oracle,” penned an Ask Baba Yaga column on feminist site The Hairpin for years; the book will include some of the older columns as well as plenty of new advice about love, loss, and adventure. Pre-order it now from Indie Bound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and BAM!

I’ve followed Kitaiskaia’s work since her very first Hairpin column and I’m really excited by her — and Baba’s — literary success. To whet your appetites, below is a sampling of some of my favourite bits of advice; all re-printed from The Hairpin.

How Can I Stop Feeling Like My Chronic Illness Is a Curse?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

Growing up, I had an incredible amount of energy. Then, the year I turned 20, I was diagnosed with an incurable (but manageable) health problem that robbed me of my physical drive and mental clarity. I feel angry that my body has failed me in this way, I feel angry that my youth was taken from me so soon, and I feel frightened that things will only grow worse as I grow older. What should I do to feel better about my situation, to make peace with myself as I am now? Is it possible to thrive and build a happy and productive life when you have been placed under a curse?

BABA YAGA:

Yr anger is a ) rightful river & yr fear-owl a worthy adversary following above. But every being is , cursed : wearing some deathly wreath. That you feel it ; round yr neck so young is a sorry tale but one in which you join the line of Seers?—?you see the truth stripped bare & so the wind stings the bareness with an extra fury & so you are roped strong with that fury & that sting, the curse is there for you, bared, to bow down to & harness & wear.

 

I’m Hiding in Whiskey, Where Has My Spine Gone?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba,

I have lost all my power and no longer recognize myself. I hide in whiskey and distract myself with men. I am limp, hollow, and disoriented. How do I restore my spirit? Where has my spine gone?

BABA YAGA:

The beaches of this earth are littered with spines , abandoned;. )but no matter how many Whiskeys you do pour on yr wave-beaten backbone, it will not erode.but remain yrs. : Go & pick it up & lash it to you, for sometimes you must be brash & fiendly to wear what is yrs, & in that violence it too will claim you.

I Got What I Wanted, So Why Do I Feel Completely Hollow?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

The thing I thought I wanted in life now leaves me hollow. How can I find what will give my life meaning? Am I destined to be let down no matter what?

BABA YAGA:

You are not some ; squirrel, hoarding up, filling the hollow?—?you are not simply a creature going after one morsel and then another and another until death hollows you out, endingly. Morsels always empty. But so much more churns in you than desire , desire : which is only one of the movements of yr blood. The bone & flesh of you has much to say about being.

How Do I Form Female Bonds?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

I used to have a lot of women friends, though recently I’ve drifted from many of these friendships. The microaggressions, displays of dominance, insults, and general toxicity has really started to get me down. How do I keep forming female bonds (which can be so incredibly rewarding) and at the same time protect myself?

BABA YAGA:

Each animal is a ; ravenous little wound. All such wounds together make for a dirty, swollen crowd, & it is becoming of you to want to move beyond the mess of it. Follow not those that make the wound of you sting most, but meet those that recognize the wound within the both of you, & so are careful with you & themselves.

What’s the Difference Between Adventure and Destruction?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

How do I distinguish the need for adventure and change from the impulse to destroy a good thing?

BABA YAGA:

Only an ill bird wants to destroy its good nest, & ill birds shouldn’t fly. Is there a sickness pooling in yr chest? ;Only you can feel that nervous black spread.

Should I Put Out The Fire In My Belly?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

For most of my life, I have been quiet and passive, but in the last few years I began to identify as a fiery person. I am opinionated and impatient, quick to anger. I recognize that this is harmful to my relationships with others, but at the same time, I am proud of this fire in my belly. What do I do?

BABA YAGA;

Mortals first made fire out of Need. It was a dangerous animal ; they knew not to get too close ; & yet they gathered around it, ate from it. Everyone must be afraid of that which burns & ruins, & yet life without fire is dark & comfortless, the food one eats cold. Everyone needs yr fire. As you tend it by day & by night, you will become a master of yr flame.

How Can I Help My Summertime Depression?

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Dear Baba Yaga,

My depression seems to act up in the summertime. I hate feeling sad and isolated when it is so lovely and warm out. I’m on medication and take care of myself; does it really have to be this hard?

BABA YAGA:

You are a dark stone & the summer sun heats you darker. As long as you are a stone, you must bear this heat & wait for the cool waters of the creek to soothe you. Every shape ; morphs, suddenly, sometime. & it is not for us to know when, & we cannot will it. One day soon you will hop from yr stone.

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Sonya
The devil may care but I don't mind. Pronouns: they/them.

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