Category: Mythology/Folklore

Mythology Monday: Vasilisa The Beautiful

fairy-tale-character-Vasilisa

Today, we’re going to take a look at a Russian folk tale that starts off rather familiar, but then goes completey off the rails.

So, to start off with, we have a merchant and his wife. The two of them have a beautiful daughter named Vasilisa. One day, when Vasilisa is about eight, her mom comes down with an unspecified illness and dies.

Before dying, though, she hands her daughter a doll, and tells her to feed it whenever she needs help. Turns out that the doll is magical and comes to life whenever she gives it food or drink. This comes in very handy later in the tale.

Some time passes, and the merchant decides it’s time for him to find himself another wife. He meets a wido with two daughters, they hit it off, and eventually get married.

And then they live happily every after.

Just kidding, the stepmother and stepsisters proceed to make Vasilisa’s life hell, basically making her a slave in her own home. Why the dad doesn’t put a stop to it, I don’t know, but let’s move on.

Some more time passes, and Vasilisa grows up to be, you guessed it, beautiful. This leads to her getting a lot of male attention, whcih pisses off the stepmother to no end because no one even looks at her own daughters. So, as you can imagine, she decides to plot her stepdaughter’s death.

She gets her chance when her husband leaves for an extended business trip. As soon as he’s out the door, she gathers the other three up and heads to a house at the edge of a very dark, very intimidating forest. Specifically, it’s the forest of the fearsome Baba Yaga.

For context, Baba Yaga is a prominent figure in Slavic folklore. She’sa forest witch with a mobile house and a penchant for eating people. In other words, not really someone you’d want to encounter.

One day, the stepmother and stepsisters blow out all the candles in the house. They’re all like, “Whoops, we have no way to relight these candles. Vasilisa, head out to the woods and see if Baba Yaga has a light.”

Before they can protest, they shove her out the door and shut it. With no real options, Vasilisa heads out into the woods.

While on her way, she comes across three dudes: one in white on a white horse, one in red on a red horse, and a third in black on a black horse. The last one she sees when she comes across Baba Yaga’s hut. Which is decorated with human bones, including a whole bunch of glowing skulls.

Vasilisa is rooted to the spot with fear, so just stands there up until Baba Yaga actually comes home. Baba Yaga asks her why she’s standing in front of her house, and Vasilisa gives her the rundown on her predicament.

Baba Yaga thinks for a moment, then says, “OK, I’ll give you a light if you do some household chores, then spearate out dirts specks from my wheat and poppy seeds. If you fail, I’ll just eat you.”

Vasilisa agrees, and Baba Yaga goes to bed, at which point Vasilisa gives her doll a snack. it wakes up and is like, “Don’t worry, girl, I got this.”

The next day, Baba Yaga leaves to do whatever it is she does, and Vasilisa and the doll get to work. Amazingly, between the two of them, they manage to finish it all before she returns home.

Baba Yaga is disppaointed by this, but knows when she’s beat. She summons three pairs of disembodied hands to take the poppy seeds and wheat before handing Vasilisa one of her skulls to use as a light.

She then asks the girl if she has any questions, and Vasilisa asks about the three horsemen she saw. Baba Yaga explains that they’re the day, the sun, and the night respectively, then asks if she has anything else she wants to ask. Vasilisa is about to ask about the hands, but then decides that she doesn’t really want to know and says, “Nope, I’m good.”

Baba Yaga then asks how Vasilisa managed to finish her tasks so quickly, and she responds that it was through her mother’s blessing. Baba Yaga responds, “Nope, don’t want no blessings around here,” before telling Vasilisa to GTFO.

Vasilisa, skull in hand, makes it back to her house. Instead of lighting the candlles, though, the skull ends up incinerating her stepmother and stepsisters. Which is pretty hardcore.

With her problems murdered, Vasilisa buries the skull. She then heads into town, where she apprentices herself to a weaver and ends up marrying the tsar.

So, as you can see, there are a number of similaries between this story and the tale of Cinderella. If Cinderella didn’t fuck around wiith the shoe nonsense and just straight up killed her horrible family.

Which is pretty god damned metal if you think about it, and totally fitting for Russia.

(So, fun fact: my job is furloughed indefinitely because of the pandemic! Whee! What that means is I have no idea when I’ll be getting my next paycheck. Fortunately, I have Patreon and Ko-Fi, so if you’d like to support the blog, thtat’s where you’d do it. Thanks!)

Mythology Mondy: Zeus Turns Into A Bull To Get His Dick Wet

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So, there are a handful of Greek myths where Zeus turns himself into an animal to get with some lady. This is one of them

So we start out with this Phoenician princess named Europa. Now Europa is super, super gorgeous, and one day she attracts the notice of Zeus while she’s chilling on a beach somwhere. Since Zeus’s main defining feature is a chronic inability to keep it in his pants, he decides that he really needs to bone down with her.

Zeus then comes up with a cunning plan. A cunning plan that involves turning himself into a white bull.

He then goes and hangs out in Europa’s dad’s herd for a while, and then just kinda waits. Eventually, Europa comes by and sees the Zeus-bull, and then thinks it might be a good idea to ride it. Not, you know, sexually, but like you’d ride a horse.

So she jumps on the bull’s back, and the bull carries her off to Crete, where he reveals himself as Zeus. He then sets about seducing her. I use the term seduce very, very loosely here, because Zeus isn’t really known for taking no for an answer. Either way, Europa has three kids by him: Minos, whose wife would go on to fuck her own bull; Rhadamanthys, who becomes a judge in the underworld, and the warrior Sarpedon.

Zeus then leaves her with three gifts: a super-rad javelin, a bronze bodyguard, and a dog. Europa would eventually go on to marry the Cretan king Asterius, who adopted her three demigod kids as his own. So things ended up pretty well for her, which is a nice change of pace from how most of Zeus’s flings go.

Side note, I find Zeus turning into a bull to seduce Minos’s mom pretty funny, considering what Minos’s own wife would eventually do.

Mythology Monday: The Curse Of Macha

Macha

We’re back in Ireland, though I’m taking a bit of a detour from the Ulster Cycle for a story that really isn’t part of said cycle, but is tangentially related.

So, to start off, we have this farmer from Ulster named Crunden. Crunden’s wife died, leaving him with three small children to raise, a farm to run, and a household to take care of. Now, with the first two taking up most of his attention, the latter kinda falls by the wayside a bit.

The house is a mess, is what I’m saying.

Which makes it really, really surprising when Crunden gets home from the fields one day to find the house miraculously clean, with a random lady cooking supper.

“Hi,” she says. “I’m Macha, and I’m your new wife.”

Crunden, apparently not finding anything about this weird or off-outting, says, “OK,” and the two go on their merry way.

Now, it should be noted that Macha is clearly not human. In fact, she’s from the otherworld, which is where all the gods and the sidhe live. This is indicated by the fact that she runs really, really, ridiculously fast.

Anyway, things are going pretty well, at least up until the king, Connor, gets himself some new chariot horses and decides to throw a huge party for this. Everyone, including Crunden, is invited.

It should also be noted at this point that Macha is super, super pregnant. As in about-to-give-birth-at-any-moment preggers. So she takes her husband aside before the party and warns him not to brag her up, or bad shit will happen. He assures her that he won’t, and heads off to party down.

Crunden manages to keep his promise in the face of all the other dudes their bragging about their wives, but then the king says that his horses are the fastest things alive.

Crunden says, “Oh, yeah? Bet my wife can outrun your horses.”

The king does not take to kindly to this boast, and has a couple of his guards bring Macha by so her husband can put his money where his mouth is. Macha, desperately, tries to get the king to realize that maybe forcing a heavily pregnant woman to run a race is a terrible idea. When this doesn’t work, she tries to appeal to his cadre of warriors, but they want to see where this is going too.

So, with no other choice, the race is on. Surprise, surprise, Macha goes into labor during the race, which she wins. Right on the finish line, she then gives birth to stillborn twins.

Understandably upset by this turn of events, she scoops up her dead babies and lays a curse on the men of Ulster. Basically, from now until the end of time, they’ll experience labor pains at the time they need their strenght the most. She then runs off, never to be seen again.

The fortress is then named Emain Macha, or “Macha’s twins.”

And the moral of the story is Jesus Christ don’t force pregnant women to race horses.