October 26 is Dimitrovden, St. Demetrius’ Day or St. Dimitar’s Day. This saint is sometimes called the twin of St. George, the mighty dragon slayer. But did you know that St. Demetrius also fought dragons? I bet he never came across Baba Yaga when she was in dragon form, though.
What? You didn’t know she could appear as a dragon or giant snake in fairy tales? She is so huge that when she opens her mouth to swallow the hero, her jaw reaches from the clouds to the ground. Unlike the Bulgarian version of this dragon, this incarnation is always evil. But, there’s no need to worry, unless you’re the hero’s brother. Your sibling may toss you into the dragon’s mouth so he can escape.
In these stories, the dragon is defeated in a couple of ways. One is to toss in so much salt that she has to go to the sea to quench her thirst. Another is to hide in a blacksmith’s shop. When the dragon Baba Yaga arrives, the blacksmith will tell her to stick her tongue through the keyhole and grab the hero. While she does this, the crafty blacksmith will pinch her tongue with red-hot tongs and hold her there while the hero makes his way outside to kill the dragon Yaga.
But there are other ways to defeat dragons. By herbs. A few are used mainly to stop the amorous advances of a dragon, such as Melilotus officinalis (called komuniga in Bulgarian folklore), Gentiana cruciate (called tintyava), and Tanacetum vulgare (tansy). However, if you just want to drive away an angry dragon, such as a Baba Yaga one, you might want to stick with wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris). It’s one of the most effective anti-demonic herbs to protect you from dragons and other evil entities.
Its greatest magical strength lies in its buds and tips. Hang a bunch of the herbs around the house (preferably in a bedroom or hallway), or burn it as incense for a short time and in small doses. Its smell will drive out every unclean, evil force from your home—whether it’s a spirit or simply anger and negative energy. Another way to drive out evil spirits is to gather wild wormwood on Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day, June 24), make a broom with the stalks, and sweep the unwanted beings from your house. If you can’t harvest the herb on that day, do it when the moon is waning. This is when wild wormwood will be more powerful.
Common methods for applying the herbs include:
- Wearing them as a small bouquet or corsage. Bulgarians like to include a geranium (здравец, zdravets) among the flowers. Its leaves smell nice and protect against the evil eye, and bring health and strength to the wearer. Men often pin the herbs onto their shirt, while girls make herbal and floral wreaths to wear in their hair.
- Burning them and spreading the smoke like incense, including burning hay in a field that contains the herbs. The smoke from burning herbs will protect and purify you, and its smell will sicken the dragon so she’ll no longer come near you. It may even kill the dragon.
- Soaking them in water, then sprinkling the water on the victim or the place where the dragon resides.
We have more interesting topics like this in our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders.
Or if you want to find out more about dragons, check out our book A Study of Dragons of Eastern Europe.
And don’t forget to take a look at our campaign about Baba Yaga. It’s ending on November 1, so don’t miss this opportunity: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga?ref=d97tft
If you’ve never logged into Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. But then, you’ll have access to all the great projects going on every day, not just for the Witchstarter program.