What Do Baba Yaga and Santa Have in Common?

November was a busy month and so we didn’t get any newsletters out. We were getting the final touches on our Baba Yaga book so we can send it out the rewards to our Kickstarter backers, and we also attended in-person events, craft fairs, and such. Things have settled down a bit now, thankfully.

Looking back, since December 2020 until December 2022, we’ve published 12 books, averaging 6 books a year; whereas before, our average was one or two a year. Needless to say, we’re a bit worn out and will be taking off the month of December before we start on our next projects.

After that, we’ll get going on finishing the final two books in the Dragon Village series and start doing research on the next book in the Spirits & Creatures series: Vampires! We’re hoping to do a Kickstarter campaign for the complete Dragon Village series in September, so be sure to follow our Kickstarter profile so you’re updated. We want to have the books completed this time before we start the campaign, so we’ll be able to ship them out as quickly as possible.

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https://www.rawpixel.com/image/4021271/photo-image-nature-red-natural

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Back now to the Santa/Baba Yaga connection. In our research on Baba Yaga, we discovered she has an association with mushrooms, in particular fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. It’s believed that this may be the magical food Baba Yaga feeds to heroes before she sends them off on their journey to the otherworld, the land of the dead. This gave them the ability to unlock the keys to eternity as well as allowing him to become part of the world of the dead, to speak and see there in the same manner as the dead.

So, how does this connect to Santa?

It all relates back to Amanita muscaria, that red-capped, white-spotted mushroom. The toxins in it have psychedelic properties, and shamans (in particular those of the Sami people of Lapland) have used it to put themselves into a trance so they can travel to the other side and get advice from the dead. These shamans didn’t just nibble on the mushrooms to get into this state, they also drank reindeer urine, which contained the mushroom’s compounds that were free of toxins. The rein deer ate this mushroom, but filtered out all the toxic elements.

The Amanita muscaria gives one the sense of flying.

Reindeer… flying…

Are you seeing a connection yet?

People believed that those who ate the Amanita muscaria ended up looking like the mushroom: a big, fat person with red splotches. They traveled to homes on a reindeer-pulled sled in winter. And they came down the chimney to enter the house.

Sounding familiar?

These shamans who ate the mushrooms would perform healing rituals and solve people’s problems from the advice the shamans received from the dead. In return, people gave them lots of food, making the fat man even heftier.

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The source of this information about the Amanita muscaria and Santa comes from this great article and video, “How the Psychedelic Amanita Muscaria Mushroom May Have Inspired the Santa Legend of Lapland,” which you can find here: https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/12/02/mushroom-santa/.

And be sure to check out our book to find out more about Baba Yaga.

Equal-Opportunity Witchcraft

October is a month filled with magic that culminates on Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, when witches, goblins, and other creatures of the night prance about. Although many people see magic as a fun party trick, others take it more seriously. Magic and witchcraft have been around probably as long as mankind has existed and has been perceived differently over the ages and by various cultures.

Our latest book is about Baba Yaga, because she is considered the most powerful Slavic witch. You may think of the word “witch” as applying only to females, but this is incorrect. Men are called witches, too, and practice magic. In Slavic languages, common words for a male witch are ved’miak or vedun, and ved’ma for a female, the root of the words comes from vedat’, which means “to know” and came to be associated with sorcery. Among the peasants, people like these who had supernatural powers were called “people with knowledge.”

But their knowledge was meant to cause harm and misfortune. As a child I heard my grandmother and other people in the village frequently talk about someone using dark magic. People in Slavic villages still perform secret pagan rituals that focus on the four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. In Bulgarian and Slavic folklore there are a lot of rituals for making and breaking spells. There are spells for love, money, health, you name it. We included some in our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs.

Even when these witches or sorcerers died, they still could inflict harm on people. In such a case, they were called “heretics.”

Today, the word implies a connection with the Devil, although this was not the case for trials for witchery among the Slavs for the most part. This kind of sorcery was not associated with religion. Those who practiced it, instead caused harm to an enemy’s person or property, being accused of causing diseases and famine, and using the forces of nature.

Although these sorcerers looked like their neighbors, they could be found out because they possessed a tail. At least those who were born a sorcerer had a tail. Others who trained to become one could be given a tail that eventually grew on him. Other features that were harder to conceal were his busy eyebrows, his penetrating glance, and his desire to be secretive. He was also a bachelor with a little black book, only this one didn’t contain names of his female conquests… It held magical knowledge about herbs and spells.

We hope your Halloween will be filled with a lot of magic, laughter, and candies. Wear your favorite costumes and please be careful with the spells. We don’t want to see a lot of ugly frogs hopping around after Halloween.

If hear a noise in the sky, look up. Who knows? Perhaps it’s Baba Yaga flying on her mortar, visiting a friend to have some fun.

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.

 

Dragon-Repelling Herbs

st demetrius

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.

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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.

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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.

The Miraculous Power Locked within Chestnuts

What do you know about Baba Yaga? You’re probably saying she was a witch. But she is more than that. She is a healer who uses nature. We haven’t uncovered any of her secret recipes, but we’re sure she used some like the ones listed below. She loved autumn, so she is sure to have had a supply of chestnuts in her cupboard. You can find out more about her through our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga?ref=d97tft

Baba Yaga Baner 2

I remember as a child walking on the streets of Sofia in the spring under the wild chestnut trees. Their aroma wrapped us like a soft silk scarf. Then, in the fall, their leaves turned golden, and their fruits were falling to the ground. The trees are gone now, but the memories are still alive. When I visited France last October, I walked along Seine River. Chestnuts covered the sidewalk. I saw an old woman picking them up and putting them into her pockets. This remind me of an article I read while we were working our 77 1/2 herbs book about magical healing powers.

If you look at the bold chocolate color of wild chestnuts, you’ll agree that it’s a true symbol of autumn. Oh, you may say, and also Christmas, since everyone knows “The Christmas Song,” which starts with “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

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Image by rawpixel.com: https://www.rawpixel.com/image/2253257/free-illustration-png-chestnut-vintage-shells-curls-illustrated.

The Bulgarian folk medicine name for the fruit is horse chestnut. Petar Dimkov, a famous healer, calls it a natural miracle that has collected energy and life force from the sun. He says the fruits protect people from bad energy, because chestnuts filter out electric smog. If you carry it in your pocket, the fruit will provide you 30 to 40 percent protection from radiation caused by mobile devices. If you carry it in your hand, you can also reduce emotional imbalances, migraines, nervous irritability. Having trouble sleeping? Put chestnuts under your pillow, and you’ll be nodding off before you know it.

Chestnuts have even greater effects when they’re used in herbal recipes. They’re anti-inflammatory and have pain-relieving qualities. This makes them good for arthritis, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, sinusitis, and more complaints. To help with varicose veins, break chestnuts into pieces and put in a container. Pour alcohol over it so they are covered, then let it stand in a cool, dark place. When the alcohol changes color, the tincture is ready to use. Rub a little on your skin every night.

Looking for a solution to hair loss instead? The white part of chestnuts is good for that. Dry the chestnuts, then grind them. Wash your hair with the diluted white powder. This should stop hair loss and even grow new hair.

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.

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.

Sources:

Angelova, Iliana. “Петър Димков за ползата от дивите кестени.” [Petar Dimkov on the benefits of wild chestnuts.] https://gotvach.bg/n-114180-Peter_Dymkov_for_the_benefit_of_wild_chestnuts.

Mateva, VILLIES-Violeta. “Рецепти с кестени, които ще ви излекуват и разкрасят.” [Recipes with chestnuts that will heal and beautify you.] https://gotvach.bg/n-77503-Recipes_with_chestnuts_that_will_heal_and_beautify_you.

Sweet Sweet Marsh Mallow

The ancient Egyptians extracted the marsh mallow’s (Althaea officinalis) sap by hand and mixed it with nuts and honey, a delicacy reserved for gods and royalty. The marsh-mallow root was once also an ingredient in the marshmallow treats that we now consume. In the 1800s, French candy makers combined the plant’s sap with egg whites and sugar. And like that, the sweet treat was available for everyone, not just gods and nobility. As demand increased, the labor-intensive process changed, and gelatin replaced marsh-mallow sap.

05A - 58 Althaea officinalis Marsh Mallow a

It has also been used for thousands of years as a folk remedy to treat digestive, respiratory, and skin conditions. Even today, in traditional medicine, the mucilage mixed with water forms a slick gel that coats the throat and stomach to reduce irritation when taken internally, and it soothes chapped skin when applied externally. Boiling the flowers in oil and water and adding honey makes a gargle for sore throats.

It’s also a magical herb that’s burned as an incense to cleanse inside and out. You can gain protection against demons and spells by anointing yourself with oil in which the plant’s leaves and flowers have been steeped. Besides cleansing and protection, the herb is a favorite of benevolent spirits. You can call on them for help by keeping a jar of the marsh-mallow root and a dish of water on your altar. In addition, the plant is associated with deities of love and beauty, making it a practical herb for fertility and attraction spells. If you gather the seeds under a full moon and add them to sachets and love powders, you can fight infertility and impotence. Putting a vase of the flowers on your windowsill will help a wandering love return home. Marsh mallow also has an association with death and rebirth, and the herb is used in rituals for the dead. In addition, it is planted near graves, and its flowers decorate graves to honor the deceased.

Our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs provides much more information about the magical and healing properties of herbs, the ones used in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) wreath, plus much more… You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Herbs Cover Image with Project we Love

Kickstarter

If you’d like to learn more about Baba Yaga, we are running a Kickstarter campaign during the month of October, starting on October 4. This will be part of the “Witchstarter” program that Kickstarter is promoting. Along with our campaign, you’ll find all kinds of witchy items to browse through. We’ll be sharing many of these with you in our weekly newsletter, so be sure to follow along.

You can get a preview of our Baba Yaga campaign here. We welcome your feedback.

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.

Baba Yaga Baner 2 pins

Hawthorn – Protection from Evil Spirits

Bright red hawthorn berries are a sure indication autumn has arrived. This plant has a lot of magical and healing abilities. In Bulgaria hawthorn wood is used for doors and thresholds, in order to protect the house. People also place a twig with the berried below their threshold to prevent diseases from entering. The wood is good for making crosses, and simply having a stick from the tree on your person will ensure you can travel safely at night.

Howthorn

Magical Properties

My grandmother used gloves and a special wooden hook to gather the fruits. She used the branches to make a wreath to protect the house and livestock. I always imagined that little fairies and gnomes hid in its branches, but whenever I looked, the only thing I could find was a bird’s nest.

I’m sure Baba Yaga included them in her magical potions, since she is well-versed in the secrets of the forest. You may think of her only as an old crone who eats children, but she has many faces, and one of those is healer. She is a znahar, a woman who heals and restores life with herbs.

Since Baba Yaga lived in the boundary between the living and the dead, she could use hawthorn to ensure their spirits didn’t bother her. It’s believed that where black hawthorn grows, no ghosts will wander.

She possibly also used the wood to make amulets for the good girls and boys who ventured into her glen in the woods, to make sure they arrived safely back home. Hawthorn should be worn on three particular places on the body: around the neck as a necklace, on the wrist as a bracelet using red thread, metal, or leather, or on the head as a wreath.

An old Bulgarian proverb about hawthorn says:

“On the white in a black hawthorn you will look for a black vein,
In a tree grown on a slope, lies a powerful force.”

Health Benefits

Hawthorn (Crataegus species) has been a remedy for heart problems at least as far back as the first century. It has a calming effect that dilates blood vessels, thereby improving blood supply to the heart and brain. The prophetess Baba Vanga claimed drinking a decoction made from hawthorn flowers four times a year was a way to prevent heart disease.

Likewise, hawthorn lowers blood pressure, calms the nervous system, and improves sleep. The herb was one of my grandmother’s favorite cures. She added a few drops of hawthorn along with some of valerian onto a sugar cube whenever she was stressed or had to endure major challenges in her life. Considering she lived to 99, she was able to successfully overcome these problems with her herbal cures. Hawthorn is also popular for teas, wines, juices, and even snacks.

Always make sur to check with your medical provider before using herbs in your diet or for medical purposes.

Herbs Cover Image with Project we Love

Our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs provides much more information about the magical and healing properties of herbs, the ones used in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) wreath, plus much more… You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Baba Yaga Baner 2 pins

Kickstarter

If you’d like to learn more about Baba Yaga, we are running a Kickstarter campaign during the month of October, starting on October 4. This will be part of the “Witchstarter” program that Kickstarter is promoting. Along with our campaign, you’ll find all kinds of witchy items to browse through. We’ll be sharing many of these with you in our weekly newsletter, so be sure to follow along.

You can get a preview of our Baba Yaga campaign here. We welcome your feedback.

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.

The Power of the Rose

We’ll be launching our Kickstarter campaign for Baba Yaga on October 4. In her honor, we’d like to do a series of posts about herbs. Although you may know her as a cannibalistic witch, she has other characteristics. She was also a healer.

Today, we’ll be talking about roses and rose hips (Шипка).

If you have a cold, cough, or laryngitis, you can add honey to a tea made from rose hips to provide fast relief. This tea is also good treatment for people with cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, or diarrhea. It’s one of my favorite teas. It reminds me of the tea made from hibiscus.

 

Rose Hip Tea

Add 1 cup of rose hips to 1 quart of water and boil for 10 minutes.

Filter and add 3 Tablespoons of honey.

Drink a cupful three to four times a day.

 

Rose hips were also used as amulets to inducing love or protecting a home from evil.

First, the love remedies. Making beads from the rose hips is a way to seduce someone of the opposite sex. Or, if you prefer, you can bathe in the rose petals to make yourself more attractive and desirable. This works especially well for married couples. Your love for one another will become even stronger. The fruits will also protect you against love spells from unwanted admiriers.

If you’re not looking for love, but want to keep evil or negative energy, curses, and the evil eye away from your home, rose hips will do that work as well. The thorns are also especially powerful. By planting a rose bush near your home, you can prevent all kinds of evil, supernatural creatures from entering.

If you need to cleanse the inside of your home, gather a bouquet of rosehips. They’ll absorb all that negative energy and calm your nerves and help reduce any domestic problems. You can even scatter dry twigs with roses on them around your home.

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Rose Hip Amulet

Dry the fruits and put them into a cotton bag. If you don’t want to carry that, use a scarf of other accessory that has roses, with the fruits and flowers, embroidered on it. But you’ll want to keep it with you for protection.

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We’d love to have you follow our Baba Yaga Kickstarter campaign so you know the moment it launches. You may think you know all about her, but I’m sure we have plenty of surprises that we’ll reveal in our book. We also have some really cool pins and postcards we’ll be offering backers. Illustrations come from Bulgarian artist Alexander Petkov. Click on the link below and set up a Kickstarter account if you don’t already have one.

Baba Yaga Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga.

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Article Source: Nikolova, Ani. “Няма да повярвате: Шипката пази от магии и слуги на Сатаната!” December 23, 2020. https://www.topactualno.com/123681/nyama-da-povyarvate-shipkata-pazi-ot-magii-i-slugi-na-satanata/.

Can You Help Us?

It’s down to a little more than a week before we launch our Seababies Adventures campaign. Now’s your chance to get a peek at what we’re offering.

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If you are new to our site, we’re launching this book through a Kickstarter campaign. You may or may not be familiar with Kickstarter. It’s a crowdfunding platform. But, unlike many others out there, Kickstarter is a platform where people promote CREATIVE PROJECTS to potential backers. It’s a way to test the market to see if the product is something that consumers desire. It’s not a platform where people are seeking personal funding. No charities or general fund raisers. All backers are helping support a PROJECT with an outcome—whether it’s a book, a game, a movie, or some other creative endeavor. And you get all kinds of cool perks along the way if you back the project to help us achieve our goal of producing this children’s book series.

Here’s where we need your help.

We’d love it if you could look over the preview of our campaign that we plan to launch September 6 and provide us with feedback. Look over the content. Does it make sense to you? Is there anything confusing? Is there something else you’d like to see included? All comments and suggestions are welcome. We want this to be something you are excited about as we are.

Here’s the preview link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/seababies-adventures?ref=2czqkh&token=133502a3.

And don’t forget to click on the “Notify me on launch” button at the top. The moment the campaign goes live, you’ll receive an email from Kickstarter. You don’t want to miss this because we’ll be offering perks along the way. The earlier you back the project, the more perks you’ll receive.

If you’ve never used Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. Once you click on the “Notify me on launch” button, the site will ask you to log in. Scroll down to where it says: “New to Kickstarter? Sign up.” And follow the instructions from there.

Thank you for your support. As the Kickstarter guru who has taught us about this platform says, “We hope to see you behind the backer wall.”

And we’re also gearing up for another campaign in October for Kickstarter’s Witchstater promotion. For that one, we’ll be continuing our Spirits & Creatrues series with a book about Baba Yaga. You can follow that campaign here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga

Baba Yaga Baner 2

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