Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vasalisa and the Flaming Skull

The Skull Torch was another prop I needed to illustrate the Vasalisa story.  I realize this will freak out many of my readers.   Please bear with me.  It will be worth it!

In the Story, Vasalisa is sent out into the forest to get a light for the family hearth from Baba Yaga's house.  Her cruel step family knows it's a death sentence and never expected to see Vasalisa again--ever.  We also know that Baba Yaga's cottage (the house that dances on chicken legs) is surrounded by a fence made from the bones of her victims--skulls and femurs.

Vasalisa is Brave.  She knows what she has to do to survive because she's been listening to the little doll in her pocket :  The little doll her mother had given her before she died.   After working for Baba Yaga for a time, listening to her intuition (the doll), and accomplishing the Baba's seemingly impossible tasks, Vasalisa learns some very important lessons.   In the end, Baba Yaga gives her a light for the fire at "home."  Vasalisa carries the glowing embers in a skull lantern that lights her way home through the dark forest.

This is an incredibly powerful symbol in the story.  Vasalisa has learned to harness this tool of death and destruction, for she knows that this is a vital part of the Life/Death/Life Cycle.  She is no longer afraid of the dark.  In my mind, this is one of the great Secrets to Life, the Universe, and Everything.


My photo is on the left (above).  Ivan Bilibin's classic illustration is on the right.  This is what I was going for with my image. Mission accomplished!

By this time, Vasalisa has made it home, and "taken care of" her awful step family.  She is confident and recognizes the power she weilds.   Ready to start life on her own terms, and in concert with the rhythms of Life and Death and Rebirth.  

In Jungian Psychology, all the characters in a story are different aspects of the same person. In this case, Clarisa Pinkola Estes equates the abusive step family as the voices in Vasalisa's head that belittle and cut her down.  She needs to banish this element so that the Little Doll (Intuition) can be a more constructive and positive influence in her life.  

As an aside : This month, the skulls were sitting in our dining room and one of Oliver's friends asked, "Is your mom Goth, or something?"  That made me smile!  The answer is no--I do not consider myself Goth.  This is something better : The Cult of Baba Yaga!

This is me with my new toy in the park next to our house.  We were testing the light settings on the camera.  In case you are wondering about how we made the flaming skull torch on the cheap ...

The skull is a $5 hollow plastic skull from a Halloween display at Fleet Farm this year. 

The lights are the 4 for $2 little battery operated tea lights from Walmart.  We cut away a lot of the plastic so it was just the battery with the LED lights left.  That way, we could push them through an eye socket (and get them back out).

The stick is trimmed from the curly willow tree in our yard.  My husband drilled a hole in the bottom of the plastic skull and attached the stick with a simple screw and some washers.

The skull image at the very top of this post was processed with the following RadLab Stylets :  EZBurn (original), Sparta, Lights Out, PunchOut, EzBurn2.


1 comment:

Julia said...

Wonderful photos & wonderful story.

...and CREEPY (but thrifty) skull!