My first impression is that Baba Yaga's Book of Witchcraft is a beautifully illustrated winding path of a book, with red ink accenting key information and gorgeous illustrations all throughout. It's not particularly linear in how information is presented, acting much more like learning from your grandmother while baking cookies rather than in a classroom. This circuitousness is essential to the type of information Pamita presents.
Threading the author's personal experiences with the being many call Baba Yaga in a fabric of Slavic/ Ukrainian folklore, Pamita immerses the reader in stories that offer a look at magic from Baba Yaga's perspective. As a youngster, Pamita's mother told her stories from their homeland -- Ukraine -- and how her grandmother would use old techniques to heal others. As she grew older, Pamita followed the thread of those stories into the foreign territory of her heritage, struggling with a lack of language and the sad lack of anything written surviving the Soviet occupation of Ukraine. Pamita persevered, however, and has collected dozens of ancient and modern Slavic magical practices, many of which form the core practices in this book.
Each chapter opens with an episode of a fairy tale, Vasylyna (often called the Beautiful). The tale itself is created from similar stories found across many Slavic countries: Ukraine, Poland, even Russia in which the beautiful heroine is cast out from her home by the wicked stepmother. After the story comes Baba Yaga herself, sharing her wisdom, opinions, and truths. Finally, Pamita provides hands-on techniques and tips for the reader to practice. The techniques include stitch work, creating and using poppets, the magic of the crossroad, working with nature spirits, the spindle and loom, decorating eggs, and even the magic of the bathhouse are all explored through practical spells, rituals, patterns, recipes, and advice. The back includes useful appendices, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography for those of us who enjoy a good dive into deeper waters.
I cannot recommend Baba Yaga's Book of Witchcraft highly enough.
Author: Madam Pamita
Llewellyn Publications, 2022
pp. 336 $26.99