Saturday, 6 September 2014
Adventure Girls: Vasilisa
Adventure Girls part 4 = Vasilisa
Appears in: "Vasilisa the Beautiful" by Alexander Afanasyev.
Relics: A wooden doll and a skull lantern.
Other info: Forest maiden.
Vasilisa is a character from an old Russian fairytale. It begins with a little girl who's dying mother gave her a present in the form of a wooden doll. The doll is no ordinary doll. The dying mother informs her little daughter that the doll will comfort her and talk to her if she gives it something to eat. The doll must not be found by anyone else though as it would be a secret. Vasilisa had to hide the doll from other people after listening to her mother's advice.
One day, some time after the girl's mother died, she fed the wooden doll a scrap of bread. The doll slowly started to eat and then it came to life and took on an animated form. It soon became Vasilisa's friend.
Vasilisa's grieving father remarried. His new wife was a widow with two daughters that were older than Vasilisa. Vasilisa's father had to go away a lot for work and he needed someone to take care of her, and wanted Vasilisa to have a new mother and older sisters for company. The name of the stepmother was Liliya and not considered popular or pleasant by others. She had a very mean personality and whenever Vasilisa's father was absent, Liliya would be cruel to her. The stepsisters were so bitter towards the beautiful Vasilisa that Liliya had her forced into child labour, working in the fields just so she would get ruined, scratched, bitten, sunburnt and break a back or two. However, Vasilisa grew fitter, stronger, healthier and her sunkissed complexion was a pretty golden.
The stepsisters and stepmother Liliya didn't understand it. They had become more weak, pasty, fatter and sicklier by staying indoors and not doing chores. The reason behind Vasilisa's good health and glowing beauty was the wooden doll. The doll always spoke to Vasilisa in private, advising her what special herbs and ointments to take so that she could avoid skin damage and insect bites. The doll told Vasilisa what foods to eat, how to pick them, cook them, and keep up her valued nutrients and vitamins.
Years went by and Vasilisa grew up into a young woman. Liliya wanted her daughters to be married but couldn't find anyone suitable. The local boys wanted to marry Vasilisa instead of the two ill tempered sisters. Liliya became very angry about this. She hid letters sent from her husband to Vasilisa and made her do all the housework. Then Liliya sent Vasilisa and her daughters away to a small house near the edge of a dark forest. Nearby was a field, swamp and dangerous animals. Vasilisa was unhappy, and she's never got her father's letters and believed the lies from Liliya that he was not coming back.
Liliya, her two daughters and Vasilisa were isolated from other people. In the forest nearby, were not just wild animals and poisonous creatures. A curious old woman named Baba Yaga lived there. She was said to be a witch who ate people and surrounded her house with human skulls.
Vasilisa was comforted by her doll, who assured her that her father loved her and that Liliya lied to her and hid his letters. Cheered up by the wooden doll's comforting words, and boosted with health and energy via the doll's guidelines into a proper diet and rest, she stayed healthier and glowing than her stepmother and stepsisters.
Liliya came up with a sinister plan to send Vasilisa away to be killed by Baba Yaga. When Liliya did shun Vasilisa and send her towards the house of Baba Yaga, she confided in her wooden doll. This doll protected Vasilisa from harm. Soon she noticed a strange sight. A man all shining and white rode on a glowing white horse. She watched the rider pass her through the trees. A while later she noticed another man, who was dressed entirely in red, and riding on a bright red horse, rode by through the forest. She kept going. She later came to a sight of a walking house! It was actually a wooden house on top of, what looked like a pair of chicken's legs. There were bones and flaming skeletons all around it. She hesitated. Night fell in the dark creepy forest. Then a third man on horseback appeared. He was dresed entiely in black and the horse was black as shadow. He rode towards the unusual house with chicken's legs and disappeared.
The epic adventure of Vasilisa is just beginning...
This beautiful fairytale can be read here:Vasilisa
More on Vasilisa:
Vasilisa on Wikipedia
"Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave" by Marrianna Mayer.