The Centre of All – that most sacred of places and spaces, has a completely different look and feel, in the Frog Princess story, to that Centre we talked about in The Fairy of the Dawn, in the previous blog.
After Prince Ivan has burned his wife’s frog-skin, she has ‘flown away’ to the realm of Kashchey the deathless, which incredibly is described much like the shining white palace in the Fairy of the Dawn. At least at the end of the story.
He comes to this central place where he meets his Teacher and enacts his final task to release his soul (wife) from Kashchey the Deathless.
Prince Ivan sees a little hut standing on a chicken leg at the edge of the forest. This is the abode of the Baba Yaga, the witch of Slavic fairy tales. The hut is standing on a chicken leg and turning round and round. There are no windows or doors. The spindly chicken leg makes me think of a Qutub or ‘pillar’ that is at the centre of the mystical realm. When doing Zikar the participants turn around this inner centre or ‘pole’, like the whirling dervish turning around his own centre. It could also be the Kundalini. It is the pole of the internal microcosm and the centre of the world. It is here that the visionary can meet his personal Holy Spirit. Communication with the ‘Alam al-mithal’ or Creative Imagination is possible only at the ‘centre of the world.’
We are told that the Baba Yaga’s hut contains a stove on which lies the Baba Yaga. The stove (a Russian stove) symbolises the great Heart and centre of all, and I find it most astonishing that it seems to be the ‘altar’ on which lies the Baba Yaga with her nose pressed up against the ceiling.
In other words, there is no room above the stove (heart) for anything else except the Baba Yaga. The Baba Yaga represents the great Teacher, or Guide of Souls, for those who know how to face her and request her help. The house of the Baba Yaga is constantly turning but Prince Ivan has been taught enough to know what to do in this situation. He says his incantation, ‘Turn your back to the forest and your face to me’.
In other words, face me so I can enter the deep forest or mysterious realm. Of course, Baba Yaga knew everything that was happening and explains how difficult and dangerous it would be to get the Princess away from Kashchey the Deathless.
She tells him that to kill Kashchey, the prince must realise that Kashchey’s ‘death’ is right at the point of a needle, the needle is in an egg, the egg in a duck, the duck in the hare and the hare is sitting in a stone chest which is in a lofty oak and Kashchey guards the oak, as he would the apple of his eye. This is mysterious and seriously long and difficult work – to the point literally, the place where his disjunction with his soul originated.
This Centre is the place of the Divine Presence, the place where we can be guided by the ‘Great Teacher and Guide of souls. It is only here that we can defeat Kashchey the deathless. All the lessons we have learned on our own journey, now help us. Often there are ‘traits’ or aspects of ourselves which we have perhaps wanted to ‘kill’ or reject. Every part of us, is part of the One – we should not judge our traits, only master them. The ferocious strength of the bear, is needed to uproot the giant oak for instance. We need the speed and trickiness of the hare, the duck whose realm is water and air – who can fly, and which carries the cosmic egg within it. The aggressive but wise pike, which can find this egg which has been dropped into the depths of the sea, of the unconsciousness. In the story of the Little Humpbacked Horse, it is the feisty perch who is the only one who can find the Tsar-Maid’s signet ring, in the mud at the bottom of the ocean. We have to discover these aspects of ourselves within us and use them on our journey.
But it is the hero or we ourselves, who must crack the cosmic egg and find that point of the needle, the point at the centre of All, where the disjunction with his soul originated. We must find that point for ourselves – perhaps go back to a memory, within a memory, and again to a previous memory, a long long time! until we get back to the first time it happened. The first time we lost contact with our soul. When we find this point, we are released and the soul is free.
That small point of the needle also represents that Centre of All, in the Centre of All. A dot is only a very small circle after all.