Believe it or not, there are 3 Russian fairy tales that begin with the letter V: Vasilii the Unlucky, Vasilisia the Priest’s daughter and Vasilissa the Beautiful. While they are all quaint and twisted in their own right, I decided to share Vasilissa the Beautiful with you quite frankly because it contains 2 of my favorite elements: a possessed doll and a human skull. This tale is strikingly similar to Cinderella but I think you will agree it’s twisted a bit tighter.
Before the beginning of time, before the beginning of everything, before there was a beginning…Vasilissa’s mother died. On her deathbed she left her daughter a doll she could feed crumbs and call upon when she needed assistance. Her father remarried a woman with 2 daughters just Vasilissa age.
Long story short, papa died, the stepmother became wretched and the step sister mean and nasty.They consistently tried killing Vasilissa in all manners and form, none of which worked because Vasilissa would always feed her doll crumbs and call upon it for help. The doll always obliged.
One day the evil step mother pushed Vasilissa out the door and sent her far, far away in the midst of a pine forest, to retrieve a lit candle from Vasilissa the Beautiful (the Russian equivalent to the Wicked Witch of the West) who just also happened to feast upon humans.
It is said, that holding her possessed doll tight, Vasilissa did as she was told and ventured deep into the forest. She came upon a fence made of human bones and adorned with skulls. “I smell a human,” cried Babba-Yaga. Babba-Yaga agreed to give the girl a candle IF she completed all that was asked of her for several days and nights. Vasilissa was required to wash the clothes, cook the meals, tend the garden, clean the floors, sweep the fireplace (sound familiar?) all of which she (or should we say the possessed doll?) did, as Babba-Yaga slept.
It soon became obvious to the old woman that the girl was blessed (if you consider a possessed doll a blessing) so she kicked her out of her humble abode. Babba-Yaga placed a candle inside of a human skull. The light illuminated eerily through the eye holes. “Take this to your step mother” cried the old woman, “it’s why you came.”
Vasilissa carried the human skull all the way back home. Once reaching the gate she decided she her step mother was not worthy of the candle and decided to blow it out when the skull interrupted demanded to be taken to the step mother. Not wanting to argue with a skull, Vasilissa complied.
Vasilissa brought the light into her house and set it upon the table. The eyes of the skull began following the step mother and sisters around the room. No matter how much they tried to hide it kept watching them. One by one, before the sun came up, they were each burned to a pile of ashes. (Didn’t see that coming did you?)