Jenna Colombet. Vasilisa.jpg

VASILISA

Music AND ILLUSTRATIONS

"Vasilisa" is a tale that I read in an amazing book called "Women who run with the wolves" of Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

   I was really touched by this story, and how Clarissa Pinkola Estés explained it.

   It definitely inspired me to create a solo album playing the violin, composing music and drawing illustrations for each main part of the story.

  Vasilisa is a young orphan, sent by her mean step-mother in the woods to find fire for the house. 

In the forest, she meets Baba Yaga (the terrifying witch) and beg her to help her instead of devour her. The sorceress accepts, provided that she succeeds in the tests that she reserves for her…

 I dedicate this album to Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Dani Vargas and Johannes Raasinaa at Snow Cloud Studio (Studio City, CA) for their musical support and work in recording this music ; as well to Sheri Blank for the tale’s translation.

 To my mom, and to all the little Vasilisas who live in the heart of great women... and great men.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Vasilisa.

She was a very pretty little girl, with tender and loving parents.

But one day, her mother fell seriously ill. On her death bed, she handed her a doll and told her to take care of it, it will guide her if she needs help.

After some time to mourn their loss, Vasilisa's father remarried to a widow who already had two daughters. But he made a very bad choice.

If his new wife and her two children were well-intentioned in front of him, they inflicted the worst tortures on Vasilisa as soon as his back was turned.

One day, Vasilisa's father had to leave for a long trip.

The horrible step-mother called her two daughters, and told them of her Machiavellian plan :

"Tomorrow, I will extinguish the house fire, and accuse Vasilisa of not taking care of it. I will send her to ask for fire from Baba Yaga the witch. Be sure she's going to devour her, and we'll never hear from her ever again!"

Vasilisa was therefore wrongly accused. When her stepmother ordered her to go to the forest, she could not disobey.

When they reached Baba Yaga's house, a black horseman on a black horse entered the cabin, and night fell.

The house was as mysterious as it was disturbing, made of bone and skulls, standing on the feet of a chicken, dancing and turning on itself.

Suddenly, a flying mortar with a pestle like paddle cracked the sky, and rushed on Vasilisa .

In a terrifying laugh, Baba Yaga greeted her by attacking her :

"What do you want?!"

Vasilisa was terrified, but her courage still helped her to speak :

"Grandmother, the fire of my house has gone out. If I do not bring back fire very quickly, my family will die from freezing. 

- Yes, I know you, you and yours… Well if the fire is extinguished, it's your fault! Why should I help you rather than eat you? "

The doll whispered something in Vasilisa's  ear, and replied, 

"Because I'm asking you.»

Baba Yaga did not expect this answer at all, and resigned herself to accepting it.

« Well ... so if you want fire, you'll have to earn it.

And be careful ! If you fail my expectations, believe me that I will eat you whole!

Start by tidying up my house, washing my clothes, sweeping the yard, separating rust from wheat and making me something to eat.

I'll be back tomorrow, and I hope for you that you will be able to take care of all these things and you will prepare a good meal ...

Otherwise ... you'll die. »

She leaped into her cauldron, and went back into the air.

Vasilisa asked to her doll where Baba Yaga lived, and she helped her to find the good path.

On their way they saw three riders pass by in turn : a white horseman on a white horse galloped and daylight struck. A red horseman on a red horse trotted by and the sun rose.

With her doll, they went to work.

After a few hours, Vasilisa went to sleep,

thinking about her life and what will become of her.

When she returned, Baba Yaga recognized that Vasilisa had done a good job, then put a huge bag of burlap on the table. She said :

"Bad people put some dirt in this bag of poppy seeds. It's up to you to sort this out to keep only the seeds. You have until tomorrow morning. "

The sack of seed was huge ! She could never do it !

Once again, her doll came to help her.

They emptied the bag on the table, and began to sort the seeds of the earth.

When Vasilisa woke up, a huge pile of seeds overflowed the table, and the earth had been thrown out by the doll.

Seeing the work done, Baba Yaga congratulated Vassilissa with bitterness. Vasilisa felt it was the right time to talk with her about the riders in the forest.

"GrandMother, do you know a
black rider on a black horse ?
- He's my night.
- And a red rider on a red horse ?
- He's my 
- And a white
 rider on a white horse ?
- He's my rising sun.

- I see."

When the stepmother and her daughters saw Vasilisa approaching the house, alive and with fire, they could not believe their eyes.

 

No sooner had she set foot inside the house, than they began to reproach her the time she took to come back.

Vasilisa did not say a word, and observed the skull which fixated on the three intolerable vixens with intensity and anger.

 

His light became more intense, and he suddenly reduced the three horrible women to ashes.

After their discussion, Baba Yaga threw Vasilisa outside and threw her a stick on which was planted an incandescent skull.

"Go home with your fire, and never come back! "

She ran into the forest with the skull, which was getting brighter and brighter. Out of breath, she stopped for a moment to think. 

The skull became more and more disturbing. She thought of getting rid of it, when the skull convince her to keep him.

With a little magic, a lot of knowledge and courage, Vasilisa began a new life : her life.