Wild Women, gatekeepers of the threshold

I’ve recently delved into Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” and have come across one mythological character which I can’t help but share.   In the hero’s journey, one must cross through the threshold, the zone which separates the known world from the unknown.  Found at the threshold are gatekeepers who bound the world in the four directions- as well as up and down.  The Divozenky, or “Wild Women” of Russian mythology, are the gatekeepers I came across in my reading who momentarily allured me to envision their escapades and spectacles.  I now share with you some of their attributes.   I have yet to come across them in my journey, but wouldn’t mind being part of their pact for a dance or two…

The wild women live in the woods and mountains. They are good-looking beings with large, square heads, long, thick hair (ruddy or black in color), hairy bodies, and long fingers. They fling their breasts over their shoulder when they run and when nursing their babies.  They travel in groups and live in underground burrows and have households like humans. The wild women know nature’s secrets, and they can make themselves invisible from the use of certain plants. They are fond of music and singing; their dancing can cause storms. They like to dance or tickle people to death who wander alone into the forest.  Anyone who accidentally chances upon their invisible dancing parties, dies. They are also dangerous to meet alone in the forest, for they will make you lose your way by spinning you round and round like crazy.  They used to be on friendly terms with humans, coming into their settlements to borrow household things. Those who left out food for them were repaid in housework. If a girl would comb out hemp for them to spin, they would give her leaves that turn to gold.  They enjoy human lovers, have frequently married country boys, and are known to make excellent wives.  But like all supernatural brides, the minute the husband offends in the least their whimsical notions of marital propriety, they disappear without a trace.  They are also driven away by disorderliness, or by being called “wild women.”

Referenced from: Campbell, Joseph. “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”  Princeton University Press.

~ by maureenmoore on November 8, 2009.

One Response to “Wild Women, gatekeepers of the threshold”

  1. So that’s where we came from! What a relief it wasn’t from a stork. (And as we both know you and I are sisters, pookie. I’ll leave the breast flinging to you.) xo

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