I love the fairy tale, ‘Vasilisa The Fair’, which is a Russian story of a feisty and stalwart young woman with the usual cast of troublesome characters… miserable step mother and step sisters etc’ with the astonishing Baba Yaga thrown in to boot.
I discovered the story more than 45 years ago in a gorgeous version that was told by Alexander Pushkin and illustrated with gobsmackingly exquisite pattern and color play by Ivan Bilibin.
The part that I have always loved the most in the fairy tale is that Vasilisa’s mother wanted to embody her love and feelings of protection for her daughter
when she knew that she was dying and grieving the leaving of her child.
So, she made Vasilisa a small doll that carried all her love for Vasilisa, and became a mentor and guide.
The little doll that the loving mother made was a living blessing for her beloved child that she had to leave too soon.
In my workshops on dollmaking as a healing art, I have always told the story of Vasilisa and her mother making the blessing doll.
I invited participants to make a doll that would represent Vasilisa’s doll for them.
So that’s my history of Vasilisa’s doll….
A few weeks ago, I shared a photo of a Comfort Doll that I named: Middle Sister, to a dollmaking group on Facebook that focuses on healing dolls.
This dolly spoon is one that insisted on me ‘getting her right’, and I wrote about that process HERE
The moderator of the group said that the Middle Sister doll made her think of Vasilisa’s doll,
which hadn’t occurred to me as I was thinking that I was being influenced by the thousands of Comfort Bears that I have woven, knitted and crocheted over the past 20+ years.
But, the moderator’s comment gave me a H.U.G.E ‘AHA’
I felt that this little doll, who was the third in my ‘Comfort Doll’ series
was VERY much an homage to that wonderful energy of Vasilisa’s doll.
Here are the first 2 dolls in their original state:
I had been feeling that these 2 dolls were not finished… they needed to be painted… which I struggled with,
because I had been wrestling with adding color and somehow thinking that it was against the rules,
(Huh? What rules? Who made them? um… I did… oh)
And, so I jumped into the wonderful fairy tale energy of color and pattern, and re-imagined these two little dolls:
and Little Sister:
And, NOW, they are truly what they are supposed to be! Hurrah!
The Three Sisters have been joined by 2 more Vasilisa Comfort Dolls:
I was processing having seen 2 heart wrenching documentaries about grim realities in the world,
and that sorrow flowed out into this Comfort Doll:
Her name is: Vasilisa Comfort Doll: She Stood at the Lake of Sorrow.
I tried to lift some of the sorrow from her face, but she said not to do that….
to acknowledge the sorrow but reach for the beauty.
So I did.
And, the latest little Vasilisa Doll is part of a series of carved wooden dolls that are also spoons,
that I am carving flowers into.
We live in a winter world here in Western Canada, and I am longing for flowers!
So I am carving them!
This is Vasilisa Comfort Doll: Sweet Little Flower:
Carving out space to honor the sorrow and reach for the Beauty,
as well as the longing for flowers is very much a Vasilisa thing to do,
so, I believe that this is how a fairy tale percolates through my mind,
and influences my work as an artist.
Oh yes, one more thing: The Vasilisa Comfort Dolls have Heart shape spoons as essential elements of them,
which is a powerful metaphor for me about gathering the love,
and stirring up healing and empowering energy.
I think that Vasilisa’s mother would approve.
What fairy tale stirs your soul?