Koshchey the Immortal
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Stringing Black Beads
Lying here in blackness, in an unknown place, deprived of sensory perception, I pinch the skin on my forearm and welcome the pain that proves I'm alive. To hold onto my sanity--if it still exists--I will chronicle the events in my mind and if--when--I get home I will tell others. Or perhaps not. I can think of no one who would want to hear what I have to say about my meeting with Koshchey the Deathless.
Could it be that I am to blame for my current situation?
Was it a gap in my knowledge, a lack of information, or do I just have slow switches, as my mother used to say? I had just finished reading a warning from the Enchantress about Koshchey but instead of heeding it immediately, I began a letter to the Abbey to ask about Oreo and Tookey. Has the letter been found? Will someone look for me, or will I remain lost in this limbo?
How afraid I was to meet Baba Yaga, how repulsed by her death fence and haunted by images of her in childish nightmares. Now I count the meeting an adventure; such is the comparison between Baba and Koshchey. The bones and skulls on Baba's fence brought me face to face with my mortality, Koshchey's whirlwind and icy grip made me long for death.
The remembrance of that fearful embrace sends a shiver down my spine as I hear again the shrieking wind that blew through the open window and spirited me away to this un-place. I remember a prolonged scream when Koshchey's bony fingers clutched me to his withered frame. The scream was mine.
How many fears make a up lifetime? I tally them in my mind and string them, black beads on a black thread: fear of loving, fear of not being loved, fear of failure and fear of success, fear of dying, fear of life. All faced and conquered, but this time, here, where nothing exists but a void I have met my match, at last.
It's getting harder and I struggle to remember but, remember what? One thing. Trying to hold on as he steals my words and thoughts. Losing. Nothing left but Koshchey. One word, Please.
"Believer, can you hear me? " Sound. Words. My name. "A drop to drink, careful, take it slow." Taste of water and tears. " Put your arms around my neck, I'm getting you out of here." Touch and compassion.
"Rest in the shade of the sycamore you're safe now." The scent of someone I know and the sweet smell of new mown grass. "Come on Love, open your eyes."
"No hood?" I murmur, staring at a man I know well but have never seen.
"Not important under the circumstances. Are you all right? Can I get you something?"
"Where are we?"
"About a mile from the Abbey. You'll be home soon, don't worry."
"Koshchey's here? Near the Abbey?" I start to tremble and my breath feels like it's being siphoned out of me.
"No and he can't hurt you or anyone else. That was a mistake, it never should have happened. Somehow things got out of control and Koshchey had you too long. Baba Yaga's Knight's rescued all the others, but they couldn't find you. If it wasn't for your pets. . . . . "
Before he finishes I hear a squawk from high up in the tree and a bundle of green feathers plummets into my lap. Quickly recovering from her typical clumsy landing, Tookey sidles up my arm and begins to nuzzle my neck. A moment later, a white nose and whiskers peep out from under a bush and Oreo bounds over to greet me.
"Lemurian brandy," my rescuer says, offering me a silver flask with strange symbols etched around the base. He stands and gives a whistle to the horse I know as Firestarter. "I'll answer your questions tonight in the Common Room at the Abbey. Everyone is eager for your return. We don't want to keep them waiting."
He gives me his hand and helps me to my feet.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Knights to the rescue
So I started to weave the golden and silver apples in the hope that help would come. I had only just finished the outline when the door crashed open and a knight on horseback bounded into the room. On the marble, black and white, chess-patterned floor in the hall, I could see two more knights lined up behind him and a few pawns hovering in the background. Dear life, I thought, what now. It seemed to me that I was living a fairy tale, something dreamed up by those dreadful but aptly named Brothers Grimm.
The Red Knight looked down at me and told me to gather up my golden spindle, thread and beads together with anything else I might have with me. Then he leaned down and hoisted me up on to the saddle in front of him.
Outside in the hall, I could hear the most dreadful altercation taking place as palace servants came running to see what was happening. The Red knight turned and yelled “oi, you two, stop that at once, this is no time for games, there are other maidens to rescue. The Black and White Knights looked up sheepishly; never ones to miss the opportunity for a game, they were in the process of setting up more of their pawns and positioning them on the hall floor. Reluctantly they packed them away again and started to give Koshchey a piece of Baba Yaga’s mind and he resorted to answering them back in a decidedly insolent fashion, but to no avail. The knights were simply not taking any nonsense from him. In desperation, Koshchey tried to summon his dreadful sisters in an attempt to keep his captives in his domain but the Knights simply switched them off. They were, after all, only holographic images projected on to the wall of the room and therefore not to be feared in the slightest. As the knights galloped out of the palace, the Red Knight turned in his saddle and called out to Koshchey “You will be hearing from us. We meet at dawn. Beware of the golden egg”. As they leaped up into the sky all we could hear was Koshchey gnashing his teeth in helpless rage.
And thus, we were returned to Baba Yaga’s fold, where we spent the next few days weaving another chapter into our tapestries of life and making things that we might be able to sell, en route to the camp of the Amazon Queen.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
in Koshchey's palace
After the long walk to get to Baba Yaga’s and the excitement of persuading the ants to separate the poppy seeds from the earth, I was ready for a little light refreshment. Baba Yaga put before me mouth-watering toasted teacakes, freshly churned butter and wild crab apple jelly together with a glass of elderflower cordial, but I had no sooner finished them than my head began to nod. Seeing this, Baba Yaga suggested it was perhaps time for me to get a little shut-eye.
She showed me into a minute room with a sloping ceiling , leading off the main room in the cottage. There was a small truckle bed almost hidden beneath a huge and colourful patchwork quilt. I climbed in eagerly and in minutes was sound asleep and dreaming.
Visions of trees softly blowing in the wind came to me and I seemed to float out of the casement window. A huge and ugly face peered into mine. “Got you at last” its owner growled. “I wanted you as soon as I saw you walking at the edge of Crypt Lake”. (Anita was right, I would have done better to have steered clear of that place but it was too late now). “And just who do you think you are and where are you taking me?” “I am Koshschey. You may have heard of me”. “I hadn’t, of course, not being familiar with slavic fairy tales”. I felt Melita dig me in the ribs to indicate I should keep my mouth shut. “As to where I’m taking you, you’ll see soon enough. I intend marrying you three days hence”. This time I ignored Melita. “Marry me!” I spluttered. “You can’t possibly do that. I am married already”. “I care little that you may or may not be married already. That’s in your world, a thousand light years away from here and you’re in my world now and will do as I say”.
He spoke no more on the journey. I have no idea how long it lasted nor indeed by what method we travelled. I was aware of buildings in the far distance and, as we approached, I could see the onion domes on the tops of the buildings. We must be somewhere in Russia I thought, still in my dream. I’ve always wanted to visit Russia.
We landed in front of a huge palace and he led me through vast doors into a marble floored room and then into the famous amber room. This is crazy I thought.
This can’t be happening, this room doesn’t exist; it was destroyed years ago. Yet the room seemed real enough. The walls were a warm golden yellow with intricate carvings everywhere. I have always loved the warmth of amber and I touched one of the carvings. It was the most beautiful thing I had seen in my life. “I can see that you like this room. You will have plenty of time to admire it, this will be your home from now on, so you may as well get used to it” Koshchey said. “In the meantime” he continued,”you can make yourself useful.” “Nikita” he called and a young peasant girl came into the room. “Give my future bride a golden spindle, some gold thread and some golden beads and show her how to weave a story.” With that, he turned and left the room, leaving me staring stupidly at Nikita.
“Weave a story?” I repeated, still dreaming, or so I thought.
I woke, burning with heat and threw off the bedclothes. But it wasn’t the patchwork quilt that I had had the night before. This was some fine soft golden fabric. I looked around me, appalled, as I realised that I was in the amber room of my dreams. “Melita” I called, “what has happened to me?” Melita’s soft voice answered me” you are in the palace of the four winds. You are to be married to Koshchey in three days unless we can find a way out of here. You had better do as he said and start weaving. It will take your mind off our predicament and it may turn out that what you weave will weave a magic of its own”.
I had never woven with a spindle, but Melita, who knows how to do such things, showed me what to do. She suggested I start to weave a picture of the golden apples of the sun and the silver apples of the moon as they have magical properties.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Housewife Freak Squad
Mr Freak was a mistake, an ink blob, a sob job;
nothing really, in hindsight...
I answered a notice in the paper,
"Angry pack of women seeking Mr Freakazoid,
we need numbers, stragglers, on two legs,
with wooden spoons, ghostly nightgowns,
recipe books filled with flopped cakes
and black biscuits...join the crusade."
We met by moonlight, a sliver, and
grinned at each other, then laughed shortly,
A million movie pictures oozed in our
minds as we stumbled through the black,
night moaning, bumping into shards of
crumbling drapes that fell apart in our hands,
shapes that wanted us, that clawed our eyes,
yet the thing that frightened us most
was the tour of the desperate housewives,
locked in a cave with no light, we saw
our reflections in wide eyed stupors
staring at some kind of box that made
pictures we devoured with our big, dull eyes.
The caves weren't what you think --
full of plastic flowers, colour of the month,
cut out stencils, shapes of devouring youths,
plastic holidays to soulless places, blank
postcards coming back, stuck on fridges
nobody looked at. A computer was stuck
in the iceberg fridge with the internet on,
while biscuits burned in the clinical stove,
and a cake stood cooling on the bench of
plastic marble, sunk through the middle, caving in.
With our spoons we stirred the pot, the
cauldron, in our nightdresses like wraiths,
screaming like banshees, at the man who
sat cross legged with crooked teeth, looking at
pictures of himself in a daze in the papers,
gossip mags, chip packets and collectable
cards. Our Hero, it said in the headlines,
which we didn't believe for a second. Mr
Freakazoid was home but attached to nothing,
like a black balloon, bobbing and weaving
in the stale air, in love with his own reflection
on a fragile paper stand, no strings attached.
We had found him and took a group photograph,
when we got back, and swapped pictures
by the light of the full moon, we could see
our own reflections, clear eyes burning back,
smiling with black remembrance,
and saw in our glowing nightgowns,
that he wasn't there. There was a black hole
in the pic, with us blooming around it.
It was nothing, yet something, and
there was no turning back.
Silver Threads and Golden Needles...
Koschey the Deathless
Roars around the countryside
Roars around the countryside
The women don’t know where to hide
With this nutter on the loose
Acting like a machismo goose
Kidnapping women left and right
Pity he’s just not too bright
Pity he’s just not too bright
He's Koschey the Deathless!!
Koschey the Deathless
He’s such a tosser
Thinks he’s good as Richard Gere
But Richard Gere has naught to fear
Koschey the Deathless!
Koschey the Deathless!
I have been singing this song ever since I was kidnapped. I have it on reliable authority that it is driving Koschey mad.
There he is again…
``Shut up, woman, you’re driving me mad.”
Good. Ouch, pricked my finger again on that darned spindle. Does this mean I will fall asleep and a handsome Prince will wake me? Lois can have Richard Gere. I’ll settle for George Clooney.
Snatched by Kashey
After my hard days work in the cottage garden at Baba Yaga's I was ready for a good nights sleep and so after being tucked up warmly in my feather bed at the Hermitage I drifted off quite early....knowing I was off again tomorrow to tidy up the vegie patch and do another day in the her garden
After all she relied on this to keep up her strength ...nothing like organic produce to give you that get up and go feeling,she once told me..Yep I thought , especially if someone else is doing all the work...smart woman this old Crone.
I woke to the feeling of a cold icy wind coming in through the tiny upper bedroom window,I got up to close it from the draught, the strength of the breeze caught me by surprise as I felt it pressing violently against the metal frame ... I didn't have the strength to hold out against it, as it swirled through and around the room lifting the bedclothes in its wake,then the hand woven mat on the floor was whisked up as was the small stool that held my purple drawstring bag and in it all my precious belongings I had carried throughout my journey ... luckily I had put my journal under the bed with a large stone I had collected on my trip to the Baba Yaga's , so it was safe ..
It made me think that perhaps I had better write up a 2nd journal so as I had a copy to take back home (Whenever that was) If I couldn't tell everyone of my travels then perhaps I would be called a "Spreader of untruths" as has happened to me in the last few weeks when my spirit returned home to Port Melbourne for a few hours... Glad to get back to the Hermitage I was.
Well as I watched all manner of articles flying round the room. I sat on my bed and waited for it to end.....Was this the demon the girls had talked about at dinner this evening....... A man in the form of a storm, a mist,lightning,and even they said in animals ,none of which were in my bedroom at the time...only this whirlwind that kept on and on never slowing down.. It seemed closer to my face each time it circled the small bedroom as if it was checking me out, perhaps to see how frightened I would be the closer it got......
I was upset, not in terror just that whatever it was or whoever it was they were disturbing my much needed rest.....Just then it sort of pecked my lips ,just a parting fleeting breeze and when I put my finger to my face I felt blood ,that seemed to ooze from my lower lip,.not a big cut but enough to break the skin as if testing it for perhaps sweetness..... One never knows
As I wiped the blood on a clean piece of cloth , the whirlwind suddenly abated into a cool breeze, then nothing at all,the room was so still .
I shook my head thinking it was a bad dream I had awoken from ,but when I looked my hand woven patchwork blanket was on the floor as was my feather pillow and my purple backpack had its contents strewn all over the bedroom .... I also picked up something that had not been there before this wind .it was an egg , a small egg perhaps not a chicken but a ducks egg.
As it was too late to wake up my travelling companions,I put the egg on the small stool till the morning.....Then I would ask Anita Marie ,she was just the one who would know of the myths ,the legends,the rumours,also perhaps the history of these wild whirlwinds that can come and go in the dead of night.
Yes that's what the breakfast table talk would be tomorrow, Anita Marie giving us all the tales that would send shivers down our spines.... Just her cup of tea.......
I remade my bed closed the window, putting the large stone against it unless I was further disturbed from a good nights sleep..... t.................. At the time as I closed my eyes I was not to know the story of the whirlwind "Kashey" as he was known , others called him Mr Deathless or Mr Immortal and many other names I could not print ...but he is not an easy person to describe ... .it is said he is Thin, Bony Lean and Hungry looking..... Sounds a bit like someone I was once in love with.
I smile when I think of him , perhaps he is re incarnated as Kashey as I know he loved beautiful women ..............
I am sure he's not all bad after all when you have been locked up in a prison for 10 years on your own you surely would have a lot of time to think things out and if you are lucky to return then you must change for the better .
If there is such a person as Kashey I will look foward to meeting him I am sure we will have lots to talk about....
All for now I am so tired........Lois (Muse of the Sea)22.8.05
Snatched by Koshchey
You have been working hard at Baba Yaga's and each night you have fallen into your bed, your doll close by for safe keeping, and slept the sleep of the dead. Frankly the Baba Yaga has been demanding and her work is never done.
Tonight, you just closed your eyes when you were started by what felt like the wind blowing in the window. Before you can gather your thoughts you are snatched by none other than Koshchey the Deathless.
In ancient times there were palace run societies and common women were actively involved in cloth, textile industries. Women, often captured and kidnapped in raids, were hauled away to become captive slaves. They were not treated badly, not beaten or fettered but were employed in palaces and temples. Often they married local men and had children and were too encumbered to run away. Women worked chiefly in spinning and weaving, not for pleasure but as a part of a substantial industry. The palace manipulated business like an orb spider. It had a range of talented people in its web. You are taken because of your talent, to a palace and presented with a golden spindle, gold thread and beads. The looms have half finished cloth on them. Your task is to weave a story much as those who wove the Bayeaux Tapestries.
All you know is that Koshchey has you and is taking you somewhere. Somehow you have to get back to Baba Yaga's if you are ever going to get to the Amazon Queen's camp.
Help will hopefully come, to rescue you - but it may take time.
About your Kidnapper
Koshchey the Deathless also known as Koshchey the Immortal
In Russian Koshchey is known as "Koshchey Bessmertny" which means bony, thin, lean and hungry.
Variant spellings of his name are: Koschey, Katschei/Koshchey/Kashey
In Russian folklore Koshchey is an evil sorcerer of terrifying appearance who gallops naked around the wild Caucus mountain range on his magic steed.
He is also a shape-shifter, who takes the form of a whirlwind or a storm wind. He is a nature spirit representing the destructive powers of nature.
He is fond of stealing beautiful women, often the bride of the hero.
Like his female counterpart Baba Yaga, he also has powers over the elements. Dark clouds suddenly appear amidst thunder and lightning when he comes on the scene.
As a shape-changer, Kotschey usually takes the form of a whirlwind and makes off with his victims in this form. He may also come under cover of a mist or fog and can fly through the air.
Koschey is called the deathless, or immortal because his soul/spirit/life force or his "death" as he calls it, is hidden in a remote, inaccessible place, separate from his body.
Koshchey's soul/spirit/ is often hidden in a duck's egg, inside a hare, which in turn is inside a chest buried under the roots of a mighty oak tree, on an island in the middle of the ocean.
Sometimes his "death" may be hidden in the point of a needle inside the duck's egg. Although called deathless or immortal, Kotschey may die if the hero finds out where the egg that contains his life force or, as he calls it, his "death", is hidden.
If the egg is broken, it's goodnight for Kotschey too. Anyone possessing this egg has Koshchey in their power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick and immediately loses all his magic powers.
In one story the egg is thrown at his forehead and he drops down dead.
Imprisoned in the palace of the warrior princess Maria Morevna for ten years, Koshchey is freed by the unwitting hero.
In this story the egg with his soul/spirit/death in it is not mentioned at all. Instead, he receives a kick in the head from one of Baba Yaga's magical steeds. After the horse kills him, the hero Ivan cuts Koshchey's head off, burns it and scatters the ashes to the four winds, presumably just to be on the safe side.
Tall, boney, fearful to look upon. As Baba Yaga says:
' Medusa's got nothing on you, Kotschey dear .'
Maria Morewnas description of him:
He sports a wild mane of tangled seaweed-like hair which stands up all around a lean and bony face. From beneath those craggy brows peer hooded, unblinking reptilian eyes. A raven's beak of a nose juts out over a cavernous mouth from which now and then one may catch a glimpse of several large crooked teeth. Mouth may change shape according to mood.
His beard: Mottled-grey and scraggly, unsightly after meals.
Skin: Scaly, rough, forever shedding, more snake-like than human.
Method of fighting: Wraps or coils himself around his foes. Finger nails and toe nails long and claw-like (he never cuts his hair, finger or toe nails - to preserve his 'life-force' as he calls it/his lack of clothing may also be attributed to these peculiar 'life-force preservation' reasons).
On the inside of Koshchey's scrawny long ape-like arms are venom glands. (His blames Maria Morewna for his arms being so long - he complained once that hanging out in her dungeon for 10 years didn't do his posture any good).
During battle he has been known to lick these venomous parts and then bite his adversary thus causing intense pain and immobility.
Can change his voice at will. Terrifies his opponents with blood-curdling cries. Has also been known to use his voice to charm and induce sleep when necessary.
When astride his magical steed, Kotschey likes to throw off his flamboyant fish-skin clothes and it is said that he thus takes on the magical powers of his mount.
His fish-skin clothes, which he scatters behind him, are blown away and scattered by the four winds. Flocks of ravens gather behind him to fight over and devour these shreds. Shreds of his clothing may be sometimes seen flapping in the tree tops throughout the steppes.
Thus freed from all worldly constraints he gallops naked through the wild Caucus mountains with his long spindly legs trailing in the dust. In the picture by Ivan Bilibin, he is seen brandishing his sabre, shrieking blood-curdling threats and urging the spirits of the steppes to come to his aid.
Quite an emotional character, it is said that he will weep with rage for hours afterwards when outwitted by his quarry and his sobbing and wailing often echoes throughout the Caucuses, terrifying both man and beast alike.
During times of stress he may change himself into a storm or a whirlwind. In his spare time he seems to be off hunting quite a lot, although it is not specified what it is that he is hunting.
Although cunning, one of his weaknesses is that he is extremely vain and therefore may be outwitted by a woman pretending to find him irresistible.
He has twelve sisters (also shape-shifters) who come to avenge his death and who seem to be almost as charming as Koshchey himself.
Although Koshchey is a powerful sorcerer, he seems to be down the hierarchical ladder a rung or two to Baba Yaga. In one story he works as a herdsman for her in order to earn one of her magical steeds. This horse has the power of speech and gives Koshchey invaluable advice.
His favourite drink: A fermented drink make of green tea, sour goat's milk and salt.
He craves female company, and although he can turn on a charming voice at will, Kotschey is anything but a smooth talker.
When Maria Morewna is trying to pump him for information and plays up to him, he once again fails to realize that one of his oft-repeated remarks: "Foolish woman, long of hair: short of wit", does not do anything to improve his chances with her.
Beating about the bush is one of Koshchey's rules of thumb: for Koshchey to speak directly is to lose his power or 'life force'.
When she asks him about the time he spent at Baba Yaga's hut and where he got his horse he replies: "Three days there and I learned as much as in three years."
Koshchey is able to "far see" - he has the ability to see with his eyes closed.
A song he is fond of singing when he has drunk enough Kwas: (Some say he penned it himself while he was hanging out in Maria Morewna's dungeon)
Amidst great Rocks
Koschey the Deathless leaping,
Wild and fierce
And free again from chains.
Like the storm he howls and weeping,
Sprays the steppes
With burning tears of rage.