Tag Archives: witch

The Witch in the Woods

Text: “So my family and I used to live in Ohio, with a backyard that had a giant forest behind it. We were very isolated from others because this used to be an old golf course. There was this story about a witch who lived in this woods where this old golf course was, and that there were dead bodies buried beneath it when it was a cemetery. The witch apparently lost her kids and she was angry while living in those woods. One night, my sister had a dream about being in those woods, and getting taken by that witch. In the dream, M was hit with a frying pan several times. Days later, my younger brother, J, was in the woods exploring one day, until he randomly got really scared. He heard something, stopped in his tracks, and saw that there was a frying pan, sitting in the woods in front of him. He sprinted out of there as fast as he could because he was so freaked out.” – Informant

Context: The informant shared this spooky story about when he lived in Ohio, because he could “never forget it.” The sister was about 13, he was about 9, and the younger brother was 8. They still talk about this story today and how it gave them all nightmares as kids. They moved from Ohio to Florida a few years later, and left the spooky woods behind.

Analysis: This legend contains several elements of folklore, including the use of a supernatural figure, a witch, and the presence of dead bodies in the woods. The story of the witch who lost her children and now haunts the woods serves as a warning to those who dare to venture into the area, an oikotype to La Llorona, who lost her kids when they drowned, and now she haunts bodies of water in order for kids to be responsible and avoid bodies of water when they’re alone. There is definitely a connection between the two because the witch lost her kids in the woods, hence why children should not venture out into the woods alone. It serves as a cautionary tale and reinforces the idea that supernatural forces can be found in unexpected places. Overall, this legend highlights the power of folklore to shape our perceptions of the world around us and to warn us of potential dangers.

Redash Cemetery


DS is one of my best friends from my hometown in Tennessee. She is twenty years old and goes to our community college. I called to get her version of the folk-legends about the infamous cemetery in the town next to ours, since she has been there multiple times. The cemetery’s name is Redash and is nestled down a long windy abandoned road we call “ ‘ole 63.”

Main Piece:

DS- Redash is a small, super old graveyard on the back road of 63. Everything on that road is just creepy anyway like all the burnt buildings and how it seems to always look dark even during the daytime. Even driving to get there will freak ya out.

Interviewer-Okay so tell me about the legend of Redash itself, like things that are common knowledge about it, even if you haven’t been there.

DS- It’s like a very known and accepted legend around here. So, there are like two different storylines about Redash. One is that there is some kind of half-man-half-goat that will run you out of the cemetery if it thinks you are there to like screw around and be disrespectful. The other one, which is the most common, is about the witch’s grave. She will be sitting on her grave crying over it and people leave coins on her grave if she doesn’t bother them. The major no-no is taking money off her tombstone; apparently horrific accidents have happened to several people who did that. There’s also just a bunch of weird paranormal stuff that kind of varies depending on personal experience.

Interviewer- Okay, so now give me your take on what happens, since you’ve been many times.

DS- I know it sounds crazy, but just walking up to the graveyard has made my stomach absolutely drop every time, and not in like a nervous way. It’s a feeling that I can’t explain and everyone that I’ve asked feels instantly uneasy when they get out of the car too. There really is a women buried there from the 1800s that was said to be a witch and there is always money there, but I would never touch it. I can’t say I have seen her, but I swear I have heard cries. One time we could have sworn we heard someone scream at us to leave and then we all felt such a bad aura that we left. But some of my friends that have gone had terrifying experiences, like after one girl got back in her car, she had scratches all over her body. Oh, and the red eyes, that’s a very common sight from almost everyone.


DS’s account of Redash is an example of a memorate, and supernatural experiences that have a strong impact like hers are the fuel that keep local folk-legends alive. This ghost story contains many of the classic supernatural characteristics like cryptozoology, a witch, and a cemetery. The legend of Redash also contains an aspect of spirits upholding moral standards by the witch cursing someone if they steal money from her tombstone. This follows Valk’s idea that spirits in legends are purposeful and can serve as a warning to the living. Valk also asserts that ghosts can be a way for the living to deal with economic changes, which is relevant to the history of the area where Redash is located. It used to be a booming coal town, but it has been completely desolate for at least half a century. Perhaps the memorate that started the Redash legend was influenced by the economic uncertainties that were to come.

Baba Yaga

Main Text

CS: “The myth of Baba Yaga, some people have heard of it, it’s like a Russian folktale. It’s like generally Eastern European, but um, the myth there is, as I’ve read through picture books and stuff, is there’s this like evil baba, baba is the Bulgarian word for grandma. So there’s this evil baba that lives out in the forest, and she lives in this hut that sometimes has chicken legs and sometime doesn’t, you know depends on like the retelling. And she flies around in a pot, like a cauldron, uh, and has a broom, flies around with a broom too. That’s how she, I don’t know, pushes the air or something, whatever. But she’s like really mean and, um, she like beats the kids that she kidnaps, she kidnaps the disobedient children so people always say like, uh, ‘You gotta listen to your baba, because she’s better than Baba Yaga, like, if you don’t listen to your baba then Baba Yaga is gonna come get you.”


CS is a 21 year old Bulgarian American from California and is a third year student studying Computer Science: Games at USC. CS first heard about Baba Yaga from his own baba as a tool to make sure he listened to her when in public. He never really believed in Baba Yaga and suspected, as a child, that his grandmother did not either as she always brought it up very coyly, but he understood what the stories were implying and so would always listen to what his baba said.


This story was told in CS’s household, and in other’s he says usually by a maternal figure to younger more impressionable children in order to keep them in line and listening to their grandmothers. The story supposedly only works as a deterrent if the children believe in and are afraid of Baba Yaga, but it had the same effect on CS even though he did not believe.

Interviewer Analysis

Baba Yaga follows a larger folkloric trend of children’s stories designed to instruct them by preying on their fear of the unknown, or upon instilling that fear. By using a story like Baba Yaga, parents are able to use a terrifying fictional character to make sure their children behave well. This story is told with good intentions by Eastern European parents and grandparents alike and is effective at achieving its goal, but this interviewer wonders if using fear of the unknown to keep children obedient has detrimental consequences in the long run.

For a deeper dive into the Baba Yaga story and story type, read Andreas Johns’ 2004 book Baba Yaga: The Ambiguous Mother and Witch of the Russian Folktale.

The Salt Witch

The informant grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Here, he tells the story of an old chieftain from the American Indian Omaha Tribe who encounters a witch after his wife’s passing.

N: There’s the Salt Witch. There’s a chief– I don’t know if he’s of the Omaha Tribe or not, cause there are some stories of chiefs of the Omaha Tribe. But, there’s a chieftain who lost his wife and he basically, like, shut down because his wife was dead. I don’t remember how his wife died. She just passed away, or something?

Um, but he retreated into his hut and the other members of the tribe were like “We gotta vote a new chief in. This guy’s doing shit all”. So one day he just came out of his hut, like, full war dress on adn just fucking leaves. And he, like, comes back a week or something later with a shitload of scalps, like heads, and a buncha salt. 

And the story– like the scalps are like, “Okay. He can still kill white people. Still strong” like whatever. But like, the salt part is he told a story about one night he was trying to sleep and he heard a ruckus. So he went out and he saw a young woman, who was being held down by an old crone about to chop her head off. And the chieftain ran and buried his tomahawk into the old crone’s head. Saved the young woman, and the young woman looked up at him and had his wife’s face. But then, when he reached down to grab her, she, like, disappeared, leaving a buncha salt behind. And he sorta scooped it all up.

“Reve-enka” – Norwegian Tale

Description of Informant

NF (21) is a Norwegian-American, born and raised in Trondheim, Norway before coming to Colorado for middle school. She is fluent in Norwegian and English, is a trained dancer, and presently studies screenwriting and acting at the University of Southern California.


Context of Performance

The informant, NF, sits in her bedroom opposite the collector, BK, her friend and classmate.


NF: It’s called Reve-enka and it basically translates to “The Fox’s Widow” and it’s a Norwegian folktale, or fairytale, and… God I don’t know when it was written. Like early 1900s I want to say? And once again there was a claymation or stop motion [film adaptation]…

BK: So it’s a piece of authored work? Or…

NF: It’s from a collection. So these two Norwegians were inspired by the Grimms to travel around Norway and collect fairytales. So they would go inside people’s homes and collect their stories. And then they wrote those down, and later on, you know, 70 or however many years later, those were adapted into stop motion movies. So they’re examples of fairy tales that were then written down and it’s not exactly authored literature but it was collected the way that the Grimms collected stories and it’s hard to know how much was altered. But it was collected, I believe from a dairymaid. 

NF: So [Reve-enka] tells the story of this fox whose husband has just died, so she’s the fox’s widow. And she’s beautiful so she’s got all the suitors. So the first suitor is a wolf and on his way to her house he passes an old lady whose nose is really, really long. And it’s been caught in a tree stump like a crack. And she asks for help and he says, “No, I’m off to propose to the fox’s widow” so he leaves her alone and he goes to the fox’s house. Umm… knocks on the door and is turned away.

NF: The next suitor, I believe, is a bear. And he does the same thing. He walks past the old lady, he doesn’t want to help her. Goes to the fox’s widow and he’s turned away.

NF: And the last suitor is a fox himself. And he’s very poor, dirty. But he stops and he helps the widow— or not the widow, but the old lady. And he helps her get her nose out of the stump and of course… She’s. A. Witch! So she makes him look really nice and he cleans up his coat and makes him all shiny and handsome and sends him off to go see the fox’s widow.

NF: The fox’s widow has like this little helper. She’s like… I don’t know what animal she is. She’s like this little cat? Or something similar. And she’s the one that’s been opening the door and turning away the suitors.So she opens the door, and she’s the one who sees this beautiful gleaming fox. And she gives him such praise and is so excited to see him and welcomes him in. He meets the fox’s widow and they fall in love, and it’s love at first sight, and they live happily ever after.

NF: So it’s another one of those stories about, you know, helping people that you come across because you never know who they are. This was adapted into the film version which I have a stronger association with than the classic fairy tale, which I was told by my parents.

Collector’s Reflection

Reve-enka was collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. Their collection of folktales was near and dear to NF growing up, and was her first experience with the tale. In the original story, which is written in old Norwegian, there is no witch. That seems to have been added to the film adaptation NF is familiar with. The story is also told more from the perspective of the widow rather than the suitors. In this version, as suitors arrive, the widow asks for the color of their coat/fur. She only accepts a suitor whose coat matches that of her dead husband.

While the story NF tells seems to be one of helping others (since you never know who may come back to help you later on), the original seems to deal more with grief, and one’s inability to let go. It makes sense that the former interpretation would be pushed for a children’s cartoon.


To view a translated clip from the claymation film adaptation of Reve-enka, please see:

CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaUSgu_i3sw

“The Fox’s Widow.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0056409/


For a recording of Asbjørnsen and Moe’s version of Reve-enke, please see:

“Asbjørnsen & Moe Eventyr 3.” Spotify, 1 Jan. 2003, open.spotify.com/album/7LtZBeJjjiLFayAax6MDv1?highlight=spotify%3Atrack%3A7koo6ZKGO8aKWePNaqR6lM.