In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking old, elderly woman. Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs, her fence is usually decorated with human skulls. Baba Yaga may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out and may play a maternal role and has associations with forest wildlife. Sometimes she frightens a hero, but helps him if he is courageous. According to Vladimir Propp's folktale morphology, Baba Yaga commonly appears as either a donor, villain, or may be altogether ambiguous. In many fairytales she kidnaps and eats children.
Andreas Johns identifies Baba Yaga as "one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in eastern European folklore," and observes that she is "enigmatic" and often exhibits "striking ambiguity." Johns summarizes Baba Yaga as "a many-faceted figure, capable of inspiring researchers to see her as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican or Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image".