The Witch is one of the main characters of the ancient mythology of the Eastern Slavs. She looks like an ordinary woman, but she has magical abilities.
The word witch itself means «the one who has knowledge» and comes from the Slavic verb to know – «to know». Witchcraft in Russia was called any secret magical knowledge. It does not matter whether it was used to cure diseases or to cause damage.
According to beliefs, the magical power and demonic properties of a witch could be innate and acquired as a result of training and a contract with an evil spirit. Therefore, witches were divided into «born» and «trained». The «born» witch knows more and can do both good and bad. The «trained» does only evil and cannot correct the harm done to her.
A witch can transform into any creature and any object. Most often, witches turn into cats, dogs, pigs, hares, and most often – large toads. She can be invisible.
Some believed that witches were ugly old women with loose hair who could take the form of young, beautiful women. Others claimed that witches are no different from ordinary mortals, live among people and only hide a small tail under their clothes — a sign of belonging to evil spirits.
One soldier was standing in the house of a widow who was a witch. One night, when he was lying in bed, pretending to be asleep, women began to come to his mistress’s hut. They were «trained» witches, and his mistress was a «born» witch. They prepared some kind of ointment and put it on the stove. One by one, the women came up, smeared themselves under the arms, and immediately flew out into the chimney. After all the women had flown away, the soldier, without thinking twice, smeared himself with ointment and felt himself carried out into the chimney and carried through the air. But since he did not quite pronounce the ritual words correctly, during the flight he bumped into a dry tree, a thorn bush, or a rock, and flew to Bald Mountain all beaten up.
The mistress looked around, saw him among the devils and sorcerers, and screamed: «What are you doing here? Who asked you to?» Then she brought him a horse and told him to go back, but warned him not to say «whoa» or «brrr» to that horse. The soldier immediately got on a horse and turned back home, but flying over the forest, he thought: «What kind of fool I am if I didn’t say no horse «whoa» or «brrr», and shouted at the horse: «Brrr!» The minute he flew down into the woods, and the horse immediately turned into a birch stick. Only on the fourth day did the soldier reach his apartment.