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For Baba Yaga is by no means always malignant; she is a cunning woman, in control of natural and supernatural magic and, above all, of food supplies. But she dispenses her hospitality capriciously. Baba Yaga has witchy traits, and the witch in nursery lore often stands in for the female ogre, sharing some of her characteristics, though she is seldom built on the ogress' Brobdingnagian scale. Nightmare visitors are not usually imagined as beating their prey, like Mr. Punch, in his delirium of baby-battering in the puppet play Punch and Judy. Raiders from other worlds want children for themselves.

They are covetous, and the implication is that they have lost a baby or cannot have one and feel the lack. Sometimes they are night-riders, like witches in the fears of the witchfinders, who described Sabbath orgies at which babies were sacrificed to the devil in a sacrilegious imitation of the Eucharist. The fears here concentrate on the fate of miscarried, still-born and hence unbaptized babies, who, according to orthodox Christian belief, died in a state of original sin and therefore could not go to heaven. This issue is extremely complex, and inspired much debate as well as anguish.

Eventually, the state of limbo, neither paradise nor hell but a condition of painless suspension, was devised to assuage the distress that parents--and others--felt at the fate of such innocents.

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Before the establishment of limbo in popular belief it was never formally approved , numerous manoeuvres and devices were adopted in order to prevent the damnation of infants. Joan of Arc, for example, was credited with resurrecting a baby for long enough for it to receive the sacrament and save its soul before it died.


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Records of babies rallying in this way, to give the breathing space for baptism, recur in Protestant as well as Catholic communities, showing that the loss and the terror lie deeper than theological definitions of salvation and that different ideas of divine providence do not mitigate the parental pain of bereavement. The loss of infants may have been expected in times of high mortality, but it was not a matter of indifference.

The stories communicate fatalism, but this is not identical with resignation. Rather they offer explanations, from the irrational store of the imaginary, in order to rationalize loss. In Scottish ballads, a demon with the misleading name of Lammikin nips and stabs infants until their mother is woken; then Long Lankin, as he is also known, proposes to drain the mother's blood into a basin.

In Jewish folkore, Lilith, Adam's unruly first wife who was repudiated for her rebelliousness, roams at night looking for babies, to suck their blood or otherwise destroy them. Even the Snow Queen, in Hans Christian Andersen's famous and beautiful fairy tale, retains traces of this terror, for she abducts her child victims, like the boy Kai, to her palace in the far north where she freezes them into statues of blue ice. The ogresses' Greek precursor, Lamia, can give a clue to the animus that is ascribed, in fantasy, to female child-stealers: for like her Jewish counterpart Lilith, Lamia began to prey on babies after she suffered ostracism and after her own children, yet more offspring of Zeus' philandering, had been killed by his jealous wife, Hera.

The coral branch that Jesus wears in many paintings of the Madonna and Child is a survival of pre-Christian Middle Eastern magic against these raiders of the nursery. Recently, a remarkable, uncanny children's book by Valerie Dayre, L'Ogresse en pleurs The Ogress in Tears , infused the old myths with contemporary fears: the malign protagonist wanders the world, searching for her prey, and, after several frustrated assaults, finds a delicious boy baby whom she instantly gobbles. Dayre's book, powerfully illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch, vividly expresses contemporary maternal fears when it closes with the ogress weeping, for it is her own child, whom she has inadvertently eaten, all other children failing to satisfy her appetite.

Bogeymen and women are frequently imagined as single, anomalous outsiders--the Cyclops in his cave, the witch in her gingerbread house. This is not invariably the case, however: ogres are often king of the castle in a domestic setting--consider the giant at the top of the beanstalk.

When the witch in her lonely cottage on the edge of the forest and the ogre in his remote castle prey on the young, their malignant envy of others who have and can bear children may appear to be their underlying motive for raiding cradles and devouring infants. Or, to reverse the point of view, those who are blessed with offspring fear that their good fortune may inspire destructive envy.

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The Egyptians even devised a deity with special powers in this area: the popular dwarf god Bes, whose squat, grinning figure has been excavated from birth niches, appeased forces that might harm mothers and children; he was set to watch in lying-in rooms and night nurseries, to protect against the jealousy of childless women.

Such stories, it has been argued, also provide a consoling explanation for mysterious cot deaths, or even, as suggested by Judith Devlin in The Superstitious Mind , a justification for neglecting babies with birth defects or other problems. A changeling could be discreetly made to disappear, as an evil gift of the fairies, or even of the devil; to dispose of a human child on the other hand, however unwanted or damaged at birth, lay beyond the frontiers of acceptable conduct. Doris Lessing in her dystopic fable, The Fifth Child , chillingly reworked the theme. Although perpetrators were sought out, and blamed, with anger equal to the feelings that raged in the case of Matthew Eappen's death and Louise Woodward's trial in Massachusetts in , their crimes were attributed to witchcraft and possession, not to personal malevolence.

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As in many cases of witchcraft accusations, guilt and fear underlie the famous story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin in Westphalia, which was suffering from a plague of rats. A mysterious minstrel appeared; he was dressed in motley and played a pipe, with which he charmed all the rats to follow him out of the town. But when he came back for the fee he had been promised, the good burghers of Hamelin refused to pay him. So he played his pipe again, and this time all the children danced in his wake until he led them into a mountain, which closed over them. Only two were left to report what had taken place: one boy who was blind and another, who was lame.

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They had not been able to keep up with the merry throng. In Robert Browning turned the tale into a bouncy ballad, and children perform the drama today for summer crowds in the town square at Hamelin: a cautionary tale about unfair dealing that the prosperous mercantile town tells itself. More recently, the composer Thomas Ades responded more sensitively to the sinister, even supernatural, quality of the legend, with Under Hamelin Hill , an eerie piece that captures on a chamber organ the seduction of the Pied Piper's irresistible music.

For the legend also warns, as so many tales of fairy folk do, that the fey and the pied, the eldritch and the elf are dangerous to humans in their capriciousness: they personify the unpredictable mischief-making of fate. The Pied Piper story is dated to , when Hamelin is known to have suffered a similar plague, and in several ways its hero prefigures many spectres who come to haunt Germany.

Though not dwarfish or otherwise monstrous, the Piper appears in the motley sometimes worn by the devil, and even more often by the fool who mocks truth, while the mountain, which uncannily opens when he plays in order to swallow the children, is the familiar habitat of elves and dwarfs and giants and other messengers from the dark side. These are often associated with Carnival. Yet one such alarming dwarf makes an early appearance in the margin of a lavish private book of hours of belonging to the Duke of Lorraine, so the theme was not confined to popular or even secular settings.

This dwarf is grabbing at naked putti no smaller than he is, and he bears a pannier on his back to which he has strapped children he has already stolen. Educalingo cookies are used to personalize ads and get web traffic statistics. We also share information about the use of the site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Our kids are actually doing what we told them to do when they sit in front of that TV all day or in front of that computer game all day.

The society is telling kids unconsciously that nature's in the past. It really doesn't count anymore, that the future is in electronics, and besides, the bogeyman is in the woods. Richard Louv. Meaning of "bogeyman" in the English dictionary. Synonyms and antonyms of bogeyman in the English dictionary of synonyms.

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Examples of use in the English literature, quotes and news about bogeyman. We must resist the temptation of once again turning America into the traditional bogeyman of the left. Outsourcing was the bogeyman of the '90s. Protectionists portrayed it as an evil that would take American jobs away. Yes, some jobs did go offshore as people feared, but it made the global economic pie grow bigger.

A year after the death of her husband, Blythe Wyndham moves with her four-year-old daughter, Maddie, back to the small town where she grew up. Gayle Wilson, Illustrated with a wealth of images - from the beautiful and the bizarre to the downright scary -this is a tour de force of scholarship and imagination.

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Marina Warner, In addition to her personal saga, the book presents added material listing expert opinions, information, and resources, serving as supportive and reinforcing background for her experiences. Sherry L. Meinberg, Bogeyman is an imaginative blend of modern settings and characters built upon an ageless foundation of childhood fears and things that go bump in the night.


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