Reminder: Slavic myths are a debatable topic. There are very few written records, and the written records that do exist are not considered reliable. That is because most of those records were written after Christianization, most by priests or people of the faith. Many myths have survived in some form through folk tales. How these differ from original beliefs will never be known.
Baba Yaga is a Slavic myth that has survived to this day. She continues to appear in stories, fairy tales, and folk beliefs throughout the lands previously occupied by Slavs – not just Russia. Her story seems to endure and entice the imagination.
Baba Yaga is a witch or demon (depending on whom you ask), an old woman usually described as very ugly, often disfigured in some way. She doesn’t fly on a broom but a mortar. In some versions, she uses a pestle as a flying aid and a broom made of branches to sweep her tracks.
I was first introduced to Baba Yaga at a very young age by my grandmother. She told me of an old, hideous hag who lived in a house atop a chicken foot. This house has the ability to move around and go wherever Baba Yaga wants. It is also surrounded by a fence made of bones and skulls. The thing my grandmother emphasized was that Baba Yaga ate naughty, disobedient children.
This seems to be a recurring image of her in several tales I have read or heard. Baba Yaga likes to capture children (and young maidens), feed them dried fruit, nuts, and sweets to fatten them up, and then eat them. She has an enormous, if not insatiable appetite, but she is bony.
There are also several tales of heroes seeking out Baba Yaga to obtain or learn something. Although frightening, Baba Yaga is wise, knows all, and has powers beyond a mere mortal. “Baba Yaga is fearsome, for she represents the power of annihilation and the power of the life force at the same time.”  When the heroes fulfill the tasks Baba Yaga asks of them, she gives them what they need.
Some time ago I read a theory that Baba Yaga is actually the goddesses Devana and Morena. Since then I have seen references to her as Black Goddess or Wild Goddess. It makes sense, as Baba Yaga represents the archetype of the Crone, the innate wild wisdom of the feminine, with knowledge and understanding of life, death, and rebirth.
Our vilification of Baba Yaga and her ugliness are caused not by her alleged evil, but our cultural lack of acceptance of the wild feminine as well as the segmentation into good and bad of the circle of life, death, and rebirth. Baba Yaga lives in the forest of our collective unconscious, hence her unwaning presence. But because many of her aspects have been repressed and deemed bad, she has taken on a grotesque facade.
 Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. “Nosing Out the Facts: The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation.” Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. New York: Ballantine, 1992. P.96. Print.
Check out Diana’s post on Baba Yaga.