© 2015

Fierce Feminine Divinities of Eurasia and Latin America

Baba Yaga, Kālī, Pombagira, and Santa Muerte

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Introduction

    1. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 1-11
  3. Eurasia

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 12-12
    2. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 15-52
    3. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 53-66
  4. Latin America

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 67-67
    2. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 69-101
    3. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 103-135
  5. Conclusion

    1. Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba
      Pages 137-142
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 143-188

About this book


In this provocative book, Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba examines untamed feminine divinities from around the world. Although distant geographically, these divine figures are surprisingly similar-representing concepts of liminality, outsiderhood, and structural inferiority, embodied in the divine feminine. These strong, independent, unrestrained figures are connected to the periphery and to magical powers, including power over sexuality, transformation, and death. Oleszkiewicz-Peralba offers a study of the origin and worship of four feminine deities across cultures and continents: the Slavic Baba Yaga, the Hindu Kālī, the Brazilian Pombagira, and the Mexican Santa Muerte. Although these divinities have often been marginalized through dismissal, demonization, and dulcification, they continue to be extremely attractive, as they empower their devotees confronting them with the ultimate reality of transience and death. Oleszkiewicz-Peralba examines how these sacred icons have been adapted and transformed across time and place.


Fierce goddesses Eurasia Latin America Baba Yaga Ka?li? Pombagira Santa Muerte Slavic fairy tales liminality marginality Umbanda syncretic religions women mythology cross-cultural America culture death religion religions

About the authors

Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba is Professor of Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, USA. Her publications include The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe: Tradition and Transformation (2007), and Teatro popular peruano: del precolombino al siglo XX (1995), as well as numerous scholarly book chapters and articles.

Bibliographic information


"A scholarly classic in the new paradigm of truth-telling and genuine democracy that includes everybody and their beliefs - from academia to politics!" Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Professor Emerita, California Institute of Integral Studies, USA and author of Black Madonnas: Feminism, Religion and Politics in Italy and The Future has an Ancient Heart: Legacy of Caring, Sharing, Healing, and Vision from the Primordial African Mediterranean to Occupy Everywhere

"In what is truly a cross-cultural and transdisciplinary perspective, Oleszkiewicz-Peralba examines four female divinities from all over the globe who personify not only fierceness, but occupy shadow worlds where spiritual power, wildness, sexuality, rage, blood, and death coexist. Lavishly and informatively illustrated (the photo of the Lowrider trunk altar to Santa Muerte is alone worth the price of admission), Oleszkiewicz-Peralba's study of fierce deities combines the rigor of a true scholar with the sass, wit, and charm of Pombagira" - Alan West-Durán, Northeastern University, USA and editor-in-chief of Cuba (two volumes), and author of Afro-Caribbeans and Tropics of History