A photo of the Baba Yaga house at Burning Man that inspired Talbott’s vision to create a Baba Yaga Haunted House event in Moab. [Photo courtesy of Christian Dietkus Lord]

As Halloween approaches, a ghoulish, witchy feeling hangs in the air. In addition to trick or treating this year, celebrators will be able to experience an interactive, mythological haunted house for all ages hosted by Jenna Talbott.

The haunted house will take place on Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, and will be modeled after the story of Baba Yaga.

“Baba Yaga is a Russian name for the old crone archetype,” Talbott said. “The old crone is ‘the one who knows’ — an often begrudging and wise witch. Baba Yaga initiates those she encounters to bond with their true nature and power, intuition and the fierce awesomeness of life and death. 

“Beauty is more than meets the eye, the treasure may not be what it seems, and the journey is always a challenge. The Yaga has no patience for niceness and an appetite for that which must die.”

Different than the average haunted house centered in jump scares and grotesque figures, Baba Yaga’s Haunted House will engage in a type of “spiritual spookiness.”

Talbott said, “This pop-up creative installation intends to stir the pot, evoke ancient archetypes, such as Baba Yaga, La Loba, and Pele, and engage all ages through spooky, yet playful, energies of Samhain.”

Explaining how she got the idea for the haunted house, Talbott said, “I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves,’ about five years ago and have been recommending it and citing it ever since. One of my favorite old myths that she covers is the Russian tale of Vasilisa — which seemed to me to be the original story of Cinderella. Instead of there being a fairy godmother and a prince charming, there is scary Baba Yaga and a tale of self-empowerment. The story is like a rite of passage … one that converts a young, timid girl who gets pushed around and stepped on into an intuitive and fearless powerhouse.”

Talbott was already throwing around the idea of hosting a Baba Yaga-themed haunted house when she happened to come across an installation with the same inspiration.

“A young Reno welder was bringing Baba Yaga’s House, up on mechanical chicken legs, to Burning Man!” she explained. “I got ahold of her and it turned out that she had the same inspiration, from the same source, at the same time. I decided I had to go and check it out. It was awesome — a beautiful installation. So … the idea is out there, knocking on skulls, and one of them was mine.”

Talbott set the plan in motion, recruiting a team of locals to help her carry out the vision. One such volunteer, Pete Apicella, said of his role in the installation, “I hope we can gross out and scare some people in a funny way. Decorating the place will be fun as well.”

He continued, “I’m part Russian, too, so I culturally connect with the folkloric aspect. As for Baba Yaga herself, I remember reading about her in a book on witches when I was a kid and thought she was creepy cool … the way her magic hut hops about on giant chicken legs also seemed super cryptic and unique.”

Another volunteer, Seamus Cronin, is also excited about the uniqueness of the Halloween event. “Working on Baba Yaga’s house is special because it’s not just an average haunted house,” Cronin said. “It’s more of a reminder of the spiritual journey we all go through in life. I enjoy Halloween as a moment of reflection and not just a night to get scared. I am lucky to participate in the project.”

Talbott and her crew hope Baba Yaga’s Haunted House will be an attraction that people of all ages can enjoy.

“The house is kid-friendly in the sense that it really is directed at the kids in all of us,” Talbott said. “But it is adaptable and responsive to the energy of the groups that come through. I think people can expect to feel more spooked and even silly than scared, and more intrigued than apprehensive.”

Talbott recommends that groups enter the house in groups of two to four participants, and walk-throughs will take about 20 minutes per group.

There is a recommended donation of $10 per adult, and all proceed will be donated to The Dust Magazine, a newly formed grassroots local magazine.

A local crew of volunteers puts together an all-ages mythological scarefest

When: Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, from 6-9 p.m.

Where: 39 E. 100 South

Cost: $10 suggested donation per adult

Contact: Call Jenna Talbott at 435-260-7204

“This pop-up creative installation intends to stir the pot, evoke ancient archetypes, such as Baba Yaga, La Loba, and Pele, and engage all ages through spooky, yet playful, energies of Samhain.”