Yogini and Witches, Isolated Places, Wild Animals, Female Border Figures

  • Elisabetta Cangelosi
Keywords: Goddesses, Dangerous and wild animals, Yogini, India, Tantrism, Witches, South Italy folklore


In the folklore some female figures are related to border situations. Women, less relevant in the social and cultural context, can take a relevant role in the traditional, mythic and religious imagery. These figures are strictly linked to irrational and mystery.

The analysis compares a group of tantric semi-deities, called Yogini, with witches: they are both confined in a border condition under the religious and social point of view since they are considered dangerous as well as respectful; they fly (sometimes after a metamorphosis in wild and dangerous birds like), they dance in circle, they turn into terrestrial animals (like snakes and toads) they prefer isolated places and trees. They can live close to cemeteries but they can also be attracted by places where new born children are, in a sort of relation with both birth and death, the limits of human life.

Following a comparison between these two groups that are very far away one from the other some interesting aspects appear: a major characteristic is their ambiguity.

They are positive and negative at the same time, they are dangerous but attractive (being usually beautiful and sensual) and even dangerous because so attractive. They are part of a wild  world which clash with a tidy and urbanized world: the first one is inhabited by demons which are not included in the official religious and cultural dimension; in the second one, which considers Yogini and witches as dangerous  entities, a rational and male-influenced approach prevails.


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Author Biography

Elisabetta Cangelosi
PhD candidate in Antropology, History and Theory of Culture-SUM and
University of Siena.


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How to Cite
Cangelosi, E. (2011). <i>Yogini</i&gt; and Witches, Isolated Places, Wild Animals, Female Border Figures. Between, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/96
Myths and Themes of Crossing Over