slavic-beliefs

8

Rodzanice / Narecznice / Rojenice / Sudice / Sudičky / Suđaje are the “Fates” from the Slavic mythology, often depicted as three sisters. They share many similarities with the Greek myth of the Moirai.

Rodzanice were caring for the pregnant women, protecting them from the evil forces, and appearing at the newborns’ cradles to designate their fate. They were approaching the household at the midnight, 3 days after the child’s birth, and as the visit was meant to designate the child’s destiny, the household was carefully tidied up and prepared to welcome the sisters of Fate. A feast was thrown, food was given generously to every guest who appeared at that night and the child was dressed in white linen clothes, symbolizing purity. Rodzanice were also appearing at every important event of the human life, such as the first haircut (when the child’s cut hair was offered to them) or the wedding, when they were also given offerings to ensure the continuity of the good fortune. Similar to the Moirai, one of them was believed to cut the ‘life-thread’ when the human’s fate was going to end.

After the process of Christinization they were replaced by the notion of the caring/protecting/observing angels.

[gifs from: “Słowiańska krew”]

Russian Superstitions

Omens/Protection

  • Knocking on wood is practiced in Russia as in other countries. However Russians tend to add a symbolic three spits over one’s left shoulder (or simply with the head turned to the left), and Russians will often knock three times as well. Traditionally one was spitting on the devil (who is always on the left).
  • Returning home for forgotten things is a bad omen. It is better to leave it behind, but if returning is necessary, one should look in the mirror before leaving the house again. Otherwise the journey will be bad.
  • If one feels that he or she may have been cursed by someone (the evil eye) or just has the feeling of a hostile presence, it is recommended to remove one’s coat and then put it back on starting with the hand opposing the usually used one. It is also recommended to pin a French Pin inside your clothing to avoid the curse of the evil eye in the first place.
  • Birds that land on a windowsill should be chased away. If they tap on the window, or fly into it (open or closed) it is considered a very bad omen (often of death).
  • A woman with empty water buckets coming towards you is considered a bad omen.
  • It is bad luck to use physical hand gestures to demonstrate something negative using oneself or someone else as the object. For example, when describing a scar you saw on someone’s face you should not gesture on your own face or someone else’s. If you must, you can demonstrate in mid-air. If one does it without realising, it can be countered by making a hand motion towards the body part used and then an abrupt motion away (as if to pick up the bad energy and throw it away) or by wiping the area with your hand and then blowing on your hand (as if to wipe off the bad energy and then blow it away).
  • Looking into a broken mirror almost certainly brings bad luck. The superstition says that if you look into a broken mirror, you break your inner world, and your soul becomes defenceless against the dark forces.

Love

  • Never give yellow flowers to your lover, as it implies that an argument will happen and your relationship will end.
  • Lucky in cards not lucky in love. This, however, is only a pre-marital superstition. The reason for the division is that marriage is a sacrament in the Russian Orthodox Church, and this sacrament, ordained by God, eviscerates the pre-marital superstition. Thus, when a man is bonded by divine sacrament to a single woman whom he loves the cause and effect is reversed: namely, his married love for a single woman, and her love for him, will bring him good fortune in all endeavors including cards.
  • During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom carry candles. Whoever’s candle died first, was the one who would die first.
  • If a woman puts too much salt on the meals this means she is in love.
  • Do not take your wedding ring off to show it to someone else, or worse still to let them try it on. The wedding ring is worn on your fourth finger, which is the one under the influence of the sun, and is a sign of our heart’s true love. If you take it off to show to another, it means you are giving away your love and happiness to a stranger.
  • In Russian superstition if a couple sets a wedding date and doesn’t end up getting married on that date they can not set another date and should not get married as their union will be cursed.

Cause And Effect

  • If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you (usually speaking ill).
  • If your right eye itches, you’re going to be happy soon. If your left eye itches, you’ll be sad.
  • If you have hiccups, someone is remembering you at this moment.
  • If an eyelash falls out you’ll receive a gift. If someone finds an eyelash on someone he or she will sometimes let the person blow it away and make a wish.
  • If a fork or spoon falls on the ground, expect a female guest. If a knife falls, expect a male guest.
  • If someone sneezes while telling something, it means he or she is telling the truth.

Miscellaneous

  • Russians will typically avoid talking about pending successes. They believe that it is bad luck to talk about upcoming success before it actually occurs.
  • Never greet, or say goodbye to someone in a doorway. The threshold divides people, and in traditional Russian folklore, the house spirit resides here, so this superstition says that your greetings and gifts will not bring fortune or good luck.
  • It is best to cut your hair or nails during a full moon.
  • When someone is talking about something very undesirable or bad, the listener should say in Russian “Типун тебе на язык!” (tipun tebe na yazyk), which is generally translated as “Curse that tongue of yours!”. This expression is not meant to be offensive at all but is rather used as a spell for prevention of evil and bad luck.
  • Moving to the new house one must first let a cat go in first to assure harmony in the household.
  • If you sing on an empty stomach, you will chase your money away.
  • Do not pick up coins from the road. The popular belief is that such coins carry negative energy if they were thrown by a bad person and cause sickness.
3

Drekavac

Drekavac is a creature known in South Slavic mythology, mainly Serbian. Older beliefs say these are the souls of illegitimate children who have died at birth (later beliefs say they are souls of children who have died unbaptised). The word drekavac can be translated as screamer, a name which he earned by making horrible screams and noises during the night. He also attacks those who wander aorund at night and can often be found near running water. Drekavac can never come near house in which he was born, considering he was unwanted (illegtimate). There are many descriptions of Drekavac’s appearance but this is the most comon - they have long, thing bodies,tail and large head. Cikavac, Bukavac, Plakavac (squealer, noiser, crier) are other names for Drekavac found in different regions. 

2

12th June 1168 - King Valdemar I of Denmark conquers Arkona (Jaromarsburg) on the Island of Rügen, the strongest pagan fortress in Northern Europe and the main place of cult to the Rani Slavic tribe. They were one of the last to cling to their Slavic beliefs, with the influence of their religious center at Arkona reaching far beyond the tribal borders. Fall of Arkona is considered a symbolic end of the Slavic religion.

Changeling

It is an offspring by a troll, faerie, elf, or other legendary creatures that have been secretly left in the place of a child. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to the child who was taken.

A human child might be taken due to many factors:

  • To act as a servant.
  • The love of a human child.
  • Malice.

In some rare cases, the very elderly of the faerie people would be exchanged in the place of a human baby, and then the old faerie could live in comfort, being coddled by its human parents.

Simple charms, such as an inverted coat or open iron scissors left where the child sleeps, were thought to ward them off; other measures included a constant watch over the child.

Purpose

Some people believed that trolls would take unbaptised children. Once children had been baptised and therefore become part of the Church, the trolls could not take them. One belief is that trolls thought that being raised by humans was something very “classy”, and that they therefore wanted to give their own children a human upbringing.

Beauty in human children and young women (particularly fair-haried ones), attracted the faeries. Some folklorists believe that faeries were memories of inhabitants of various regions in Europe who had been driven into hiding by invaders. They held that changelings had actually occurred; the hiding people would exchange their own sickly children for the healthy children of the invaders.

Some changelings might forget they are not human and proceed to live a human life. Changelings which do not forget, however, may later return to their faerie family, possibly leaving the human family without warning. As for the human child that was taken, he or she may often stay with the faerie family forever.

Changelings Across Cultures

British Isles

  • Cornwall - The Mên-an-Tol stones in Cornwall are supposed to have a faerie or pixie guardian who can make miraculous cures. In one case a changeling baby was put through the stone in order for the mother to get the real child back. Evil pixies had changed her child and the ancient stones were able to reverse their evil spell.
  • Ireland - In Ireland, looking at a baby with envy – “over looking the baby” – was dangerous, as it endangered the baby, who was then in the faeries’ power. Putting a changeling in a fire would cause it to jump up the chimney and return the human child, but at least one tale recounts a mother with a changeling finding that a faerie woman came to her home with the human child, saying the other faeries had done the exchange, and she wanted her own baby. Belief in changelings endured in parts of Ireland until as late as 1895 (and still thrives, although in less significant amounts). Changelings, in some instances, were regarded not as substituted faerie children but instead old faeries brought to the human world to die.
  • Anglo-Scottish Border - It is believed that elves (and faeries) live in “Elf Hills” or “Fairy Hills”. Along with this belief in supernatural beings was the view that they could spirit away children, and even adults, and take them back to their own world. Often, it was thought, a baby would be snatched and replaced with a simulation of the baby, usually a male adult elf, to be suckled by the mother. The real baby would be treated well by the elves and would grow up to be one of them, whereas the changeling baby would be discontented and wearisome.
  • Wales - In Wales the changeling child initially resembles the human it substitutes, but gradually grows uglier in appearance and behaviour: ill-featured, malformed, ill-tempered, given to screaming and biting. It may be of less than usual intelligence, but again is identified by its more than childlike wisdom and cunning. The common means employed to identify a changeling is to cook a family meal in an egg shell. The child will exclaim, “I have seen the acorn before the oak, but I never saw the likes of this,” and vanish, only to be replaced by the original human child. Alternatively, or following this identification, it is supposedly necessary to mistreat the child by placing it in a hot oven, by holding it in a shovel over a hot fire, or by bathing it in a solution of foxglove.

Scandinavia 

  • Since most beings from Scandinavian folklore are said to be made of iron, so Scandinavian parents often placed an iron item such as a pair of scissors or a knife on top of an unbaptised infant’s cradle.
  • It was believed that if a human child was taken in spite of such measures, the parents could force the return of the child by treating the changeling cruelly, using methods such as whipping or even inserting it in a heated oven (however, this is a strongly inadvisable method…).

Every intelligent grandmother knows that the fire must not be allowed to go out in a room where there is a child not yet christened; that the water in which the newborn child is washed should not be thrown out; also, that a needle, or some other article of steel must be attached to its bandages [diapers]. If attention is not paid to these precautions it may happen that the child will be exchanged by the trolls, as once occurred in Bettna many years ago.

A young peasant’s wife had given birth to her first child. Her mother, who lived some distance away, was on hand to officiate in the first duties attending its coming, but the evening before the day on which the child should be christened she was obliged to go home for a short time to attend to the wants of her own family, and during her absence the fire was allowed to go out.

No one would have noticed anything unusual, perhaps, if the child had not, during the baptism, cried like a fiend. After some weeks, however, the parents began to observe a change. It became ugly, cried continuously, and was so greedy that it devoured everything that came in its way. The people being poor, they were in great danger of being eaten out of house and home. There could no longer be any doubt that the child was a changeling. Whereupon the husband sought a wise old woman, who, it was said, could instruct the parents what to do to get back their own child.

The mother was directed to build a fire in the bake oven three Thursday evenings in succession, lay the young one upon the bake shovel, then pretend that she was about to throw it into the fire. The advice was followed, and when the woman, the third evening, was in the act of throwing the changeling into the fire, it seemed, a little deformed, evil-eyed woman rushed up with the natural child, threw it in the crib, and requested the return of her child. “For,” said she, “I have never treated your child so badly and I have never thought to do it such harm as you now propose doing mine,” whereupon she took the unnatural child and vanished through the door.

Spain

  • In Asturias (North Spain), there is a legend about the Xana, a nymph that lives near rivers, fountains and lakes, sometimes helping travellers on their journeys. The Xanas were conceived as little female faeries with supernatural beauty. They could deliver babies, “xaninos,” that were sometimes swapped with human babies in order to be baptised. The legend says that in order to distinguish a “xanino” from a human baby, some pots and egg shells should be put close to the fireplace; a xanino would say: "I was born one hundred years ago, and since then I have not seen so many egg shells near the fire!".

Slavic Europe

  • The birth of a child is considered a great gift; If a nursing mother takes good care of a baby, the ancestors will protect her and facilitate further multiplication of her kin. But if she is careless and shows unworthy of their gift, protection is drawn back and negative forces freely roam, aiming to steal the child in the moment of neglect. The devil, witches, faeries, and demons of all kinds might kill the child, or exchange the human child for a demon child.
  • Legends have it that the biggest danger of a changeling occurs during the 40 days after childbirth, while the rightful baby is still not baptised.
  • Not making the sign of a cross over the child, or in the corners of a bath which the mother uses, also makes the baby vulnerable to the attack.
  • Numerous precautions are made to save mother and a child from mythological creatures. Some of the common measures are keeping a sharp object near the nursing mother, leaving the candle to burn all night long, leaving a bowl of water under the icon. Russian custom is to put the broom in the corner, or under the cradle, to act as a “guardian”. Poles confide in medallions of the saints, which they hang in the doorways and in the windows, and the red hats out on the baby’s head were also popular. Serbian custom is to tie a red bracelet to a baby’s ankle, which is popular in other countries as well.
  • If protection measures failed and the changeling is successfully foisted upon the ignorant parents, it behaves voraciously, aggressively, grows slowly, begins to walk and talk later than the other children. It cries a lot, sleeps badly, looks disproportional, laughs weirdly and according to some legends, even grows horns.

Other Countries

Changelings (faerie) seem to be a folklore belief prominent in Europe; but there are similar beliefs in other parts of the world, although there may be insufficient information. Such include:

  • The ogbanje.
  • Aswangs (changelings).

There are folklore tales of child-stealing by supernatural creatures in other cultures (such as Native America), but child replacing is not as common outside of Europe.



for your mythology essay

heey so im from Bulgaria and i think we used to have pretty rad mythology here is a link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Slavic_mythological_figures hope i could help, sweetie! i love ur blog btw <3

AAAA YESSS I LOVE SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY!! baba yaga and vucari are my fffaaavvv. thank you so much angel i love yours too *u*

A few of the old Slavic superstitions in which my well-educated grandmother believed and scolded taught me when I was a kid, before she passed away years ago:

  • NEVER greet guests/shake hands over a treshold, especially in your front door - it would bring misfortune to the entire household.
  • Don’t stand at a window (especially if it’s open) when there’s thunderstorm outside - you would go blind or loose your sanity.
  • When you go out of the bed in the morning, pay attention to put your right foot on the ground first - using the “wrong” one would bring you bad luck for the entire day.
  • Don’t look at the window right after waking up - you would forget what you dreamed of during the night (in case you want to remember).
  • When you go back home to retrieve something you forgot to take earlier, sit down on a chair and count to ten - rushing in such a moment would bring you bad luck for the rest of the day. /// There’s also a popular saying: “gdzie się człowiek spieszy, tam się diabeł cieszy” (literally: “where a person is in hurry, there a devil is pleased”), which can be compared to "haste makes waste".
  • NEVER put your handbag directly on the floor/ground - your money would ”slip away” quickly in the nearest future.
  • Don’t swim in rivers/lakes/sees before St. John’s Eve - you would drown or just become heavily ill. /// St John’s Eve (also called Noc Świętojańska, on the picture above) is basically a christianized part of the summer solstice celebrations - shifted to 23rd/24th June, after the traditional Slavic Kupala Night. That superstition is derived from ancient Slavic belief that all kinds of water demons are calmed down (after the harsh winter) only after receiving “gifts” that were thrown on the water during the summer solstice rituals - in reality the natural water basins in our climate are warming up very slowly after the wintertime, so in the old times plenty of young people were surely dying of thermal shock during the ostensibly warm late spring.
  • When you get hiccups, it means that someone’s thinking strongly about you right now. Don’t try to stop it “by force” - you would lose a person who likes you.
  • Don’t gift any kind of shoes to anyone - he/she would walk away from you in the future (the recipent should pay a small token fee or help you with something in return).
  • NEVER gift knives, scissors, needles or other similar sharp objects to anyone - it would ”cut off” your good relations.
  • When you gift a purse/wallet to someone, don’t forget to put a small amount of money inside - or else the recipent would run short on money.
  • Don’t let anyone take a ring off your fingers (rather take it off yourself) - the person would ”steal” your good luck or you’d end up arguing in the future.
  • NEVER let another woman to try on a ring that was gifted to you by your beloved one - you would be cheated on (not necessarily with involvement of that exact woman).

/// On the picture: “Noc Świętojańska" - a summer solstice performance by "Kujawy" WCK ensemble over a pond in Włocławek, Poland [more photographs in source].

Stefan Żechowski (1912-1984). Koszmarny sen. Dusiołek, do utworu Bolesława Leśmiana // Nightmare. Dusiołek, for Bolesław Leśmian's poem, 1964

Dusiołek was a mythological Slavic demon - a mischievous creature that would sit on people’s chests during their sleep and strangle or suck off the breath, especially during the vulnerable phases of grief and unhappiness. It was similar to zmora.

Łukasz Ortheza Matuszek – Utopiec

In Polish: utopiec / topielec is a name applied to Slavic spirits of water. The topielce (plural form) are spirits of human souls that died drowning, residing in the element of their own demise. They are responsible for sucking people into swamps and lakes as well as killing the animals standing near the still waters. [x]

The related term is Vodyanoy.

Mt Ślęża - the sacred Slavic mountain in Poland.

It’s a remarkable place - the legendary, historic and mystical heart of Silesia. Mysterious statues and stone walls have been discovered on its slopes - the oldest traces of an ancient cult within Poland’s boundaries - and the whole mountain is said to radiate with enormous energy. Precipitation and mists occur far more often here than in the surrounding area and atmospheric electric discharges are exceptionally intense. The massif, built mainly of granite, is a world known place where beds of nephrite, magnesite and chrysoprase were discovered.

Regular human settlements appeared here in the Stone Age, ca. 4000 BC. There is much evidence to show that already at that time the mountain was being worshipped by Proto-Germanic or Proto-Slavonic tribes living at its foot (the identity of these peoples remains a matter of controversy among the specialists). The place became a centre of worship at the time of the Lusatian Culture around 600 BC. Who those people were, what language they spoke and what they believed in remains a mystery. Atop Mt Ślęża and Mt Radunia, the second highest summit of the massif, they built cult rings surrounding their holy places. Mt Ślęża is believed to have been associated with a solar cult, and Mt Radunia with a lunar cult. Such rites drew extensively upon the symbolism of fertility and natural cycles. The famous cult statues carved out of granite may also date back to that time. Around the 5th century BC, following a Scythian invasion, the Lusatian cult at Ślęża disappeared. 

The transition period between the pre-Christian and Christian epoch brings even more mysteries. Around the 5th century AD a powerful Slavonic tribe, later to be known as Ślężanie, settled in this area. These people revived worship on Mt Ślęża. They were probably the builders of the stone walls (ramparts) on the site of the earlier sacred circles. Reportedly, Old Slavic holidays were celebrated on the mountain in the 11th century, such as Kupala Day with a bonfire called Sobótka (today organised as a tourist attraction during the summer solstice).

Christianity gradually wiped out the pagan cult. But the massif has continued to attract seekers of spiritual truth, esotericists and enthusiasts of ancient cultures. The mountain is generally believed to emanate some mysterious energy. For this reason, it has been explored since the 14th century by the “Walloons” (a term applied by the locals to all prospectors of foreing origin), diviners and writers of “secret” books. Mt Ślęża is one of the stormiest places in Europe; it is even said to attract lightning.

Sources: [text1] [text2] [picture]

Above: an ancient “bear” statue discovered on the site [source]

Above: the mysterious “maiden with fish” statue (it was referred to as a maiden by the local people), discovered headless [source]

Above: stone head discovered in 1854 in the Wrocław city (then: Breslau). According to some researchers it might have been the missing part of the “maiden with fish” statue and an experimental minature statue was created not long after the discovery to visualise its possible appearance [source]

Above: second “bear” statue displayed next to the “maiden with fish” [source]

Above: “maiden with fish” and second “bear” statues drawn in 1875 [source]

Above: “dragon” statue - lost during the World Wars, current location unknown. It was discovered in 1892 and described as being headless, with the front legs and part of the body with wings [source]

Above: Christian chapel at the top of the mountain, where an old medieval castle used to be. First chapel on the was built there around 16th/17th century, the modern was constructed in the 19th century [source]

Above: remains of ancient ramparts near the top of the mountain, one of the many mysterious places on the mountain’s slopes [source]

Read more: Ślęża - The Sacred Mountain as a Sanctuary in the Antiquity" by Artur Błażejewski