slavic demons

“In Slavic mythology, a Rusalka is a female ghost, water nymph, or a mermaid-like demon who lives at the bottom of rivers. Legend says that in the middle of the night, the Rusalka walks out to the bank, and dances in meadows. When she meets handsome men, she mesmerizes them singing and dancing, and then lead them away to the river floor to their death.”



This is one of the short films made as part of the Legendy Polskie cycle (”Polish Legends”). Directed and designed by a CGI artist acclaimed worldwide, Tomasz Bagiński, the cycle aims to present Polish folklore in a new manner, and to prove that fantasy films can be done well (or better!) outside of Hollywood.

The goal is to combine modern, world-class filmmaking with… some of the more typical aspects of Polish-ness, not only where legends are concerned.

This installment in the series does not require knowing any particular legend, the English subs are passable (though it’s less funny, some of this stuff is not very translate-able), so it’s pretty accessible to general public.

Also, really cool.

For explanations of some things that may perplex foreigners, see below.

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Perelesnyk (aka litavets). A figure in Ukrainian folk mythology and demonology akin to an incubus. He was believed to fly in the shape of a fiery dragon or young man, to enter homes through chimneys, doors, or windows, and to seduce women by assuming the appearance of a deceased spouse or lover.

The perelesnyk has a female counterpart, perelesnytsia, but she rarely appears in Ukrainian folk mythology.

Mavki (plural) (sin. Mavka (мавка) aka Navka (навка) derived from slavic “nav’ ” (навь) —the embodiment of death/living dead) — evil aquatic creatures in ukrainian demonology. They’re commonly considered as subspecies of a rusalka, which leads to many similarities in the description of the characters. In contrast to the more variable image of rusalka  mavki are quite definitely associated with a group of “unholy dead” — they come from girls who died before marriage, suicidals, the drowned, the damned, unbaptized or stillborn children.
The traditional beliefs about mavki is also not that different from that of rusalki — they look like children and girls with long unbraided hair, naked of in plain shirts. One of the important differences, however, is their corporeal state and lack of a skin on the back, witch makes all of the insides visible. It is also noteworthy that they cast no reflection on the water.
According to the lore, on occasion mavki would ask a stranger for a comb to braid their long hair, and, if lucky or inventive, a person could laugh it off and go on unharmed. Despite this mavki have always been considered very dangerous and hostile to humans. Living in a typical “rusalki’s” habitat (which is around aquatic areas and in the fields), mavki loved to tickle travelers to death, pull them to the bottom of the reservoir, harm people in every possible way.
Another unusual divergence with classical concepts, which was clearly formed later with the development of the folk Christianity, is an opportunity within a specified period from the date of death with the help of prayers to “cleanse” the soul of mavka and thereby deprive of its status of a demon. After that period is over, mavka would live as a demonic creature till the end of times.


mythology meme | Slavic spirits & demons - lesovikha

Lesovikha is the female version and sometimes a companion of leshy, a magical protector of woodlands. The spirit’s true appearance is ambigious as she’s a shape-shifter and while some mortals describe her as a naked young girl as tall as a tree with green eyes and long shaggy hair or note that her body cast no shadow, others claim they’ve encountered her in the shape of a tiny raindrop. Lesovikha plays an important role in Slavic forest lore. She is a trickster who finds great joy in leading lone travellers astray, especially if they were caught making a fire in her forest sanctuary. Angered, she then follows these lost souls to ask what they desire most: fortune or a good life. If the travellers choose money, lesovikha rewards them with golden coins that turn into coals the moment they set foot outside her woodland realm. Hovewer, if they wish for a good life lesovikha honours her promise and the mortals enjoy success in all their endevours.

Poludnitsa (rus. полудница — “midday maiden”, aka rjitsa [ржица] (derived from rus. рожь [roj’] — rye maiden), also called Lady Midday or Noon witch in some english sources for some reason) — a demon of the fields in west-slavic mythology, a personification of a noon heat and seasonal cataclysms. According to various beliefs, she is considered either one of the first ancient characters in slavic demonology, either a local subspecies of a rusalka (I have mentioned earlier the striking amount of characters being part of the term).
Along with the Polevik (rus. Полевик), male spirit of the fields, poludnica protects crops and severely monitors adherence to the schedule and rituals; at the same time, however, being the embodiment of the heat, she can burn down the entire field. According to the beliefs, poludnitsa, with her key attribute — a giant frying pan, may both shield the rye from the sun and, by catching the light, burn the whole crop.
It is midday when rjitsa interacts directly with humans. She “hits” with a sunstroke (or with a frying pan ;3), sedates, kidnaps children from those who does’t stop working at midday and disrespects the traditions. Poludnitsa is also known for abducting children and adults who steal from fields and gardens. It was believed that poludnitsa feels a deep aversion to black color and will be especially brutal towards people with black clothes and to black cattle.
Children of poludnitsa and Polevik — polevichki (rus. полевички), are also associated with demonic embodiment of a heat — they love to play and tumble in the field, causing local ignitions with their bodies. According to the lore, poludnitsa, just like her children, loved to dance and could keep dancing without breaks throughout the the whole daylight.
Poludnitsi (plural) were traditionally described as a fair-haired women or hags in white clothing.

Vila is a Slavic name for female spirits or nymphs who can appear in a plethora of different variations. Some live in clouds, meadows, ponds, trees or even high up in the mountains and their appearance can be either almost human-like as beautiful maidens with long white hair, nearly translucent skin and green eyes or they can be similar to ghosts, see-through and with billowing cloaks wrapped around their bodies. 

It is said that if even one of their hairs is plucked, the Vila will die, or be forced to change back to her true shape. A human may gain the control of a vila by stealing a piece of the vila’s skin. Once burned, though, she will disappear. Though they seem deceptively frail, vilas are fierce warriors skilled in combat and will attack lone travellers. However, offerings of cakes, flowers, fruit and
ribbons might win their favour. 

Kikimora (rus. Кикимора) — perhaps one of the most popular representative of the demons in russian folklore, one of the household spirits. All the “unholy” children — the ones who died before baptism, cursed by their parents, freaks — were believed to become kikimoras after death. They used to inhabit houses which would be considered unclean as well, being built upon graves or hexed. Kikimora was often pictured as an exceptionally ugly woman or girl, funny and sloppy, resembling somewhat of a pig, a dog or a duck. Being an obviously evil spirit, kikimora always created troubles in the house and loved pranking, but she could get nicer if given presents. However, sometimes kikimora would help hardworking women with their chores.
P.S. I should mention that there are loads of very controversial facts about kikimora, and if you happen to find them somewhere, keep in mind that this description is picturing only one of the many sides of the character, the one I find nearer to the original.

Poludnitsa is a mythical character common to the various Slavic countries of Eastern Europe. She is referred to as Południca in Polish, Полудница (Poludnitsa) in Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian, Polednice in Czech, Poludnica in Slovak, and Полознича (Poloznicha) in Komi, Chirtel Ma in Yiddish, Poludnitsa is a noon demon in Slavic mythology. She can be referred to in English as “Lady Midday” or “Noon Witch”. She was usually pictured as a young woman dressed in white that roamed field bounds.

For @hynpos’ mythological event, day 10: favourite slavic myth creature


mythology meme | Slavic spirits & demons - rusalki

Rusalki are malicious spirits dwelling at the bottom of lakes and rivers where they once as young women died an unnatural death. Some committed suicide by drowning, wishing to escape violent marriages. Others were brutally murdered by their husbands, often because they became pregnant with an unwanted child. Having not lived out their designated time on earth, their wrathful souls return to haunt the place of their parting as vengeful rusalki and lure men into watery depths with eerie laughter or by imitating the crying of infants. Rusalki use their own hair to entangle the feet of men foolish enough to follow a rusalka into the water and submerge themselves, causing the victim to suffocate under the waves. After the retribution for her mortal death is carried out, the rusalka may move onward peacefully and no longer haunt that body of water. With faces pale like the moon and red or green hair, which is described as perpetually wet and measuring twice the length of their bodies, rusalki resemble water nymphs but their luminescent, cadaverous skin and sad, fathomless eyes shining with spiteful fire betray their horrible origin. 

Nocnitsa or “Night Hag” is a nightmare spirit in Slavic mythology who also goes by the name Krisky or Plaksy. The Nocnitsa is most notably present in Russian, Serbian and Slovakian folklore. She is known to torment children at night, giving them nightmares or causing sleep paralysis. A stone with a hole in the center is said to be a protection from her.

Mothers in some regions will place a knife in their children’s cradles or draw a circle around the cradles with a knife for protection. This is possibly based on the belief that supernatural beings cannot touch iron.

Lesavka (rus. Лесавка, derived from “лес”(les)— “forest”) — one of the sylvan evil spirits in slavic mythology. Quite a versatile character combined of many controversial traits (echoing similar folklore characters from other cultures).
Similarly to the rest of the evil spirits, lesavki (plural) come from children and girls who died in the forests/ were kidnapped by Leshy/ abandoned in the woods while being “unprotected” and “unholy” — before their baptism or cursed.
According to the more resent interpretations of the myth lesavki could also be daughters or wives of the leshy (which, however, it not a contrary to the earliest beliefs).
It is believed that lesavki are being transformed into an evil spirit gradually: as the time goes by they gain an imposing height, elongated limbs, deadly-pale, greenish or blueish (much like leshy’s) skin and three (sometimes unnaturally saggy) breasts. Lesavki’s milk is highly poisonous, and they are known for stealing and breast-feeding babies, thus killing them and turning into yet another evil spirits. To protect themselves from lesavka people put sharp knives or scissors in the bottom of the cradle and tried not to leave children in the forest without supervision (that is, in general, is not devoid of common sense :3).
Much like the majority of the evil spirits, lesavki are generally hostile to humans. As leshye, they enjoy misleading travelers, scaring and driving people mad.

Strzyga (rarely also in masculine form as strzyg or strzygoń) is a female demon from Polish mythology .

People who were born with two hearts and two souls and two sets of teeth (the second one barely visible) were believed to be strzygas. Furthermore a newborn child with already developed teeth was also believed to be one. When a person was identified as a strzyga he was chased away from human dwelling places. Such strzygas usually died at a young age, but, according to belief, only one of their two souls would pass to the afterlife; the other soul was believed to cause the deceased strzyga to come back to life and prey upon other living beings.

These undead strzyga were believed to fly at night in a form of an owl and attack night-time travelers and people who had wandered off into the woods at night, sucking out their blood and eating their insides. Strzyga were also believed to be satisfied with animal blood, for a short period of time. When person believed to be a strzyga died, decapitating the corpse and burying the head separate from the rest of the body was believed to prevent the strzyga from rising from the dead; burying the body face down with a sickle around its head was believed to work as well.