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Don’t wake up while it’s quiet: the scariest monsters in Slavic myths are worthy of their own terror

Many in childhood listened to fairy tales about the goblin and Baba Yaga before going to bed, but their images are unlikely to cause nightmares. After all, all the stories are adapted for young readers. Meanwhile, our ancestors were seriously afraid of evil spirits, which were by no means harmless.

You probably know that the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault were much bloodier, but have you ever wondered what the monsters of Slavic folklore actually look like and behave like? We are sure that many creatures would make even the heroes of Norse sagas turn gray with fear, and for that reason alone they deserve their own horror. It is no coincidence that Andrzej Sapkowski’s series and computer game “The Witcher” based on Slavic fantasy has become a real revelation in Hollywood.

Today we will talk about the evil spirits that Western, Eastern and Southern Slavs believe in.


Anchutka

Just don’t say his name out loud! Our ancestors believed that this was enough for Anchutka to appear. Don’t be fooled by its small size. This evil spirit loves pranks that often result in death. Her appearance is creepy: She has a receding hairline on her head, her body is covered with black hair, and she also has no heels, so she looks like a devil. They live in baths, fields or reservoirs. Bathing anchoots, for example, make the bather drowsy or frighten him to the point of unconsciousness, which can cause him to drown or be burned alive. Swamp anchutkas love to grab travelers by their legs and carry them to the bottom.


acid

This is a winged snake with two bodies and a bird’s beak. It lives high in the mountains and makes periodic raids on settlements. His armor is impervious to conventional weapons: swords and arrows cannot take it, only fire can. To defeat him, you need to lure him into a fire trap with the sound of his trumpet (he hates this).


Babai

Admit it, when you were a child, you too were afraid of the old woman, but you couldn’t imagine her like this. This is a night spirit in the guise of a disproportionate old man, usually lame and armless. He always has a bag or backpack with him for kidnapped children.


Baba Yaga

In children’s fairy tales, the image of Baba Yaga is almost comical, although by the nature of her activity she is a demon who exists between worlds. It is no coincidence that he has a bone leg that allows him to be transported to the world of the dead. The image of his house, a hut on chicken legs, is associated with the domovinas – burial places of the Old Believers, which were a wooden structure in the form of a double-sided roof on two pillars. Hence the strange appearance: a hump, a nose pointing at the ceiling, a toothy mouth. Also, the dead do not walk in the usual sense, so Baba Yaga moved in a mortar. He lured the travelers into the bathhouse and offered them pies, then killed them and baked them in the oven.


Vrykolak

Is this a Slavic cyclops? Not exactly. Vrykolak actually has one eye on his forehead, but his appearance resembles that of a wolf. It feeds on the blood and meat of humans and animals. This immortal spirit lives in abandoned places: in old mills and ruined castles.


volocene

These disgusting creatures torment returning women. They eat their fingers from which “unclean bones” have fallen. It is believed that it is the hair that causes “bone-eating” disease (as it was previously called osteomyelitis).


Wolf Man

So this is a werewolf, that is, a person who takes the form of a wolf or a bear. You can become a werewolf with or without your own will. Sorcerers often turn into werewolves to gain the power of the beast. To do this, they must somersault over a log or through 12 blades stuck into the ground with the tip pointing up. At the same time, the wizard in animal form will not be able to return to human form if at least one blade is removed. You can also turn into a werewolf due to a curse. To help him, you must feed him sacred food and wear a robe woven from nettles.


wow

A still from the movie “Viy” (1967)

You probably remember the famous work of NV. Gogol in which the dead woman flies in a coffin. “Lift up my eyelids!”, which horrified readers. His expression came from there. In fact, Viy is a creature from the underworld that kills with a single look. His eyes are covered with eyelids and eyelashes that are too large for him to lift without assistance. Outwardly, Viy looks like a wrinkled old man of very tall and strong physique, overgrown with moss and tree roots. His gaze not only kills, it burns the entire village. Viy also has an obnoxious, monotonous voice that can drive you crazy.


Drekvak

Drekvak is the soul of an unbaptized baby that takes the form of a bird or mammal. This spirit is capable of uttering a crazy scream that terrifies people. They mostly attack livestock, but sometimes their victims are humans, whose bodies, according to legend, are found disfigured with horrific scars.


Divya people

You probably didn’t even suspect their existence. Maybe these are holy fools? No, although the assumption is logical. In fact, these are one-eyed, one-legged and one-armed anthropomorphic giants who reproduce artificially and forge their own species from iron. The smoke from their furnaces spreads epidemics, smallpox and fever to the villages. By the way, “diviy” did not mean magnificent at all, but rather strange and alien.


wild men

“Who else is this?” – You laugh. And it will be your fault. After all, evil forest spirits with bony fingers all over their bodies attacked people and tickled them to death. Yeah, it’s not that funny anymore.


long handle

Although the name of this creature comes from the word “pole”, it sounds funny, so the silhouette of the spirit was abnormally long and disproportionate. Longshanks is a tavern keeper who wanders the world meaninglessly. He likes to scare people by looking into their windows due to his lack of energy. We assume that it was this creature that influenced the creation of Creepypasta, and subsequently a separate film about Slenderman.


Enterprise (one-eyed)

Enterprise is also an anthropomorphic spirit with an abnormally tall and slender build. He has one eye on his forehead. Like the sea bass, it is known that it loves to feed on people and animals and their suffering. The monster finds its victims in the forests, which angers the devil. He dashingly drives people to despair, and if they do not give up, then he kills and eats them.


Lyarva

The ancient Romans knew about larvae. Slavs believed that the larva is the restless soul of an evil person who continues to take revenge on people even after death. These are astral entities that live in a person, feeding on his base desires and negative emotions. They whispered in my ear, drove me to drink, to evil desires, seduced me with obscenity and thirst for profit. The larvae forced people to do unnatural things. Outwardly, they resembled toothy octopuses or tentacled octopuses.


swamp kikimora

This is someone you really shouldn’t date. Kikimoras became people who died badly: suicides, women drowned, unbaptized children, girls who died unmarried. Native kikimors drown people in their sleep, swamp ones steal children and drown travelers in the swamp. The appearance of kikimora differs among different Slavic peoples. Kikimora can resemble a very thin and hunched old woman with feathers on her body and webbed hands, or a furry creature with claws (as shown in the Witcher series). Most of all they were afraid of amulets in the form of junipers and the pectoral cross that immobilized them.


Lunch and Noshchnitsa

These are two different demons in female form. The difference is that Poludnitsa appears as a young girl in the middle of the day, and Noshnitsa appears at night in the guise of an old woman. The victims of noon were pregnant women and children, whom the demon punished for working in the fields at noon. The night woman kidnapped babies who did not sleep at night. By the way, the short story in the Czech film “Bouquet” (2000) is dedicated to them.


Strjiga

Sometimes it is also called striga. Yes, this is the same creature from The Witcher. The male version was called strzhigun, which literally means “vampire owl”. According to one version, they are born as strigami, according to another, they die by hanging. They rose from the grave, drank people’s blood and sent them nightmares. From the outside they looked like ordinary people with red hair and blue eyes. It is believed that they have two hearts. To kill Strzhiga, you need to stick oak or iron stakes into it. Strzygi live in the graves, and to find them you have to walk through the cemetery with a horse. Where the animal stood is strzhiga’s grave.


Mermaids and Mawkas

Mermaid in traditional Slavic representation (drawing by I. Bilibin)

Mermaids of the Slavs are not at all like Andersen’s sweet heroine. Our ancestors distinguished between water, forest and field mermaids. They were beautiful women (sometimes with fish tails) who strangled men and threw stones at travelers. They could tickle you to death. They especially hated young girls. Mavkas, who were also deadly, were demons disguised as cute children. They were children who died at an early age. To avenge their untimely deaths, their restless spirits often attacked unprotected humans and kidnapped babies.


Ghoul

It’s a living dead thing with sharp, shark-like teeth. Usually wizards and werewolves turn into ghouls after death, but a person who is a victim of a curse can also turn into a ghoul. Ghouls settle in cemeteries and do not stray far from their graves. They retreat to villages or forests in search of meat and blood, attacking at night because they are afraid of sunlight.

Source: People Talk

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