?Bereginy - B?ginki in Polish (boo-GIN-kee) Traditionally “covens” of old women performed the rituals and sacrifices for these river bank nymphs. B?ginki means “little Goddess”. They were said to steal human babies and leave behind changelings called Odmience in Polish, Oborotni in Russian.
These spirits were the original spirits of life and predate the sky deities. They are the forerunners of the Rusalki.
?Domovoi - Domowije in Polish (doh-moh-VEE-yeh) Male house spirits from “domu” -home. The Domovik usually lives in the attic, behind the stove, under the threshhold or in the stables or cattle barn. He is thought to be responsible for all domestic prosperity and tranquility and finish chores when family members forget. He will howl and moan to warn of approaching trouble, and pull hair to warn a woman in danger of abuse from a man. He can be heard laughing if good times are ahead, and if you hear him strumming a comb, there is a wedding in the future. The Domovoi should be fed nightly or he may cause trouble, much like a poltiergeist. Usually, if neglected, he will simply leave. To attract a domovoi, put on your finest clothing, go outside and say “Dedushka Dobrokhot (grandfather well-wisher), come live with us and tend the flocks.”
Special care was taken to only obtain pets and farm animals in the Domovoi’s favorite color. Each new horse was introduced formally to the Domovoi for the spirit took especially good care of the animals he liked but tormented the ones he didn’t.
When a new house was built, the owner would put a piece of bread down before the stove went in, to attract the domovoi. When a person moved, the coals from the stove were taken with them and the formal invitation “Domovoi, Domovoi, don’t stay here. Come with our family” was recited to ensure that the Domovoi came along to the new home. Salted bread, wrapped in a white cloth will appease the domovoi as will putting clean white linen in his favorite room - an invitation to eat with the family. You can also hang your old shoes in the yard to brighten the Domovik’s mood. The domovik usually resembles a male head of household, living or dead. This supports the belief that the Domovik is a remnant from the times of ancestral worship. He can be seen if you view him through a harrow or horse collar. Otherwise, if he shows himself, it is usually to warn of death. He, like the Banshee, can be heard weeping when death approaches a member of the household.
?Dvorovoi - Russian Male yard spirits from “dvor” - yard. Like the domovoi, he usually resembles the male head of household and has preferences as to the color of pets and livestock. He is usually malicious and sometimes, but not often, deadly. He is appeased by placing a shiny object, slice of bread and piece of sheep’s wool in the stables while saying “Master Dvorovik, I offer you this gift in gratitude. Please look after the cattle and feed them well.” If he is completely out of control he is punished in the following way: The head of household wove a three-tailed whip from a corpse’s shroud, dipped it in wax, ingnited it and whipped all corners of the cattle shed and manger, hoping to beat the spirit into submission.
?Kurinyi bog(kur-EEN-yee book) “Chicken God”. Usually a round fieldstone with a hole in the middle in the chicken yard. This “deity” was supposed to protect chickens from the domovoi, kikimora and dvorovoi.
Leszi, Leshii (LESH-ee) “Forest lord”. From “les” - forest. He often appeared as a peasant, either without a belt or with shoes on the wrong feet. Sometimes he was said to have wings and a tail and be covered in black hair. Many assigned him goat’s hooves and horns like Pan. He is usually attributed with green eyes. He could change his size from that of a blade of grass to that of the highest tree. Usually he carried a club to show his rulership over the forest creatures. The Leszi could take the shape of a familiar person and lead you astray with the sound of their voice. Once in his domain, he might tickle his victim to death. He could also become a hare, wolf, bear, raven, pig, horse, rooster, flaming fir tree or even a mushroom. The Leshi is fond of trees and is said to be heard weeping when one is cut down. He is the protector of the forest and all it’s creatures. His favorite animal is the wolf - the king of the beasts in Slavic folklore. He is also said to be often seen in the company of bears.
Upon entering a forest, one always uttered a protective spell or prayer lest they run into him. If he got hold of a child, he might replace it with one of his own - who would grow up stupid, with a voracious appetite. If the child returned it would ever afterward be a useless tramp. When the Leshii got his hands on an adult, the adult would return sometimes mute and covered with moss, othertimes unable to concentrate and would act oddly for the rest of their lives.
The Leshii likes offerings of kasha, suet, blini, bread & salt. He is also perfectly happy with a cookie or candy left on a stump or log. To protect yourself against the leshii, you can: turn all your clothing backward and also the collar on your horse, chant “Sheep’s mug, sheep’s wool” or if you encounter him, get him to laugh. When the leshy could be coaxed to befriend a human, the human often had to make a pact, never again wear a cross or take the eucharist. In return, the Leshy would teach the human the secrets of magic. He is, after all, the Green Man.
?Lesovikha - (Leh-soh-VEE-kah) Female Leszi. Sometimes an ugly woman with large breasts, sometimes a naked young girl - or a woman in white as tall as the trees.
?Lugovik - (loo-GOH-veek) Spirit of the meadow. “lugo” - meadow. He should not be confused with the spirit of the grain field.
?Musail The forest tsar, king of the forest spirits. He was associated with the Rowan tree.
?Poludnica - Psezpolnica in Serbian (poh-wood-NEET-sah) Lady Midday, from “Poluden” - noon. She may appear as a 12-yr old girl, a beautiful woman or an old hag but is only seen at the hottest part of a summer’s day. She is known to steal children or lead them astray in the fields and Russian mothers threaten their children with “Be good or the Poludnica will get you. She sometimes pulls the hair of farm workers or attacks women who have just given birth and wander out at noontime. She carries a scythe and will stop people in the field to either ask difficult questions or engage them in conversation. If the person fails to answer a question or tries to change the subject of the conversation, the Poludnica will strike them with illness or cut off their head (Poland). The Wends, German Slavs, called her pscipolnitsa and pictured her as carrying shears, a symbol of death. When not in the fields or streets, the Poludnica was said to float on the winds. Marija Gimbutas calls her”sunstroke” personified. It is thought that the Poludnica was the explanation for the dangers of working in the noon heat and remained a part of more recent legend because of her usefulness in scaring children away from valuable crops.
? Rusalka (roo-SAHW-kah) Female water Spirit. These souls of unbabtized babies or drowned maidens became beautiful pale girls with long flowing hair. They wear white or are sometimes naked, usually with poppies in their hair. They lived in the waters during the winter, but moved to the forests and fields during Rusal’naia week (hence the name) where they could often be seen perched in trees.
A danger to humans, the Rusalki may lead cattle astray, steal children, fall upon people from the treetops and tickle them to death or kidnap young lads to take as lovers. They love to come out in the moonlight to sing and dance the khorovod (circle dance). If they find someone bathing near where they dance, often, they will drown them. Tying ribbons to trees in which they were known to perch is one way to appease them. Linens and scarves, as well as eggs were also left as offerings.
Before these nature spirits were associated with the souls of the “unclean” dead, it is believed they were the spirits who brought moisture to forest and field. he Rusalka A. S. Pushkin, 1819
?The Vodonoi - W?djanoj in Polish (vohd-YAH-noy) Male water spirits from “Woda” - water. Master shape-shifters, they sometimes appear as old men with long green or white beards, sometimes as creatures with huge toes, claws, horns, a tail and burning eyes in a human face. At times they look like fat old bald men and other times like mossy looking fish or flying tree trunks. If he takes on human form, you will know him by the water oozing from the left side of his coat. Vodonoi are said to live in underwater palaces made from the treasures from sunken ships and often marry Russalki.
They are usually malicious and are believed to lie in wait for human victims and drag them under the water to their death. Dark marks on the bodies’ of drowning victims were thought to be bruises from their struggle with the Vodonoi. Retrieving a drowned body was thought to anger the Vodonoi who wanted to keep their spoils. A Vodonik may be appeased by pouring butter into the water or offering him your first fish. To employ the Vodonoi’s aid in fishing, throw a pinch of tobacco into the water and say loudly “Here’s your tobacco, Lord Vodonik, now give me a fish”.
?Treasurers pozemne vile - “earth spirits”. I have not seen the Slavic name for these creatures anywhere - but in Polish the word for gnome is “karzelek” (kar-ZEH-lek) which these creatures most resemble. Called pchuvushi by the gypsies, they live in mines and underground workings and are the guardians of precious metals, gems & crystals. They are most often helpful toward miners and will lead them to rich veins of ore, protect them from danger and lead them back when they are lost. To evil persons or those who insult them they can be deadly and have been known to send tunnels crashing down upon them or push them into dark chasms. Whistling, hurling rocks into dark chasms and uncovering one’s head are actions considered offensive to the Treasurer. He will, however, warn the offender once before taking action. Small insults warrant a pelting with handfuls of soil. Larger insults are usually repayed with a beating with the Treasurer’s cudgel or the forfeit of all the metals mined that day.
They sometimes appear as small naked children, as human miners, as glimmers of light or as salt people. Most often, though, they appear as adults of smaller stature, usually about 2 - 3 feet in height, carrying mining lanterns.
This huntress was said to run throughout the Carpathian forests. A version of Diana whose legend is probably due to contact with the Romanians.
?Lada (LAH-dah, WAH-dah)
Lada is the Slavic goddess of love and beauty. In Russia, when a couple is happily married, it is said they “live in lada”, in love. Lad is also a word meaning “peace, union, harmony” as in the proverb “When a husband and wife have lad, they don’t require klad (Treasure)” - Ralston, p.105. She is said to reside in the underworld, vrij, until the Vernal Equinox, Maslenica, when she returns, bringing the lark and springtime with her. Like Jarilo, Lada is often portrayed as a goddess who is born and dies yearly. Her sacred tree is the lime/linden, supposedly because its leaves are shaped like hearts. As a Slavonian love song goes:
“As the bee is drawn by the linden-bloom (or lime-perfume), My heart is drawn by thee.” - Leland, p.138
One story has her married to Swarog who without her could not have created the world. Other sources give her a brother/lover named Lado which would make them divine twins such as Freya and Frey. There is also some mention of her two sons, Lel & Polel, and occasionally that of a daughter, Liuli.
?Lado (LAH-doh, WAH-doh)
“I fear thee not, O wolf! The god with the sunny curls will not let thee apporach. Lado, O Sun-Lado.” - W.R.Ralston, p.105
Partner of Lada, Lado is compared to Frey and considered a solar deity by some. In one old chronicle, Lado is called “The God of marriage, of mirth, of pleasure and of general happiness” to who those about to marry offered sacrifice to ensure a good union.
From “svargas” - radiant sky, “svarati” - gleams. His name survives in the Romanian word for sunburnt or hot - sfarog. A smith god, identified with Hephaestis, he was associated with fire & with it’s generative power, particularly sexual. He is the father of Dazhbog (the sun) and Swarowicz - or Ogon, the celestial and hearth fires, respectively. A master craftsman, he could shapeshift into the wind, a golden-horned aurochs (ox), boar, horse, or the falcon, Varagna which was his main incarnation.
Swarog was concerned only with heavenly affairs and left the earthly ones to his son. Unfortunately for his children, Perun was a much stronger war god and took over the role as chief deity of the warrior classes.
Swarog may be the “divine light” of God which in turn produced both the Celestial & Terrestrial fires.
Triglav was a three-faced deity, symbolizing the dominion over the three realms - sky, earth, and the underworld. Triglav was shown blindfolded, supposedly because the god was too sacred to view the evils of the earth, and his temple at Stettin was richly sculpted both inside and out and decorated with war booty on the inside.
From “srei”-to flow or from the Iranian “srira” beautiful, a common epithet for the wind. Grandfather of the winds. According to E.G.Kagarov, Stribog was a deity of wind, storms and dissension. He was supposed to bring the frost.
?Weles, Volos (VEH-less, VOH-lohs)
The Slavic Horned lord, ruled horned animals, wealth and the underworld. He is believed to have survived from the time of a common Indo-European pantheon. He was also a god of trade and oaths were sworn in his name. Weles is also the God of poets and bards and is often associated with magick.