Sunday, 4 May 2014

Vodyanoy, a water spirit

A strange creature from Slavic mythology is the Vodyanoy, a water spirit that appears
 as a naked old man.
He has a frog like face, long greenish beard and hair, his body which is covered in black fish scales, is usually covered in the muck and slime from the bottom of the river. The vodyanoy has webbed paws, a fish’s tail and red eyes. He patrols up and down his stretch of the river on a half submerged log and is often referred to as ‘grandfather’ or ‘forefather’ by the locals.
If annoyed, he is capable of breaking dams, destroying mills
and will drag people and animals down into the depths of the river where they serve him for the rest of their lives.
To appease him, people who live alongside the river will throw offerings into the water; fishermen will also ask for his help by placing a pinch of tobacco in the water and saying:

‘Here’s your tobacco Lord Vodnik
Now give me a fish’
Known as Vodnik in other eastern European countries, his appearance is reported to be different. He appears to be human except for having gills and webbed finger and his hair and skin is green. These vodyanoy usually appear dressed, albeit as a tramp, complete with hat, usually a boater with long speckled ribbons. His face is covered with a long tangled beard.
These water spirits will sit for hours by the side of the river, puffing out clouds of tobacco smoke from a long curly pipe, or if more than one is present they will play cards. Although they can stay out of the water for long periods they never dry out and any garment they wear will be constantly dripping; a sure sign of a Vodyanoy  if you should ever meet one.
They store the souls of the drowned in porcelein jars which are greatly prized by these creatures, as the more cups they own the higher standing they have amongst other vodyanoy.
If the jar should be broken or the lid opened the soul inside will float to the surface of the water and be liberated.

Folklore of Mermaids: Elizabeth Andrews

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