The thing about the fantastic and mythical world is that they are false, or not as real as, you know, the food. Or maybe not, seeing as one moment the food is there and then it disappears. Well not nearly as flawed as this imaginary. The legends and stories are living through times and times again – being reinvented and grown into something out of this world. Or, maybe right into this world, meaning that humans tend to imagine or believe into some kind of good or evil entities to, I don’t know, pepper up their lives?! Anyway into the Hollywood magical and fantastic world there are a few basic mythical entities: the werewolf, the vampire, the zombie, the ghost and the witch. Which is good… but not nearly enough. Those are the most basic entities into the supernatural world, but into the Romanian folklore there are so much scarier and craziness living among people. Not really living, more like existing, since you know, the majority of this list is either dead or a spirit or a phantasm; eating their luck, killing their families, raping their virgins, hurting them to craziness etc. Of course, all this for the benefit of those affected. If is not the supernatural the ones that protect us from our foolishness, than who?
From the voices of the old Romanian people the next entities are the most known and talked about creature of the supernatural or, is it the natural world? Who knows! The truth is that they exist into the imaginary of the people, so they must be real! So real and present that we can’t live without them… or with them.
- Strigoi – the Undead One
You may think that the Strigoi is nothing but an archaic or regionalism for the modern Vampire, but it’s not true. It’s as far from the true as it can get – in a day of walking, a snail. It does not sparkle in the Sun like a disco ball, either. Nor does it seduces the unsusceptible girls in the middle of the night and more importantly the Strigoi does not drink the blood of humans (well, in most cases it doesn’t). And as far as the legend of Dracula from Transilvania goes, the Strigoi and this personage have in common as much as…. the place, I guess.
In Romanian folklore there are three kinds of Strigoi: The Alive Strigoi, The Dead Strigoi and The Moroi; but, as in many legends and myths, this kinds can intersect with each other and create something else entirely depending on the zone in which they are talked about. There are many believes concerning the „birth” of a Strigoi: it can be birthed in a certain way so the people will know that man it’s damned (this types are known as the Alive Strigoi), or it can transform into one after its moment of death (aka The Dead Strigoi) or in some cases, when a child is killed it can become a Moroi. The Moroi (or the Moroaica – the female version) are either the souls of the children killed before birth or after, without being Christened. They don’t become Moroi immediately only after exactly seven years – of course, the prophetic number seven – when the child’s soul returns into the Grave and ask to be „Christened, Christened, Christened” this is one type of becoming a Moroi. This kind of Strigoi come out of the Grave every night and torture their mothers though all kinds of actions: by provoking their mother nightmares, or by stopping their breath for a moment etc. Another belief is that a Moroi – also known as a witch – is a kind of Vampire that „sucks” the wellness out of its victims. Meaning that if a Moroi does some kind of spells and incantation against one family or another – as in: they steal all the milk of the cows of their victims; or they can kill the victims’ animals and so on; when something like this happens to someone in the village it is a truth well known that a Moroi is responsible for their bad case of misfortune.
The Alive Strigoi is described as a man or a woman that has the ability to travel long distances – who wouldn’t like that?! – in spirit or body through the air to perform different kinds of rituals and „bad things”. They are born as any other child, except they have some distinction by which the midwife, or the woman that assists it’s’ birth, knows that they are going to become Strigoi. There are a few things by which the midwife knows: the future Strigoi has at its birth a red hat or a chemise on it – if the midwife takes the hat, or the chemise, and burn them before the child has the opportunity to eat them – yack! Than it’s possible for the child to be saved from a damned life. The Alive Strigoi never eats garlic or onion and are wary of the smell of incense. The Dead Strigoi are the women or men that after their death become Strigoi – their soul are full of restlessness and every night they go outside their Graves to scare their living family: they produce different kinds of sounds through its family houses or some members of its family become out of nowhere ill and so on. To become a Dead Strigoi one has to be a very bad man or woman, or by having some kind of relationship with the Devil, or following a violent death and by not respecting the traditional rituals of burial. Also, a Dead Strigoi can become by not being guarded in the traditional three days before burial and an animal jumps over the dead or if a rooster walks on its Grave.
It’s also a very well-known fact that all the Strigoi have a hairy tail, goats’ feet, hairy hands and a bigger mouth than usual. The Strigoi can take the appearance of some specific animals (as a cat, wolf, dog, rat etc.) Thus, they scare the living, steal the cows’ milk and the harvest, absorbs the vigor and the vital force of the living family; they can also manipulate the weather. Some kind of Strigoi have erotic encounter with the living men – with each meeting, the Strigoi steal parts of the victims soul.
So, yeah! The Hollywood’s Vampires sounds great. Bring it on… or not.
2. Precolici – the Ever-changing One
The most appropriate alikeness to Precolici is the Werewolf or the Shapeshifter. No, it’s not a gigantic horse-like wolf, or a small and unassuming Collie, the Precolici are something far more sinister than an anger outburst. They are known as the men-wolves, or some entities with a wolf body and a man head, or a man body and a wolf head and rarely, as weak men with a tail, very agile and full of an unnatural agitation. The Precolici is a slave of the Devil and it is always active in the dark, in deserted places, wild woods or at the crossroads – its’ entire life is full of dark acts and immoral behavior. They can be born as a Precolici – usually the ninth brother from a set of nine siblings known as lunatici (moon lovers), or a baby born from incest – or they can become Precolici in some special circumstances – if the man or woman is cursed if they drink without their knowledge their own urine or some wolfs’ urine. This is a dark creature, full of sins, asexual and full of illness and different kinds of plagues; the Precolici lives a short life. They can transform in any animal except: the lamb, the dove, the hedgehog, the raven and the swallow which are holy creatures. Usually the Precolici transform into white wolves or a dog. Other type of Precolici, are the damned ones, those who did not chose this kind of life; they were cursed by the witches, were sold to the Devil since infancy or were born the third generation still of an unmarried woman. They, without their knowledge, during their sleep, transform into some kind of animals and perform evil deeds; for them this transformation is a curse and suffer it as a disgrace. Against any kind of Precolici, it can be used the weed named the Precoloci’s Tail, which grows in the places where bad men or a wolves whom eat human meat transforms into a Precolici… of course, you have to know where this places are!
A wilder and more violent kind of Precolici – the Tricolici – is sometimes assimilated to the French loup-garou – this type of wolf-men – through satanic spells – has the ability to transform themselves to beasts to feed themselves with animals and even humans. This kind of beast is birthed from a lunatic (moon lover) or, in some cases, the Tricolici are the children of dark wolves and women hunted by sexual nightmares, or the other way, dark she-wolves rutting with men in the woods or in eerie and sinful conditions. The Tricolici stalks on the full moon nights to destroy any living thing in their path; sometimes they eat the foals from the wild stud, having than the ability to transform into foal-wolf, coming than back to eat all the stud.
3. Muma Pădurii – Crone of the Woods
Crone of the Woods – as is referred to, by the people – is considered to be a witch; she may be either an ugly woman or a beautiful one that lives alone deep in the woods, in old trees or hollows and she scares away the humans which happens on her territory. Her „sister” from another mister – read: other country – is known as Baba Inga. About this Crone is known that she is afraid of water and is usually the antagonist of many bed-time stories; she has an ugly appearance and is full of malice. The Crone, in the middle of the night, under the full moon – of course it’s the full moon – screeches at the Moon and shows up at the houses near the Woods to ask for a comb and butter to make her hair beautiful and glossy. If somebody is visited by the Crone of the Woods they don’t have the liberty to voice more than three words, if they do say more words, than the Crone will take their voice; still, if someone is brave enough to capture her, she would fulfill them one wish. Hello golden fish!
She is a sad mother: she moans, she wails, she whizzes when the humans cuts her „children”, the trees. She can be either good or bad, the Crone punishes the thieves and helps the tormented, she guides the lost children and knows all her children – the trees – and calls them on their name, but if they offended her she would curse them to be cut off by the wood-cutters or to be struck by the thunder. She also punishes the men that whistle or sings into her woods and wake up the trees – what a sin to whistle in the woods! –, the wood-cutters that disobeyed the woods rules or the ones who collect the berries in a certain day; sometime she kills the men and eats their corpses (why not?! They are full of protein). The Crone is also the one who steals the children from the cradle or makes them ill.
She is also known as the Patroness of the evil spirits that live in the air, especially into the woods, in the middle of the night, “ugly and hideous with long hair, she cries into the night to lure the travelers to her”. The Crone of the Woods can take the image of some animals, of a woman with tree characteristics with dry cracks, clothed in some tree bark or tree moss. She can be tall as a building, or small as a bunny, beautiful as a fairy or ugly as a beast with a “big head, big-as-a-dish eyes and teeth as a sickle”. She either walks through her woods, or she rides a mare with nine hearts… or as a cat, with nine lives. When she comes as an apparition she brings wind, whirlwind, bad weather and walks in the middle of the night in the humans’ houses slamming the doors and the opened windows. Of course that it couldn’t be, under any form, simply the wind!
4. Sîntilie– the Lord of Lightning and Thunder
Once upon a time, in the Middle-East Europe, in a Romanian village, Sîntilie was nothing more than a normal man, with a home, a family and children… till one day when he met with the Devil. The Devil – as we all know him is a liar – lied to him about his wife, telling him that she is sleeping with someone else. Without a thought, furious as any man should be, the husband goes home and cuts off his wife’s’ head, also his parents’ heads that had come to visit them… as any GAZDA should do! Right. When he realized he was lied to, he comes before God in prayer for three years and asks to be forgiven. God not only does forgive him, but He also makes him the Lord of Lightning and Thunder.
The newly appointed Lord goes to punish the bad people and the Devil. But, he is so full of regrets that if he feels there is a bad man in a mass of one hundred good men, he strikes down with lightning to kill that one bad man, but in his zeal – to make sure the bad one does not live – he kills all the others – one hundred good men. For good measure. Seeing this, God, puts a “brake” in Sîntilies’ zeal and cuts off one of the Lords’ hands, makes him deaf or takes one of his eye out. See? You can be anything you want. You don’t need to be perfect, or with all your arms and legs… or even to be peaceful and calm. All you need to do is be you! Grand, isn’t it?!
Now, the Lord of Lightning and Thunder is also identified with Helios, the God of Fire and Sun, he produces fires in the summer and thunders and hail into the Storms. He is also known by the fact he uses a carriage with wheels of fire, a whip and arrows of fire and by the thunder and lightning which he uses to punish bad people, the Devil and his demons.
5. Joimărița – the Goddess of Death or the Patroness of Diligence
She is known as an ugly woman, tall as a tree and fat as a barrel, with a big head and long hair and gigantic teeth and a mouth as a cave. Joimărița walks in the dark, especially the night between Thursday and Friday and sometime closer to the Easter Holydays, visiting the lazy women. She uses to circle this women’s houses and enters through the opened windows, shouting:
“Tow, tow, did you spun the tow? If you did not spun the tow, I’ll chop off your hands.”
It’s also known that Joimărița
destroys, without any compassion, the fingers of the girls who had their work
unfinished on Thursday night, sometime she burns their nails on embers. The
lazy girls she came upon on Thursday, she kidnaps them to her house and she ate
Joimărița was also known as a Goddess of Death that looked over the fires opened by humans for their ancestors, on Joia Mare; in time she became a vigilante against laziness. She is also the Patroness of spinning and weaving that looks over people’s diligence.
Joimărița is the terror of the lazy girls and women. She is so scary that the girls and women know to fear her, they put garlic on the windows, the doors and even themselves, thinking they will be protected from the Crone. Still, seeing as today everything is made by some industries or a robot, our dear Joimărița is left without her work object. I mean, how can she punish the women and girls if there is no more tow or girls to spin it?!
6. Ielele – the Vengeful Beauties
Everyone knows about the beauty of the Kardashians women, they ooze sex-appeal as one would sweat. All those shapes and curves and secrets that surround them; mystery and grace all rolled in one. This are Ielele the most beautiful and mysterious women from Balkans and the most vengeful ones too. They have hauberk on their bosom and bells on their feet with voices as of angels, they appear in light woods, near the lake or on the crossroads. They dance and dace till the earth beneath their feet burns and will never be green again. If a simple mortal of a man happened by them, even by mistake, the man was gravely punished and let with his mind lost or even dead. If some unlucky was caught in their nebulous dance he would be spirited away in Heaven or even dance till death; the mortals were paralyzed, muted or disfigured if they were anywhere near Ielele’s place of party. Meaning Ielele are women impossible to satisfy and hard to avoid. Happy meeting!
7. Caii lui Sântoader – St. Toader’s Horses
Do you know my dear friends what is the purpose of St. Toader’s Horses? If you think that that legends were written about them for pulling St. Toade’s wagon, or something equally simple, than, dear friend you lack imagination! No. This horses have the singular purpose of tempering people’s excesses in food eating and in partying. The first week in Lent, is named by the people as The Week of St. Toader’s Horses; traditionally this week is full of rites for cleaning and for stilling the excessive enthusiasm.
St. Toader’s Horses are believed to be divine entities with demonic values that punish the people who won’t respect the sacredness of the Lent. For example: on Tuesday, the women do not spun the tow; if they do not respect this restrictions, the clothes made on that Tuesday will attract the thunder on the person wearing it. Also, on this day the pots used for eating and making sweets are cleaned and put away in the attic with their mouth placed towards the earth – so that the Unholy One can’t enter in the house, or so the uninvited spirits won’t be able to stay in them (ergo, in the house). St. Toader’s Tuesday is also known as The Crows Tuesday, because – says the Crone – it’s known that were the Crows gather in a stork, there will be bad weather and loss in the community.
The legends says about the Horses that in the week named after them, they transform themselves in young men, with tails – hidden in their clothes – and travel in the night to the girls who spun the tow in this week, to punish them. It’s said that some girls went to an evening gathering and when the clock showed the 24th hour, beautiful young men came to them in the house – the were the St. Toader’s Horses; clothed in military garb and tail hidden in the boots, so it can’t be seen. The young men took the girls to dance. They danced and danced and danced… till a girl said she has to go outside. One of the horses didn’t want to let her go, fearing she won’t come back. She lied and said that she would let her twine thread and if it will became free, he will know she won’t return. So they did. She had gone outside and tied the thread from something outside and took off home. She was the only one to escape. The other girls the horses danced till death and they had stretched the girls’ bones in the woods and on the fences.
It’s said that the only way to escape from them is to lace all the dishes and pots in the house with their mouth towards the earth.
Link: http://www.romaniaregional.ro/2018/02/20/caii-lui-santoader/ (seen on 5 January 2019)
http://realitateaoltului.ro/2017/03/01/saptamana-cailor-lui-san-toader-o-traditie-la-olteni/ (seen on 5 January 2019)
http://www.replicahd.ro/caii-lui-santoader-aduc-primavara-si-marele-post-al-pastelui/ (seen on 5 January 2019)
8. Zburătorul – The Ultimate Lover
From the origins Zburătorul was a hard-core criminal. No romanticism under the clear Moon or at the crossroads. No. Zburătorul had so much pathos for the dear girls that his passion for them left the girls at the Anubis door. His lovemaking was so powerful, so truthful lived, that come morning neither girl, nor the passion was alive enough to tell the tale.
It seems that the man – that became Zburătorul – while alive was rejected by a woman – with such a “kind” lovemaking who wouldn’t want him?! – And in death became a vengeful spirit… on all the women. Not one, not some alike by whom he was rejected; no, he started to love with passion any kind of woman: small, tall, weak, powerful, thin or fat, it didn’t matter. You are a woman, you are to blame… for one, I repeat, one rejection. He had some “great” problems while living… the psychiatrists would have a field day with such a case.
The elders created some older-than-Pope medicines and incantations, to protect themselves and the people from the Ultimate Lover. Some used to stick a knife in the doorjamb and four others in crosses on the chimney walls. Nothing worked.
From reality, to legends, to myths, Zburătorul became a hopeless romantic, capable of true love… making and spoken in verses as a true hero.
9. Omul Negru – The Boogeyman
The Boogeyman is the most known childhood monster; sometimes it scratches in the middle of the night at the windows of children, or it can appear as a green mist. This monster does not have a fixed form, it can be known even as a woman or as a man, kind of as the people of XXI century. In Romania the Boogeyman – known as the Black Man – is a traveler without a face, or a spirit without a form. It hides under the children’s bed and hunts the ones who does not listen to their parents – this creature is a kind of entity that frightens the children into behaving well. Mothers use phrases as “listen, or the Boogeyman will come for you”, “don’t stay outside all night because the Black Man will appear” and so on. Some children fear it so much that they think it is hidden in their room in the wardrobe or under the bed and will sleep only with the light on. It is used by the parents to frighten their children into behaving well – the so called “good behavior” of the adults. Most often the Boogeyman appears in the dark, it likes the dark places, where it can’t be easily discovered. It’s a true monster of darkness. Boogeyman has many of the characteristics of the Boggard from Harry Potter: it likes dark places (as the wardrobe), it doesn’t have a fixed form and it likes to take the form of each child’s fear in part. If the stories are to be believed, the Boogeyman, cloaked in darkness, lurks about and follows the bad children; the ones who don’t eat all their food, the ones that don’t want to sleep at a designed hour and so on. Of course, all this so called characteristics of a “bad child” are put in place by the parents to discipline their children; what other efficient method for discipline is there, right?
In Romania is a game named the Black Man and is played like this: There has to be minimum of three children (preferably more), one of them will be the Black Man, secretly with one other player, The Black Man will choose a number. Then, all the players, holding their hands, will rotate in a circle, singing: The first hour is here, but the Black Man did not arrive / The second hour is here, but the Black Man did not arrive… and so on till they get to the number secretly chosen, than, the player who knows the number will say “the Black Man has arrived”. In that moment all the children will run trying to escape the Black Man. The first player caught by the Black Man will take its place and the game will resume.
Link: https://mythologica.ro/legenda-omului-negru/ (seen on 14 February 2019).
Link: https://www.diane.ro/2016/10/legenda-bau-bau-om-negru-boogeyman.html (seen on 15 February 2019).
Link: http://jocuridincopilarie.ro/omul-negru/ (seen on 3 March 2019)