Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Rusalki

I’m chilling in Russia this week for Faerie Friday. Again. Just in case you were wondering, I plan on staying here through next week. And maybe I’ll swing on over to Japan next month, but I’m undecided. I found this great book on the Yokai. If you don’t know what the Yokai are, you’ll just have to come back and find out. J

The Rusalki are the Russian equivalents (sort of) of the Greek Naiad, i.e. hot freshwater nymphs. Okay, they aren’t hot in all the versions of the story, but for the purpose of this exercise, they are. Capisce?

In some versions, the Rusalki wear white shifts and in other, they are completely bare assed. In all stories, they have long, flowing hair. Sometimes green. They spend the winter months submerged in the depths of lakes and rivers and crawl out during the summer months.

You are going to meet one of two ends when you tangle with a Rusalki. Most commonly she uses her siren voice and her laughter to lure young men to the water where she takes them in her embrace and drowns them. The other way is a more ignominious way – she tickles you to death. Yes, I said tickle. They sing, giggle and swing from branches and when they have you in their thrall, they sneak up behind you and tickle you to death. I can just imagine the epitaph: HERE LIKES BORIS, FELLED BY A TERRIBLE TICKLE. It’s a shameful way to die, but it does play into some boyhood fantasies. They only thing that’s missing is topless pillow fights.

By “you” in the above referenced illustrations, I mean young men. She can’t be bothered with women and is very hostile toward the fairer sex. As an aside, I know women like that and they are equally as unlikable as the Rusalki. Just not as deadly.

The Russian villager has a few tricks to keep them away – charms, hanging linen in the trees, garlic, iron and crosses.

Like many faerie creatures, they Rusalki are thought of as the souls of unbaptized children, drowned maidens and unwed mothers. They are considered an unclean force deriving their allure from the devil himself. Most likely, the Rusalki are the remnants of pagan goddesses. They are used to illustrate the contrast between themselves (unclean, devilish) and Christian women (good, chaste.) The Rusalki are spirited, wear their hair flowing freely, take lovers that are not their husbands, and in general behave like naughty (albeit more dangerous) sorority girls.

Not a nice girl, but a fun girl. Okay, fun for just a minute, but fun nonetheless!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Russian Water Devil

Okay, this one is going to be short. I have a cough I can’t get rid of and a book that won’t read itself. And I’ve been screwing around on my computer for two hours and haven’t accomplished anything. Such is the life of me.

Anyway, I decided stay in Russia for this week’s Faerie Friday post, but instead of a forest dwelling creature, we are going to focus on a guy who hangs around bodies of water looking for some sucker to drown, i.e. the Vodianoi, sometimes called vodianoi chert or “water devil.”

Russia is a big country, huge in fact, so the stories of Vodianoi vary from region on region, town to town. Sometimes he lives in the slimy bottoms of ponds and in other stories he lives in a crystal palace. He usually resides somewhere near a mill and he’s known to be a danger to everyone but fisherman and millers. Probably because they know how to treat him. They leave him the proper offerings – tobacco, bread, salt, vodka. You know, the usual.

His appearance also varies from place to place. Sometimes he’s slimy or scaly with green hair and beard. Sometimes he’s old, sometimes he’s young. That usually depends on the cycle of the moon. He’s naked in some stories and half fish in others.

He can be spotted by the water dripping from his coat. His clothing never dries and he leaves puddles everywhere. I find that more amusing than menacing. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guardian of the Russian Forest

Working on this week's Faerie Friday post. I swear this desk was clean a few days ago. Honest Buff.

So I took a break from blogging.

My intention had been to take the time to work on a few stories that I was close to completing. I’d like to say I was successful, but that wouldn’t be true. I’m a lot of things, but liar isn’t one of them. Well, mainly I’m not a liar. How does that old Dwight Yoakum song go? “I tell the truth except when I lie.” Something like that.

*heads to Rhapsody to add song to play list*

Anyway, I’m back and I’m heading to Russia for this week’s Faerie Friday post. I’m high on cold medicine so please forgive the occasion forgotten word or sentences that make little to no sense. I’m a bit rusty in the blog post writing arena.

Here goes nothing.

As I stated a few sentences ago, we are traveling to Russia for this week’s Faerie Friday post - the Russian forests to be more specific to where the Leshii dwell.

The Leshii is a natural spirit. Think Green Man with a Russian accent. One of my references says that they are the offspring of human woman and demons. Do what you will with that piece of information.

Each forest, unless it’s a big honking forest, has only one. (Les means forest, apparently.) He doesn’t just guard the forest, but all of the animals that reside there. He lives with his wife, known at the Lesovikha. She is portrayed in a number of a different ways: an ugly bint with big breasts, a woman in white or a pretty naked chick. Their children are called Leshonki.

In most stories, though they vary from location to location, the Leshii isn’t exactly a prize himself. He wears his boots on the wrong feet. He sports both green eyes and a green beard and long, messy hair. He casts no shadow and his eyes glow. He is a shape shifter that can change size and forms.

The Leshii, like many forest dwelling figures of folklore, love to play tricks on unsuspecting peasants. Making forest noises, laughing loudly, or clapping loudly, he liked to cause people to lose their way. Not such a big deal in our modern times, but before the invention of GPS, wandering aimless through a big forest could and would get you killed.

A way to ward off the Leshii is to wear your clothes inside out and to put your shoes on the wrong feet.

Like most of the creatures/figures I write about, there is a lot more to the Leshii, but I must leave that for another post.