The Slovenia Times

Mythological beings



The world used to be a mysterious place, where natural forces were explained in spiritual terms rather than by rational thinking. A variety of mystical beings helped people to understand their own fate and that of others. These beings, that were there to help but also to mislead, to protect and to bewitch, to give hope and to change destinies, are now just part of folklore. However, it is not so long since these legends were real. Less than five centuries ago the Povodni Moz (Water Sprite) came to dance in Ljubljana and seduced the beautiful and frivolous Urska into the river. Young women were thus reminded of what haughtiness and intemperance could lead to. More recently, a young weakling called Peter Klepec was given supernatural strength by the gods. He used this power, at the request of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, to defeat the massive Turkish army, much as David did to Goliath during biblical times, thereby saving the land. The Turks used creatures called Pes Lajnar, which had one leg and one eye in the middle of the forehead, to track down Christians from a distance in order to turn them into janissaries. During this time there were also werewolves who lived in the forest and waited for passing travellers. These werewolves were actually just humans who had been cursed and turned into wolves. They didn't intend to harm anyone; they just wanted someone to help them break the spell. People used to believe that if someone was born in an unusual way at a particular time of the year, or had not been baptized, they were cursed and destined to become Vodomec, or even Kresnik. These two characters would appear under a tree or at a crossroad every night as they were growing up. There they would head-butt each other, dismember lambs and fight with witches until the break of dawn. They could only be released from their fate if someone struck them three times with a hazel switch during their nightly cavorting. People also had methods for protecting their homes, so that creatures like Vodomec, or even the invisible Mora (Nightmare), couldn't sneak in while they slept. Every house was protected by the house spirit who lived behind the oven. If the inhabitants treated him properly and gave him regular gifts, he would protect them in return. If they didn't, however, he would play tricks and generally make a mischief of himself. He was a sort of domestic elf. There were many names for elves in Slovenia, such as Skrat, Kapic, Malik, Setek and Kapic, which demonstrates their prevalence. Accidents would befall people and their cattle in the places where an elf had died. Fortunately, this didn't happen too often since they lived for more than 5 centuries. They usually lived in forests, but now and then they would venture into a shepherd's house to make trouble, just for a bit of fun. However, our ancestors protected themselves against these unwelcome visits by drawing a cross on the door. Shepherds would occasionally encounter a creature called Divja Jaga (Wild Beast) that roamed the woods during the night. If the shepherd was chased by Divja Jaga, the only way he could save himself was to lie down on a tree stump marked with a cross. Otherwise Divja Jaga would cast a spell on him ensuring that he would forever more suffer a painful backache...


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