Author Topic: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology  (Read 25434 times)

blow_fly

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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2009, 05:36:27 AM »
The following entry was taken from Wikipedia.

 Chernobog (also spelled Crnobog, Czernobóg, Černobog or Zernebog from the Russian Чернобог, each name meaning "black god") is a mysterious Slavic deity about whom much has been speculated but little can be said definitively. The only sources, which are Christian ones, interpret him as a dark and cursed god, but it is questionable how important he really was to ancient Slavs. The name is attested only among West Slavic tribes of the 12th century, hence it is speculated that he was not a very important or very old deity.


[edit] Sources
The only historic source on Slavic mythology mentioning this god is the 12th-century Chronica Slavorum, a work written by German priest Helmold which describes customs and beliefs of several Wendish and Polabian tribes who were at that time still resisting the growing pressure of Christianization. Helmold wrote that:

"The Slavs, they say, have one peculiar custom: during feasts, they pass a goblet amongst them in circle, for purpose not to praise, but rather to curse in the names of gods, good and evil, for every good thing praising a good god, and for every bad thing cursing an evil god. This god of woe in their language is called Diabolous or Zherneboh, meaning black god."

On the basis of this inscription, many modern mythographers assumed that, if the evil god was Chernobog, the Black God, then the good god should be Belobog or the White God. However, the name of Belobog is not mentioned by Helmold anywhere in his Chronica, nor is it ever mentioned in any of the historic sources that describe the gods of any Slavic tribe or nation. Additionally, the inscription quoted above is more likely Helmold's own interpretation than an accurate description of Slavic pre-monotheistic beliefs: Helmold, being German, did not know the language of Slavs, and being a Christian priest, did not have much, if any, contact with the Slavs themselves.[citation needed]


[edit] Folklore
A veneration of this deity perhaps survived in folklore of several Slavic nations. In some South Slavic vernaculars, there exists an interesting phrase do zla boga (meaning "to [the] evil god," or perhaps "to [the] evil [of] God," which may denote ownership rather than some dark attribute), used as an attribute to express something which is exceedingly negative. No-one is really aware of the literal meaning of these words anymore; exclamations such as Ovo je do zla boga dosadno!, To je do zla boga glupo! can be safely translated as "This is devilishly boring!", "That is immensely stupid!" without any actual loss in meaning. This translation is however losing actual meaning, because in Slavic language there are common curses used in the middle of the sentence. To je do zla boga glupo! can be translated as "Damn! This is stupid!". It is very similar to the modern Polish expression "do jasnej cholery" literal meaning would be "for shining cholera" but it means the same as ancient "do zła boga". The word Bog ("God"), however, in all Slavic languages today is used as personal name of the Christian God, who is not considered evil; thus, the expression zli bog, "evil god", could be a relic from antiquity. If we assume that Chernobog indeed was an evil and dark god of the ancient Slavs (or perhaps merely an evil aspect of some other deity), we may conjecture this expression was some ancient curse invoking him.


[edit] In popular culture
Chernobog has made appearances in various media. As Chernabog, he features in the "Night On Bald Mountain" sequence in Disney's Fantasia (1940). It is this rendition which has been adapted for the video game Kingdom Hearts, where Chernabog appears as a boss character on top of Bald Mountain. Chernabog is also in the book series Kingdom Keepers, as the most powerful villian Walt Disney ever created and head of the Overtakers.

The dark god "Tchernobog" from the computer game Blood was likely based on this god.

In Shadow Hearts, Yuri Hyuuga, who fuses with various beings from several mythologies in order to battle, can take on the form of Czernobog.

In Persona 3 Chernobog is one the protagonist's available personae under the Moon arcana. In another Megami Tensei game, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, Chernabog appears as an elderly skeleton-faced demon with a mushroom-like hood, a blade and several small mushrooms sprouting at his base.

He appears in American Gods by Neil Gaiman, as "Czernobog", and much later in the novel as "Bielebog" (it is implied that the two are different aspects of the same character, sharing the same existence, but separated by the seasons).

In the alternate history novel The Peshawar Lancers, the Russian Empire turns to Chernobog worship after a comet impact causes widespread famine and cannibalism.

Chernobog also appears in the fantasy novel, The Shadow of the Lion, by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer.

There is a Grim reaper-like monster class called chernobog in the game Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice.

Chernobog is metioned in the Kiuas song Reformation(Wrath Of The Old Gods) from the 2006 album Reformation
''Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. *Hit me!''

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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2009, 11:26:38 AM »
Leshy,  would it be possible for you to disclose what exactly about this being that you find so endearing? I'm curious to learn more about its attributes.   Thanks.

I actually consider that to be pretty personal so let me pm you with that blowfly.  :-)

Shamana
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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2009, 02:40:16 PM »
I found this regarding the dragons blowfly:

Dragons in Slavic mythology

Dragons of Slavic mythology hold mixed temperaments towards humans. For example, dragons in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female, each gender having a different view of mankind. The female dragon and male dragon, often seen as brother and sister, represent different forces of agriculture. The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans' crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore; the female has water characteristics, whilst the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are three headed, winged beings with snake's bodies.

Sorry for the threadomancy, but I'm not sure how correct this is. I have only a passing interest from a few folk songs and tales, but as far as I know the picture is a bit different.

Dragons in Bulgarian mythology are called zmei/zmey (plur. zmeyove for males, zmiici for females), which is quite similar to the word for snake (smiya) and are mythical winged creatures supposedly with the body of a snake - but can change their form to humans, or even small objects such as wreaths, flowers etc.  They are affiliated with the natural furies, sometimes with earth and water (one legend is that a snake or carp that lives for forty years without being seen by a human becomes a zmey), but also with air, as they can fly or manifest as winds. I'd say they are most often affiliated with water or storms - I've heard it said that if a village gets strange droughts, they can be caused by a zmey. There is a ritual, in which young men would go around with sticks to kill it or scare it away. An often depicted occurence is that the zmey falls in love with a girl and kidnaps her for a wife. The details vary - sometimes it's a proud girl that boasts that no man can ever "lie to her" (as in, make her fall in love and marry him), sometimes just a regular girl - but she's almost always the prettiest. She must also not have been a Lazarka (an initiation rite for girls, more or less - I think it means they are of marriable age, or at least no longer children); if she has been on swings that the girls swing from as part of the ritual, she'd be protected. The zmey might court her, invisible, he might turn into a beautiful man and/or a great kaval (flute) player, or he may turn into a wreath, flower or other ornament that she picks up. A girl courted by a zmey might often turn sickly and pale from the attentions of her lover, who comes to her at night. Usually, when her mother asks her about it and understands who is courting her daughter, the girl is picked up by a windstorm and taken over to the zmey's cave, either not to be released at all or until she wears through a pair of iron shoes. The mother can make the zmey leave her by using a brew of several magical herbs, I believe one of which grows only where samodivi dance, the brew breaks the zmey's love for her. A much rarer case is when a zmiica (female zmey) starts courting a young man; he will usually be sickly too, and needs the same brew. In the song I remember it was gypsies that teach the mother the recipe. In all of these cases, however, the human does not want the zmey's attention - at least when they realize who is courting them.

If a zmey has a child from a ordinary girl, it can turn into a zmey if it's not protected by certain rituals. It can, however, have wings under his arms (I don't remember a story about a zmey having a daughter) and a descendant of a zmey can be a great hero, possibly even having some supernatural powers of his own.

Zmey are usually male, very rarely female. I am unsure of their relationship with similar creatures called lamya or hala, which are female, also have serpentine characteristics and affinity for weather - I believe one song described the lamia as the sister of the zmey, but others use another word - zmiica. If anything, they can be of meaner disposition than zmey, and almost always seek to do misfortune. The word "lamia" can iirc also apply to other draconic-looking creatures like wyverns, but that might be a popular culture bastardization. "Hala" (the word means something like fury/chaos) is similar to lamia, or a word describing the behavior of the creature. A hala is, I think, more of an elemental force than an actual creature; zmey or their descendants may drive it away when they want to protect a village or its crops.

Folk tales also talk of the zmey in tales about heroes, where the zmey seems to be of a more humanlike nature (though wings under the arms tend to appear every now and then). It is a creature of great power and some mythical abilities, but not always very smart. They do sometimes seek and marry humans (usually girls, as I said before virtually all zmey in songs/tales are male) - sometimes they may have kidnapped a girl whom the hero needs to rescue. However, there is at least one tale that I remember when the princes of the zmeys help the hero by fighting off the villain (either a great zmey himself or some sort of a demonic/immortal character, I'm not sure which), so they can be on the "good" side as well. Another tale talks about how a trickster (Hitar Petar in the Bulgarian tales - the name basically means Sly Peter) becomes a brother* to a zmey, and eventually tricks a witch into killing him (as zmey tend to be something like ogres in that tale).

*: by that I mean that that they become something like "made-brothers", by swearing to treat and help each other as if they were siblings by blood. I am not sure how typical this custom was in the medieval period, but it would not be surprising in a pseudo-feudal system or a society that placed great importance on kin. Great heroes in songs or tales can swear such oaths with zmey and samodivi (in which case the samodiva would be a "made-sister"), and possibly other supernatural creatures, and can call on their aid in times of need. This happens quite rarely, mind you - in most cases supernatural creatures are opponents for the hero to overcome, not allies. Only those strong enough to (almost) be supernatural themselves seem to do it, so it is partially a confirmation of their superhuman status.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 01:21:04 AM by Shamana »

blow_fly

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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #48 on: February 13, 2009, 01:06:07 AM »
I'll say. This is certainly an excellent addition to the Slavic thread and is rather information rich where the Bulgarian understanding of dragons is concerned. If I may, would it  be possible for me to inquire as to how you obtained  the information contained within your post? Thanks.
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Mahiqun
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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #49 on: February 13, 2009, 03:26:34 PM »
Vij is a monster known on Ukraine and Russia, a short man with eyelids to the ground. He has sort of a leadership over the other monsters- accoring to Tolstoi's story. It was something like a young priest was taken by the young witch fought with her and killed her, the family of the witch bound him to stay three nights in the chapel with her body. Each night the monsters  were coming after midnight and entered the chapel where the young priest was praying over the body. At the third night the monsters called for vij and he came, they helped him with opening eyelids which were very heavy and at vij's command attacked and killed young priest (sorry for not remembering the story exactly, but I read it years ago)

From Polish monsters quite known are odmience (singular: odmieniec)- sort of small folk which steals babies and put his own people instead- their size is similar. They are always hungry and that's how you can reckognize the change- or if you catch them speaking adult speech. The way to deal with them was to do something very strange like cooking boots in the pot and the odmieniec reacted:"I live 100 years but I never saw anybody cooking boots till now" then you had to catch it fast and by beating it you could get your own child back.
Topielica is a female monster, the woman who drowned may become one, they inhabit mostly swamps and they drown people. In Silezia similar is Utopiec, but they can be both genders and they are not necessarily evil, sometimes they can help.

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Re: Monsters of the Slavic Mythology
« Reply #50 on: February 13, 2009, 04:08:22 PM »
I'll say. This is certainly an excellent addition to the Slavic thread and is rather information rich where the Bulgarian understanding of dragons is concerned. If I may, would it  be possible for me to inquire as to how you obtained  the information contained within your post? Thanks.

As I said, mostly from a collection of folk songs and a few fairy tales. I also did some checking in various wikis and some available online articles, and I compared it with what I remember from that. It's more than a bit hard finding anything on Slavic folklore, so that was the best I had :) .
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 02:43:03 AM by Shamana »