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Beware of Kikimora – the scariest among Slavic nightmare creatures

When nightfall becomes your worst fear

jplenio (CC0), Pixabay

Slavic mythology – Are you suffering from insomnia or constant nightmares? Are there strange or disgusting things happening in your household during the night? You poor thing, your house is probably occupied by the mean spirit called Kikimora! Before you call Ghostbusters, check out the most effective remedies known by the old Slavs.

Traveling through the keyholes

Ancient Slavs have known quite a few evil creatures. Some of them have scared the children, others were causing fear of the women – and the worst ones were evil enough to scare even the bravest Slavic men. Kikimora was among the last ones and legends about her creation, meaning and abilities can send some serious chills down your spine even now, when we tend to believe in science more than myths.

The ethymology of her name suggests that Kikimora wasn´t invented or known only by Slavs. Closest ancestor of word “Kikimora” seems to be the old finnish word for bogey – „kikke mörkö“. The high incidence of similar words in contemporary Slavic languages (“mora”, “mara” and some others), however, indicates that Slavs were probably bothered by Kikimora the most.

This evil spirit was (after all, like many others) purely female being and her creation was often connected to some critical moments in women´s lives – like a birth of a stillborn child or a death during the labor. Kikimora born in these situations used to resemble facial features of the stricken woman or her closest female relatives (mother, granny etc.). Once the spirit was let loose, it could freely move all over the household or even to the neighboring houses. It was known to be traveling through the keyholes – that´s why the smartest of Slavic women always kept their keys in the keyholes, or replaced them by small pieces of paper.

Kidnapping children, torturing adults

Kikimora was always a bad sign. Even her name was pronounced in the scariest possible manner, resembling the squeaky sound of a spindle. Those who were molested by her suffered from terrible nightmares. Women were tortured by visions of losing their children or their husbands being unfaithful. Men were hunted by dreams of attractive yet reluctant girls, which were step-by-step destroying their real-life relationships. Kikimora was believed to be powerful enough to make her victims commit suicide!

Obviously, the most vulnerable were small children – Kikimora was known to kidnap them at night or bring some terrible illness their way. The most effective way to protect from her was to avoid any eye contact. Children were advised never to look on the door or cabinets at night because Kikimora could trick them by suddenly opening up! The kidnapped children could easily be turned into Kikimoras themselves and this could also happen with the children cursed or expelled by their own parents.

Now when you know your enemy, let´s learn how to avoid it. Luckily, old Slavic advices are clear and quite easy to follow. At first, bury something silver before the entrance to your house – small pendant or grandma´s spoon will do the trick and Kikimora will (most probably) choose some other house to occupy. As a sure shot, sprinkle your front door with salt. However, if it´s too late for these acts of protection and Kikimora has already settled in your place, you´ll need some serious rituals to get her out. Old Slavs knew various powerful rites and realms to expel the demons and they even knew the best time to do it – if you can wait that long, try the March 17 (March 4 in the Julian calendar). The more contemporary theory, however, states, you might get quite effective help just by donating to the local church…Good luck!

Are you afraid of Kikimora now?

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