Can snake become a dragon? Slavic legends say yes!

FilipFilipovic (CC0), Pixabay

In Slavic mythology spirits of death are believed to be placed in the snakes. It’s believed that every house has snake that lives under the doorstep or fireplace which was in the middle of the house in the early Slavic times. The myth said that Slavs were burying their dead also under these two places. When you see snake in your garden, you shouldn’t kill it. It’s a snake which gives family a protection and if somebody kills it, spirits of ancestors would come to take somebody from our world. In rural Serbia, you can’t say zmija (snake). You can use euphemistic names for it like guja, krasnica, nepomenica. The last word literately means don’t say my name.

If you see big snakes somewhere in Slavic territory, don’t be afraid – you may be very rich. It’s believed that big snakes are protecting treasure. So, you must beat it and then you can take a ticket for your new perspective life. Easy way to get some money, don’t you think?

The snake can give some ability to people, but not every snake. It must be albino snake and it must be placed under the hazel. If you see it, you will get a power to speak with animals which in Serbian is called nemušti jezik. This is also a name of the famous Serbian fairy tale.

In South Slavic territory you could see a snake suckling a cow according to the legend. In Serbia and Bosnia that snake is called kravosica.

Snakes can fly

Adders and vipers are most dangerous snakes in the Europe. And here comes a dragon – zmaj, zmej! It’s believed that adder 50 to 100 years old gets wings, flys and becomes a dragon. The dragon is masculine forms of the Slavic word for snake, which is feminine. They breathe fire and can turn into a man in the night.

A woman can also give birth to a dragon, but only if the father of a baby is a dragon. Dragons are symbols of the statehood and mythology about them dates a lot after a mythology about snakes. Dragons are generally negative in nature. They are hurting people, kidnapping young girls.

Legend of the dragons

However, sometimes they can be harmful to people. The Dragon of Ljubljana protected a city. According to the Slavic legend the slaying of dragon releases the waters and ensures the fertility of the earth. This myth is tied to the Ljubljana and also is pictured in the city’s coat of arms.

The Dragon Bridge stands on the Ljubljanica. The less well-known legend said the dragon wags its tail whenever adult virgin woman from Ljubljana crosses the Dragon Bridge. The story says this hasn’t happened yet.

Some national heroes were considered to be dragons as a highly respective person. The Dragon of Bosnia is a nickname for a Bosnian hero who fought for independence from the Ottoman Empire. Vuk the Fiery Dragon is a name used for Serbian despot Vuk Gregurović because of his courage.

Dragons appearance in Eastern Europe

In East Europe, dragons have three heads, they are green, walk on two back paws. Some of the dragons have heads that grow back if every head isn’t cut off or wound covered in ash.

The coat of arms of Moscow represented Saint George killing the dragon. After the Slavs converted to Christianity, Saint George took over Gerovit’s role, who is the god of the war in Slavic mythology. This represents a battle between good and evil pagan gods.

Now it’s time for the game! There is a Serbian riddle and if you read the text carefully, you should answer it. What is a dragon’s nest placed in the center of the home?

Tell us, which frightens you more Snake or a Dragon?

What do you think?

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Written by Milica Antovic

Milica Antovic - a skilled writer based in Serbia that shares great love for all Slavic related things. She enjoys the opportunity to write for Slavorum because of her passion for reading and writing about traveling and exploring.

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