Six Creepy Spirits and Creatures of Slavic Mythology You Could Encounter In Eastern Europe

The ones that make you check every part of your room before sleep

KELLEPICS (CC0), Pixabay

The Slavic mythology is full of deities, spirits, demons and alluring creatures. It is not our intention to scare you and make you look under your bed before sleep, but you should be aware of these. If you visit any of the Slavic countries, you should be weary, you never know what is lurking behind the corner. So let us go on with the list, these are just a few of the many:

1. Vodyanoy

The name would translate as ‘watery’ or ‘water creature’. This creature is male and an evil spirit that lives in the waters. What makes it creepy and disturbing is that it appears as having a body of an old man and a frog face with a huge head. His beard is green and he is slimy all over since he is covered in algae and similar things of the water. He doesn’t have hands, but he has web-paws and his body also shows fish scales too. It is said drownings in those waters were all Vodyanoy’s fault. If Vodyanoy gets angry and mad, he ruins dams and water mills, apart from drowning people and animals. Once he lured human victims, he used them as slaves in his underworld.

2. Kikimora

This creature is a domestic spirit with a beak and bat-like face except much bigger, she has clawed-like hands and bird legs, but overall a human-like upright body. The Kikimora lived in houses and was hiding behind a stove or some cellar space. There, she would make sounds like a small mouse, just to get some food on her hands. The name ‘Kikimora’ has different variations between Slavic people and they have similarities, but all are in a creepy context. It can mean ‘scarecrow’ or ‘bad person’ and even a type of ‘nightmare’ (similar to ‘mora’ in Slavic languages). It is described also as a soul that leaves the body and turns into a moth. Another version is ‘a dark spirit’ which masks as a woman which goes to men while they sleep and tortures them until they are destroyed. This creature, ‘the nightmare’ enters homes through a keyhole and sits on the chest of the sleeper…

3. Rusalka

Originally, these female spirits were good-hearted until the 19th century. It is associated with an undead spirit which is not good by nature. They were either women who committed suicide by drowning or were drowned violently. They used to have older husbands or unhappy love lives which led to their demise. This is why Rusalkas wander near water and can be seen near waters; they haunt those places. The soul of a Rusalka can rest in peace only when the death is avenged. That’s why the Rusalka seduces men and gets them underwater and makes entanglement with her hair to trap them. She would transform into a slippery thing to prevent victims from escaping. The Rusalkas are said to laugh as they saw their victims die. This spirit was known for her beauty and seductiveness.

4. Koschei

This male creature spirit is a typical antagonist and a gaunt figure. He is incredibly healthy and with good stamina, but he is unnaturally thin and boney, as the name translates ‘boney’ or ‘skeleton’. Usually, he is shown as an ugly old man and often is referred to as Koschei the Deathless. His soul is Death itself and it is hidden in a needle, the needle is in an egg, the egg is in a duck and this duck is sitting in a hare located in a chest of iron. This iron chest is buried underground, or under an oak tree in the middle of an ocean. He is immortal unless his soul is found and is unsafe. Once the chest is open, the duck would fly away and he who gets the egg will have power over Koschei. This spirit will become ill and weak after his soul is found, and if the needle is broken in half, he dies.

5. Leshy

Leshy is a male spirit and his name would mean something like ‘of the woods’ or ‘creature/spirit of the woods’. He lives in forests and rules over those areas as he hunts and roams there. He is quite big and masculine, with a human body which alters shapes and sizes. Sometimes he is depicted with horns and has bears and wolves next to him. Why is he a bad spirit? He used to lead people astray, or lead travelers astray as they passed the woods, but he also kidnapped children. But, if travelers behave non-hostile, Leshy is neutral in behavior and does no harm.

6. Ovinnik

Ovinnik is the evil spirit that lived in cottages and houses. He used to set all grains on fire and make problems for the peasants and locals. To stop him from doing so, people would give him offerings like roosters and traditional Russian pancakes ‘bliny’. It was believed that on New Year’s Eve if the Ovinnik touches people, it brings either happiness or doom. If his touch was cold, he brought misery, but if his touch was warm he brought good luck. He is depicted as an old man with a tiny, skinny body, spiky hair, and beard.

There are too many creatures and spirits in Slavic mythology, so let us know if you have something interesting in mind! 🙂

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