Any true Potterhead, be it Slav or not, remembers Veelas. You know, the Eastern European creatures capable of charming every single male being around them to the point of driving the wretched guy into sheer madness. They nearly made Harry jump to his death, after all. And let’s not forget the woeful effects they had on poor Ron.
In the books Veelas were the official mascots of the Bulgarian National Quidditch team. Rowling thus indicates that they have a Slavic origin. They’re described as stunningly beautiful with haunting pale skin that shines like moonlight, long and almost white blond hair, piercing blue eyes and an overall otherworldly presence. These magical beings’ mysterious powers invoke the desire to perform superhuman feats and heroic deeds in most males. Such was the case when Harry wanted to carry out a fatal jump, plunging to his death, just so he could get closer to them and gain their attention.
One particular character, named Fleur Delacour, had a long-standing French origin and her magic wand’s core contained a single hair from her Veela grandmother, which actually disputes the theory that Veelas were only Slavic, since they can apparently be seen all across Europe. In the movies you won’t find Veelas being mentioned anywhere, but Fleur’s seductive powers aren’t completely neglected in the plotline.
So, what exactly is a Veela?
To put it simply, a Veela, Vila, Samovila or Samodiva is a type of fairy creature whose origins are rooted in Slavic folklore. In a way Veelas can be compared to the Greek sirens or harpies whose beauty proved to be ominous and often lethal to their male victims.
According to numerous legends and literary works of fiction Samodivas had the power to entrance any man, seducing him to his death in a variety of ways, the most common of which were draining his energy or driving him to a state of over-obsessed, feeble mindedness. Moreover, Samodivas had other sinister powers, such as throwing fire from their clawed hands after turning into menacingly looking monstrous birds.
The earliest works of written art mentioning Vilas and Samodivas are nearly a millennium old and historians believe the creatures originated in Balkan myths. Mostly based on ancient Thracian legends, Samodivas are usually described as rather antagonistic characters whose destructive powers wreak havoc not only in isolated men’s lives, but also among entire villages. One of the most well-known legends with a Samodiva motif is the one for Prince Marko who allegedly gained superhuman powers after drinking Samodiva milk.
In the Harry Potter universe the Veela characters are a dead ringer for the main features of the popular Samodivas – their dancing is enchanting, their looks drive men insane and they do turn into vicious bird-like creatures which possess some sort of fire magic whenever they’re angered or feel threatened. The Veelas’ wrathful true forms were apparently so perilous to the wizards and witches around them that they needed to be escorted out of the stadium during the Quidditch World Cup event for the sake of everyone’s safety.
We don’t actually see Fleur Delacour turning into a flame throwing bird neither in the books, nor in the films. It’s probably because she’s only part Veela. Despite her lack of grotesque magical abilities, though, her dancing and her physical appearances do have full-on Veela effects on male wizards.
All in all, the charming seductresses from Harry Potter could have been a great addition to the movie franchise in spite of their abominable second nature. Sadly, even Rowling didn’t delve too much into the mythology of these Slavic creatures back in the day, regardless of the fact that Fleur and the likes of her do play a fundamental role in the book series.