Once upon a time the first people, the dwarves ruled the land, but their short stature made them prey to wild animals and hindered their working of the land. And so the dwarves died out.
So then once upon a time the second people, the Ispolini roamed the Earth. They were the opposite of dwarves, tall and strong. They had huge heads sometimes (depending on who was telling the story), they had three heads, sometimes a single eye (or possibly even a single leg).
Besides their height, the Ispolini possessed supernatural powers. The Ispolini lived in the mountains, could be heard from mountaintop to mountaintop, ate raw meat and were the natural enemy of all dragons.
Despite their strength and supernatural abilities Ispolini were very susceptible to blackberry bushes. The blackberries would trip and trap them, and the Ispolini would perish in the thorns.
Considering the halo of blackberry brambles around my hill, I find a great deal of credibility in the Ispolini story.
Then came humans…
Bulgaria is located in the Balkan Peninsula and more than half of the country is covered by the Balkan Mountains. Romania sits along Bulgaria’s Northern border, Serbia and Macedonia are to the west, Greece and Turkey are the south and the Eastern edge of Bulgaria is bordered by the Black Sea. Capital City is Sophia.
A great source on the intricacies of Bulgarian history: http://blazingbulgaria.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/origins_of_bulgaria/
Bulgarian folklore has an incredible number of supernatural creatures from the benevolent to the demonic. I am planning three or more forays (posts) into the creatures and myths of Bulgaria over the course of this month, but that will only scrape the surface of Bulgaria’s vast cultural heritage.
Prominent among Bulgarian tales are Bulgarian wood nymphs called samodivas. Samodivas are beautiful women, sometimes with wings and their clothes are covered with feathers, giving them a semblance of birds. To steal a samodiva’s clothes is to gain power over it.
While clothed, samodivas rule over water (often the reason for drought), and make those who enter into their territories disappear or die shortly thereafter of a fatal disease.
The lamia (Bulgarian female dragon) and their enemies the zmeys (Bulgarian male dragons) will be covered on the May 28th post. There will also be a Bulgarian Myth post on May 14.
Bulgarians have angels, demons, devils, bogies, mratinyak, the plague and smallpox– both personified, dwarves, tzoglavtzi, koutzoulan, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, witches, and the winds.
These creatures of myth include the Orisnizi, the weird sisters, who are a trio that traipses around Bulgaria visiting newborns and predicting their fates.
A good site for a complete list of mythical creatures and links to an illustration visit: http://www.omda.bg/public/engl/ethnography/folklore_creatures_en.htm
Finally finding complete Bulgarian mythology can be summed up by a Bulgarian saying: “It’s not so easy to make a snake show you its legs.”
Today I will close with my favorite Bulgarian saying: “A word is not a sparrow, but once you release it, you can’t catch it.”