A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Dragons

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Do you know anyone with wings under their armpits? Do you know any old crones or beautiful young women who are always followed by inclement weather?

  • If so you probably know the offspring of a Zmey or you may be rubbing elbows with a Lamia in human form.

All Bulgarian dragons are successful shape-shifters.

 The Zmeys are especially known for falling in love with and seducing humans. Which means they’ve spent a lot of time in human form.

Flower, Fuji X20

Zmeys are usually male and associated mostly with fire. There are records of a few Zmeyitsas (female) protector dragons and some accounts of the Zmey having an affinity for both fire and water. Most villages in Bulgaria have their own Zmey as protector. The Zmey battle the elements for the safety of crops and village. Mostly they battle against the Lamia, the female water dragons.

Another form of the Zmey is described as part snake, part bird and part human. No one can give an exact description because they can become invisible at will. Their battles with the Lamia often cause thunderstorms and lightning.

It is said if you eat the heart of a Zmey you can partake of their power. Considering how dangerous these dragons are, well, I think most sane people would give that a second thought.

Bulgarian female dragons, the Lamia (Lamya) & Khala (Hala) are powerful water creatures with little love for mankind and his settlements. The Lamia can stop the flow of water in a well or stream, or dry up lakes and cause drought. She can also create storms and pummel the fields with hail.

If your Zmey isn’t strong enough to defeat her then a sacrifice to her might ease her temper. I have not found any documentation yet that the Lamia has the power of invisibility like her male counterpart, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

Lamias have been described in many different ways in many different regions. They all seem to be quite individualistic.

Various Lamia descriptions include:

  • 3 to 9 heads (Sometimes dog heads)
  • Long tail of a snake
  • Enormous
  • A large enough mouth to swallow a man whole
  • Sharp teeth
  • Yellow scales
  • Sharp-nailed legs (quadrupeds)
  • Wings
  • Snake-like
  • And of course the ability to shape-shift

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Zmey and Lamia, male and female, fire and water, locked in endless battle. I imagine that little dragons must come from somewhere so the conflict might be a little over-hyped.

Personally. I think powerful female figures can be intimidating in some cultures. In a more enlightened time perhaps there are reformed Lamia wandering among us and equally liberated Zmey who are no longer constrained by the notions of the past.

There is far more Bulgarian myth than I can share in one month. The richness of the tales and culture are staggering and well-worth exploring. I hope to return to this subject in the fall.

I leave you with another Bulgarian saying

 “Work like you’re going to live for 100 years, but live like you’ll die tomorrow.”

 ~ lisa

 Riddle Answers:

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

The eyes

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

The tongue

A world without people Cities without houses Forests without trees And seas without water.

A map

 I cannot emphasize enough that this is the spot to go for the best overall accounting of Bulgarian Mythology. http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Bulgaria Superstitions and Folklore http://www.bestcountryreports.com/Soci_Bulgaria_Superstitions_Folklore.php

Bulgarian creation myth http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

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A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Dragons

130719 -  - medium

Do you know anyone with wings under their armpits? Do you know any old crones or beautiful young women who are always followed by inclement weather?

  • If so you probably know the offspring of a Zmey or you may be rubbing elbows with a Lamia in human form.

All Bulgarian dragons are successful shape-shifters.

 The Zmeys are especially known for falling in love with and seducing humans. Which means they’ve spent a lot of time in human form.

Flower, Fuji X20

Zmeys are usually male and associated mostly with fire. There are records of a few Zmeyitsas (female) protector dragons and some accounts of the Zmey having an affinity for both fire and water. Most villages in Bulgaria have their own Zmey as protector. The Zmey battle the elements for the safety of crops and village. Mostly they battle against the Lamia, the female water dragons.

Another form of the Zmey is described as part snake, part bird and part human. No one can give an exact description because they can become invisible at will. Their battles with the Lamia often cause thunderstorms and lightning.

It is said if you eat the heart of a Zmey you can partake of their power. Considering how dangerous these dragons are, well, I think most sane people would give that a second thought.

Bulgarian female dragons, the Lamia (Lamya) & Khala (Hala) are powerful water creatures with little love for mankind and his settlements. The Lamia can stop the flow of water in a well or stream, or dry up lakes and cause drought. She can also create storms and pummel the fields with hail.

If your Zmey isn’t strong enough to defeat her then a sacrifice to her might ease her temper. I have not found any documentation yet that the Lamia has the power of invisibility like her male counterpart, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

Lamias have been described in many different ways in many different regions. They all seem to be quite individualistic.

Various Lamia descriptions include:

  • 3 to 9 heads (Sometimes dog heads)
  • Long tail of a snake
  • Enormous
  • A large enough mouth to swallow a man whole
  • Sharp teeth
  • Yellow scales
  • Sharp-nailed legs (quadrupeds)
  • Wings
  • Snake-like
  • And of course the ability to shape-shift

121001 -  - medium-3

Zmey and Lamia, male and female, fire and water, locked in endless battle. I imagine that little dragons must come from somewhere so the conflict might be a little over-hyped.

Personally. I think powerful female figures can be intimidating in some cultures. In a more enlightened time perhaps there are reformed Lamia wandering among us and equally liberated Zmey who are no longer constrained by the notions of the past.

There is far more Bulgarian myth than I can share in one month. The richness of the tales and culture are staggering and well-worth exploring. I hope to return to this subject in the fall.

I leave you with another Bulgarian saying

 “Work like you’re going to live for 100 years, but live like you’ll die tomorrow.”

 ~ lisa

 Riddle Answers:

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

The eyes

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

The tongue

A world without people Cities without houses Forests without trees And seas without water.

A map

 I cannot emphasize enough that this is the spot to go for the best overall accounting of Bulgarian Mythology. http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Bulgaria Superstitions and Folklore http://www.bestcountryreports.com/Soci_Bulgaria_Superstitions_Folklore.php

Bulgarian creation myth http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

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A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Myth 2

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Bulgarian mythology and folklore is said to come from three incomplete sources which have merged together over the years, though each has left traces of regional differences.

The three sources of Bulgarian myth are Thracian, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian. Records on all three oral traditions are sparse and there is little knowledge as to how the beliefs merged into what is today known as Bulgarian myth and folklore.

Thracian people http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/593556/Thracian
Slavic People http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548156/Slav
Proto-Bulgarians http://en.cyclopaedia.net/wiki/Proto-Bulgarians

The Personification of Disease. Diseases are usually ugly, frightful and shabby female creatures sent to punish people for their sin such as Plague. Plague hits her victims with arrows, but she loves cleanliness and often spares old people, widows, and those who plea for kindness.

The Bestiary of Bulgarian folklore is also very interesting. One my favorite creatures, as anyone who reads my writing can tell, is the goblin. The Bulgarians have a forest goblin, Karakoncolos, who only comes out after dark. They cause travelers to lose their way.

The Karakoncolos have thick ugly hair that covers its entire body. In some tales Karakoncolos are ghouls who stalk people in the dark. http://www.potiori.com/Karakoncolos.html

I also love bogeymen, those creatures with which children are threatened because there are such a wide variety of them. Bulgaria has Torbalan who brings a pack to carry off naughty children. http://www.vagobond.com/bulgaria-monsters-legends/

Bagiennik are water demons who burn victims, but also have an incredible amount of healing powers. You can find Bagienniks by bubbles on the water’s surface. http://horridhistory.weebly.com/deities-spirits-and-monsters-in-east-slavic-mythology.html

Baba Marta, Grandmother March, is one of the best known stories of Bulgarian mythology. Her moods are as variable as her month, but she is the end of winter and the start of spring. http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/bulgariaandthebalkans/ss/bulgariaculture_3.htm

I include Kuma Lisa, a fox who plays tricks on the wolf, Kumcho Vulcho, because I like the name. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuma_Lisa

Penultimately, I’ll discuss the Ustrel. The Ustrel, (see The Golden Bough by Sir James Fraser) is a most unusual type of vampire and I love unusual. An ustrel is a baby born on a Saturday who dies before receiving baptism. After nine days it claws its way out of the grave and finds a herd of cattle. It then decimates the herd.

A vampire hunter must perform a fire ritual to get rid of an ustrel at a crossroads. The ustrel cannot leave the crossroads so it stays there until it is consumed by wolves. http://ilovewerewolves.com/ustrel-bulgaria-vampire/

And, finally but certainly not the last, a vampire hunter of more traditional vampires is called a djadadjii who gets rid of vampires by tempting them with their favorite food and then trapping them in a bottle. The bottle is then disposed of in a fire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djadadjii

Three favorite Bulgarian riddles (answers on May 28)

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

A world without people
Cities without houses
Forests without trees
And seas without water.

~ lisa

And today’s Bulgarian saying: A sweet word opens iron gates.

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A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Folklore Intro

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…

Flower, Fuji X20

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/

Tulip dewdrops

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.”

~lisa

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