A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe – Nonfiction, Folklore, Social Customs
“A fun way to discover what makes spirits different from one another.”
Spirits: Kikimora, Domovoi, Stopan, Talasum, Smok, Bannik, Ovinnik, Dvorovoi, Hovanets
Imagine you live in a rural area, filled with the unknown. You make your living from the land, where nature is sacred. She can be harsh or she can provide you with plenty. Every stream, hill, valley, and home has its guardian spirit: some are good; others are evil. How you treat them determines how they’ll respond to you in return.
This book discusses nine spirits from Eastern Europe. You can find them in home, yards, or buildings on your property. You’ll lean a little about their origins and how they look. Plus, you’ll discover their personalities and stories about them.
This book is meant to be fun, to inform you about these fascinating spirits, to give you a glimpse into a culture you may be unfamiliar with. You’ll “experience” the spirits through more than words. Where possible, it includes various interpretations of the spirits: in art, music, and video, as well as in literature, both old and new. It also includes additional material to enhance your understanding of the people and culture.
This series about spirits and creatures from Eastern Europe developed from an idea about a future book in the Dragon Village series. In the first story, “Unborn Hero,” a character possesses a book called Lamia’s Bible, which holds the secrets of all the mythical creatures in Zmeykovo (Dragon Village). I wondered what those secrets might be. If I owned a magical book, I’d want to know the weak spots in my adversary’s character. How could I defeat each creature? How could I control them? I began my research with Kikimora and discovered a wealth of information—too much to include in a magical tome, but too much to discard as well. Thus, this book about household spirits begged to be written.
My original intent was for the book to contain beings that appear only in Bulgarian folklore—whether from Thracian, Slavic, or Proto-Bulgarian origins—since the focus of my work to date has dealt with Bulgaria. But again, as I extended my research beyond Kikimora, many of the Slavic spirits I came across were not popular in Bulgaria, but they add so much color to the world of Eastern Europe that to exclude them would have been a loss to the reader.
The stories and other information from across Eastern Europe vary from country to country, and even from region to region. I have compiled that information into a composite whole to paint a picture of each spirit. There are so many more spirits, too many to include in this book. What I have included are some of the most popular, plus a few that may be obscure.
Many, if not all, of the beliefs and rituals about these spirits originate from pagan times. When Christianity dominated the region, “double-belief” became popular—a mixture of Christian-orthodox and pagan belief systems. The old gods may have vanished or become insignificant, often being replaced with the saints. However, the lesser divinities, including the spirits, remained. Christianity did not “replace” the old beliefs; it merely added to them. Peasants viewed the new religious beliefs relevant for their life after death, but to survive in this life, they believed they needed the protection of the spirits who lurked everywhere.
This book is meant to be fun, to inform you about these fascinating spirits, to give you a glimpse into a culture you may be unfamiliar with. You’ll “experience” the spirits through more than words. Where I could, I’ve included various artistic interpretations of the spirits: in art, music, and video, as well as in literature, both old and new. I’ve also included additional material to enhance your understanding of the people and their culture.
As you read this book, imagine you live in a rural area, filled with the unknown. You make your living from the land, where nature is sacred. She can be harsh or she can provide you with plenty. Understand that all of these beliefs and rituals have not completely faded from existence. You can still find places where these spirits are a part of people’s lives. Who’s to say they’re wrong? I certainly won’t.
Whether you believe or not, it’s an enlightening journey discovering these spirits who have existed at least on the pages of stories and have spread from one generation to the next by word of mouth. And I hope it will be a journey you’ll enjoy and remember.
Praise for A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe
“This is fascinating look into the beliefs about mythical ‘beings’ that, although aged ideas, are still thought about even today in Eastern Europe.”
“The author’s presentation of the beliefs in these Bulgarian and Slavic folklore is given in digestible and interesting bits, with illustrations, examples, dark sides and light sides of each entity.”
“There is so much to fascinate. The author tells you the origins of each spirit and their appearance accompanied with fine illustrations. There are a fact or fiction section and fun facts. There are also good pointers on how to deal with unwanted spirits. You really do feel that you’ve got to know each spirit.”
May 15, 2019 – Book Squirrel – Book Review: ‘A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe’ by Ronesa Aveela