Slavic paganism is the deification of the environment. Endeavoring to explain natural phenomena or the lives of their ancestry and tribes, Slavic people created many fabled beings, gods who were similar by their ambitions and actions to people themselves. Their deals don’t run counter to common sense, the war between good and evil, light and darkness comes to pass among them too. They aren’t unapproachable celestials, they are here.
Slavic myths contained not only faith in animateness of all flesh in nature – stones, fire, trees, but also faith in ability of spirits to pass into another body. Most myths were based on the abilities of characters to pass into animals, people, and trees. According to these myths, our world is penetrated by superhuman dangerous powers, but it’s not aggressive.
Vodyanoy is a water evil spirit according to Slavic mythology. It’s an embodiment of a dangerous and cruel environment. Mostly it appeared as a man with animal features – paws instead of arms, horns on his head, or as an ugly old man, enmeshed in mud, with a long beard.
Slavic people believed that vodyanoys were the descendants of those representatives of devildom, which God precipitated from heaven to rivers, lakes and ponds. They had their own homes: splendid rooms built with shells and semiprecious stones in reed and sedge thicket.Vodyanoys had herds of cattle, horses, pigs and sheep. Vodyanoys usually come up to the surface from waves on moonlit nights, wrapped them-selves in mud, saddle a snag, and ride to play pranks.
Leshy or Lesovik is the spirit of the woods in Slavic mythology. It inhabits every forest, but it especially loves a spruce forest. Leshy dresses as a man – a red girdle, the left lap of a kaftan usually is wrapped up behind the right one but not vice versa as everybody wears. Shoes are mixed up: the right bast shoe is put on the left foot and the left one on the right foot. Its eyes are green and glow as coals. If you look at him through the right horse’s ear he will shimmer bluish color because his blood is blue. He hasn’t got eyebrows and eyelashes and he is crop-eared. Leshy can turn into a stump or a hubble, a beast or a bird, a bear and a blackcock, whoever he wants, even a plant, indeed he is not only a spirit of a forest, but also its essence. It is overgrown with moss, it sniffs as it is murmur of the forest, it crawls like moss-grass.
Baba Yaga is the primordial character of the Slavic mythology. Initially it was a godhood of death, a woman with a snake’s tail, who guarded the entrance in Erebus and saw off souls of the dead in the kingdom of the dead. It is believed that Baba Yaga could have lived in any village pretending to be an average woman: looking after cattle, cooking, fostering children. Baba Yaga is a more dangerous essence having bigger power than any witch.
Most commonly she inhabits a primeval forest which always dismays people, since it is perceived as a border bet-ween the world of the dead and the living. Her hut on chicken legs is surrounded by a palisade-type fence made from human bones and skulls. In many fairytales she eats long pig. This old witch rides over the world in an iron mortar (that is a gravity chariot). When she goes for a walk she forces it to run faster banging with an iron beater or stick. The witche’s broom is attached to the iron mortar. Frogs, black cats, ravens and snakes are in her service. She foretells the future, has untold wealth and hidden knowledge.
Koschei (Kashchei), aka Koschei the Deathless, is a cultic character in Slavic mythology, whose folkloric image is extremely far from his initial one. Undoubtedly, he was the most powerful among the dark gods. He was lord over the powers of darkness and learnt it perfectly, allowing him to have control over spirits and the bodies of the dead. Legends say he didn’t like reincarnation and virtually all the time was in his initial image of a tall and stoop-shouldered, but powerful old man with long grey hair and a pinched face (some-times with the skull instead of the face). In case of emergency, he could turn into a dark raven. His horse is partly alive and partly dead. All his vital force was concentrated in the Egg, created by Rod at the beginning of the Crea-tion according to the legend.
This is that character which our remote ancestors invested with nay-wards of human nature that is primordial, immortal, and invincible.
Kikimora is one of the most ambiguous characters in Slavic mythology. There are a variety of contradictory legends which speak of this creature but they all concur that Kikimora is an ener-getic creature free from a body but is able to affect the material world. In all legends, she is des-cribed as a ghost creature that can dissolve into the darkness. They usually come for children and people with low energy. Their attacks are attended by whip-lashes of uncontrolled fear. Kikimora can rustle in the dark corner at night, frighten a child, drop a mug on the floor, throw dust all over the place, and stealthily pull somebody’s hair. Her suit consists of the linen shirt’s rags. Sometimes she wears beads that made from black sto-nes and different bijouterie. Kikimora can sing. Her songs have magical features and decoy lone travelers.
A fairytale about Tsarevna-Frog is one of the most famous Russian folktales. This fantastic tale is repeatedly used by many painters to create picturesque paintings, as well as script-writers for numerous theatrical productions, cartoons and feature films.
An evil sorcerer has turned a beautiful girl into a frog because he was sure that no one fine fellow will not be able to love this animal, which means his wizardry will affect forever. However, a lucky circumstance or providence turned an Ivan Tsarevich’s arrow in a swamp, where an bewitched maiden was, and after she spoke to him with a human voice this heroi romantic fairy plot actually began.
According to popular beliefs, a frog refers to the lunar animals that bring rain and are a symbol of fertility, as well as embodies a renewal of life and resurrection.
According to folklorists, the story of the frog coming out of the water on the earth and its skin, which the heroine periodically skins passing a successive test, symbolizes stages of a female initiation. A colorful description of the tsarevna’s dance also has analogies in spring profane rites – Rusalii, during which the princess carried out ritual actions, splashing wine and throwing bones. The purpose of these rites is the revival of nature, this is what the fairy tale points at, when as a result of the princess’ dance, a forest, water, birds and other animals arise.
Tsarevna-Frog honorably passes all tests. Interestingly, it was after them her name Vasilisa the Wise firstly mentioned, but the successful completion of this process is disrupted. Haste and impatience of Ivan Tsarevich, who no longer wants to endure brothers and sisters-in-law’s jeers, make a new round of tests. Burning frog skin is the beginning of a new chain of events in consequence of which a male initiation occurs. And Ivan Tsarevich turns from an infantile, gullish and trustful boy into fairytale hero.