Polish Faeries

The horse appears in the storm. Illustration by Cecile Walton, 1920.

Bannik : The Bathhouse Spirit. Bathhouses resembled saunas that had an inner steaming room and an outer changing room. A place where women gave birth and practiced divinations, the bathhouse was strongly endowed with vital forces.

The third firing (or fourth, depending on tradition) was the offering to the Bannik, and no Christian images were allowed as it might offend the occupants.

Boginki : “Little Goddess” Traditionally, covens of old women would perform sacrifices and rituals for the nymphs of the riverbanks.

Boginki were said to steal babies from their human parents that were replaced with Odmience : the Changed Ones. These spirits are said to be the original deities of life and predate the sky gods. They also appear to be forerunners of the Rusalki.

Djabelek : An imp who plays practical jokes; in modern terminology now means “demon or “devil.” As always, children in families who have too much energy and are always in mischief are called “djablek” in a loving, but amused way.

Dogoda : Gentle Spirit of the West Wind, associated with love.

: The protective spirits which embody human fate. They can appear in the guises of a God, a cat, a man, a mouse, or a woman. They have their own preferences and provinces; and they would hound you if you made choices that were not planned by Fate.

Domowije : The Grandfather house spirit; resembles a male head of a family : living or dead. The favorite places for these spirits to live is the threshold under the door or under the stove. He is responsible for maintaining peace and order in the household. Peasants made sure to feed him nightly, in return for being well taken care of and protected.

When a new house is constructed, the owner would attract one of these spirits by placing a piece of bread down before the stove was put in. Special care was taken to make sure to only obtain pets and farm animals he liked, but the domowije would torment the ones he didn’t care for.

Salted bread wrapped in a white cloth appeases this spirit. Putting clean white linen in his room was an invitation to eat a meal with the family. Hanging old shoes in the yard makes him happy as well.

The Domowije’s behavior could foretell or forewarn about the future. He will pull hair to warn a woman of danger from an abusive man. He would moan and howl to warn of coming trouble. If he shows himself, it forewarns of death, if weeping it is said to be a death in the family. If he is laughing there are good times to be expected. If he strums a comb there is a wedding in the future.

Kikimora : A female house spirit that is sometimes said to be married to the Domowije. She usually lives behind the stove or in the cellar. She will look after the chickens and the housework if the home is well kept. If not, she will tickle, whistle, and whine at the children at night.

She comes out at night to spin; if she appears spinning to someone it is said that person will die. To appease an angry Kikimora it is said one should wash all the pots and pans in a fern tea. She is said to look like an average woman with her hair down (Slavic women kept their heads covered).

: A meadow spirit; Polish field spirit.

Leszi : Male woodlands elves who protect wild animals and have a close bond with the wolf. He is also seen in the company of bears. He is said to shape-shift to any size, animal or plant. He is the Forest Lord and carries a club to express his rulership in the wood. If one could be friends with the Leszi, he would teach them the secrets of magic.

Mamuna : a highlander Polish spirit said to lead one down the wrong path, literally and figuratively.

: The Polish Wild Woman spirit of the forest. She resembles such nature goddesses as Artemis.

Mora : Souls of living people that leave the body during the night, and are seen as wisps of straw or hair or as moths.

Naw : Demons from the souls of persons that had met a tragic death or premature death.

Neuri : Shape-shifters of uncertain origins. They are said to be sorcerers that can take the shape of a wolf for one week once a year.

Nocnitsa : “Night Hag,” nightmare Spirit that also goes by the names Krisky and Plaksy. She is known in Bulgaria as Gorska Makua.

Odmience : Changlings left behind by the Boginki.

Polewiki : A field spirit that appears as a deformed dwarf with different colored eyes and grass for hair. He appears either at noon or sunset and wears either all black or all white. He will lead wandering people in a field astray; give them diseases or ride them over with his horse if he finds them asleep. If a person falls asleep on the job after drinking, the Polewiki might murder them. Appeasing the Polewiki requires two eggs and a rooster, a toad and crow placed in a ditch when no one is looking. Poland was named after the word Pole, which means field.

: The whirlwind named “Lady Midday,” who makes herself more evident in the middle of hot summer days. She takes the form of whirling dust clouds and carries a scythe. She will stop people in the field to ask them difficult questions or engage them in conversation. Fi anyone fails to answer a question or tries to change the subject, she will cut off their head or strike them with illness. She may appear as an old hag or beautiful woman, or a 12 year old girl; and she was useful in scaring children away from valuable crops. She is only seen on the hottest part of the day and is a personification of a sun-stroke.

: Elves, “mischief makers.”

: A hawk, falcon, or fiery dwarf who turns himself into a whirlwind. The word for whirlwind seems to be a late bastardization of the name Swarog. In Lusitania to the people of Urals it was customary to throw a knife into a whirlwind to kill the demon residing in it. Bulgarians, Russians, and Pommeranians still cast themselves face down before a whirlwind to ward off misfortune and illness. Russians would shout “a belt around your neck!” in order to strangle the demon.

Rusalje : They are the Spirits that live in the waters from Fall to Spring; in some traditions they reside in the waters from Summer to Fall. In other tales, they become the Sky Women when they return from the waters. They are called Queen of Fairies and it is said only witches dared to swim with the Rusalje. The belief that the thunder and lightening of spring time was brought by the Sky Women mating with the thunder gods; so Spring festivals included celebrating the return of the Rusalje from the waters by placing wreaths on the waters, circle dances, and fire festivals. They brought moisture to field and forest.

Sky Women
: The warm weather incarnations of the Rusalka. Slavic women would go out in the first snow fall and make snow women to honor them, as it is believed to be brought by the Sky Women.

Smierna :
Polish Spirit of Death.

Spor : These spirits made the corn grow, and the cattle mature. The Spirit of fertility; and it is said every family invoked them.

Sudice (The Fates) : Spirits of judgement that meted out fortune, destiny, judgement and in some cases, fatality.

Tloka : The Spirit of neighborly compassion which compels you to put aside disagreements to come to the aid of a community member in financial trouble or help a neighbor repair a damaged home.

Topieke : Water spirits of human souls that died drowning, residing in the element of their own demise.

Treasurer/Karzelek : They live in mines and underground workings and are the guardians of gems, crystals, and precious metals. They will protect miners from danger, and lead them back when they are lost. They will also lead them to veins of ore. To people who are evil or insult them they are deadly; pushing them into dark chasms or send tunnels crashing down upon them. Hurling rocks, whistling or covering one’s head are actions that are offensive to the Treasurer; who will warn the offender with handfuls of pelted soil in their direction before taking serious action. The word for treasurers is still a mystery, the Polish name being the closest resemblance.

: Reputed in Poland and Lithuania to be the shape-shifting souls of the dead that were believed to visit the homes of their families. Peasants would lay flowers in the entrances to caves where they believed the Wila resided. Offerings for the Wila consist of ribbons, round cakes, vegetables, fresh fruit or other flowers left at sacred trees, fairy caves and wells. They are the female spirits that lived in the mountains, woods, and clouds that could shape-shift into horses, falcons, or swans also.

Wodjanoj : Male water spirits that are master shape-shifters that are said to live in underwater palaces made from the treasures of sunken ships. They are reported to marry the Rusalki; and are asked to help by fishermen by placing a pinch of tobacco in the water and say “Here’s your tobacco, Lord Wodjanoj, now give me a fish.” A Wodjanoj can be appeased by giving him your first fish or pouring butter into the water. Millers, beekeepers, and fisherman were protected by the Wodjanoj.

Strzyga : Vampires in Slavic culture that had two hearts and two souls, as well as two sets of teeth, but one set growing in normally would pinpoint a Strzyga. When they die, only one soul gets passed on, and the other soul causes the deceased Strzyga to come alive and prey upon other living beings. Burying the body in a separate place than the removed head is said to prevent Strzyga from rising back from the dead; but also burying the body face down with a sickle around it’s head is said to work as well.

Zors : Male spirits of Daytime.