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page nine



Then Hermes thus: “A nymph of late there was,

Whose heavenly form her fellows did surpass;

The pride and joy of fair Arcadia’s plains;

Beloved by deities, adored by swains;

Syrinx her name; by sylvans oft pursued


With these words (at least in my copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses, translated by John Dryden) Mercury (actually Hermes, since despite the author's Roman affiliation, these are Greek myths) begins to tell the story of how the musical instrument bearing the name of the most famous of nymphs came into being to the hundred-eyed watchman Argus. Today it is much better known by the name of the second actor in the story, the god Pan.

How Pan's flute, a composite of pipes (although technically they are not pipes) of various lengths, came into the world, Hermes has described at length. How, had it not been for a bone bow instead of a golden one, anyone would have mistaken Syrinx, a member of Artemis' select retinue, for her beautiful virginal superior, and how, because of that appearance, the aforementioned ugly Pan fell in love with her at first sight. How ...

Here the god ends his narrative mid-sentence, for Argos, incorruptible and never falling asleep, has fallen asleep.

The narrator then, before going on to recount the main plot, concerning another girl, summed up everything for the god in a few sentences: the nymph fled from the ugly forest god. She would have lost her way, but she came across her father, the river Ladon, whose waters, strangely enough, she could not cross. Probably because she wasn't a water naiad, but a mountain oread, regardless of her parents' origins. But Daddy (or her sisters) came to the rescue - he turned her into a reed.

The forest god overcame his disappointment, for he got – as the wind rustling in the reeds – an idea.

He made a musical instrument out of the shapeshifting nymph.


Pan, chasing Syrinx by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (*54C-508, Houghton Library, Harvard University) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

15.5.2023 (21.6.2015)


Let's stop now in the north of Central Europe. In Lusatia, Poland and also in some areas of Moravia, the home guardians were Ludkove, or, as the name suggests, Little people. In part, they can be compared to pixies – they do not live in the house, as most domestic spirits do, but in the mountains. They always maintain a relationship with a certain family like the Brownies, but don't look for a connection, certainly not other than – perhaps – an Indo-European kinship lost in the depths of time). They were believed to be the ancestors of the Lusatian Serbs and the original inhabitants of the land – the findings of prehistoric burials of the people of Urnfield culture contributed to this belief. Like most ideas of the indigenous people, the Ludkove were Teachers – they taught the people crafts, especially blacksmithing and building. Their language was a corruption of Lusatian-Serbian, and no sooner had Christianity arrived in the region than they packed up and disappeared.

Those beings had different names in different regions, and in accordance with my source, namely Zdeněk Váňa's World of Slavic Gods and Demons, I will only give them telegraphically:

Krasnoludci and karzełci (from Swedish or German) in Poland, krosnalci (dwarfs) in Kuyavia, krośnieta in Kashubia and Pomerania, kobud (from German kobold) in Lusatia.

15.5.2023 (20.3.2002)

Baobhan Sith

No, one cannot be sure of anything. While in Central Europe the ladies in white are sometimes uncouth mentors, now and then night nannies to their offspring and mostly just whiny ghosts, suffering for their (or other people's) sins, the Scottish Highlands look at women dressed in white a little differently. Especially when they visit you and start – how else – deceiving you with their bodies. Who wouldn't dance with a beautiful girl? Especially one who suspects that behind the handsome face there is a ghost, or more precisely a vampire, who has taken on a seductive form and is about to have a bloody drink.

15.5.2023 (1.3.2002)



One of the most famous African cults is the voodoo cult that moved across the ocean and landed in Haiti. But all most people know about it is the idea of wax figures, pins, and zombies. The basis of Haitian religion, however, is the loa ("Mysteries". Or "Angels" in the north). These primarily African deities, by their very basic division, reflect a classical dualistic conception.

The Loa Rada are the first group of mostly good, sympathetic, and often pleasant deities, who arrived with the slaves from Dahomey. These include the demiurgic Legba (or Legba-rada, to distinguish him from Legba-petro), Agau, and Erzulie (who was certainly not at all likable in Africa).

The Loa Petro, whose name derives from the real Don Pedro, who founded the cult of ecstatic dances in the eighteenth century, are mainly the bad guys. They are mostly African in origin, but non-Dahomean gods and demons, and in some cases native Haitian spirits. Among the numerous ranks, let us mention for the moment the Marinette-bwa-chech or Taureau-trois-graines.

The dualistic divide is not strict, however; occasionally the loa rada will awaken anger (and probably memories of their former true nature), while the loa petro will now and then stoop to good deeds. In keeping with human nature and the years of experience of the entire genus Homo, they have preferably evoked the loa rada, with the shamans resorting to their unkind counterparts only when they find that truth and love have once again been knocked down, and stronger caliber needs to be deployed. Loa petro are the partners of wizards in particular, and it is they who are responsible for the worldwide notoriety of voodoo.

Now, a few explanatory notes for readers of Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Voodoo appears in the main role of the twelfth book (one of my favorites), Witches Abroad. In it, Granny Weatherwax meets the voodoo lady Mrs. Gogol, and everything is real. So just a few sentences about whom Mr. Pratchett hired.


Erzulie, or Ezili-Freda-Dahome

One of the Haitian Loa rada, used to be one of a large family of mischievous spirits in her native Dahome. But then she turned her back on them, made a career for herself, and became the goddess of love.



The god Legba, however, is usually a lame old man on a crutch, dragging a large sack with him. Don't let appearances fool you, this Dahomean fertility deity can get pretty angry and hides some serious power. He belongs, as reported above, to the Loa rada. On the other hand, his counterpart Legba-petro, otherwise known as Maitre-Carrefour, or Lord of the Crossroads, is the main patron of black magic. He's wild and angry pretty much all the time.



Terry Pratchett was probably inspired by the form of the name Agau and the genus Aga of North American toads. The Haitian Agau is a deity of earthquakes and lightning, which are produced by his rage. Those possessed by him are forced to imitate the rumbling of the storm.


Baron Samedi

Baron Saturday (Samedi), who is a mere zombie in the book, is in Haitian reality the Lord of the Dead, an otherworldly deity whose favor is needed by the bokos, or witches, precisely in the summoning of the dead. In a fit of obsession, the one who performs the magic ceremony must perform a ritual consisting, for example, of a midnight journey to the cemetery, where bananas and potatoes must be placed next to the cross that personifies Baron Samedi. Beware, the diseases that one can catch during this trip are very difficult to cure.


Loa on the picture is a doll of Baron Samedi, markbenecke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

26.5.2023 (2.2.2002)

Ezili Dantor

The black sister of Haitian goddess Ezili Freda, i.e. Erzulie. Protector of hard-working women. Mothers, especially single mothers. Harsh, destructive.

Suitable offerings: jewelry, perfume (Agua de Florida to be precise), gold rings. A black pig, which should be a local breed known as the Creole pig. But that was wiped out a few years ago by the African swine fever.

Offspring: beloved daughter Anaïs. Sometimes a son, Jan Dantor. She may have seven children.

Oddity: she is of Polish descent. It's over half a globe, but the distance doesn't play a significant role in this case. Haiti used to be a French colony, and when the slaves there rebelled (and were the only ones to bring their struggle to a victorious end) Emperor Napoleon sent an army against them, which included Polish legions. More than five thousand men, of whom only a few hundred returned home. Legend has it that many of them sympathized with the black freedom fighters and joined the rebels. It is certainly true that many Polish soldiers, on whatever side, carried with them a reminder of their homeland, a picture of its patroness, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa.

26.5.2023 (29.1.2023)


According to legend, the devil once fought with a witch. Whether the demon won or not, he certainly knocked some of the witch's teeth out. (That's probably why older hags have so much space in their mouths). When they were done and limped off to their own place, the charcoal burner came to the spot and found the teeth. He gave them to his son to play with and he, like every child, lost them. While a man in Greece grew soldiers from dragon's teeth (who thought of nothing else but to kill each other), a witch's teeth in Bohemia grew into a plant. It is from it that every first one of them comes out Diblík. In terms of character, he is vindictive and evil, not surprising given his origins. But owned (or hired) he helps in the farm, protects livestock and crops, and eventually brings money.

1.6.2023 (18.2.2002)


Gardsvor, or Guardian of the House, comes from Scandinavia by name. Like most house spirits, it takes the form of a small person and, as in most such cases, is believed to be the spirit of an ancestor.

1.6.2023 (17.3.2002)

Xixi Zhi Yu

A strange Chinese fish, which looks like a magpie with five pairs of wings, makes sounds like a magpie and repels fire. Eating its flesh will protect you from jaundice.

1.6.2023 (4.1.2012)

Lesovik, Div and Mikola

He who is afraid must not go into the forest, says a Czech proverb. It is not safe among the trees, you know. If you don't cross a stray root, you may very well run into one of the more dangerous forest dwellers.

If you are walking through the forests of Russia or Ukraine (i.e., the territory of the Eastern Slavs), beware of the Lesovik. He's also called a Leshy, but that doesn't change the fact.

He is a mischievous, hairy, green-bearded little man with decent claws growing instead of fingernails. In keeping with the ancient Greek Pan, he is the ruler of the forest. A geographically specific patch of tree-covered land, so you may occasionally witness him fighting a neighboring Lesovik. This struggle is accompanied by the snapping of branches, and the crashing of breaking stones or falling trees. It is already evident from these effects that Lesovik will not take any chances. The whirlwind also announces his presence in the forest, sometimes he announces himself more gently, by the mere rustling of the trees. But woe betides the one who would want to disturb the silence he otherwise enjoys. Or to hunt the bears, who are his guardians and who protect it even more than other forest animals.

Like many powerful people, Lesovik takes advantage of his impunity and amuses himself at others' expense, leading them astray, stealing, and sometimes even kidnapping children. Because he can transform himself into a tree or animal, he is difficult to identify, so it is a good idea to carry lime wood without bark or to make offerings as a sign of good neighborly relations, which are usually the first game, or a cow caught (unhunted, from your own stock), or even just bread and salt. It was also customary to maintain a one-sided correspondence with the forester, conducted on birch bark.

Lesovik's purely Russian relative is the Div, inhabiting the treetops. Like the West Slavic Heykal, he likes to jump down from there on unsuspecting travelers.

The third forest creature from the Eastern Slavic regions is Nikola (Mikola), who has suffered the fate of many pre-Christian nature demons. Unable to defeat them through oblivion, the Church or even the believers themselves have added to them the attributes of one of their Saints (in the worst case, hellions). Today, Mikola is identified with Nikola Dupljansky, a hermit who chose a gnarled tree as his dwelling place. Mikola is an evil spirit, and in Kashubian legends, he also adopted the custom of, for example, the Sphinx: he asked questions of wandering pilgrims, whoever missed the answer fell prey to evil powers, whoever answered correctly was shown the way by Mikola.

1.6.2023 (13.2.2002)

Echidna (with family)

Although a closer look at the kinship between the Greek gods and heroes reveals a terrible mess, and we find that basically everyone is related to everyone else, and gods know if that's true, one famous family is almost trouble-free. Almost, because in the depths of time, there are many stories with many peripeties, beginnings, progressions, and endings.

The general version will be sufficient for us – but even that may surprise you. For you will find that the most famous monsters of Greek myth grew up under the same roof, inheriting toys from each other and maybe even some of those worn-out children's clothes.
But let's start with the maternal great-grandmother (we'll just remember her because she definitely deserves a separate entry sometime later) and that's Medusa. This only mortal of the three Gorgon sisters lost the duel to Perseus and lost her head. If we forget that from the drops of her blood that fell on the sands of the Libyan desert amphisbaina, seps or other monsters were supposedly created, then immediately after the decapitation, two creatures were born – the winged horse Pegasos, and Chrysaor, a giant for a change. Their father was Poseidon, god of the seas, but save that story for another time. What's important to us right now is that the giant Chrysaor and the Oceanid Callirhoa had two children, the three-headed giant Geryon and Echidna.



was half a beautiful woman and half a serpent. She lived in a cave and fed on human flesh. In addition, she raised her offspring, which she fathered with Typhon. She didn't have the best of luck; once she was asleep, she was killed by Argos Panoptes, the Ooe-hundred-eyed giant (this first detective, by the way, later came to the same end).



had more noble parents than his wife. He was the son of Gaia herself, Mother Earth, and Tartarus, god of the Darkest Abyss. This giant had a hundred dragon heads and could roar like a man, a dog, and a bull, and his ambition was not low. He had a score to settle with Zeus himself (a half-nephew, when you get right down to it). This action failed, however, and Zeus – after a long struggle – defeated him and send him into his father (in some versions, of course, under Etna, from where Typhon still rages today). Even if he hadn't had so many famous descendants, he would still remain in many languages to this day – for Typhon literally means Whirling wind, and we all know a typhoon.

So we've dealt with the parents, and now it's the kids' turn. Alphabetically, more or less.



Originally a nine-headed dragon that settled in the marshes near the town of Lerna and went on a rampage. All efforts to eradicate her were futile, for with every head it cut off, two new ones grew, one of them immortal. She was finally removed by the most famous of the Greeks, Heracles, and even he was not without the help of his friend Iolaus.

But she survived her death in the sky, where she can still be seen as the constellation of the Dragon. And as a metaphor for unconquerable evil.



Her truly phantasmagoric appearance has remained in many languages as a word for elusive fantasies, delusions, and dreams. She combined a lion, a goat, and a snake. From all three heads, she spewed fire, usually at the people she ran out of her ravine. Nor did she avoid a critical clash with the hero. Bellerophontes got Chimaira from the safety of the saddle of the flying horse Pegasus – as you know that horse was Chimaira's great-uncle, but family relationships were hardly a liability in Greek myth.

According to Virgil, after her inglorious end, Chimaira guarded the entrance to Hades' kingdom in the underworld. She joined her brother, who was none other than


Kerberos (or Cerberus, if you like),

the famous three-headed dog, a guardian of the Underworld. He had the best career of all the siblings – aside from a little faux pas with Heracles that brought him to the daylight and carried him off to Mycenae, he never left his post. Few people were able to outwit him, and not just because, in addition to his three heads (some scaremongers say there were fifty or even a hundred heads, which was probably true originally), he had snakes around his neck and a dragon's head or spikes on his tail. Of the most notorious heroes, Orpheus was able to get through – but he managed to charm the entire underworld, including the god Hades; Theseus preferred to avoid him and enter the underworld through the back door.



was the next canine child of Typhon and Echidna. But he only had two heads and didn't exactly choose a great profession. He worked as a herd guard for his uncle, the three-bodied giant Geryon. Like most of his siblings, Orthos ran into Heracles, who set out to steal Geryon's cattle. The honest guard defended the herd to his last breath. For his integrity, he is not as well known as his brothers and sisters. But there is a half-forgotten version that he, and not Typhon, was the father of the following pair. But let's stick to the classical version, so - we've gone round the alphabet a bit - let's meet the next brother, and that's


Nemean Lion

He looked like an ordinary, maybe a little overgrown, cat-like beast. But he had wonderfully tough skin that could withstand anything. He acted by his origins, terrorizing Nemea until the arrival of the Typhon family's notorious enemy, Heracles. For the hero, the destruction of the Nemean lion was the first job for Eurystheus, and he handled it with ease.

That being said, there is a whispered rumor about the true father of the Nemean Lion. But it is said in the backstage that even the mother is not certain - some speak of Chimaira, others of the moon goddess Selene.



The last proven (at least in common knowledge) daughter of Typhon and Echidna also belongs to the figures that the whole world has inherited from Greek mythology. She lived near Thebes and was in the habit of giving passers-by a tantalizing riddle about who it was that walked on all fours in the morning, two by day, and three in the evening.
Only Oedipus kept his cool and answered correctly (And only Terry Pratchett kept an even cooler head and proved that the question thus posed was nonsense :-).

The Sphinx lost her head after Oedipus' answer and jumped into the sea. The Sphinx was adopted by the Greeks from the East from the Assyrians and Babylonians (Winged bulls with human heads) and of course from Egypt. The famous statue from Giza, however, is the Sheshep-anch - a living image (of the ruler) - hence the name Sphinx.


There, we're done with the family. Pretty, huh? Still missing is the beautiful, but later enchanted into a monster, Skylla, who, together with Charybdis, rampaged in the sea - most often referred to as the Strait of Messina. But Skylla's parents are thought to be the sea god Forkys and the goddess Kratais, only occasionally counted among the children of Typhon and Echidna, so we'll save her for another time. the evening.

20.6.2023 (6.3.2002)



Genius is the spiritual doppelganger of every human being – this is how it was viewed in ancient Rome. Doppelgangers are found in the mythology of the whole continent and Claude Lecoutex devoted a whole book to them – Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages ((Fées, Sorcières et Loups-garous) – which was published in Czech in 1998 by Volvox Globator (in English in 2003).

But let's go back to the Genius. As an alter ego, he accompanied man throughout his life and originally died with him. Later he forgave himself for this experience and only occasionally went to visit the grave of his former protégé. Every man had a genius (which in ancient Rome meant a man, and a free one at that. Slaves were not eligible, women were protected by the goddess Juno), but also the place (the Latin term genius loci is still alive today), associations and societies, military units. With the coming of the empire, the genii rose to prominence, as did their comrades, the lares and the penates.

Sacrifices were made to the genii in the form of flowers and honeycombs - these were always offered as old as the person was. Sometimes he was called a tutelator (because he protected the body and soul of his charge) or medioximus, the mediator (sometimes also méteme), as the Latins called him.

From there he passed into the Christian tradition in the form of a guardian angel.


The present Genius was painted on the wall of a house near Pompeii. In the first century BC, today's Louvre Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

20.6.2023 (17.3.2002)


On St. Lucia´s Day, a strange figure used to walk around the houses in Bohemia. Hidden under the sheets, she carried a wooden washtub (common at that time)  with her, and no sooner had she entered the door than she started banging on it with a hammer. To make it sound, she had nails nailed to her washtub.

As a pedagogical ghost, the Klempera threatened the disobedient children, especially those who refuse to eat. More like a festival mask than a bogeyman.

20.6.2023 (18.2.2002)


One of the most famous protectors of homes among the Eastern Slavs is Domovoi, a little old man with a long white beard, wearing a red shirt with a blue belt. He can turn into a dog, a cat, a snake of course, but also into a rat or other animals. He likes warmth and can therefore take up residence in baths, drying rooms, simply wherever he can find a furnace. Each Domovoi likes one color, this information, is quite essential for the householder, as it is the lucky color of the house, but he does not reveal it.

In accordance with the job description of other dei domestici, he takes care of the house (that's why he is also called Chozyain – housekeeper), multiplies the property (if by acts punishable under criminal law as a Czech shotek, I don't know), protects the newborns.

However, the favor of the householder must be secured. Since he is tied to the house, it is already appropriate to sacrifice a lamb, a black cock, food, or money when building it. A remnant of the earliest times is the findings of sacrificed children.

If he is not sacrificed, not honored, or simply gets angry (he does not like a married woman to show up with her head uncovered in front of a stranger), he starts to do harm. The remedy then, of course, costs much more than one black chicken that the owner previously felt sorry for.

Like the Leshy from the same area, the Domovoi has an enemy – another Domovoi - if he is defeated, the stranger starts to do harm and must be driven out by magic.

In the building, or rather near it, there is also a Dvorovoi, this time a negative being with whom the Domovoi is in constant trouble. Dvorovoi enjoys harassing the farm animals, which is of course hard for Domovoi to take - and not only from his position as protector of the house. In fact, he is extremely fond of horses - when the animal is sweaty in the morning, the Domovoi has been out for a ride at night.

A certain partner of the Domovoi is the Korgorusha. She appears as a cat, and has criminal tendencies, she uses its zoomorphic abilities to bring money and food from other houses.

20.6.2023 (20.3.2002)


Near the Old Military Road, on a hill near the Scottish village of Corgarff, there is a well called Toba-na-glas a Coille (Well in the Grey Forest). It is guarded by a gnome known as Duine-glase-beg, (Little Grey Man). He is an honest watchman, but unkind, even hostile to humans. When you draw water from the source he tends, you must throw a pin or other metallic trinket into it, or the goblin will come after you the next time you visit, and will not rest until he has quenched your thirst.

20.6.2023 (27.1.2019)





"Things just happen. What the hell."
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather


Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)



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