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A famed lady with a famed reputation. Goddess of one of the most important fields of human activity, love. A beautiful woman, endowed to a certainty with a magic belt that makes her absolutely irresistible. Men's tastes vary, and female beauty is an irrelevant concept even among goddesses, as evidenced by the famous apple story, when Hera, Athena and Aphrodite argued for so long that a mortal had to judge them. This was the Trojan Paris and his reward was the destruction of Troy, sorry, the most beautiful mortal, Helen.

Although the Trojan War is far from the only story that the goddess, originally from the Middle East where she was known as Ishtar, later Ashtoreth, wrote into Greek myth, it is the most famous.

Let's move on.


Aphrodite's family tree is a little more complicated. But no more so than is usual in the rich Greek mythology.

Today, the most famous version of her origins quotes Hesiod and tells how Aphrodite was born from sea foam, fertilized by Uranus, or rather his Cronus' severed genitals. Others also swear by the sea, but instead of the semen of Uranus they prefer the lightning strike of Zeus. Homer's version also grants paternity to Zeus and maternity to the rain goddess Dione. But no one denies that Aphrodite came from the sea. She sailed in a shell to Kythira, but the poor island was not to her liking, so she soon moved to Cyprus, where she opened the most famous branch of her cult in Paphos.

Zeus chose Hephaesteus, the least attractive male inhabitant of Olympus, as her husband. Given this and her prescribed promiscuous life, it is not surprising that she managed a number of lovers. The god of war, Ares, endured her (or with her) the longest, to whom she bore a goodly number of offspring: sons Phobos, Deimos, Eros, and Anteros, and a daughter, Harmonia. The divine blacksmith also set a trap for the weapons-rattling seducer: he made a fine but indestructible net in which to catch the lover; but it came to nothing, for although he tried to shame both his wife and Ares by publicly revealing the trapped couple and to get back the wedding gifts, the spectators present were more likely to envy Ares than to sympathize with the cuckold.

The consequences of other love affairs included Hermaphroditus, whom she bore to Hermes, Priapus's to daddy Dionysus, or Rhodes and Herophilos, whose father was Poseidon. This is far from the end of the list.

As the goddess of love, Aphrodite is accompanied by a large retinue. In addition to her most famous son, Eros, this includes the goddess of charm Charites, the overseer of the seasons, Horus, the goddess of flattering persuasion, Peithó, and the goddess of passionate desire, Hímeros - who, because of the same name, is often mistaken for Lacedaimon's son, Hímérus, whom Aphrodite had so wooed that he eventually drowned in shame. There is also the god of lust, Pothos, and for good measure Aphrodite employs the god of marriage, Hymenus.

In hindsight, we tend to think of Aphrodite as a goddess who is more lovable than dangerous; I fear this is more a consequence of the stories of the romantic novels and modern fairy tales than knowledge of the myths (and, as many will confirm, real life).

While it is true that the goddess brought to life the statue of Pygmalion's ideal mate, and that she protected her favorites wherever she could, on the other hand, she was just as cruel as her divine counterparts. Narkissos or Hyppolytus, for example, could tell us about this. She also took part in the Trojan War, but she was not very brave. She was only able to escape in tears when she was scratched by Diomedes' spear.

As the goddess of love, she was not allowed to work, like the nobility of the Austrian monarchy. Which she could not endure and secretly sat down to her loom, unfortunately for her, she was caught by Athena; the goddess of crafts and arts complained loudly, then Aphrodite had to promise never to work again.


Accompanying image is an image of a copy of an ancient statue, Codex (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

26.1.2024 (17.12.2012)

Blaník Knights

This misery shall last three years, and then for a few years it shall be well in Bohemia, and after that, the land of Bohemia shall be in great danger from the enemies that shall encamp round about the hill that is called Blanik; and in that hill God hath hid by his marvelous power a strong and valiant army. And when there shall be terrible bloodshed, which shall last for days, and the blood shall flow down the stream, then the people of the country shall be gathered together, and having no other weapons, they shall equip themselves with all manner of instruments, and they shall lay siege to the enemy. And then the chosen ones from the rock will come to their aid and will drive all the enemy army out of the land, what is left after the killing of the others - and then the Czech land will rest for a while ...

The Prophecy of the Blind Youth (quoted from the edition published by Vaněk and Votava Publishing House, Smichov, year undetermined, probably sometime shortly after the First World War, as in the preface the Czechoslovak legionaries are compared to the Blaník knights.


The Prophecy of the Blind Youth, which was allegedly copied in 1491 by Josef Kochan of Rožmital from Jan Melichar, reached the printing house of Josef Hereker, where it was first published in print (probably in 1647), through the masters Krištof Orl (1530), Michal Krejbock (1576), and Ondřej Hrubý of Písek (1631). Thirty years later, it was banned, burned, and also rewritten copied, edited and, of course, added to.

The last, let us say canonical version, is the transcription by Anežka Rozsypalová of Obecnice, made in 1844. This was the basis for further editions, and most probably also for the relevant chapter of Jirásek's Old Czech Tales, which has been shortened by several paragraphs; in particular, his list of rulers about whom the Blind Youth expounds ends Rudolf II.

More substantially pruned are the prophecies of Sibylla, which Jirásek summarizes in two chapters. These are three in the original and were told by Michalde, Queen of Sheba (for in this case she is our Sibylla) to King Solomon. This was in 578 B.C. In 393 the prophecy was translated into English by Bede the Venerable, and in the year 1026 by John Letter, and in 1113 by ... and so on. The actual author, or at least the editor of the final version, probably came from South Bohemia, from the Tábor or Soběslav region, because of the four cities that can escape the wrath of God, three come from these areas: Tábor, Ústí, and Soběslav. The fourth is, surprisingly, Mělník.

To our narrative today belongs the third book of the prophecy, dedicated to the land most famous, most bountiful, and most fertile for bread so that it will be far from equal. However, no one learns from the twelve warnings; chaos, strife and a small apocalypse will break out in the land, culminating in an attack by four armies from four sides of the world. By the time the armies reach Blaník Mount, they will have murdered three quarters of the population, the sinners, for God will hide the righteous quarter in a mist.

A twelve-day battle will be fought at Blanik, which will fill the dry pond with blood, and on the thirteenth day the army of God from Blanik will march and drive the enemy to Cologne. There they are lost, but the surviving enemies are slaughtered by the Spaniards. Where they came from, the prophecy does not tell us, but perhaps the answer can be found in the legends of Spain.

The Blanik knights will not hold Prague, which the retreating troops will sack and destroy.

As is generally known, the Blanik army is led by a person of undisputed moral reputation, Saint Wenceslas. It is debatable whether the real creator of Czech statehood, his brother Boleslav, would have taken his place, but a symbol is a symbol and a symbol is better chased.

But why Blaník?

Before we try to find a short and non-exhaustive answer, let us look around the country. For Blaník is not the sole garrison. The army that is supposed to save this country is stationed in more than twenty other places.

For example, in the Hadí hora near Blatná or in the Boubín Mountain in Šumava. Or in the Svidník hill near Černovice, from where the soldiers are supposedly going to climb the silver stairs. Another south-western unit is hiding in Královský kamen near Kašperské hory.

It is in Křemže near Český Krumlov in Kluk that the guardian spirit of this region is hidden. He looks like a young boy, but with supernatural beings, you can't look at the form. He too will wake up when the going gets tough and go to help. At least that's the story around here. The underage protector is said to have appeared to the knight Smil of Křemže.

A cavalry army is certainly resting at Domažlice in Chodov, as evidenced by the manure from the underground stables that flows out of Chodov in the form of a yellow stream.

In Čistá near Svitavy, where a battle once took place, soldiers are sleeping, of whom legend speaks directly as a detached unit of the Blanik´s – when the country is at its worst, the Knights of St. Wenceslas will set off for Prague. There they will join with the Blanicans. The Knights of Čistá are, by the way, headless. Another unit of St. Wenceslas is sleeping in Kunětice Mountain near Pardubice. Once a year the local unit holds an Open Day, when it is possible to see the halls and stables in the mountain.

Not far from here, near Hradec Králové above Libčany, is the hill of Pašát with another garrison. On Christmas Eve, at midnight, the Knights of the Heavenly Army stationed in the Drábský Forest near Vysoké Mýto have a walk. But after a few minutes, the dancing phantoms disappear back into the underground barracks.

The northern border is secured by an army sleeping under Házmburk near Litoměřice, and also in Ralsko near Mimoň (very ironic, if we remember what armies were actually stationed in this area some time ago).

Moravia is protected by a division at Hostyn Hill. It is said to date back to the Tartar Wars or is maintained by the Hostyn Mother of God. The cavalry unit also sleeps at Babí Hora near Čejkovice. The Polish border is guarded by a unit on the hill of Čantoryje, once famous for its pagan idols. Another group is the army near Opava, cursed in the Hanuš hill above the Moravice river.

This list is by no means complete; its purpose is to point out the many other sleeping armies, which, incidentally, are found in every European country. Jirásek writes in the Old Bohemian Tales that these legends probably originated in Asia, whence the Crusades brought them.

So why did Blaník become the most famous?

There are many tales about the Blanik army, not only the above prophecies. It is not only the stories of its intervention that are associated with the army of St. Wenceslas (St. Wenceslas did not become commander until the eighteenth century, and the legend itself is much older). There are a number of small stories that add to the legend; of the blacksmith who forged their horses, of visits - year-round, of course - inside the mountain, of occasional excursions in which riders and horses stretch their stiff muscles.

By the end of the Middle Ages, Blaník's reputation was so strong that pilgrimages were made to it, and tales of its miracles spread throughout the country. In his sermons, even Jan Hus fought against Blaník.

One of the original legends tells of Prince Stojmir, who fell with his men under Blaník during one of the tribal wars. No one found the dead bodies on the battlefield, so it was clear that they were hidden in the mountain. This rumor grew and probably became the model for some of the already-mentioned stories about other places. Blaník itself also plays a large role, because of its long-standing reputation as a magical place. This dates back not only to pre-Christian but also pre-Slavic times.

26.1.2024 (29.12.2002)


Czech Bludičky, also known as Světýlka or Cvendy (in Železnobrodsko) and Rychmandle (around Česká Třebová), are small lights, or tiny people with lanterns or golden-haired babies with a burning torch. They hop over marshes or cemeteries and lead travelers into swamps. Especially if they are shouted at or whistled at, then they will take revenge for disturbing them. But there are also cases where they have helped a stray to find their way. Well, politeness sometimes pays, and idiotic behavior sometimes does not. Every now and then they can hint at where the treasures are hidden.

They always appear in odd numbers.

As for the origin, it's not simple.

It is most often thought that the Bludičky, like the mavkas, are the souls of the unbaptized children, or the souls of murder victims. Or they may be the souls of witches. Or the souls of farmers who enlarged their fields by illegally plowing the boundaries. The Moravian Zabubenčtata or Zabobončata are unbaptized children with transparent bodies.

The Světýlka didn't even give rest to modern man, who tried to explain them away with burning methane - and when that didn't quite work, he focused on luminous insects, fungi, Schistostega osmundacea moss, bacteria, just about anything that could give off even a little light. Not all cases have been solved, however, and the case remains open.

31.1.2024 (4.1.2003)


The supernatural night lights of the British Isles are called Will-o'-the-wisp. Also Ignis Fatuus, as a scholar remembering Roman Britain would say. And also Jack O'Lantern, Will-o-the-Wikes (that in Norfolk), Peg-a-Lantern. Ellylldan in Wales, Spunkie in the Lowlands of Scotland, Hinkey Punk, Jenny Burnt Tail, the names are so numerous that a mere listing of them would take up a good deal of space. It varies from region to region, just as it does in Czech lands, but Britain is bigger and culturally a bit more divided.

They are mostly bluish, but sometimes green or red lights, and they behave in the usual manners; misleading the way, drowning travelers in swamps. Sometimes they show the way to treasure. They are also of almost identical origin to their Czech relatives; the souls of unbaptized children, or the souls of those, who have neither gone to heaven nor hell. Other times they are different - Jack O'Lantern is a lost wandering soul with a rich history of his own. The Welsh Pwca is lighting his way home at night, while Shropshire's Will Smith was offered a second chance at life by St Peter, which as we can see didn't end well.

31.1.2024 (4.1.2003)

La luz del dinero

Finally, I take you to the steep, cold, and life-threatening Andes. Even there they have their wisps, blue and white lights, which - understandably - are afraid of daylight and flee from it in terror. They look like glowing pennies - hence the name, penny lights. From their European cousins, Andean penny lights have taken the most endearing feature - they show where treasures are hidden.

31.1.2024 (4.1.2003)



Easter Island is the most deserted place on the planet, home to famous statues and lesser-known petroglyphs, many legends and myths. Many names, too. Ever since I was a kid, Te Pito O Te Henua has been my favorite, but the name Rapa Nui is more familiar. It was also called Mata-ki-Te-rangi. And I only discovered the name Te pito o te kainga a Hau Maka now, a man is always learning.

The human inhabitants of the island, and indeed the world, as it happens, are the responsibility of Makemake, the local fertility god, and creator, the head of the bird cult. He is still present on the island today - in the form of images carved into the rock and writings on rongorongo tablets.


The photo of the Easter Island petroglyph comes from Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License

1.2.2024 (24.5.2011)

Cold Lad

In Northumberland, England's northernmost county, Cold Lad appears at Gilsland Castle. He is not dangerous, he stalks the corridors and makes his presence known by gnashing his teeth and whimpering.

He is one of the ghosts of human origin. A boy was once imprisoned in the castle and, the north of England being the north of England, the unfortunate youth froze to death.

1.2.2024 (12.1.2003)

Mr. Chicket

The Brushmakers Arm in Upham, Hampshire, is one of Britain's many haunted pubs. Mr Chicket is a local resident.

If he hadn't visited the Upham pub, we'd have one less ghost. But unfortunately, Mr Chicket has spent the night here.

He didn't see the morning, a fate that befell many a traveler in the Middle Ages. He was murdered and robbed. Perhaps he was greedy, perhaps he had earned his money hard, but in any case, he was not going to give it up even in death. To this day, he can still be seen in The Brushmakers Arm, in shadow form, searching for his gold.

1.2.2024 (12.1.2003)


France has always abounded with fine wine, beautiful women, and stubborn farmers. Also dragons. Many of Europe's most famous dragons come from here. There was once a monster called Drac, but today we're looking at a beast even more famous.

Gargouille lived in the Seine River in the seventh century and was not a pleasant neighbor. Sources describe him as a large beast with a long neck and a narrow snout. If you want the details, you'll have to go to Rouen, where you'll find this stained glass window in its full glory in the cathedral there.

The monster destroyed everything it could until one day it ventured into Rouen itself and razed the city to the ground. Which became its swan song. A punitive squad, consisting of a certain volunteer (whose volunteerism will be shown in its true light when I reveal that he was, as is usual in such dragon cases, a death-row convict), who accompanied Saint Roman.

No sooner had Gargoyle appeared than the venerable Romanus attacked. Not with a sword at all, or, heaven forbid, with something as false as a calf stuffed with quicklime. Romanus was the Archbishop of Rouen and so he used the weapons he wielded. He folded two fingers into the sign of the cross, whereupon the dragon creature crouched at Romanus's feet, its great eyes staring at the archbishop the way a puppy stares when its master has just slipped in a puddle of something on the kitchen floor.

St. Romanus took the dragon to the ruins of Rouen, where he had it burned.

Their reputation and fame have endured to this day - and I daresay the dragon fared even better. For St. Romain may be lost in the throng of ever-increasing Catholic saints, but Gargouille will remain in the mouths of men - and not just in the French language - for many centuries to come. Its unpleasant appearance and reputation have made it into Gothic architecture in the form of gargoyles, those bizarre figures whose mouths are supposed to spout water when it rains. In French, a gargoyle is called a gargouille, and the surrounding countries have adopted the word, the Spanish as a gárgola (speaking of a Gothic architectural feature, more generally a water spout is a botagua), the English use the word gargoyle alongside the actual spout.

While many other supernatural creatures have given their names to zoological science (think of Amphisbains or Echidnas, for example), the gargoyle originally went in a different direction.

1.2.2024 (19.1.2003)


We'll stay in France for a while, replenishing our collection of pedagogical bogeymen. This thankless profession, whose mission is to educate by punishment, is carried out both by supernatural beings who have lost their original function and by creatures created by the cold calculation of the adult human mind.

To which group Croquemitaine belongs I do not know. I am not aware that this ghost has ever done anything other than watch over the good manners of little Frenchmen, and so I will tentatively place it in group B. It's as valid for him as it is for the others - most of his presumed victims will figure out that in this case, again, the nanny or parents were just making false threats.

Pedagogical bogeymen have a hard life.

1.2.2024 (19.1.2003)


In the French Alps and Switzerland, there are gnomes that you can distinguish from the rest of their species at a glance. The feet of the barbegazi are as big as snowshoes; they serve the same purpose if we imagine the conditions of the mountains. Barbegazi can also burrow into the snow very quickly thanks to them. Their hair and beards resemble (or are) icicles - hence their name, the French barbe glacée meaning as much as the English frozen beard.

They live in an intricate network of tunnels and caves that they have dug under the Alpine giants and that lead to their peaks. It is not easy to spot them, especially not during the summer when they go into hibernation, as they do not like temperatures above freezing.

Instead, they like to ride in avalanches, using their big feet as skis; they enjoy the snow in general, climbing out of holes with the first flakes.

They are friendly creatures, who also help people, warn them about avalanches, and occasionally dig out some unfortunate person who has been buried by the snow.

1.2.2024 (19.1.2003)


Today's bogeyman is another of a large family of creatures that lurk on the road. It is a native Filipino, large, black, and hairy, with a penchant for alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. It lives in a tree and lurks in ambush, from where it hums at passers-by or casts curses at them.

9.2.2024 (7.8.2005)

Raw Head and Bloody Bones

From the name alone, he's not a very pleasant creature. He comes from Ireland and is originally a pedagogical ghost. Furry, with big pale eyes, sometimes haunts the closet, but it has been found that somewhere (e.g. in Lancashire or Yorkshire) he prefers a different habitat, namely water. Incidentally, back in his native Ireland, he liked to live in the waste under the sink.

9.2.2024 (29.1.2006)


Living in Australian rivers, lakes, or swamps, if we take the calf as the basic folkloric unit of spook size, then it is number one, namely as big as a calf. It is said to resemble a large sea lion or a small hippo, when it doesn't have to, it doesn't eat people, but on the other hand, it loves tender human flesh, otherwise, it probably wouldn't drown. Its most famous attribute is its loud roar and its favourite prey is women. To be sufficiently evil (because its name translated into English gives the impression of something like a devil or a demon), it also spreads diseases.

From the legends of the Australians, Bunyip has now moved into cryptozoological lore (look, for example, at the description that identifies him as a Pleistocene member of the Diprotodontidae family), and perhaps because of the sound of its name, a TV fairy tale figure for Australian children.

9.2.2024 (7.8.2005)


It has no wings, yet this seven-headed Basque snake can fly. It's very dangerous, eats livestock, and occasionally adds mankind to its diet. It is therefore no different from the usual European dragon, whether the Basques call it Herensuge, Herensugue, or Erensuge.

9.2.2024 (7.8.2005)



The story was told in French-speaking Canada how a group of lumberjacks celebrating the New Year once decided to visit their sweethearts. 500 kilometers from their camp, so there was no choice but to travel by air. Otherwise, they wouldn't make it back to work.

So they made a deal with the devil to make their boat fly. Boarded, set sail. Took off. Men left the alcohol in the camp, afraid it would tempt them to break the terms of the contract. They were simple: not to speak the name of God, not to touch the crosses on the church roofs. Otherwise, the crew of that special vessel would lose their souls. The forest workers paddled with all their might, soon landing in Montreal and joining in the New Year's celebrations. No one thought it strange.

Before morning, lumberjacks headed back. Unfortunately, they were a bit invigorated by the intoxicating drinks, so the course of the Chasse-Galerie was not the most direct. After an unpleasant unexpected stopover, the navigator swore angrily, which still passed, but the others preferred to handcuff him and gag his foul mouth. It didn't help, the man wriggled out of the restraints, relieved again. Fearing a curse, the airmen lost their course and the canoe crashed into a tall pine tree. It was wrecked. The crew ended up in hell. In our world, that boat appears every New Year's night, sailing across the sky in a reprise of its maiden voyage.

It's not the only version, of course. The milder one grants Satan some benevolence, since the terms of the contract were said to apply only to the voyage there, not back.

An important role in the history of the flying phantom is said to be played by a European tale, that of a French nobleman named Gallery, an enthusiastic hunter (we are familiar with such), who preferred his hobby to Sunday mass, for which he was cursed; he is now speeding through the night sky, followed by galloping horses and howling wolves. The latter has become associated across the ocean with the local tale of the flying canoe. And a new phantom was born.


Image by Henri Julien / Public domain

9.2.2024 (10.5.2020)





"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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