Tag Archives: Folklore

Enchanting Samodivi (Wildalone)

In “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey,” you will discover samodivi (singular, samodiva), wild, wildalones beautiful nymphs, who have enchanted Bulgarians for centuries. They can be found in the woodlands and by water sources from spring until autumn. After that, they return to the palace of the Sun for the winter.

Numerous legends about them are still alive. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. One of the people I met in an online writers’ group (scribophile.com) lives in a secluded village in Bulgaria. I asked him what the people there believed about the samodivi. Here is his response.

“The common belief in this village is that since we started having electric all the time, the samodivi went away. Apparently they were real and people would see them all the time, but it all stopped after they were freed from Turkish rule. In our village during that time the water was taken from wells or from a spring in the woods, so if you didn’t have a well you’d have to go to the woods. It was quite often that they saw shapes in the trees and believed them to be samodivi. Now a lot of the younger adults, the mothers and the father instead of the grandparents, believe that it is all legends, too many drunk nights. The people here still believe in creatures that come down with the lightning and stay as energy and run around even after the storm has passed. My next door neighbour claimed to have seen one running up his house last summer. But as for samodivi, they believe that they all vanished. It’s funny because I have been told that it was normal practice to run through the forest naked in hope that you’d find a samodiva. But after a few drinks, you might bump into someone else running naked and think you found one.”

In “Mystical Emona,” we don’t have people running naked through the forest, but the following passage from the book is our interpretation of what you might see if you happen to run across samodivi in the forest.

A soft, slow music drifted toward him as he neared the cheshma. Several women held hands and danced in a circle around the ancient walnut tree, a blue light glowing at its base. Wreaths of flowers crowned their unbound hair, their locks gliding over their shoulders. Their long white robes fluttered like lustrous moths under the shimmering moon.
(photo:nelinda.com “Samodivi”)

At the edge of the glade, a shadowy image, playing a long flute-like instrument, cast out eerie notes. They hung over the darkness like a delicate silk net, enfolding the women within its threads. The longer Stefan listened, the more the sound hypnotized him.

The tempo of the music quickened, and the women kept pace with it. Their feet danced through the dewy grass, while their bodies, bathed in silver and gold rays of moonlight, twirled closer together, narrowing the circle around the tree. Their dance became wild and erratic, their voices louder, filling the night with a chilling sound.

A final shrill note reverberated through the air. The women released hands, raised them to the sky, and began whirling in a frenzied torrent. The belts around their robes loosened and slid to the ground. As the note faded, the women lowered their hands. Their robes, too, slipped off and drifted away, leaving nothing on their gleaming bodies but the magical light of the moon. Stefan’s sharp intake of breath caught in his throat at their loveliness. Unable to tear his eyes from them, he envisioned the scene captured on canvas.

Then, the flutist played a soft melody. The women lifted their faces to the moon and sang strange words. Stefan listened in awe to the splendor of their voices, as their bodies, like exotic flowers gliding back and forth in the breeze, swayed to the rhythm of the trees. Their words encircled him, as if the women themselves surrounded him. He glanced around, but the night revealed nobody except the dancing women before him.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Silver Butterflies 

Behold the silent beauties ruffling winds,
spelling purity of a love so bold,
goddesses of water, woods and land,
swish their dresses upon your pool.

Vedra’s hands could raise the seas,
bring upon you draught or prosperity,
oh heaven behold, she was blessed,
with silky dresses and a voice so sleek.

Sweet Carina is ladened with lands,
to hold the minds of all mankind,
her thoughts dance upon the sands,
meaning to show a man his heart.

Dear Morena burdened the most,
to see the loss of those she loves,
always hunted by the future,
she’s to ever be your seer and guard.

Nymphs so pure, embrace the world,
call with golden songs to the skies,
listen as they guide you home,
listen as they hold your hand.

—Noor Lek

Travel to the world of the Balkans with Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey and discover the secret lives of Samodivi (Veelas, Samovili) or Wildalones. You’ve met these wondrous, mythological creatures or as some people called them “forest witches”  in different books. Now let Mystical Emona introduce you to Samodivi or “wildalones”  as legend portrays them. Discover the Magic of Bulgaria and the mystical spell of Emona.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Kukeri – Masked Men

If you are in Bulgaria on New Year’s or on Sirni Zagovezni, the first Sunday before Lent, you will be in for a fascinating parade and series of skits as the kukeri make their appearance. kukerThese are men who dress in furry costumes that cover most of their bodies, and they wear colorful wooden masks with scary faces of rams, goats, or bulls. The hand-carved masks display snapping jaws, twisted horns, and frightening eyes. Some masks even portray two faces—one evil and one good—to symbolize the duality of nature.

The men often attach to the masks shiny objects, such as mirrors, ivy (sacred to Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, and rebirth), basil (for love), and multi-colored threads and fabrics. Red symbolizes the sun’s fire. Black is the embodiment of the earth itself. And white signifies water and light. All three elements were essential for restoring the fertility of the land after a long winter. (photo credit: kafene.bg)

Like many of the Bulgarian traditions, this one also has Thracian origins. During the time of the winter solstice, ancient people believed that the heavens and earth were at their closest points and became one, allowing evil spirits to enter the realm of mankind. These spirits sought to bring chaos to the world by preventing the return of light, that is, the rebirth of the Sun God. Without the Sun’s return, the earth could not be fertilized. Therefore, Thracian warriors would don animal skins, which allowed them to contact the spirit world, enabling them to battle against the evil spirits. The celebrations that began with the Sun’s rebirth continued into ancient Dionysian rites symbolizing life, death, and rebirth, performed in the spring before the sowing of the harvest.

Stopping at houses along the route, the men perform various skits pantomiming plowing and sowing of seeds, rocking back and forth indicating heavy ears of corn weighing them down, jumping into the air to portray tall crops, rolling on the ground to draw on its strength, fighting evil spirits, as well as the conception and birth of infants. In return, they are given food (bread and wine, symbolic of the flesh and blood of pagan sacrifices) and money, which will later be sold and the money given to charities or to help offset the cost of the celebration.

While the kukeri dance and jump along the streets, large copper or bronze bells surrounding their waists clang loudly. (A single bell can be as large as a foot in diameter and weighing twenty pounds.) The noise from the bells, the frightful masks, and the mirrors on the masks are meant to chase away evil spirits. It is also done to ensure a plentiful harvest, good health, and happiness.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Link to an interview by the talented Rositsa Petkova of Bulgarian National Radio about the book, what was the inspiration and  there’s also a link to our book trailer:

http://bnr.bg/en/post/100485397/mystical-emona-where-ancient-legends-are-still-alive-to-this-day

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila