Friday, 22 May 2015

Sisters of the Valkyrie? (Part VII) Samodiva

There are Valkyrie-like goddesses and demi goddesses in other belief systems, who resemble the characteristics of the Northern Valkyries. It makes you wonder if they belong to the same species or come from the same root legend. I've written entries about the subject, starting with individuals and then perhaps go onto research different aspects of the Valkyrie. The seventh entry on the series "Sisters of the Valkyrie" is about the Samodiva.

They appear in Slavic mythology, especially in Bulgaria and in Romania where they're called Iele and Vila. Samodiva resemble young statuesque women with shining skin, luminous eyes and golden hair. They're always dressed in glittering gowns made of moonlight and rainbows. These women are magical and some legends describe them as having pale feathered wings but they are said to be wingless in other myths, and are so light they can move freely, without being confined to gravity's pull.They carry bows and arrows while riding on spectral deer with serpentine antlers.

The samodiva are guardians of the earth, immortal and elemental. The samodivas have healing abilities and restore the sick and wounded animals of the forests. They tend to the pain inflicted on trees after being cut by axes or hit by lightning. They operate in twinkling clusters like a ring of fairies and a chorus of angels, working only after dark.  It's said that a fairy ring, a circle of mushrooms and flowers on the grass, was left their by the samodivas, a sign that they stood and even danced there.

According to Bulgarian mythology, the samodivas have beautiful singing voices. They can also confuse the mind and trick people and animals into thinking they're birds making a sound in the forest when it is the samodiva communicating in their enchanted code. Their singing can hypnotise and send someone to sleep and even be put under a trance and then manipulated. The samodivas sound lovely so far, but these supernatural women are dangerous and can be deadly.

They have the power to transform someone into a beast or a lump of wood. It's said that certain people who've suddenly gone missing have possibly met the samodiva in the woods, and been changed into animals, stones or twigs! The samodiva don't like being touched by mortal men. They can cause blindness and disease. Samodivas have the ability to cause amnesia in a person and thrust someone into a heavy coma. But women are not spared the dangers of a samodiva. A samodiva can ruin a woman's happiness and beauty. Some samodiva can also make beautiful human women feel suicidal!

Do they have anything much in common with valkyries other than their beauty and wings? or in some folklore they're absent of wings? So far they have more in common with trolls and goblins, if these myths are true. The samodivas are also nicknamed "children of dragons" or lamia, and have been regarded as spirits of the dead, ghosts of beautiful women who enjoy being cruel. Their activities certainly sound like malicious entities with poltergeist characteristics. But this might be due to the fact Bulgarian myths combined pagan with christian influences, turning the divine winged healers of the forest into evil ghosts. In ancient times, samodiva helped ordinary people, from making crops grow full, to curing sick children and to aide women experiencing painful childbirth. The pagan legend of samodiva altered over time.      

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