Keeping up with the Russian spirits, I’d like to focus on some water ones as I find them more peculiar than the rest. Modern sources represent water as danger, that’s why water spirits are comprehended as ones bringing evil & damage to humans. Let this point of view be…It might be also connected with the fact that too few humans could swim that time.
So, Vodyan’oj, the Russian Neptune, is usually surrounded with Rus’alki (the Russian mermaids) or Vodyan’itsi (the Russian Naiads). All of these female creatures might appear in any water source, including wells or artificial ponds. Most beliefs tell about Rus’alki & Vodyan’itsi living in dark forest springs or in bogs, places forbidden to be visited by humans. I have always been attracted with mermaid real existing. After having gathered some proves from various centuries, I wonder why they have become mythological characters. Yet in many Russian regions, people face them daily. A true mermaid is indeed half a human & half a fish, she might have a long hair but she is very ugly! They make some special sounds to attract their victim. I suppose their vibrations make you sleepy or too relaxed for them might grab you. In some cases they manage to draw you under the water, but if you begin speaking with them, they disappear. So, just be attentive if you meet one while fishing 🙂
It was also believed that in ba’nyas (Russian saunas) lived the water spirit named B’annik. He might do various evil things: to scare you while washing, throw stones from the oven or even to raw. He always washed after all the humans at night accompanied with demons, L’eshijs, mermaids & other minor spirits. To please Bannik people left a broom, a bar of soap & some water in a bathing barrel. Besides it was forbidden to build a house on the sauna’s place. This area was considered to be cursed.
Happy bath time! 🙂
Source: The Dictionary of the Slavic Mythology Mudrova I.A.