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Do Samodivas Exist?

Plamena M.Plamena M.

The greatest fear once held by those whose work had to do with extended stays in forested and wild areas was linked to the mythological creatures - samodivas.

Ethnologists suggest that samodivas are similar to the dangerous nymphs of Greek mythology and mermaids. Bulgarian tradition has taken the mythical beings and transferred them to the mountains, and into the cultural reality of the people. In the mythological sense, samodivas are a mediator between the earthly and unearthly, metaphysical world. However, their beautiful appearance is taken from Slavic customs.

Samodivas combine within themselves a human form and supernatural abilities. They appear at The Annunciation celebration until the end of August. They live in dark, shady places and love to circle dance in the samodiva style. Anyone who witnesses it is doomed to die.


Samodivas dress in white. They have blond and red hair, as well as light-colored eyes. In traditional beliefs, the light eyes form a connection with "forbidden" worlds and that is why they can be very dangerous. Generally, they induce curses and diseases, sometimes without even wanting to.

Many legends speak of how samodivas "play around" with shepherds, because they are the ones they primarily see in the mountain. There are also many cases of love sparking between the mythical forest woman and the shepherd but this is an incredibly dangerous love for the representative of the human species. Samodivas are jealous, cause diseases, usually asthma and incurable (at the time) colds.

Legendary samodiva

Samodivas, aside from their beauty and the tendency to kill without reason, can also heal. Through their dances, they connect with the disease that has taken hold of the shepherd and make it leave his body. Whenever they communicate with a mortal, he eases into a blissful stupor and forgets the herds, his wife and children, his entire life thus far.

These wondrous woodland creatures truly love honey and poisonous mushrooms, which they eat. One of the places where a person can find them is where ivy grows in the forest, and of course, ivy is poisonous. Their favorite plant is the burning bush.

Numerous legends exist that tell of samodivas and their relationship with regular humans. One belief goes that if a shepherd steals the white shirt of a samodiva while she is bathing, he would be able to control her, since the power of the samodiva lies in the shirt.

The existence of samodivas has not been proven and who knows if it ever will be. They are a mythological image, leading people to avoid dark forested areas. The samodiva simply embodies man's fear of the unknown and inexplicable.



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