Samodiva

Samodivas (Lang-bg|Самодиви) or samovilas (Lang-bg|Самовили) are woodland fairies found in South-Slavic folklore and mythology, commonly depicted as ethereal maidens with long loose hair, sometimes also with wings. They are dressed in a shirt and a gown, and have a green belt and a sleeveless jacket on, their garments decorated with feathers by means of which they can fly like birds. Samodivas are believed to be the beautiful mistresses of the waters and have the powers to bring about drought, but are not inevitably hostile and dangerous to people.Another important aspect of the myths surrounding the samodivas is their dance. Never ending and beginning at midnight to finish at dawn their dance symbolized the raw and often harmful to the unprepared energy of both nature and the supernatural world. Accompanied and following only the rhythm of the wind and their own singing their dance was said to have been often witnessed by lost or late travelers, some of them choosing to join it, seduced by the beauty of their song and visage, only to die of exhaustion at dawn, when the samodivas finally disappeared. This exact part, as well as the popular in some regions of the balkans belief that samodivas were actually the daughters of lamia or a dragon ,combined with their mostly nocturnal nature and presence, leads to them being considered more or less negative , or at best neutral in their nature.

Earliest written evidence of samodivas dates back to the 13th century and it is presumed they developed on the basis of Balkan tradition and myths, but researchers have also found traces of the ancient Slav period in them. It is widely considered that the image of the samodiva and their behavior is actually based on the image left of the ancient trachian mysteries, especially those connected to Orpheus and his cult, famous for the role that song, dance and the image of the maiden priestesses had in its tradition and rits.The words "samodiva" and "samovila" go back to some very old Indo-European roots with a meaning of "divinity", "demon", "rave","wild","virgin"(as in "pure" and "raw") and "rage".

Bulgarian and Serbian folktales speak of a samodiva called Vila who found Prince Marko and brought him up as his foster mother. Because Marko suckled samodiva milk he acquired supernatural powers.Also in the tales and songs of Bulgarian and Serbian folklore the title "vila samodiva"(or "vila samovila") is used to describe the samodiva maiden which is leading the rest in their midnight dance. It is usually her who is the active participant of the contact betwin the protagonist and the mystical world, serving as a guide or to give the hero a task to test his valor and resolve.

In the 19th century, the great Bulgarian poet Hristo Botev mentions samodivas in a poem praising legendary Bulgarian voivode Hadji Dimitar. They are there to provide comfort to the dying voivode in his last moments and further cathalize the image of his bravery as something of legendary and mythological proportions. They also appear to symbolize the union between him and the land he sacrificed to protect, as they are introduced in a scene where the whole nature is turned into a reflection of the calm and tranquil state of mind the warrior reaches at the verge of his death, being finally at peace by fulfilling his chosen path. Still the samodivas and the reaction of the voivode to their presence is connected to the mischievous , seductive role they often play in mythology.Even though they are trying their best to sooth him with song and touch, or ease his suffering the hero continues to ask for his karadja - (war leader), refusing to give in and even in his final moment still remains devoted to the cause.

[http://www.omda.bg/engl/ethnography/samodivi.html] .


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