GB No. 1(20)/96



When he walks through a meadow he is shorter than grass. When he wanders though a forest he may touch leaves on the highest branches of the trees. He may change his form in a twinkling of an eye and nobody knows what he really looks like. Can he hide in the shape of a human or in the shape of an animal? Or maybe he is as elusive as a puff of white fog?

He bears many names. He is an ancient forest demon akin to deer-horned Celtic Cornunos and to fur-covered Greek Pans playing the flute in the backwoods.

He rules over trees and beasts. Every hunter must respect his power, and so must the one who gathers honey from hollowed tree trunks, and the charcoal burner and a woodcutter felling slender pines. Even women and children picking mushroom and berries should never forget that they are only guests in the kingdom of the forest devil.

No one can break the forest law guarded by the fiend. Whoever cuts a tree that guards a beehive, kills a pregnant or suckling hind, destroys a path through the marsh, sets fire that consumes the forest or throws a bird nest down, will soon be punished. Some sources have it that forest demons can see through human dirty deeds, even those hidden at the bottom of the heart, and inflict a punishment. Most often they mix up the paths of the sinner, lead him astray or make fog rise so dense that he can see nothing. Such a man, pushed by fiendish forces, wades through the marsh dragging his feet with effort, steps over fallen trunks of trees, sinks in pits filled with rot. Thorny blackberries cut his face and hands. When he thinks he has tracked the right way he finds that having made a big circle he has returned to the point he had set forth from. And the wandering starts again.

Sometimes the demons delude a wayfarer by whistling, and when he follows their voices they run from one tree to another leading him further and further till he falls down of weariness. Then they leave him at the mercy of creatures dwelling in the forest.

They can also change the course of an arrow or a spear or move traps and snares so that they catch the hunter in place of the game.

Some people say that the fiends appear sometimes right behind a sinner and tell him how he can erase his guilt and safely return home. When the man accepts their conditions he must sign the agreement with his own blood drawn form his ring finger. Woe betide anyone who would break the oath.

As you can see, the power of devils is great but it is limited to the edge of the forest. On a meadow or a river bank it does not work.

And one thing more. The forest fiends are afraid of werewolves: many a demon has vanished forever in the mouth full of sharp teeth. But even more they fear the storm. When lightning tears clouds apart, the devils hide in mouse holes, fox and badger dwellings, in pits and under roots. None of them will leave his shelter until the thunders calm down and the stormy clouds roll away.

Why the devils are chased by lightning and thunder - nobody knows. But that is how it has always been and we, people, will never find the answer.

Ewa Nowacka
reprinted from Zielone Brygady 4/96
translated by M. Maciejewska

GB No. 1(20)/96 | Contents