To the early Slavs, the forests and the swamps within them were everywhere. Around farms and villages as well as upon mountains, the woods were inescapable. And in the shadows of those trees, spirits lurked.
Most spirits in Slavic mythology aren’t the friendliest creatures. Tales of demons in the night’s shadows spread all across the Slavic tribes and nations, and one of the most frightening tales told was that of Kikimora.
In every Slavic country, the concept of an evil, noxious creature called kikimora/mora/mura/zmora was spread. It was an evil demon which suffocates sleeping people, drinks their blood, and is able to shapeshift into different objects.
In Poland, Kikimora is known as “mora”, same as in Slovakia or Croatia. In Serbia, she is called “noćnink”, meaning “nightgown” in English. In every case, no matter the name in the various languages, her nickname is “nightmare”.
In some literature, she is known as “sziszimora” or “szyszymora”.
Her name also has origins in Finnish from the word “kikke mörkö”, meaning scarecrow.
Saying her name also resembles the sound of a spinning wheel (a tool used to spin sheep wool), which is a bad omen in Slavic countries.
Legends describe kikimora as a being without a body, a wraith or as a nightmare, which when settled in your house, will not want to leave and will make living in the house hell for its inhabitants.
She is also a sign that something bad is going to happen.
Kikimora – The sleep paralysis demon
Kikimora is said to be the cause of sleep paralysis and the nightmares accompanying sleep paralysis. The trouble of not being able to breathe is apparently caused by kikimora sitting on your chest and the nightmares or demons you see while suffering from sleep paralysis are the product of kikomora herself.
How does a Kikimora come to life?
It is believed that kikimora is conceived from a dead or a stillborn baby. In some cases a ghost of kikimora could also come out of a body of a woman that died during labour. In that case kikimora resembles the mother or grandmother of the unborn child.
When the kikimora inhabits a house, she lives behind the stove or in the cellar, and usually produces noises similar to those made by mice in order to obtain food.
Kikimora is said to travel around the rooms in the house through keyholes in doors. To stop this, people tried to clog the keyhole at night with bits of paper or by leaving keys in the keyhole.
Looking at kikimora’s eyes is dangerous so little kids were taught by their parents that when they suspected a kikomora in their room they should look at the pillows or windows. Under any circumstances they can’t look at doors, wardrobes or chests because it was right there where Kikimora hid the most.
Kikimora sometimes took on a disguise of an incredibly beautiful young woman and haunted the dreams of married man. She would drive the man crazy with desire and destroy the relationship with their wife. Men weren’t the only victims to kikimora as she also infiltrates the dreams of women and makes them jealous or makes them think that their husbands preferre some other woman.
Different kinds of kikimora
There are two different kinds of Kikimoras. The one that comes from the forest is married to the Domovoi.
The other one comes from the swamp and is married to Leshy. It is said that she can be identified by her wet footprints. When home builders wanted to cause harm to someone buying a house, they would bring in Kikimora. Once she is inside, it is difficult to get her to leave.
Swamp Kikimora was described as a small, ugly, hunchbacked, thin, and scruffy old woman with a pointed nose and disheveled hair. She was said to use moss and grass as her clothes. It was believed that she frightened people, knocked travelers off the road, and also kidnappped children.
This was the third episode of Slavic Saturday. There are many other creatures I am ready to cover for you, my lovely fans. If you missed episode two then you can find that here. I hope to see you all return next Saturday!