5 Ghoulish Monsters of Serbian Folklore to Haunt Your Nightmares

Yesterday, there was a great discussion on Instagram following my post about the 5 Creepy Canadian Creatures You’ve Probably Never Heard Of post I did here yesterday. I have so many interesting ideas for the rest of this week’s posts!

The most terrifying suggestions so far came from another writer friend of mine, Eli Gilic, who is from Serbia. So you can thank her for the nightmares the following creatures might inspire…

#5 The Vila

At first glance, the Vila don’t seem so bad. These shape-shifting nymphs can be found in rivers, lakes, and forests and may appear as any number of wild creatures such as horses, wolves, or falcons. Usually, though, they prefer the form of beautiful maidens in the nude. And hey, who can blame them? This form is the best for luring unsuspecting humans to their sexy dance parties.

The Vila are not to be trifled with, however. If a human angers them, or breaks their word, these ladies are unforgiving. They can kill with a glance, but that’s kind of boring. The Vila are also warriors so mighty that they shake the earth when they battle. They will kill anyone who defies them.

The coolest thing about the Vila is that they choose when to die. They are immortal unless they decide they’re ready to go. And you know they aren’t going to do that while they’re hunting you down for pissing them off. So watch yourself.

#4 Zmaj

The Zmaj is a dragon-like creature which, like the Vila, can be either evil or benevolent depending on his mood. Like most mythological dragons, the Zmaj can appear as a winged, fire-spitting creature screeching through the skies overhead. But the Zmaj are believed to be half-human shapeshifters who can take whatever form they like in order to seduce or trick the foolish humans who cross their paths.

The Zmaj are generally seen as protectors, and were often worshiped as ancestor spirits. But the Zmaj suffer from very human appetites, and can be distracted from the people they are supposed to protect when the fall in love with a beautiful maiden. Then crops suffer, people get sick and die, and bad weather sweeps in to finish everyone off. On top of all of this, the prized woman usually dies from the strength and ferocity of a Zmaj’s love. So yeah, best to keep these guys at a safe distance.

#3 Aždaja

The Aždajas are another dragon-like creature, similar to the Zmal. This one is pure evil, though. There’s no falling in love and neglecting of crops here, an Aždaja just wants to hunt you down and eat you.

Described as a huge, bat-winged snake or lizard with multiple heads, this creature likes to hang out in dark, creepy places waiting for a tasty human snack to wander haplessly past. The Aždaja spits blue fire, terrifies with its monstrous shrieking, and would like nothing better than to devour every last creature on earth.

Consider this the next time you think of entering a cave or, hey, even a dark alley for that matter. These guys don’t mess around.

#2 Karakondžula

These vicious little goblins are etymologically related to the Turkish words for “bloodsucker,” “vampire,” and “werewolf.” But they are usually described as little black goblins. They are described as squat and ugly, and favour (of course) the black of night to perform their evil deeds. The 12 Days of Christmas, or the “unbaptized days,” are said to be the most dangerous. If a person goes outside at night during this time a Karakondžula will jump on their back and demand to be carried to wherever they want to go. The person is saved by the crow of a rooster announcing the rising sun.

These fiendish little goblins are particularly hard on adulterers. Anyone thinking of sneaking out of their house in order to visit a brothel, mistress, or prostitute must beware. The Karakondžula might be waiting in your doorway to leap upon your back, bite and scratch you with long talons, and ride you into the forest all night. So, you know, philander at your own risk.

#1 Drekavac

This creature’s name literally translates to “screamer” or “screecher.” Variously described as an undead man risen from the grave, or a dead unbaptized child come back to haunt its parents, or a dog-like creature that walks on its hind legs, the Drekavac is undoubtedly a nightmarish creature.

These little delights are also most active during the 12 Days of Christmas, and early spring, when evil spirits were thought to be roaming about. Like the Banshee, the cries of a Dekavac are said to foretell of a person’s death. When it is in its animal form, it may predict disease for farm animals. If its shadow falls upon you, you will grow sick and die.

Fear of the Drekavac causes it’s own issues, too, as some stories tell of fishermen being so terrified of the creatures that they refuse to fish while their village slowly starved.

Conclusion

Well, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go wandering around the Serbian country side at night. Especially around Christmas! It sounds like Christmas is like a second Halloween for much of Eastern Europe. But there is something much more terrifying about evil spirits wandering around in the dead of winter than bright and cheerful autumn. What do you think? Any local legends you’d like to explore? Tell me in the comments.

PS: Check out Eli Gilic’s book!

From Amazon: Charles Baudelaire, Rasputin, Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Ophelia, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Sand, Frederic Chopin, Vincent Van Gogh, Antonin Artaud, Maria Izquierdo, James Joyce, Federico Garcia Lorca, Salvador Dali.

Can Rasputin find redemption through the sins of others? What awaits Anna Karenina on the other side? Does passion still flow through the veins of the lovers from Verona? Can Hamlet and Ophelia escape their fate? Is Van Gogh’s loneliness a blessing or a curse? And can Dali dispel Lorca’s fear.

Eli Gilić deftly weaves fact and fiction to bring some of the world’s great writers, literary characters, artists and composers to life as they reach the heights of passion and the depths of despair in this mesmerising erotic short story collection.

15 thoughts on “5 Ghoulish Monsters of Serbian Folklore to Haunt Your Nightmares

  1. I’m fairly sure that I met all of these creatures, at one time or another, in corners of the dark dingy bars of my youth. After a couple of drinks most of them could be quite personable. Until the screaming started.

    1. 😂 They do like to haunt the dark corners of the earth… dingy bars are probably favourite stalking grounds! Especially those Vila…

      1. Oh, yes, many are the mornings that I have awoken and observed my mysteriously hollow and suddenly pale complexion in the mirror and thought, “who was that woman?”

        1. Haha, I hope you’ve learned from those youthful errors in judgement 🤣

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