Monster Monday: Domovoi

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Domovoi.

Domovoi, a Spirit of the House by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin
Domovoi, a Spirit of the House by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin

The domovoi is a household spirit in Slavic mythology. Most of the time, it is a helpful spirit, aiding in the household chores or the tending of the fields and livestock. A domovoi will reward a family that keeps a well-maintained house, and many people will try to attract a domovoi when they move to a new house by placing a piece of bread underneath the stove. It is also said to be a good idea to keep the domovoi happy by leaving out a piece of bread or a little milk each night for it. A family that already has a domovoi might try to entice it to move to a new house by providing it with an old boot to hide in.

A domovoi can sometimes predict the future. When misfortune is about to strike a family it can be heard crying or wailing. Likewise, if a family is about to experience good times, then members of the household will hear it laughing. It is always bad luck to see a domovoi.

Domovye can sometimes be malicious as well. Sometimes they harass overnight guests in their sleep. If a domovoi becomes unhappy because it thinks the family is neglecting the house, it can start to play tricks like causing objects to disappear or banging pots or slamming doors. It will stop this behavior if the family rectifies the situation.

Domovye are said to look like small hairy humans or old men with long beards. Sometimes they have a tail, and sometimes they can even take on the appearance of members of the household.

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