Monster Monday: Vodyanoy

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 Vodyanoy.

Vodyanoy, the Water Sprite by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin
Vodyanoy, the Water Sprite by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin

A vodyanoy is a water spirit in Slavic folklore. In many ways it is the male equivalent of the female Rusalka, because it also pulls people under the water and drowns them if they venture into its territory.

A vodyanoy is described as being a frog-like old man with a long greenish beard, scales, a fish tail, and webbed hands and feet. Sometimes it is covered in algae or muck. In addition to drowning people, it can also break dams and ruin water mills if angered.

The vodyanoy is not always depicted as evil, though it is not usually inclined to be helpful either, and spends most of its time floating in its river or lake on a half-sunken log. Sometimes fishermen make small offerings to it in order to have better luck catching fish.

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