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 Zduhać.
In Serbian, Montenegrin, and Bosnian folklore, a zduhać is a man who can leave his body and battle against bad weather threatening his village’s crops.
A person is identified as a zduhać if they are born with a caul or if they are born on certain Fridays at certain set times. In some parts of the Balkans, a boy born in the eve of certain feast days will become a zduhać.
When bad weather threatens the village, the zduhać falls into a trance-like sleep and his spirit exits his body, sometimes in the form of a fly, and leads the storms away. If a zduhać’s body is moved while his spirit is outside, it cannot return, and he will die. When the zduhać is done leading the bad weather away, his spirit will return to his body, and he will wake up exhausted.
Sometimes, a zduhać will lead the storms to the territory of another zduhać. If that happens , they will battle, and the crops of the losing zduhać’s village will be destroyed. Also, at times, all the zduhaći of an area will band together and do battle with the zduhaći of another area. The winning area will prosper while the losing area will suffer.
It is difficult to tell a zduhać from a normal man. He will usually be a heavy sleeper, and he is usually prosperous and respected and considered forthright and upstanding in his village. Sometimes zduhaći are also seers or able to communicate with animals.
A related belief is that of the dragon men. These men are said to have dragon-like traits. A dragon man also leaves his body to protect his village from bad weather, but dragon men fight against ale, demons who bring storms and hail in order to ruin crops.