Monster Monday: Iele

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 Iele.

August Malmström, Dancing Fairies (1865)
August Malmström, Dancing Fairies (1865)

Iele are fairy-like spirits in Romanain folklore. They are usually invisible, but can be seen at night when they gather to dance and sing in open fields or the tops of trees. Then they appear as beautiful young women. Often the next day the places where they dance appear scorched, and when the vegetation grows back, it is a different color. This belief is similar to the belief in fairy rings in Northern and Western European folklore.

Iele are not necessarily evil, but the offend easily and will punish people who make them angry. The list of offenses include seeing them dance, not dancing with them when asked, drinking from a particular spring, sleeping beneath a particular tree, or stepping where they have danced. Sometimes they are said to entrance men with their singing. They can also act as spirits of vengeance, punishing wrongdoers by compelling them to dance and then abducting them, never to be seen again.

A person must not work on certain days considered important to the Iele. In addition, garlic and mugwort can be worn to ward against them.


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