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 Bannik.
In Slavic mythology, a bannik is a bathhouse spirit. Though rarely ever seen it appears as a small wrinkled old man with a long white beard. It is not generally considered very fortunate to have a bannik in one’s bathhouse. As a result a person should not visit the bathhouse alone and should avoid going at night. It is also a good idea to leave the bannik gifts of small pieces of soap, water, and fir branches.
The third firing of the day is reserved for the bannik who likes to invite demons and spirits of the forest to join him. As a result, no religious icons are allowed in the bathhouse and people do not wear crosses near it. If a person intrudes on the bannik or otherwise displeases him, the bannik night try to suffocate or strangle the person or even burn the bathhouse down. Also, a woman who gives birth in the bathhouse must be watched so the bannik doesn’t carry the unbaptized child away.
A bannik, can, however, predict the future. During the Christmas season, if a woman stands with her back exposed, the bannik might touch it. A gentle touch means a happy year, but if the bannik scratches the woman’s back with his claws the year ahead will be hard and full of sorrow.