Romanian mythology – 3 legends you might not have known
Let’s face it. The Romanian mythology is quite impressive. With legends such as those of Baba Dochia, Manole, or the Ballad of Miorita, we can surely say that Romania is pretty creative when it comes to mythology. And while we do have some pretty funny superstitions, other legends are very meaningful and even a little bit believable. So let’s dig into 3 lesser-known legends from the Romanian mythology, and discover a bit more of the beliefs and superstitions of this beautiful yet mysterious country.
Sometimes good, sometimes a bit wicked, the Solomonar is considered the great sorcerer of storms and winds, master of all lakes, tall mountains and deep caves, and the creator of frost, mist, and hail. Tall, red-haired, with bulging eyes, dressed in a white long coat, he is always described carrying his Magic Book, the source of all his powers. Also, people who claim to have seen him say that along with his book, he also carries a piece of wood for calling the winds and an iron axe which he uses to create hail.
Romanian mythology says that only a baby boy born with a distinctive sign over his face and body can become such a wizard. Taken away by an old Solomonar, the boy is trained for 20 years at the Solomonar’s School, found somewhere at the End of the Earth, in a deep cave. There, he studies the languages of all the beings from Earth, all the magic spells ever created, and then, after many hard tests, he is left alone, to a rock table, to write down all of his knowledge in his own book.
They are generally considered good wizards and often presented as false beggars, testing the kindness of people. If people refuse to help them while they are in disguise, they bring hail and strong storms to ruin the crops. But if they are helped, they offer gifts to the rivers and please the water fairies. In various regions of the country, the Solomonars are divided into two categories: good and evil. It is said that the evil ones bring raging storms and floods, but these maleficent creatures also have an enemy – a former Solomonar who became a Master of Stones.
Some people believe that Solomonars are successors of the Dacian High Priests known as Kapnobatai, but received their name after King Solomon, famous for his wisdom and great knowledge. Others claim that they are descendants of St. Elijah and that this is the reason why they master the storms and the thunders so well. Whatever their exact origins are, the Solomonars are not considered gone and in fact, they are well respected and have a special place among the magical beings of Romanian folklore. Some people claim to even have seen them, especially in the region of Bukovina.
This Carpathian Gandalf not only masters the elements, but also masters the mythical dragons, some people claiming that they saw a might dragon coming up from deep mountain lakes, obeying the commands of Solomonars.
Jidovi – The Carpathian Giants
The legends of many nations describe a bygone era when the world was ruled by giant humans. Some sources claim that this legendary era is not at all a story and that those giants indeed ruled the world at some point in time. Even if they did or did not exist, they left us beautiful stories about their way of living.
The Romanian Giants known as Jidovi, are probably one of the most beloved folklore creatures. Jidovii are described in Romanian legends as kind and patient, walking with huge steps from one hill to another. Their presence in Romania is well maintained by the multitude of places that were named after them: the Jidovi table, the Jidovi cave, the hill or the tombs of Jidovi, and also, there is jidovina, a measuring unit consisting of several meters, the equivalent of a giant’s step. Wherever you go, their memory is well preserved and you must not be surprised to hear that there are still many people who believe in their past existence.
In the Carpathians, Jidovii are often named Blajini, which means the Kind Ones, or Novaci, which means the Powerful Ones as they could snatch a tree without any effort. They lived in caves and thick woods, enjoyed talking and respected the little humans, which they considered their successors, the next owners of all the rivers and mountains.
At the beginning of 1900, there were still some people who claimed to have heard real stories about Jidovi from their grandparents who saw them in person. According to their stories, there were few giants left but lived in good communion with humans. When great floods came, Jidovii took care of people and their animals without asking for any reward.
Also, there is a story which repeats regardless of region, when giants seeing people plowing the land, took them in their hands as little toys, smiled at them and then put them back carefully. But the best legend ever is that of the famous agreement between the great Dacian king Burebista and all the Jidovi from the mountains. They were left to live in the mountains only if they promised to guard with their life the great Dacian gold treasures. So, it is believed, that in the deepest caves of the Carpathians Mountains may still live some Jidovi, protecting the treasures for generations to come.
Zburatorul – the lover from the stars
The mythical creatures of the night are usually frightening and Maleficent, but there is one, a fascinating creature, born from unshared love, so attractive and mysterious like a true prince of the night. He is called Zburatorul, meaning The One Who Flies, a handsome airman tormenting the sleep of young girls and young wives.
According to Romanian mythology, Zburatorul is actually the personification of the intense feelings of erotic desire and longing for a man. He is described as a shooting star, coming down through the chimney or the window, entering a girl’s room in the shape of an incredibly handsome man and, sometimes, in the shape of the man the girl loves. They met and consume their love in the world of dreams but everything is so intense, almost real that the young woman becomes exhausted and obsessively in love.
Some old books even tell stories about young girls haunted by this mysterious man, becoming so desperately in love that they started acting like lunatics, walking down the village streets almost undressed and untidy, obviously exhausted and sometimes semi-conscious. How cruel it must have been for them to be judged by the entire community only because their dreams become their second reality, one full of love and passion. Their fate was even crueler with the girls recently married. They were judged like whores, discredited by the community and by their family, blamed to have a weak will and no love or respect for the working, responsible husband. But Zburatorul was not an ordinary lover, he developed obsessions and curing this love-illness was a hard thing to do.
Even now, in some remote villages, there are few people remembering such women who were at the edge of losing their minds or their marriages forever. Luckily, there were certain chosen people, known as good sorcerers, that with the permission of the possessed girls and with a bit of magic succeeded in healing them. It is said that they used magic words that asked to Zburator to leave, to hide and never to return. They also used magic plants like wild garlic, mandrake, lovage or deer grass to create strong potions to bathe the women for 3 days in a row. At the end of this ritual, the girls were cured, the Zburator was gone, and life kept going on as usual.
If sorcerers are known to have disappeared long ago, the love stories and passionate dreams certainly are not. Maybe Zburatorul adapted to our modern times and uses other ways of tormenting young women’s love life.
The beauty and mystery of Romania have been sung by poets and painted in ink by illustrious writers, take a trip into the culture of an amazing country and see it through their eyes with a Classic Romania Tour.