Vodyanoi

'Watery'
Povodni mož, Vadzianik, Vodanoj, Vodenjak, Vodianyk, Vodník, Vodyanoy, Wodnik


Water-monsters prevalent in many parts of Russia, especially in millponds. (The ponds where water is dammes so that it may pour through a race, and turn the great wheel which powers the grindstones of a watermill.) The owners of watermills, who depend on waterpower for grinding grain, are very conscious of the influence of vodyanoi and take care not to offend them.

This slavic creature is a male spirit and is identical with the German Nix.

Vodyanoi hate watermills because they obstruct the free flow of water, and try to destroy them by floods or put them out of business by droughts, but they perversely spend much of their time in the millponds and may be heard growling, complaining and splashing about as the millwheel turns. When the water runs low, and there is a danger of the mill grinding to a halt, the owner may try to placate the vodyanoi by drowning some unwary person in the millpond. Obviously the vodyanoi appreciate human sacrifices because they often snatch people into the water.

Vodyanoi have the strange characteristic of living an entire life during each montly cycle of the moon. They grow old as the moon grows old, but reappear in full vigour with the new moon. It is hard to describe a vodyanoi because they have so many different manifestations.



Vodyanoy, Artist: Ivan Bilibin, 1934

Sometimes the creature may appear as an old man with green hair and beard - sometimes with a face of a frog, which whitens as the moon wanes, or a as a beautiful naked woman. It may be a huge fish covered with moss and trailing waterweed, or a snarling monster with fiery red eyes, or simply a floating log. It is no wonder that Russian women warn their children to keep away from millponds. The Vodyanoi are sometimes blamed for drownings. It is said he drags down people to make them serve him as slaves in his underwater home.


Notes
This name is also the name for the Aquarius zodiac sign in several Slavic languages.