Mati-Syra-Zemlia: A goddess so mysterious that we’re not sure that’s really her name…

Okay, not a demon, but she absolutely belongs in this blog.

Ancient Slavic (From Russia and Eastern Europe) people would invoke a powerful goddess in a ceremony each August, chanting Mati-Syra-Zemlia, which means ‘Moist Mother Earth.’ They would recite the phrase to the compass points, asking the goddess to intervene on their behalf with the bad-weather gods, and ask the good-weather gods to visit the crops.

But the Slavs didn’t leave written records of their religious beliefs, so it’s hard to know if Mati-Syra-Zemlia was the name of the Earth goddess, or just the way to invoke her in this particular ritual. She doesn’t have any particular form, she was just.. the Earth.

What we do know about her was that you could talk to her by digging a hole in the ground and asking a question. Then you listened for the answer by listening to the hole.

She oversaw oaths, to keep people honest. After all, you can’t lie to Mother Earth.

You could also invoke her in times of plague by digging a furrow around your house, to unleash her spirit to combat the plague spirits.

She was a very powerful goddess in her day, one of the primary deities of most of the population–and you have to wonder if maybe her worship has survived in the form of respect for “Mother Russia.”


Mike Dixon-Kenned, Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic myth and legend, ABC-CLIO, 1998


Vampires we know and love #8: Churel/churail/chudail

Think vampires are all the same? Think again! Vampires come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. So, this special DotW feature, Vampires we know and love, spotlights different kinds of bloodsucking fiends from around the world.


Attention ladies:
When in India, avoid at all costs dying during the Dewali festival, in childbirth, or while you’ve got your period. If you do, you run the risk of becoming a churel/churail/chudail.

While the jury is out on how to pronounce the name of this Indian vampire, sources agree that you will develop tiny, sharp teeth; a black tongue; huge lips that shine without the use of any gloss whatsoever; filthy, unmanageable hair; and boobs that hang down to your knees.

Attention guys:
If your girlfriend/wife dies during Dewali, during childbirth, or while having her period, run. The churel will come after you first.

She’ll move on to the rest of the family after that.

Seriously fishy characters 1: Madame White

Madame White is a character who appears in several Chinese folktales. She’s a lovely woman who appears, accompanied by her pretty handmaid, to a handsome young man and convinces him to marry her.

From there, the legends diverge a bit. Some portray Madame White as an evil entity who kills one man every month by tearing out his heart and liver after being his lover.

But Madame White can also be genuinely in love with the man, and he with her.

From the Summer Palace in Beijing. Check out Madame White.

From the Summer Palace in Beijing. Check out Madame White.

The end is the same, though… it turns out that Madame White was originally a white python, and her maid a blue fish (or green snake).

Depending on your version, the story is either a thrilling tale of the young man’s narrow escape when a Taoist priest identifies the snake demon and imprisons her with her maid in the Liefeng Pagoda, or, it’s a tragic story of love denied.

While you’re making up your mind, check out this YouTube Video of a Chinese TV series based on the legend.


A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits

by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack