Solomonarul – brief introduction

Finding a translation, or a definition, for that matter,of the word Solomonar would be rather difficult. In fact, this shadowy figure of Romanian folklore is surrounded by so many legends and tales, that it makes it impossible to establish a unilateral profile for the Solomonar, or a clear delimitation of  his attributions. Even the origins of this peculiar character are widely disputed by Romanian folklorists.

It is for this reason that I chose to discuss the Solomonar in more than one post, for it would be a blasphemy to treat this folklorical theme superficially. As documentation, I have chosen both studies written by contemporary ethnologists, such as Andrei Oișteanu or Mihai Coman, as well as folk tales collected by late 19th century folklorists such as Tudor Pamfile and Simon Florea Marian.

I will try to structure my post(s) in a coherent manner to cover as much as I can on this unique folkorical figure. I will begin with discussing   the attributes and attributions of the Solomonar, followed by some ideas on the initiation process the origins of the term and possible connection to King Solomon.

The Solomonar is always a male figure, a human being with “extraordinary powers”, as mentioned by Coman. However, it is clear that his powers are not native, but learned and practiced. The Solomonar must undergo an initiation process after having spent several years studying in an underground school. Pamfile mentions that the Solomonar will always be the youngest brother of seven brother monks.

It is said that they travel alone, dressed in rags, roaming through villages as beggars. If the villagers refuse to offer them food, the Solomonar will bring storms and hail upon that particular village. A Solomonar is able to do that by riding a dragon, mythical creature with which he has a special connection ( to be detailed in a future post) in the sky.

No matter the sources of the legends, the Solomonar is always accompanied by a series of symbols. First and foremost, he always carries a great book with him, It is also said that during his learning time, he is obliged to travel to the East and write down all the world’s knowledge into a tome. It is unknown if the book he carries is the same with the universal knowledge tome, but Coman points out that this may be a christian contamination of the original myth. It is in christian iconography that we find the motif of the “holy book”.

Other common symbols are: the hook, the staff (in some legends, the staff was used to kill a snake), an enchanted bag, an iron axe and a rein crafted out of birch tree bark.

It is said that a Solomonar begs for food and receives various products in small quantities, but never meat. According to Oisteanu, he never eats what he receives, but leaves it on a water stream, perhaps as an offering for the departed.

So, the Solomonar is  a man (and not a god, or even a demi-god), invested with special abilities (some legends claim that his teacher was the Devil himself – but that is only natural, since with the arrival of christianity, pagan figures were assimilated with diabolical forces) following an initiaion ritual. He has a complex connection to dragons, and, when he doesn’t ride them, or when he’s not wandering through villages as a beggar, retreats somewhere underground. He seems to master the weather and he constantly tests the virtues of villagers. In all his magical pursuits, he is aided by a series of enchanted objects.

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The Dead – part 2

As the strigoi are considered to be extremely dangerous and vicious spirits,  people have found numerous ways to bind or repel them.

Tudor Pamfile collected several such spells. This is one of them.

Tu moroiule, 
Tu strigoiule,
Tu să-ţi mănânci inima ta,
Maţele tale,
Ficaţii tăi,
Carnea ta,
Oasele tale,
Pielea ta,
Că cu cuţitul te-oi tăia,
Cu vin te-oi uda,
Cu busuioc te-oi afuma,
Cu tămâie te-oi tămâia,
Că inima ţi-oi lua,
Şi cu cuţitul oi tăia-o,
Şi-oi face-o nouă bucăţele,
Şi-oi arunca-o peste nouă vâlcele,
La nouă căţele.

You, moroi - it is argued that moroi is not the same as strigoi,
 this spell may very well prove otherwise, 
 or it is unknown whether the malevolent spirit is moroi or strigoi, so both names are used
You, strigoi
You shall eat your own heart,
Your own innards, 
Your own liver, - the plural is used in the original version
Your own flesh,
Your own bones,
Your own skin.
For I shall slash you with a knife,
Sprinkle you with wine, 
Smoke you with basil,
Smoke you with incense,
For I shall grab your heart,
And chop it with a knife,
And throw it over nine ravines
To nine bitches. - the cult of Hekate was widespread on Romanian territory

The Dead – part I

The  (un)dead play quite an important part in Romanian folklore. Such creatures are feared even  today, and great precaution is taken when it comes to threats from beyond the grave. I will have a lot of writing to do on this topic, so there will be a second part some day, perhaps even a third one.

The generic name for an undead in Romania is “strigoi”  if it’s male, and “strigoaică”  if female. There are two types of strigoi, the living and the undead. We shall only talk about the latter in this post, as we shall cover the first later on. The living are a completely different story, so to speak.

It is said that children born with the placenta stuck to their heads become strigoi, and so do the ones born with a tail ( a prominent coccis).  Such children are born out of women that drink unclean water (The Devil’s Drool) during their pregnancy or women that don’t cover their heads when going  out at night.

Moreover, individuals that die an untimely death (suicide, murder) people that committed evil deeds during their lifetime  also become strigoi. If a cat, dog or rooster jumps over a dead body, it will rise as a strigoi.

The strigoi are repelled by incense, garlic and onions. Legend has it that people born in a Saturday (being, therefore, connected to Saturn) can see the strigoi if they spend a whole night in a graveyard.

The 30th of  November is the night when the undead are the most potent.

Samca

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with this particular manifestation of  sinister feminine energy.  Samca is, according to Romanian folklore, a predatory female demon, especially dangerous for children and women in labor. However, the woods are her territory and no one is safe when venturing into the wild.

She appears as a naked woman, with long, uncombed hair, saggy breasts that touch the ground, eyes that shine like stars, sickle-shaped (!) talons and a fiery tongue. It seems that she is depicted with exacerbated or even “reversed”  fertility symbols: her hair is long, but wild and dirty and her breasts are big, but saggy, the breasts of a woman well past her fertile age.

She has 19 names : Avestiţa;  Brana; Zîlina;  Iscara;  Piha ; Isprava; Liba;  Muha;  Hae; Glubina;  Nicarda;  Tea; Hulubai; Tehaia; Nevederia; Teiana;  Ghesna; Rota;  Zîlîsamca. According  to legend, she revealed these names to Archangel Michael when he defended young Jesus Christ from her attack. If one has knowledge of these names he can defend one’s self from Samca by writing all of them inside one’s house.

I am not aware of any rituals for conjuring or working with Samca BUT if one persuades someone to write a spell for Samca and wear the parchment on which it was written, Samca will target him instead of the one that has fallen ill because of her attack.

Romanian ethnologist Tudor Pamfile collected the following spell against Samca ( I suppose this is the one you can use for her to target someone else):

A purces pe cale, pe cărare, N.
Când, la jumătate cale,
L-a întâlnit o Samcă cu patru picioare,
Cu păr de urs îmbrăcată până în pământ.

(person for whom the spell is recited) went along a path,
When, halfway down the road
A four legged Samca met him, - interesting how the Samca met him, not the other way around
With the hair of a bear hanging to the ground. - Jung associated bears with the chthonic mother

Bine l-a întâlnit,
Trupul i-a schimonosit,
Pieptul i-a stricat,
Ochii i-a păienjenit,
Sângele i-a băut.

She met him well,
Deformed his body,
Destroyed his chest,
Blurred his vision
Drank his blood. - Samca featured as a vampire

Carne i-a mâncat,
Toate puterile i-a luat.

She ate his flesh,
Drained him of his strength.

Nimeni nu l-a văzut,
Nimeni nu l-a auzit,
Numai Maica Domnului
Din poarta cerului
A auzit şi l-a văzut
Şi l-a întrebat

No one saw him,
No one heard him,
Only the Holy Mother - solar feminine archetype
At the gate of heaven 
Heard him and saw him
And asked

- Ce te văicărezi şi te căinezi?
- Cum nu m-oi văicăra
Şi nu m-oi căina,
Când am purces pe cale pe cărare,
Gras şi frumos
Când la jumătate de cale
M-a întâlnit o Samcă cu patru picioare,
Cu piele de urs îmbrăcată,
Trupul mi-a schimonosit,
Pieptul mi l-a stricat,
Ochii mi-a păienjenit,
Sângele mi-a băut,
Carnea mi-a mâncat,
Şi nime nu m-a auzit
Şi nime nu m-a văzut!

- Why are you whining and moaning?
- How not to whine,
How not to moan
When I went down the path 
Fat and handsome - sometimes, in rural Romania, fat is consiered a sign of well being
And halfway down the road
I was met by a four legged Samca
Dressed in a bear's pelt,
She deformed my body,
Destroyed my chest,
Blurred my vision,
Drank my blood,
Ate my flesh,
And no one saw me,
And no one heard me!

Şi i-a zis Maica Domnului:
- Du-te la cine ştie descânta,
Cu mătura te-a mătura,
De la tine l-a depărta,
Cu acu l-a împunge şi l-a străpunge,
De la tine s-a duce.
Cu biciul l-a biciui,
De la tine s-a porni,
Peste Marea Neagră l-a arunca,
Unde popa nu toacă,
Lui Dumnezeu nu se roagă.
Acolo sa-i fie cina şi odihna
Şi N. să rămâie luminat,
Ca cristalul de curat,
Cum Dumnezeu l-a zidit,
Şi mă-sa ce l-a făcut!

And the Holy Mother told him
- Go to the one that can cast spells,
He will sweep you with a broom,
He will cast her away,
Pierce her with a needle,
She will go away from you.
With a whip he will whip her,
She will leave you,
Throw her over the Black Sea,
Where the priest doesn't play his bell board,
Doesn't pray to God.
There shall she rest and feast.
And light will be upon (person for whom the spell is recited),
And he will be clean as a crystal,
Like God had built him
And his mother had had him.

The spell is to be cast three times a day, three days a month, for three months. You need strong alcohol, a broom straw, a needle and a found whip. The will person must drink the alcohol.

Note: this is an approximate translation, so don’t expect any rhythm or any other elements of prosody. The comments in Italics are mine.