A water spirit of Eastern Europe. The appearance and characteristic of the vodyanoi varies greatly. According to some they are immortal, but they age and are rejuvenated according to the waning and waxing of the moon. They appear in the form of a floating moss-covered log with small wings, a grotesque fish, a beautiful woman, or a blue-faced old man covered in fur or scales, with glowing eyes, horns, huge paws, and a tail. Sometimes the old man has green hair and beard, but the beard turns white when the moon is waning.
The vodyanoi live in the depths of the waters, either in the slime that covers the bottom or in a beautiful, illuminated castle. They lay in wait for human beings to drag to their watery domain and drown them. These would become their servants.
These water spirits, although dangerous to humans, would not harm fishermen and millers; the latter propitiated them with a cockerel to prevent them from damaging mill.
A vodyany was said to live in the region of Olonets, northern Russia, and to feed his large family he required the corpses of animals and men. The people who lived in the vicinity avoided fetching water from the lake or bathe in it, and eventually the vodyany left for another lake by way of a river.
The plural vodyanoi is also used in the singular.
From voda, "water."
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