The Wendish Research Exchange

Wendish Folklore Portfolio 14. BŁUDNIKI - Will-of-the-Wisp

mersiowsky - 7-22-2014 at 08:23 AM

14. BŁUDNIKI - Will-of-the-Wisp
Translated by Elmer Hohle

Bludniki.jpg - 1.3MB

On boggy marshes and swamps in the darkest of night, little flames would sometimes appear in ghostly fashion. Rotting willow stumps on the water's shore were populated by luminous moss. Phosphorescence caused a greenish shimmering. In the summertime these glowing spores attracted the glow-worms in the wood. Such magic of nature caused this area to inexplicably shine. And so it became accepted belief, that there were little creatures who would meet people in the darkness. Indeed, Christendom even wanted to embrace the idea that these apparitions of light were the souls of children who died unbaptized.

A person would call them will-o'-the-wisps and would not fear them, because they appeared friendly and helpful towards humans. In the darkness of night they willingly showed a person the right way. As payment they asked only for a coin, which a person upon arriving home had to lay into their glowing little hand. But woe to anyone who would try to cheat them. Such a one they would punish with the derision of the village.

One night the innkeeper Nagorka of Rohna traveled from Spremberg to his home. It was pitch dark. Nagorka thought to himself: If only I could find the right way home in this darkness. I'd be willing to give anything if someone would only light the way. As he came out upon the forest road, the darkness became even more intense. He no longer recognized the way. But how pleasantly surprised he was when suddenly a light appeared. It was a will-o'-the-wisp (Błudnik), as they were called there. He hopped on the wagon tongue, right behind the horses at the spot where the double-tree is fastened to the wagon-tongue. He lighted the way so that the innkeeper recognized the roadway and safely arrived home.

Having arrived, he paid the Błudnik, for he tossed a penny into a puddle that was at the front door. The next morning the puddle had disappeared. You see, the Błudnik, as he hunted for the money, splashed out all the water.