Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Russian folklore’

Koschei is a legendary character of Russian folklore who sometimes took the shape of a dragon. He seems to have originally been a man, in some versions related to the dreaded witch, Baba Yaga. With his magical might, Koschei could change his form to the dragon or a whirlwind. However, that was not his greatest power. Koschei was called Deathless because he had discovered the secret to immortality!

Perhaps it was more of a work-around for death. Koschei had learned how to separate his soul from his body. He kept his soul in a secret hiding place. As long as it remained inviolate, Koschei could never be killed.

Freed from the fear of death, Koschei embarked on a reign of terror. Nobody could resist his draconic power, and of course, no one could kill him. Only one brave prince stood against the tyrant. Koschei tried to force him into submission. He assumed his whirlwind form and swooped down upon the prince’s beloved wife. Screams trailed behind them as he snatched her away.

The prince faced a grim choice, to submit to a tyrant or lose his dear wife. But the princess was just as brave as her husband. She pretended to admire her captor. With flattery, she tried to find out the source of his immortality. First she found out that his soul was hidden away. Then she begged to know where it was hidden. Koschei enjoyed her attention, but he wasn’t completely taken in. He gave her a false answer. The princess got a message to her husband telling him of the hiding place. He rushed to the spot and destroyed the supposed vessel of Koschei’s soul.

When it became evident that Koschei was alive and as wicked as ever, the princess again pleaded to know where his soul was kept. Again, he lied. Again, she got word to her husband and again he tried to destroy Koschei’s soul. It did no good. A third time, the princess wheedled and teased. Koschei gave what seemed like a ridiculous answer: his soul was in a pebble, inside the yolk of an egg, inside a duck, inside a hare, inside a great rock, on an island.

After many trials, the brave prince managed to find the island, the rock, the hare, the duck, and the egg. Believe it or not, there was a pebble inside the egg! He took it back to confront Koschei, fully expecting that the dragon would kill him. But a slight blow from the tiny pebble restored the wizard’s soul. All the deaths that had been warded off suddenly fell upon him, and he was killed instantly! The prince and princess were reunited, and peace restored to the land.

Read Full Post »