During the Sochi Winter Olympics, I thought I’d share some tales of cryptozoology associated with the area. Yesterday we discussed the Svokan, a man-type beast or monster who sounds very much like a Bigfoot or Yeti. Today we’ll turn our attention to vampires, in particular a “She-Vampire” that supposedly lurks in the region around Sochi, in the Caucasus Mountain range.
Around the world there are many versions of Vampire tales but it basically comes down to a supernatural or undead type person wanting to suck the blood of their next unsuspecting victim. The version shared around the Caucasus Mountain region, including Sochi, tells of the Morana, a she-vampire. (Artwork right of Morana done by Mercurius Sublimatus on Deviant.)
The locals say the Morana appears under the guise of a beautiful young woman who looks anything but dead. But the truth, they say, is even more sinister because the Morana isn’t actually female. It’s an “it.”
The Morana is actually a fiendish devil described as having oily skin much of which, if not all, is black as night. There are horns on the head, talons or claws in place of hands, and red glowing eyes. Its gaze it supposed to be hypnotic.
But then it transforms or shape-shifts into a beautiful young woman and lures men from the area to their doom.
This description of the Morana reminds me of another devil described in pagan Germanic folktales (above left), specifically, that of the Krampus. If you’d like to read that article, here’s the link:
The story of the Morana may date back thousands of years to a time when the Slavic nations believed in a polytheistic system of theology. Her name varies depending on the region you’re in but the variations include Morena, Marzanna, Mara, Marzena, and Marmora. (Artwork right by Ivana Rezek – Morana is towards the back, while another goddess, Vesna, is in the forefront.)
The story goes like this: Jarilo is the god of vegetation and Spring. He’s associated with the moon. Morana is the goddess of winter and death; she is ruled by the sun. These two marry in the Spring thereby unleashing a riot of growth, fertility, and plenty upon the land.
Then things start to sour. After the harvest, Jarilo is unfaithful to Morana. She “slays” him, symbolically banishing him to the underworld, whereupon she unleashes all the harshness of winter upon the land, freezing everything in sight. Spring comes the next year and sweet-talking Jarilo woos Morana to marry him again, and so the cycle repeats.
The goddess Morana is seen as a harsh, frozen, and terrible individual, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that she was morphed into a terrible demon who sucks the life out of men, as she had done previously with nature.
In Latvian culture, there is a legend where the goddess Mara takes on the body of a dead person. I wasn’t able to find out why. However, this Mara is considered to be sultry, sexy, and abundantly beautiful. The legend of the Morana may also draw from this folktale. (In the photo above left, the Polish people continue the Springtime tradition of burning the Morana to welcome Spring.)
As it stands nowadays, it seems that the legend of the Morana is just a good folktale without any basis for there being a real vampire stalking the hills and valleys of the Caucasus Mountains. Of course with the isolation of the people in that region and a huge language barrier between East and West, it’s almost impossible to tell if there are any more modern stories continuing this legend. So far, I haven’t found any. (Photo above right of Sochi with mountains in the background.)
Still, I wouldn’t go out walking in the wilds of the Caucasus Mountains any time soon! Hikers beware!
Til the next time!