Although I usually like to write about art, I’m also very interested in folklore, particularly that of Ireland and Eastern Europe. This post is about the legend of the Iele, from Moldavia, who are akin to faeries, except that they are malevolent, and may link to art.
According to this site: “Ielele are magical creatures,with connections to witches and the devil.
“They appear as beautiful young girls,gathered in the night and dancing in a circle,destroying the land where they danced, leaving it sterile.Sometimes you can find a burned circle in the ground,or a circle in the crops,similar to modern interpretation of UFO activity, but nobody knew about UFOs at the time the legend started.
“They appear especially when the moon is full and on 24 June (Sanziene’s night), and no man is allowed to see them.If you see them,and they didn’t saw you,you must be protected with garlic,basil,wormwood, leaves of walnut or lime,and you can make the cross sign (but they must not see you doing it,because it will make them mad and attack you before you can complete the sign),or else you will become handicapped.If they see you,and you didn’t saw them,they will call you by name,and you must not look at them,because you will die in a painful way. And if you ignored them…they will follow you at home,and try to lure you outside, by calling you and offering diverse things.The house can be protected by keeping a horse’s head in front of the house,because they fear it and leave.They are attracted by young boys especially,because they need their souls,so if you are a young man the probability to be attacked is higher.There are lots of stories about young boys disappearing after being called outside by young girls.
“There is also a dancing ritual that young boys used to do for protection,it’s called “dansul calusarilor”(dance of the horsemen).
At Barbuletu,in Dambovita there is a place nicknamed Dead Man’s place,because for centuries,there have been hundreds of sightings of those mysterious girls,and every time the person who saw them became handicapped,or died is a horrible way.”
According to this site: “in 1579, in Sicily, the controversial institution of the Holy Inquisition triggered an investigation into reports of beings similar in appearance and habits of evil spirits; 65 people were arrested for their dances participated voluntarily. In the Middle Ages, mandrake circles appeared under gallows were attributed in some cases of female erotic spirits, coming to dance at runtime and to raise the dead souls. In 1791, the famous scientist Erasmus Darwin investigated the matter personally magic ring, which they consider associated with electrical phenomenon.”
There may be some influence in the arts from these Ieles, certainly in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The composer Stravinsky also composed The Rite of Spring which influenced the famous work by Matisse, la Danse, shown below.