Events04 October 2020

Ielele, the magic beings of the Romanian Folklore

Fairies of the wind, of the water and of the air, the strongest ones, the wise ones, the fairest, the charming ladies

Ielele, Romanian mythology

Ielele, Romanian mythology

The Romanian mythological universe ignites the imagination and creates myths and fairy tales about extraordinary characters, blessed with magical powers. In a time when: „all reveal as new ... when colors spoke and all doings were eager to turn into realty and eyes more agile then our foreseen the unseen,“ as Vladimir Colin said. Fantastic feminine, ethereal characters, hidden by the virgin forests, unspoiled by humans, covered by the skies and the seas, ielele (in Romanian translation she-they) appeared to the mortals in an out of this world dance, that disturbed the mind and spoil the body, untrained for magic.

Ielele, known under different names: The Holy ones, the Mighty ones, the Ladies, the Daughters of the Fields, the Beautiful one, the Queens of the Air, the Wise ones, the Powerful ones, the Fairies, are mythological feminine creatures that appear to the mortals during the summer solstice and Easter at night time. Fairies of the skies, of the waters and of the forests, ielele received flattering name in order to gain their good will. In opposition with „the death’s vampires” that brought misfortune and suffering to the world of men during the winter, ielele are the moon’s creatures, appearing during the summer as virgins dressed in white clothes, identified as evil spirits, grace to their vindictive nature: they punished the mortals guilty of evil doings by vortex movements that spoil the body and trouble the mind or by bringing even the death.

They may appear in odd number (3 - 5 - 7 - 9) and accompanied by music: whistle, drums, and bells, dancing and singing in chorus. It is said that the place where they are dancing left the grass burned in strange circles. Those spoiled by iele could be saved only by magic spells and Calusarul dance. Mortals may use as protection against those beings plants such are: absinth, valerian or garlic.

The origins of the Iele are equally ambiguous as their name and leads to many interpretations. Lazar Saineanu considers that Ielele represent the souls of the enchanted women who, after death, have not found their peace. Other legends consider ielele to be the daughters of Rusalim - the Emperor who hate Christians because their subjects have converted to Christianity. Tudor Pamfile found another explanation: ielele were the three daughters of Alexandru Machedon: Catrina, Zaina and Marina who drank enchanted water and became supernatural beings. Other legends said that Ielele are the result of the incestuous love of Cosanzeana, the Moon goddess and the Sun, cursed to never meet again.

Almost every region from Romania has special places dwelled by the Ielele creatures. In Dâmboviţa, in the area called "The dead man" it is said that Ielele appear and dance on the night of St. Andrew. In the Drocaia Forest in Olt region, the legend says that they would have been seen. On some fields in Arad, Alba or Brasov areas, the local legends tell about the circle shapes of burned grass, symbol of the Ielele passing through.

Ielele, regardless of their name or their origin, have imprinted the collective mind with magical aspects and the legends continue to survive over time.  

  Bibliography: Ghinoiu, Ion – Romanian Pantheon, Editura Enciclopedica Pulishing House, Bucuresti, 2001  

Alina Mafa

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