Samodivas are commonly depicted as ethereal maidens with long, loose hair, and in some cases, wings. They are typically dressed in free-flowing, feathered white gowns, which give them the power of flight. Samodivas are often described as blonde, tall, slender women with pale, glowing skin and fiery eyes.
The myth – folklore
Samodivas are believed to be very beautiful women with an affinity for fire. They have the power to bring about drought, burn a farmer’s crops, or make cattle die of high fever. It is said that, when angered, a Samodiva can change her appearance and turn into a monstrous. A bird, capable of throwing fire at her enemies. This and the power of their seductive voices, makes them somewhat similar to Harpies in Greek mythology. Their vindictive nature also complements this notion.
They are usually hostile and dangerous to people. Men who gaze upon a Samodiva fall instantly in love (or at least in lust), and women take their own lives at the sight of such beauty. Sometimes a Samodiva would seduce a man, commonly a shepherd or a trespasser in her forest, and take him for her lover. However, in doing so, she would take all of his life energy. The man would then become obsessed with the Samodiva and chase her relentlessly, unable to think of anything else. The Samodiva, fueled by the energy stolen from her admirer, would then proceed to torture the man until he died of exhaustion.
Another important aspect of the myths surrounding Samodivas is their dance. Beginning at midnight and finishing at dawn, their dance symbolized the raw energy of both nature and the supernatural world. Accompanied and following only the rhythm of the wind and their own singing, their dance was said to have been often witnessed by lost or late travelers. In Bulgarian folklore, a Samodiva’s close connection to the forest makes her knowledgeable about magical herbs and cures for all illnesses. It is said that if a person managed to eavesdrop on a gathering of Samodivas he could also gain knowledge of these remedies. In many stories, this is exactly what the hero is forced to do to save a loved one, as a Samodiva would never share her secrets willingly.