video clip: Fairy Waters    |    duration: 8'11"
photo gallery
Fairy Waters
Radan and Kosmaj Mountains
Beliefs in Fairy waters have their origin in the oldest religious concepts of our ancestors, and hence the concepts of Fairy waters originated in the prehistoric times. These beliefs have been preserved to the present times, and so there are many hydronyms and toponyms in Serbia testifying to these beliefs: Fairy waters, Fairy springs, Fairy baths and others.

Our ancestors believed that water is “alive” and that it possesses living principle and thus treated springs, streams and rivers with utmost respect. Water was often used in the healing, white magic, incantation and bewitchment rituals. Various superficial beings resided in the water and around it. Beliefs of this kind usually apply to isolated mountain or forest springs. Depending on the local traditions, “Fairy water” can be curative but also dangerous, they could give or take away life of people, animals and plants.

Fairies are imagined as feminine creatures of exquisite beauty, as tall and slender girls with wavy gold hair spreading over their bust. Fairies had wings and were able to fly, and popular storytellers sometimes see them as dressed in white (“bijela vila“), and sometimes as naked. It is believed that fairies are born like fruits or flowers on a beech branch, or at the moment when the Sun is shining and rain is falling at the same time.

Meetings of fairies passed in dancing and singing, and they were believed to be gifted and insuperable in both respects. The meetings of fairies were surrounded by a vail of mystery and mystic atmosphere. Fairy springs are extremely dangerous places if a person bumps there in the dark night when the fairies are gathering and socializing. If fairy springs are propitiated by a gift or in some other way, than the fairy water becomes curative and can cure many illnesses, while the fairies can help a person in many of the hardships and ordeals.

Serbian mythology contains many traditions about fairies and their role in our ancestors’ lives, and thus there hardly is a mythical hero without some connection or contact with them (blood-sister, lover, wet nurse...). Such is the case with Marko Kraljevic, Milos Obilic and many others, as expressed in a popular oral song:

„All of the Serbian heroes Were breastfed by a fairy“
(„Што год има Србина јунака, Свакога је задојила вила“)

Beliefs in the power of „Fairy water“ survive today as well, and so travellers visit them in search for an archaic world in which an alliance existed between people and these wonderful but dangerous, but most of all well-minded, beings – fairies and their miraculous, „living“ and curative waters.
back to home page