Life is such a limiting term, if I think of it as related to the body. In how many forms does energy live on the earth, without a body?
Folklore is built by intrigued minds around the unusual experience of a few. Fear is felt by minds that cannot accept the unfamiliar, and their stories have demons and devils.
In all cases, those who believe the story start feeling a presence around them – maybe it’s imagination, maybe it’s a superior sensitivity.
India has stories about ancestors being reincarnated as snakes to guard the family treasure. They hiss and scare, and keep people away from reaching the vault. I wonder if they have the capacity to differentiate between thieves and rightful heirs. Or do they hope to come back at a later stage to enjoy what they have accumulated.
My mother had a tale about pots full of gold coins and gems being hidden between the bricks of thick walls, in her grandfather’s village house. A story was circulated that those who dare to touch it die, supported by evidence of a few deaths. It kept away those who feared death. Years later, the villagers said the treasure was converted to scorpions and snakes. Probably, someone who did not believe in the curse had taken it away. Her father decided to keep away on the grounds that it was money acquired by violence. The landlords used to beat up poor farmers for not paying taxes. To each his own, and stories of darkness in the sun and moon….
Back to Domovoy and Kikimora … I see the authors as minds strongly rooted in tradition and ancestral influence. This sense is diluted in modern times, as children move between different locations, jobs and foster-families.
They believe in guardian angels, and who can be better than your kith and kin to support and protect you. Indians also believe that we pay the price for, or enjoy rewards of our ancestors’ Karma. It feels unfair to be held responsible for sins we have not committed, but raises questions on beliefs. Is it possible that we come back as reincarnations in the same family to pay for our deeds, or correct wrongs? The appeasement rituals may be effective only in the sense that it generates awareness of Karma.
Stories don’t end. It’s another form of life – to live as characters in people’s minds.
Written for Dream Interpretations on MLMM