Put your ear to the ground and listen.
It’s a faint sound, all year round…
Sawing, constant sawing.
They Toil throughout the seasons, a band of co-conspirators.
Sawing away at the Roots of the Tree of Life.
The Axis Mundi, the Pole of the World.
Who are they, and why would they do this?
They are the Kallikantzaros.
And they do this because…
Some creatures just want to burn down the whole damned world.
And so, they saw, and they saw, and they saw, certain that they are about to fell the Mighty Tree.
And so sure are they of their victory.
That when the Winter Solstice breaks,
and the Sun stops dead in his solar tracks,
The dire kallikantzaros
claw their way back up through the wounded, barren earth.
To celebrate in the assured Chaos.
After all, if the Sun has stopped, surely, they must have succeeded.
Don’t they sound impressive?
They would be downright terrifying, but for one small detail:
The kallikantzaros always fail.
I like a good winter monster; a Krampus, a Christmas Witch, an under-educated mob…
They think they know how to get a job done.
But these guys, these kallikantzaros;
They have all year to work one heist, to pull of one coup,
one simple Cosmic Insurrection,
And instead of seeing everything through,
They decide it’s time to party.
Where can these ineffectual critters be found?
Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, and Cyprus.
And the Inter-webs, of course.
What does their name mean?
Possibly the Greek kalos-kentauros (“beautiful centaur”); maybe from the Turkish kara-kondjolos “werewolf, vampire”, from kara “black” and koncolos “bloodsucker, werewolf”.
There’s another word to describe them:
Here is the etymology of the word “Idiot”:
early 14c., “person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning;” also in Middle English “simple man, uneducated person, layman” (late 14c.), from Old French idiote “uneducated or ignorant person” (12c.), from Latin idiota “ordinary person, layman; outsider,” in Late Latin “uneducated or ignorant person,” from Greek idiotes “layman, person lacking professional skill” (opposed to writer, soldier, skilled workman), literally “private person” (as opposed to one taking part in public affairs), used patronizingly for “ignorant person,” from idios “one’s own”
I bolded ‘private person’ for a reason.
When you live in an echo chamber of similar people, with similar views, you are in effect a private person.
If you surround yourself with people who mimic your beliefs and actions, you’re a private person.
You have, for all practical purposes, joined the ranks of the Kallikantzaroi.
I also bolded the word idios, as in “one’s own”.
I can’t help but think about Freud’s concept of the Id, and how ultimately narcissistic the Kallikantzaroi – or anyone – who wants to destroy everything has to be.
Like all rioters, when they do emerge, the tend to make a mess.
For 12 long days, from December 25 to January 6th (hmmmm….), they screw with people. They essentially vandalize entire villages, until the Sun starts moving again on the 6th; at that point, they realize they’ve failed (incidentally, this day is celebrated as the Epiphany feast in several branches of Christianity)
Luckily for the Universe, 12 days is all it takes for the Tree to heal itself.
Realizing that they utterly failed, the Kallikantzaroi claw their way back to the Underworld, to restart their attempt at overthrowing the Axis Mundi.
Good for us in the long run, but what can a person do to protect themselves for those 12 long days?
- Throw a donut-like dessert filled with syrup, called a “loukoumade”, with some sausages on your roof, and sing a ritual song.
2. Leave a fire burning in the fireplace, all night (adding old, stinky shoes to the fire apparently helps)
3. If you’re all out of stinky shoes, try incense and paint a black cross on your door(s); that should do the trick.
And so, what’s the takeaway?
Shh…put your ear to the ground, and listen for the sound of sawing.
It should strike a little bit of fear, because the Kallikantzaroi are coming.
However, just remember one thing:
The Tree Will Stand.
The Tree Always Stands.