Witches’ hill

 

 

It is an outdoor sculpture gallery near Juodkrantė, Lithuania.  It is located on a forested sand dune about 0.5 kilometer west of the Curonian Lagoon. Begun in 1979, it has been expanded several times, and now contains about 80 wooden sculptures along a series of trails. The artists drew on a long tradition of woodcarving in Samogitia, and on the equally long tradition of Midsummer Night's Eve celebrations on the hill. The sculptures depict characters from Lithuanian folklore and pagan traditions.

You should visit this place and you will encounter unheard and unseen things. Here are some of the stories connected with this unique Lithuanian region.

The Story-teller

There was once an old man who wandered the villages and towns, telling all kinds of stories: of great war exploits, of knights drowned in marshes, animals with human voices, but mostly - of witches and devils. How they became goats, luring and drowning people in marshes, how they strangled a greedy lord, how they turned in to black dogs and tore people to pieces... After listening to such tales, not only children, but even the bravest of men were afraid - especially on a full moon night. One time, Perkunas (Thunder ) invited this old man to his place, and ordered him to tell his stories. If he could keep Perkun awake with his tales all night long, then in the morning the Story-teller would be rewarded with a sack of gold. But the old man refused to serve this pompous creature, and so he provoked his anger. Perkun then threw him a piercing glance, and the Story- teller instantly found himself on Witches' Hill - where he stands to this day.

The Birth of Neringa

Long, long time ago, where Karvaitis Hill now stands, on an island stood the temple of Laima (Fortune) , goddess of fate; the castle on that island was ruled by Duke Karvaitis. One autumn, a daughter Neringa was born to the Duke. The little one seemed to be protected by the goddess Laima, for she grew graceful, wise, and of good heart. By the time she was 18, she was famous for her outstanding works: pulling out a fishing-boat from the stormy sea, hauling out a wagon stuck in the sand. News of the young woman's beauty and goodness spread far and wide , and a crowd of young men paraded around her. She, however, promised to marry only the one who could throw a stone across the lagoon as far as Vente Castle. Since only the heir of the Castle itself was able to carry out this task, Neringa became his fiancée. Angered by her independent will, Bangputys (Waveblower) brought on a terrible storm. In the end, Neringa gathered an apron full of sand, walked into the sea, and poured a ribbon of sand dividing the sea from the lagoon. The sea calmed, and the young couple arranged a fine wedding.

The Dragon

A daughter was born into the family of a poor fisher man. The little girl Neringa was most unusual: she grew very quickly, and was exceptionally strong. Neringa grew to be a giantess. Most of all, she liked to stand on the seashore and wait for the returning fishermen: if fog or clouds came in, she would undo her long braids and sweep the sky until the sun shone through. Neringa was beautiful. A dragon heard of her beauty, and wanted her for his wife. When she refused, he began to sink the fishing boats. Then Neringa decided to cut off the dragon with a wall of sand. She carried dunes into the sea, laid down pine-trees, and threw in rocks. Neringa's ribbon of sand separated the lagoon from the sea, but the dragon would not calm down. He would not let fish swim into the lagoon, and the fishermen began to mutter: Neringa should marry that dragon. News of the affair reached Naglis, a giant from Palanga. He stood in her defence. He lopped off the dragon's heads, chopped his body in half, and covered the whole pile with sand. That is how Naglis Hill was formed. And Naglis and Neringa had a wonderful time, dancing at their wedding.

 

Raining Frogs

Young witches are obliged to attend witchcraft school. Like children, some of them are lazy and not keen on learning. But in the end, they all have to pass exams. One young witch was given the task of making rain. She wasn't one of the enthusiastic pupils, and though she tried hard and sweated, she simply couldn't remember the magic word. Instead of rain, the sky poured with frogs, and she had to

Lucifer and the Gates of Hell

Here it is always dusk, lots of tree branches and at the bottom - a steep slope.  The gates are interlaced with large and small heads of grimacing witches. Beyond the gate, the ruler of hell - Lucifer - rises out of the abyss: he comes to take possession of the soul he has been promised. Once there lived a fisherman and his wife. No matter how hard he tried, he could barely catch a few tiny fish each day. One evening as he was returning home, he met a lord all dressed up. The fisherman lamented: he was ever so poor - he and his wife could barely feed themselves. The lord - who was Lucifer himself - asked what the fisherman would give if he could catch more fish every day than a wagon could pull. What could the fisherman give? He had nothing of his own. Then the lord said: fine, promise that in 18 years, you will give me what you did not have when you left home this morning. Agreed... But when the fisherman entered his house, he found a new born son lying in the cradle. Will the fisherman be clever enough to save his own son? -  for here comes Lucifer through the gates, to take command of the young man 's soul..

 

The Dancers

The devil used to like stealing into young people's summer parties. On the surface, you couldn't recognize him from the other men: similar clothing and hat - no horns or tail to be seen. He was wearing a hat, smart clothes, even a bowtie, chose the loveliest girl, and was happy that he had another soul for hell. But there was one girl and she was clever: unnoticed, she stepped on his shoe, and found out that it was empty. She realized she was dancing with the devil, and knew that she had to get rid of him. The devil invited the girl to his carriage, and she protested, saying she didn´t have the proper skirt. So the devil produced a beautiful skirt. Then it was a smock - the devil offered one of those, with embroidered sleeves. She has no necklace - the devil brought one ; no ring he provided her with that as well. By the time she finally finished getting all dressed up, the cock crowed. The devil cursed, and disappeared without a trace. And the girl remained alive, holding an armful of presents.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Witches

BALSEVIČIENÉ, A. Witheshill. Vilnius: R. Paknio leidykla, 2011. ISBN 9986-830-67-2

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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