Thursday, 26 May 2016

Dalmatian Elves #FaeVisions

Guest post by Urša Vidic

There are some popular Dalmatian songs being sung today that are about elves, even if people think that vila is just another word to describe a woman. They are usually sung by four to twelve men, in the klapa tradition, but these modern versions are sometimes rather reminiscent of gospels or of sweetly sentimental songs. One of them, Vilo Moja, goes something like this: “Almost every time when we look at one another, you don’t greet me back, as if we don’t know each other. You are my dream, but it would be easier if you were a stranger to me, if I did not know you.”

And in another one, Projdi Vilo, the man asks the elfin being to come to him, with her body, down the chain from his heart, to take the seed from his thirst and conceive the child of his blood. So, they both speak of a great yearning to be closer to such a being; this could come from a recognition of the fact that the elves can shine through people, that they are a part of us. Then, there is also a yearning for fae realms, for far-off lands that promise an air of freedom.

A myth that is quite present also on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is the story of a woman standing by the sea and longing to see the interesting world beyond the horizon. In its most popular version, written by a Romantic poet, this beautiful Vida sails away with a moor that comes from a place straight ahead from where the Adriatic opens towards the Mediterranean. It is interesting that another Slovenian poem, about a fish that carries the entire world on its back, associates it with this land and names it Faronika, probably because the word “pharaoh” is something so mysterious that it must come from a land beyond the horizon, the home of mythical creatures and of this fish, their mother. But the Romantic version of the beautiful Vida’s ballad from the 19th century mentions also very worldly problems, even if the main reason for the journey across the sea was her longing for something more in life.

Other women of that time simply had to leave Slovenia for economic reasons and by the beginning of WWII, there were around 7000 Slovenian alexandrinkas in Egypt. This is how they were called then and they had very interesting stories to tell. But such stories can be also disappointing, because they lack the magical element of their gazing into the sea. Therefore, one can find even theoretic fantasies more pleasing when they say that the elves are an ancient civilization of this planet, that they are a consciousness helping nature shape the world. And when we as people stare into the sea, we find this ocean of nature’s consciousness inside us, but at the same time, we still yearn for it, for the lost ability to be completely immersed in it—and for the future possibility to be able to find it a way that has never been there before.

Suggestions for further reading:

Urša Vidic’s “Mimikrija” (both in the original Slovenian and translated as “Mimicry”) can be found in Fae Visions of the Mediterranean.

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