"I must ask the Count about these superstitions"
Magic Circle
Public DomainMagic Circle - Credit: John William Waterhouse

In her essay 'Transylvanian Superstitions' Victorian writer Emily Gerard, who lived for a time in Transylvania, discusses the supernatural stories - and the traditions that accompany them - of the Transylvanian people. She identifies three sources of superstition:


1) The indigenous superstitions of the country, which are inextricably linked to its scenery and natural features. “There are innumerable caverns, whose mysterious depths seem made to harbor whole legions of evil spirits: forest glades fit only for fairy folk on moonlight nights, solitary lakes which instinctively call up visions of water sprites; golden treasures lying hidden in mountain chasms, all of which have gradually insinuated themselves into the minds of the, oldest inhabitants, the Romanians, and influenced their way of thinking”

2) Imported superstition, such as old Germanic stories and traditions.

3) The superstitions of the gypsies and wandering tribes.


According to Gerard, the 'spirit of evil' plays a huge part in Transylvanian belief:


13th century image of the Devil
Public Domain13th century image of the Devil - Credit: Herman the Recluse

"Transylvania might well be termed the land of superstition, for nowhere else does this curious crooked plant of delusion flourish as persistently and in such bewildering variety. It would almost seem as though the whole species of demons, pixies, witches, and hobgoblins, driven from the rest of Europe by the wand of science, had taken refuge within this mountain rampart, well aware that here they would find secure lurking-places, whence they might defy their persecutors yet awhile...

...The spirit of evil (or, not to put too fine a point upon it, the devil) plays a conspicuous part in the Romanian code of superstition, and such designations as the Gregynia Drakuluj (devil's garden), the Gania Drakuluj (devil's mountain), Yadu Drakuluj (devil's hell or abyss), etc., etc., which we frequently find attached to rocks, caverns, or heights, attest the fact that these people believe themselves to be surrounded on all sides by a whole legion of evil spirits.

The devils are furthermore assisted by witches and dragons, and to all of these dangerous beings are ascribed peculiar powers on particular days and at certain places."


Read Emily Gerard's essay on Transylvanian Superstition here.