In the old Lithuanian village homes, there used to be unusual magic creatures – spirits aitvarai (sngl. aitvaras – ite’-vahr-as). When the spirit is at the homestead, he looks like a black rooster. If he flees outside, he flies like a fire stick, reminding of a serpent.
Aitvaras lives on the attic of the homestead and brings his master fortunes – grain, curd, and even money. Too bad that he steals them from the neighbours. As one builds a new storehouse, it is helpful to dig a hole in the ground near the entrance steps and hide a coper item there.
Aitvaras is a capricious creature. Every day he needs to be appeased with some delicious baked eggs. If he is offended, he can burn the house down.
Want Your Own Aitvaras?
He can be hatched from an egg of a seven-year-old rooster. For seven weeks, the master has to keep it warm in his armpit. It is possible to lure one with a candle dedicated to the sky-god Perkūnas. The candle is to be burned during storms, lest the house catches fire from lightning. One has to burn the candle on the attic in a clay pitcher. We can only wonder if people used to adorn their attic windows in order to attract aitvarai. However, the simplest way to acquire an aitvaras is to travel to Riga’s market and obtain a special black stone. Once you bring it home, it releases an aitvaras.
Here is a story about a farmer. One rainy autumn day, he was riding in his carriage next to his fields and suddenly heard a sorrowful sob under a tree. He found a little rooster there. The farmer brought the rooster home and took good care of him. The rooster grew to be a very loyal aitvaras.
This story calls for a choice – does one want to prosper at the toil of one’s hands or depend on an unreliable spirit, who steals from others.
From Klimka, Libertas. “The Chest of Lithuanian Traditions” (Lith. Lietuviškų tradicijų skrynelė). Didakta, 2013, p. 341.
Aitvaras usually takes care of poor, abused, ungreedy people.
Lithuanian aitvaras is closely related to the Latvian budzis or pūķis. Also, take note of the general characteristics of dragons – think of The Hobbit.
For Lithuanian audiences, here is another interesting and a more comprehencive article about aitvaras »