Every house has its quirks.
But when do quirks become unsettling? And at what stage do we stop attributing the unexplained to the house’s foibles, and begin to see someone, or something, behind it?
Let me tell you a story.
Many years ago, before we had children, Phil’s work had a lovely big house overlooking the Atlantic ocean at Polzeath in Cornwall. It was well documented as being haunted, but its views were world class. You could sit and have breakfast looking out over the rugged straits where the Camel meets the Atlantic, munching toast whilst contemplating the Doom Bar where boats would be wrecked in olden times, providing plunder for ruthless local pirates.
We booked it for a week, of course we did; what is a ghost in the face of that location? And we invited the extended family down.
Everyone trooped in and took up residence and oohed and aahed. And I did not say one word about the ghosts, and hid the visitor’s book which told of phantoms knocking on the door and strange things flying about the place.
My youngest brother is a bit of a sensitive. The night after he arrived there was a great Summer storm.
The next morning, I found him checking the windows in an unoccupied room.
“What are you doing, Pete?” I asked.
“Checking these windows. Last night I could have sworn I heard something hammering the windows. It started at one end of the house and banged each window in turn.”
He could find nothing which explained the strange phenomenon. And I stayed mute. He had to sleep there for a week after all.
The Slavic nations found a perfectly satisfactory way to explain such phenomena.
They were made by Domovoi.
Simple: no need to fear ghosts; the unexplained was the house-spirit at its tricks. The domovoi were said to be hairy old men but they could take other forms, dogs, or cats, or even the house owner. There have been reports of people seeing the owner in the yard whilst he was fast asleep in bed.
They are seers for the family. That unexplained crying just days before someone dies? It’s the domovoi. Someone pull your hair in the kitchen? The domovoi, warning of an abusive partner. The domovoi would laugh when the fortunes of the family were good, cry when they were bad.
And when they were unhappy, they took the same action as any self-respecting poltergeist. They hurled things about, and knocked on doors, and rattled windows and made themselves generally objectionable.
When you moved, you tried everything in your power to take the domovoi with you. On moving house, it was advisable to cut a slice of bread and leave it under the stove to tempt the family domovoi.
Everyone’s house has its foibles. Every house has a character which, on occasion, reverberates with the unexplained.
And now you know who it is.
A word in your ear: be hospitable to your domovoi.
Featured image source: www.wulflund.com