“There is a sort of egg in great repute among the Gauls, of which the Greek writers have made no mention.
“A vast number of serpents are twisted together in summer, and coiled up in an artificial knot by their saliva and slime; and this is called ‘the serpent’s egg’. The druids say that it is tossed in the air with hissings and must be caught in a cloak before it touches the earth. The person who thus intercepts it, flies on horseback; for the serpents will pursue him until prevented by intervening water.”
It is wonderful to me, how many more things there were in heaven and earth in the time of Pliny the Elder.
The Roman nobleman, scientist and author of Naturalis Historia spotted some whoppers in his time, but this reference to an adder stone, told with complete dispassion, always fascinates.
These stones are still around. Archaeologists have found them in Britain and Egypt; but most commonly they have been found in North Germany and the North and Baltic seas.
They are called many things; adder stones, hag stones, serpents’ eggs, Glain Neidr,milpreve, Gloine nan Druidh and aggri. They ward off the dead; they court faries; the legends abound.
But the Russians call them куриный бог. The Chicken God.
This is the god who looks after chickens for the Slavs. A rock with a glassy inside and a hole bored right through the middle. The household would leave one in the yard; for it is one of the few things respected by the god of the yard.
Clearly, Gods have politics. Turf, so to speak. And the god of the yard hated white animals. Bring a white goat and it wouldn’t last the night.
The dvorovoi-eerily- took on the form of the master if the household, but its values were usually vastly different. More distant from the people on the house than the domovoi, this spiritwas verging on sociopathic. In one Russian tale a woman slept with the dvorovoi by mistake and was thrown out of her household by her husband as a result. In another, the dvorovoi plaited a woman’s hair every night to show they were an item. When she wanted to marry a mortal he strangled her with her own hair the night before the wedding.
But there was one animal safe from the dvorovoi’s lethal grip: the chicken. White chickens would always be safe because to kill one would be to tread on the toes of the chicken god.
There were other ways to appease this rather monstrous little deity.If you ever saw him, you were advised to pin him to the fence with a pitchfork; though how one avoided doing this to the real master of the house I am not certain.
And if you threaded together strands from the shroud of a dead person to make a whip, it was possible to thrash the whole yard and slightly subdue the dvorovoi in the process.
My yard is small. I have not yet met my dvorovoi.
And not being a white chicken, I’m not sure I really want to.