Salmsonar The Slovenian Water Spirit

People living in the vicinity of Gorica/Gorizia imagined a special water spirit called Salmsonar. In 1868, Anton Pegan heard people talking about them near Gorizia, a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. (It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia) and recorded a story about them. They were said to live in the water, stayed in its depths and came on the surface in the night. The people they found in the water were taken with them to the bottom of the water, where they are buried or kept, for they could later also turn into a Salmsonar.

Salmsonar is characterised by having an unusual physique, scaly skin, being overgrown, having a green hue; he can have fishlike characteristics, particularly from the waist down, but can appear in human form, usually when seducing girls or when he has good intentions among people. He often takes revenge against his kidnapped bride for escaping from his underwater castle by killing their children. 

Salmsonar is dangerous for people who come into contact within their territory, as he can drown them. The salmsonar buries his drowned victims, so that they later turn into one of them. He usually lives in dangerous bodies of water, in pools, whirlpools, beneath waterfalls, or in places where the water is particularly deep. In order to assuage his anger he has to be given a gift or an object of “vice”; a woman’s white shawl for safe passage past a whirlpool.

This Slovenian Water Spirit is reminiscent of descriptions of Poseidon or Neptune the Roman god of the sea and waters. He is very similar to the Eastern Slavic "Vodanoj", who as the master of waters is given offerings in return for his favour, while in the Slovenian tradition he is better known for his treacherousness. Both are known for drowning people, which in the Slovenian tradition is considered a form of kidnapping.


Supernatural Beings From Slovenian Myths and Folktales by Monika Kropej

Bulletin Postage Stamps of Slovenia volume 86, 2011: "Water Man by Katja Hrobat Virloget, Ph.D"

Pic Source:

Bulletin Postage Stamps of Slovenia volume 86, 2011 page 22

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