Creature Compendium: The Ala

With all the bad weather recently, a demon of storms felt appropriate. I think the Ala may have been hungry.

The Ala / Hala

Storm by !rassmann

The ala is a female creature of springtime wind, hail, and thunderstorms, belonging to Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Serbian folklore. She is thought have a serpentine appearance, and great wings. Regionally her description varies. Some say that her tail dangles from the clouds, and that seeing her head can cause insanity. Some tales give her a horse head, and some give her three serpent heads, and other tales say she is the sister of the dragon. Its nemesis was the imperial eagle, or the dragon, who would fly up into the rain clouds and chase the ala away.

The ala is said to devour everything in its path, destroying crops, and uprooting fields because of her insatiable hunger, and even took bites out of the moon. Other stories say she can disguise herself as a human or an animal, and only men with six fingers can see her true form.

Other stories say she can posses humans. People exhibiting the properties of the ala were called Aloviti men in Serbia. These men possessed great hunger, and unusual strength, and could only be killed with gold or silver bullets.

The ala is sometimes associated with the Baba Yaga, of eastern Slavic mythology. Baba is thought to have come from the name of a proto-slavic deity, associated with wind, darkness, and rain.

Further Reading:

  • Ala (demon) – There is an impressive list of references and footnotes to this Wikipedia article, though most are not in English.

Related Creatures: baba yaga, bad weather spirits

Region of Origin: Macedonia/Bulgaria/Serbia

Interestingly there is a counterpart to the Aloviti men. Just like people could possess properties of the Ala, people could possess properties of the dragon, its nemesis. Man the story possibilities there…

I hope all of you affected by Sandy are doing okay! Sending warm wishes.

8 thoughts on “Creature Compendium: The Ala

  1. There seem to be a lot of mythologies that characterize storm-related divinities as specifically female.

    Makes me wonder… how many of those storm goddesses can be traced to the same mythic roots?

    1. I wonder that too. However, its also possible that these mythologies developed in parallel, since people like explanations of merciless whether phenomena. There’s also Zeus, and Thor, though those are male.

      1. Yeah, that’s why I said a lot, but not all.

        And, at least on the surface, the fact that Thor, at least, is a male storm god supports the idea that possibly some of the female ones are possibly from a related ancestry. I’m not sure there’s much cultural overlap between Macedonian mythology and Norse mythology. I think a lot of ancient Macedonian mythology has more in common with ancient Near Eastern traditions. Then again, I’m going off the cuff here, and I may be misremembering some of links and traditions in those mythologies. And I would think that Macedonian and Mycenean (i.e. Ancient Greek) traditions would have more overlap.

        Dollars to donuts an Anthropology major could clear this right up.

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