Gods and Monsters of the Fire Salamander World: The Birds Sirin and Alkonost.

Hey there! I can’t believe it’s February already, and the Shadow Curse is finally out.


I wanted to start my blog by thanking everyone who took their time to read The Shadow Curse, the 5th book of the Shadow Enforcer series. Your ongoing support of the Fire Salamander Chronicles and the Shadow Enforcer means the world to me, and I can’t thank you enough for all the kind comments, messages and emails I’ve received after the latest release.


Now that the Shadow Curse is in your hands, let’s talk about gods and monsters of the Fire Salamander World.


Please, allow me to introduce the Birds Sirin and Alkonost.

Image credit: Viktor Vasnetsov's Sirin (left) and Alkonost (right) Birds of Joy and Sorrow (1896) (Public Domain)

Magical birds are common visitors to Slavic myths and legends. If you read Slavic fairytales, most likely you will meet the most mysterious and fascinating magical creatures, like Zhar-Ptitsa (the Firebird), Rarog, Mogul, Nogaj and many others. But the most famous among all the birds of Slavic lore are the three birds of paradise: Sirin, Alkonost and Gamayun.


Today, however, I wanted to talk about the sisters—Sirin and Alkonost—the mythological creatures with the body of a bird and the head of a beautiful woman.


Sirin. Who is she and what does she sing about?


Image Credit: Sirin by artist Igor Ozhiganov

The image of Sirin is always associated with sadness and secrets. Some legends have it that the songs of Sirin are so powerful that the person who listens to her voice can lose their mind. They also say that usually, Sirin foreshadows trouble, misfortune and disasters. Because of that, some legends described Bird Sirin as an omen of death and calamities, which is not always correct. But hey, perception is nighty-five percent of reality, right?


Just like most of the characters in Slavic lore, Sirin has two sides to her personality—the dark and the light. Yes, she can predict troubles and sorrows, and yes, her voice can enthrall a human being, driving them mad, but at the same time, she is wise, beautiful and has a magical voice that fills the world with harmony. Also, sometimes, Sirin doesn’t mind sharing her knowledge with people to help them.


So, you tell me… Is she good, evil, or in-between?


How to recognize Sirin?


Like all birds of paradise in Slavic lore, Bird Sirin has the body of a bird and the face of a young woman. Her plumage is ultramarine, and her hair is long and dark. When she sings, tears are running down her beautiful face.


So, if you decide to travel to the Isle Buyan and meet with the dark sister, think if you are ready to hear her song, and how safe it is going to be for your fragile human mind. 😉


Let’s talk about Alkonost and what she sings about.


Image credit: Alkonost. Russian Lubok of 18–19th C.

Unlike her sister, Alkonost’s songs are cheerful. She fills the souls of those who listen to her with peace and joy. Just like a muse, Alkonost inspires artists, poets and writers with her magical songs, and her voice is so charming that when people listen to her songs, they forget about everything that troubles them.


How does she look?


Just like her sister, Alkonost has the body of a large bird and the face of a gorgeous woman. But unlike Sirin, Alkonost also has two arms, and one of her hands holds a magical flower from Viraj – a mystical place in Slavic mythology identified with paradise. Her feathers are light and bright, and sometimes she is depicted wearing a crown on her head.


Wait… it’s not all…


There are many legends and fairy tales associated with the beautiful sisters. They say that Sirin and Alkonost are sitting on the branches of the apple tree that grows in the Garden of Viraj (in the Prav). During winter solstice, Alkonost flies down to the realm of humans and lays an egg in the sea. From that day, for the entire week, the sea is calm. When the egg appears on the surface of the water, Alkonost takes it back to Viraj.


One of the legends says that if you manage to steal Alkonost’s egg and place it under church beams, then all the secrets of the universe will be revealed to you and all your wishes will come true. Sounds great, right? But if you think it’s free and easy, think again. Remember? Nothing ever is free. If you’re crazy enough to do something like this, keep in mind that the magical bird Alkonost is not going to appreciate it. And she has some skills, all right. She’ll find you, take your soul and leave it on earth, dooming you for eternal suffering.


 

If you’d like to meet Birds Sirin and Alkonost, read The Burns War, the second book of the Fire Salamander Chronicles. If you are following the adventures of Damian and Cole in the Shadow Enforcer series, you can meet these magical birds in the 5th instalment of the series--The Shadow Curse.



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