Wild folk and witches

Myths and legends of the Dolomites

The Sciliar/Schlern region is full of mythological creatures and legendary beings whose existence is interwoven with the natural world and especially the mountains. Our forests, meadows, and rocky mountainsides are swarming with countless friendly – but also malevolent – creatures: the "Gannes", water spirits who inhabit springs and who can cure all kinds of ailments with water; the herb women ("Bregostans"), whose magical remedies can bring back a rosy glow to the cheeks of the sick; the "Salvans", wild dwarves or woodland spirits; the "Salingen", happy women who were turned into flowers by King Laurin and who wear beautiful blossoms, though they get gray, matted hair in the autumn; and also dwarves, giants, and "wild folk" of all kinds. Of course, the witches – who can be found especially (but not only) on the Sciliar Massive, a real witches' mountain – have a position of preeminence; their wild doings are legendary, and they are held responsible for lots of damage caused throughout the land.
The Witches of Sciliar
Everyone knows that the long ridge of the Sciliar Mountain is a popular meeting place of the witches, who come from all parts, flying on their broomsticks. Bad weather often brews at exactly the highest point of the Sciliar. The old people still remember well the terrible story of Hansel and the Storm, when he sprinkled the bullets of his gun with Holy Water and killed a whitch with it. The sight of the witch was so awful that many years passed before Hansel completely recovered from his frightful experience. But he never did forget the events of that night all his live-long days.

No Need to Be Afraid of Martha The Witch
The Good Witch Martha loves children and Mother Nature. She can perform feats of magic and turn into a squirrel. And she likes Harry Potter. She's a good witch. But because she is a witch, she sometimes looks a little evil. But deep down inside, she really means the best and wants to hurt no one. There's no need to be afraid of her. Witch Martha doesn't live directly in the forest, but it's nevertheless her home. In her leisure hours, she wanders through the woods and breathes in the good, fresh air, and talks to the flowers, the birds, and the animals she meets. She experiences the beauty of the forest, and that is perhaps one of her magic qualities.

Hans Kachler, the Warlock
It was a wonderful summer day in St. Valentine as a dark, suspicious-looking farmhand left a farmhouse and hurried off. All of the people he met on his way seemed afraid that he might cast a glance at them. But those who saw him coming from a long way off said to each other in a hushed tone: "Look there! It's Hans Kachler! I'd bet all twenty of my oxen that he's on his way to the Schlern to dance with the witches – if not with the Devil, himself!" Hans may have looked like an ordinary farm laborer, but believe me: In reality, he was a powerful warlock capable of performing amazing feats of magic. And besides that, he was also as strong as a bear.

King Laurin's Rose Garden
In ancient times, the dwarf king Laurin reigned in the mountains known today as Rosengarten. His greatest pride was his garden with magnificent flowering roses. One day, king Laurin fell in love with the beautiful princess Similde. Using his witchcraft, he abducted her and brought her to his reign. Simildes brother called for the help of Gothic king Dietrich to liberate Similde. Dietrich led his army to Laurin’s kingdom and finally subdued the dwarf king. Laurin was incarcerated but he escaped and returned to his rose garden.
When he saw the flowering roses, a terrible rage seized him, and he spoke: „The roses betrayed me. If it weren’t for their glow, Dietrich would never have found my kingkom.“ So he put a spell upon the garden: „My garden shall turn into stone. Neither at daytime nor at night shall the roses ever flower again.“
However, he forgot the dawn and the twilight, so the glow of the roses can still be seen at daybreak and at nightfall.
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