According to Pagan Hungarian cosmology, the world is divided into three levels connected by a magical world tree.
• Sky spirits live above in the celestial zone amid the foliage.
• People live in the middle world by the tree’s roots.
• Chthonic spirits live below ground.
Initially there was no moral judgment attached to the different locations, but after conversion to Christianity, cosmologies combined: good souls were envisioned traveling upwards after death to Heaven while sinners descended to Hell. Ördög, traditional ruler of the realm below, became identified with Satan.
Ördög now literally translates as “devil” in Hungarian. It’s a noun, thus Tasmanian devil, for instance, translates as Tazmán Ördög. There’s no sense of Ördög as a personal name, but originally it was. Ördög, a horned spirit like Pan or Faunus, may or may not be the same spirit as Krampus who survives in Central European folklore as Santa Claus’ malevolent sidekick. Ördög was originally cocreator of the world and maybe a keeper of dead souls.
Ördög lives in Pokol, the old Hungarian realm of death, a fiery inferno. He stirs a giant cauldron filled with souls.
Ördög enjoys gambling with people usually by placing bets. He enjoys testing honesty or gauging susceptibility to temptation or corruption. Sometimes he pretends to be a naïve country bumpkin to see who will attempt to exploit him. Don’t gamble with him. Even if he lets you win in the beginning, ultimately he will win. The safest way to avoid trouble with Ördög is always to be polite, gracious, and honest with strangers.
Ördög can bestow fertility and treasure, no strings attached, when it suits him
Manifestation: His true form is a pitch black man with goat’s horns, hooves, and tail, but he has many forms and disguises, including a flame, a fox, and a handsome, possibly seductive, shepherd or goat herd. Dancing, fiery eyes are his identifying trait.
Iconography: Images of Black Krampus may be used to represent Ördög (as opposed to the red version of Krampus).
Creatures: Fleas, flies, and lice are his servants and messengers.
- Boldog Asszony
- Chthonic Spirits
- Faunus, Pan
Back to Hungarian Mythology
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by: Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.