The Kikimora is a female house spirit with dominion over spinning, weaving and needlework. There is not one Kikimora but many. Theoretically, every household may have one. She may or may not be married to the Domovoi, the Russian male house spirit. If she’s happy with the family with whom she lives, then she’ll serve as their guardian; tending family chickens and helping with housework and needlework.
But beware if she’s unhappy! The Kikimora will create havoc. She Demonstrates displeasure by moving objects around and causing significant items to go missing. She also throws things; sometimes aiming at people. Her aim is allegedly quite good. Al though she is reputedly very small, based on the weight of the items she is describing as throwing, the Kikimora is very powerful.
The Kikimora is not an innately malicious spirit. She can be helpful. She possesses powerful psychic talents and will warn her family of impending disaster and the arrival of enemies. However, she can be a difficult and challenging spirit to work with and keep happy.
The Kikimora is a chicken goddess but not necessarily a chicken guardian. She has affinities with poultry, either caring for them or tormenting them. She may pluck their feathers or scare them so they won’t lay eggs unless the chicken yard is magically protected. (For example, a fieldstone containing a natural hole placed in the chicken yard is a traditional magical remedy to protect chickens from her.) The Kikimora is sometimes associated with Baba Yaga who also has affinities with chickens. Both spirits reward and favor women who perform traditional women’s work skillfully and graciously.
The Kikimora sleeps in dark corners of the home such as behind the stove or in the cellar. Although the Kikimora is a house spirit, she is capable of travel and apparently enjoys visits to the bathhouse where she is frequently encountered. The Kikimora is an oracular spirit but she tends to deliver warnings of misfortune rather than happy news. She does not explicitly deliver her information but her appearances, actions and behavior may be interpreted for clues. To witness her seated by the home’s entrance was interpreted as an ominous sign. To witness the Kikimora spinning was believed to be a harbinger of impending death.
In his tone poem “Kikimora”, Russian composer Anatol Liadov (1855–1914) describes this house spirit as a tiny brown witch with a thimble-sized head and a body no wider than a straw. She spends her first seven years living in a magician’s mountain cave where she sleeps in a crystal cradle and is regaled with fairy tales by the magician’s cat. Only after seven years, does she leave the cave to go live among people.
Also known as:
The Kikimora is usually described as a small woman with long flowing hair wearing traditional Russian folk costume. She may have chicken feet. She is most frequently witnessed combing her hair.
The Kikimora is particularly active during the Yuletide season
- Baba Yaga
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.
Kikimora (tormenting spirit) In Russian folklore, female house spirit who lives behind the oven, said in some accounts to be the wife of Domovoi, the male house spirit; sometimes said to be a mora, a person with two souls. Kikimora appears in numerous folktales, though no precise image emerges. She looks after poultry and sometimes takes part in household tasks if the wife herself is diligent; if not, she causes havoc by making noises in the night and waking those asleep. Sometimes she causes women to tangle their spinning if they arise from their spinning wheels without making the sign of the cross. Anatol Liadov’s symphonic poem Kikimora captures the capricious nature of the spirit. Ivan Bilibin’s sketch shows a composite animal made up of chicken legs, semihuman hands, furry ears, horns, and a beaked face and wearing a peasant costume.