LITHUANIA

Myth about amber palace

 Once upon a time, in the bottom of the Baltic Sea there was a beautiful amber palace. Its walls were made out of pure white amber; everything was decorated with sparkling diamonds. Every living being in the palace and the Baltic Sea was ruled by the sea goddess Juratė. She had power to order about for every single fish and every shell in the sea. But in the evenings she had to come out to the surface and sing to thunder god Perkūnas. But one day the calm life of the sea was disturbed by a young fisherman Kastytis who was catching fish. Juratė wanted to stop his angling. But at the moment she saw deep as the ocean Kastytis’ eyes, she fell in love with him. They were having a good time together until Perkūnas found out Juratė’s secret. It was forbidden for the immortal goddess to fall in love with a mortal man. As a punishment Perkūnas smashed her amber palace into millions of pieces and killed Kastytis. Even nowadays people find small pieces of amber place remnants on Lithuanian seashore.

Gediminas' Dream

One day Grand Duke Gediminas, ruler of Lithuania from 1316 to 1341, went hunting in the forest of Šventaragis’ Valley. (Lithuanian forests were renown for their primeval state and abundance of game – a true hunter’s paradise. Before Gediminas realized how late it was getting, night fell and he had to spend the night in the forest. During the night he dreamt about a large wolf in iron armor howling with a voice of a hundred wolves on a nearby hill.

In the morning, puzzled by the dreamGediminas sought out the help of Lizdeika, a local sage, to interpret the dream for him. Lizdeika told him that the wolf’s iron armor and loud voice meant that a powerful fortress would be built on the hill and that its fame would be heard far and wide.

Gediminas promptly gave orders to build a fortress on the hill and moved his headquarters to this new site. The city of Vilnius, the current capital of Lithuania, grew up around it.

Eglė, Queen of Serpents

One warm summer day, Eglė, the youngest daughter of a local farmer, went bathing in the sea with her two sisters. Afterwards, returning to the shore to get dressed, she found a serpent in her clothes. To her surprise, the serpent spoke to her in a man’s voice and demanded that she promise to become his wife for the return of her clothes. Faced with an immediate need to get dressed and not thinking about possible future consequences, Eglė agreed.

Three days later a great number of serpents pulling a wagon showed up at Eglė’s parents’ farm to claim the bride. Eglė’s family tried to trick the serpents by giving them one of their farm animals, but each time a cuckoo warned the serpents about the deception. Finally, wise to the trickery, serpents succeeded in taking Eglė with them to their master.

At the seashore they were met by Žilvinas, a handsome young man, the Serpent King, who took Eglė to a nearby island and then to his palace under the sea, where they wed. Eglė and Žilvinas lived together happily and had three sons, Ažuolas, Uosis and Beržas, and a daughter, Drebulė, their youngest.

One day the children started asking about their mother’s former home. Eglė became homesick and asked Žilvinas to allow her and the children to visit her parents’ farm. Žilvinas was against it and set a number of what he thought were impossible conditions – to spin a never diminishing amout of silk, to wear out a pair of iron shoes, and to bake a pie without kitchen utensils. Eglė, however, with the help of a local sorceress, was able to accomplish them and Žilvinas had to allow Eglė and the children to go.

The reunion with the family was such a happy event that Eglė’s family did not want to let them return to the sea and decided to kill Žilvinas. But first, they needed to know how to get Žilvinas to appear from the sea.They demanded that the children reveal the family secret. Sensing danger, the sons refused to comply, but the youngest daughter Drebulė became frightened and revealed the secret call.

Eglė’s twelve brothers rushed to the seashore, called Žilvinas, who appeared in serpent form, and killed him with scythes.

Not knowing her husband’s fate and ending her stay with her parents, brothers, and sisters, Eglė returned to the seashore and called Žilvinas. In reply only a bloody foam appeared.

In her grief, after she realized that Žilvinas was dead, Eglė transformed her family into trees – her sons into an oak, an ash and a birch, her daughter into a trembling aspen, and herself into a spruce.