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Home  |  Animals   |  European Animals   |  Baltic Animals   |  Zaltys : The Sacred Snake

Zaltys : The Sacred Snake

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At a glance

Description
Origin Baltic Mythology
Classification Animals
Family Members Saule (Protector)
Region Lithuania, Latvia
Associated With Good Fortune, Luck, Prosperity, Medicine

Zaltys

Introduction

In Lithuanian mythology, Zaltys is regarded as a household spirit that is a part of the home and is a symbol of fertility. It was believed that it would bring good fortune and protection. People would keep it by the stove or in a special area of the house, as it was a pet of the sun goddess Saule. If Zaltys was ever found in the field, people would feed it milk in an attempt to befriend it.

On occasion, the family would invite the snake to share their meal at the table. If the creature refuses, it would cause misfortune to the family. It was believed that accidentally encountering a snake was an ideal way to celebrate a birth or marriage. Those who dared kill the serpent, which was regarded as the sentinel of the gods, would be in for a severe misfortune.

Physical Traits

The natrix tripodontus is a species of grass snake that can be found in the woods or near homes and is considered to be the Zaltys. While the ones found in the woods are usually dark grey, the ones found near homes are usually green. The head of the snake has a crescent shape which makes it distinct from other snakes.

Family

The goddess of the sun, Saule, loved all types of Zalciai and would often cry upon seeing one dead. The red berries found on the hills were believed to represent her tears. The connection between the two was also said to be caused by the snakes that were basking in the sun.

According to the Baltic belief, the sun is a container or jug that is filled with a golden liquid that flows out. Zalciai are able to absorb life-promoting and healing energy from the sun through their bodies. The serpent Zaltys must never be killed as it is a symbol of life and energy.

Other names

The Latvian version of the Zaltys was know as Zalktis and the plural of the word Zaltys was referred to as Zalciai.

Powers and Abilities

People are allowed to keep a Zaltys inside their home as long as they are taken care of. Since these snakes are considered to be harmless, they are not considered dangerous to humans. It was believed that keeping them in the house where children play was a safe way to protect them.

Although keeping a Zaltys can bring good fortune, the reasons behind its protection are much deeper. According to an ancient belief, the family’s ancestors are all in the Zaltys. The deity known as Pagirnis also guards the soil and the wealth of the family.

The Zalciai are believed to be associated with the fertility of the soil and agricultural prosperity. This is because the World Tree and the Zaltys are related to the growth of vegetation. They are also knowledgeable about herbs and healing and women would carry dried snakes to ward off diseases.

Modern Day Influence

In 1387, Lithuania became a Christian nation but the belief in the serpent Zaltys continued to be practiced by peasants. This notion represents the survival of a prehistoric tradition of worshipping snakes and is still carried on even today. The seamless amalgamation of traditional beliefs and the modern Christian principles is something that the people of the region has managed to achieve and is evidenced by the presence of characters that is unique to the region within the modern belief system.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.