One of the most famous characters in Czech fairy tales is a water sprite called “vodník” or “hastrman”.
You can see him anywhere close to water and he embodies the spirit of water. He is usually depicted as green man riding on a catfish. He has green hair, bulging eyes and water is dripping from his coattails. He is usually described as an evil spirit that likes to harm people and who catches inexperienced swimmers in order to gain their soul. He is very resourceful when it comes to catching souls and will use ribbons and small mirrors to lure girls into the water, for example. He can also change himself into all kinds of animals such as a horse. But if somebody tries to ride him while he is a horse grazing by the shore of a pond, he jumps into the water with the person on his back and drowns them. He stores his gathered souls in a jar at the bottom of the pond.
Then there are the rusalki, female ghosts, mermaids, or water-demons that haunt lonely lakes or rivers. Rusalki are believed to be the souls of unbaptized children, suicides, or unwed mothers who died in childbirth, living in a state of purgatory.
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