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The Vila, Vilia, Willi or Veela, are Slavic forest-nymphs, who have power over storms, which they delight in sending down on lonely travelers.


Places

Vilas are known to live in meadows, ponds, oceans, trees, and clouds.


Origin

The Vilia is the Celtic version of this woodland spirit. She enjoys captivating passing men with her beauty, but then abandoning them. In a love song titled Vilia, from "The Merry Widow" by Lehar and Ross, a hunter pines for Vilia, "the witch of the wood".


Description

Vilas are represented as mountain-nymphs, young and beautiful, clad in white, with long flying hair. Their voice is said to resemble that of the woodpecker. They can appear as swans, horses, wolves, or, of course, beautiful women.


Behavior

Vilas shoot, according to popular belief, deadly arrows at men, and sometimes carry off children, whom their mothers in their anger have consigned to them or the devil: yet the general character of the Vilas is to injure none but those who intrude upon their kolos, or roundels. The Vilas sometimes appear gaily dancing their kolos beneath the branches of the Vishnia or Vistula cherry; sometimes a Vila is introduced comforting the sorrows of an enamoured deer; at other times collecting storms in the heavens; now foretelling to a hero his impending death; now ruthlessly casting down each night the walls of a rising fortress, till a young and lovely female is immured within them. She usually rides a seven-year old hart, with a bridle made of snakes.


Popular culture

The Vila may have inspired the Veela, stunningly beautiful and magically captivating women who put men into a trance when singing or dancing and turn into hideous bird-like creatures capable of throwing balls of fire when angered, in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


References

See also