Not only the dragon or blagonič, but also the devil or a dwarf can be hatched out
of an egg of a rooster. Moreover, a creature similar to the dragon can evolve from a
hundred-year old snake, a frog, a crab or even a fish.
CHASING AWAY THE DRAGONS
Mainly because the dragons caused storms and natural disasters, the people
chased them away in a similar way as they did natural disasters, such as hail, strong
winds and storms. They actually believed that magic can chase away the dragons
and that only some chosen people have such power in their hands. These were the
people who had expert knowledge and they had to go to different schools where they
learned secret skills. The dragons and the snakes can be chased away by a črnošolec
(sorcerer’s apprentice), a person who has supernatural abilities. Thus, they believed
they can summon the dragon from a swamp, mount it, and ride with it into the “land
of the rising sun”. The people also believed that the sorcerer’s apprentice, the kresnik,
knew where all the treasures, which are kept by the dragon, are hidden.
Matija Valjavec also noted down the folk narrative that the pozoj is a big horse
with wings, which can be mounted only by the grabancijaš dijak (sorcerer’s appren-
tice) who goes with it into the land of the Arabs.
Ivan Grafenauer believed that the grabancijaš dijak, the same as the črnošolec
or the student of the thirteenth college, was a sorcerer which acted in the name of
natural forces in the Kaj-Croatian and Eastern-Štajerska narratives. These forces
try to kill the small dragon when it is born with everything they have at their dis-
posal (Grafenauer 1956: 324). Grafenauer agrees with Jagić that people believed
that the grabancijaš dijak was equated with a young priest. The grabancijaš dijak,
the sorcerer’s apprentice, the student of the thirteenth college were supposed to be
young priests. Jagić tried to prove that a priest or a pure young man was, according
to medieval definition, needed for exorcism by the church. They started to appear
in folktales to protect people from the evil spirits and also from their servants who
were thought to cause storms. Uneducated people also believed that these wizards
did not just conjure or pray but also used their magical powers (Jagić 1877: 456).
The etymology of the name grabancijaš does not suggest that it is derived from the
word priest, but from the Latin word nacromantes and Italian negromanzia, gra-
manzia (Miloševoć-Đorđević 1984). Grabancijaš, who chased the dragons away, was
therefore named after a nekromant, i.e. the one who chases the souls of the deceased
away, the sorcerer.
The black school in which grabancijaš dijak or črnošolec learned their skills is,
according to some folktales, named the “Thirteenth College in Bologna”. Grafenauer
assumed that this school was a variation of the School in the Tower of Babel
(Grafenauer 1956: 325–326), which Radoslav Razlag mentions in one of his records
of folk tradition near Ljutomer and Mala Nedelja:
These students train different secret arts; they sit on a stick like pigeons do and
every year the dragon takes away one out of ten of them.
Matija Valjavec noted down a legend in Ludberg in which he mentions the
Thirteenth College in Bologna:
Nobody can chase away the dragon except for the grabancijaš dijak, who visits
the thirteenth college in Bologna. These students have a big wheel with thirteen
spokes. Each grabancijaš steps on one of them. They spin the wheel as fast as
they can and the one which is the first to fly away is the real grabancijaš, the
one who will be the first to chase away the dragon (Valjavec1866: 309–310,
Josip Freuensfeld heard people talking about the sorcerer’s apprentice, who have
power over dragons. He writes that:
Only a sorcerer’s apprenticehas the power over a dragon, he mounts it and
rides it and calls up lightning, thunder and hail. A seven-year-old rooster
once hatched an egg, which was as big as pigeon’s. He buried it in manure,
where it was found by the shepherds. They cracked it and a dragon jumped
out and killed all their cattle. The sorcerer’s apprentice could chase it away.
He is also the only one who can chase away the dragon which evolves from a
crab. It is so powerful that its hail can kill everything (Freuensfeld 1886: 270).
In his hometown Prežigal near Slovenske Konjice, Josip Pajek heard people talk
about a dragon that could be chased away also with the help of a priest, who would
offer mass just in time, or on regular basis:
The dragon in konjiška Gora (Mt. konjice) The lintvert lives in the marsh at the top of the Konjice Mountain. The parish
church has to offer a mass every Friday to keep the lintvern (dragon) in the
mountain. Still, it sometimes escapes and a violent frtuna, which is a storm,
strikes (Pajek 1884: 89).
THE DEFEATED DRAGONS
Many folktales describe a dragon that can be defeated with a trick or by using
force, especially when it abducts girls and cattle and destroys the place where they
live. The dragon from Wörthersee was given a wagon full of lime. After he ate all
of this lime and quenched his thirst with water, and the dragon burst after this.
A similar thing happened to the Postojna dragon (Kleinmayr 1928: 16–17; Dapit,
Kropej 2004: 40, no. 24).
Another variation of this story about the dragon from Wörthersee/Lake Wört
near Celovec/Klagenfurt explains that the dragon was defeated by strong and fear-
less man named Hercules:
The dragon of Celovec There is a lake now where many centuries ago the old Celovec Castle stood.
Those who lived in the castle were insolent and believed in nothing but having
a good time. Even at Christmas they would dance and make merry which ran
against local tradition and the beliefs at the time.
Once, an old man came to the castle with a little barrel under his arm. He
warned the people saying: “Stop. Stop, go and repent! Otherwise I will pull
the plug on this barrel and everything will be flooded.” People laughed at him:
“What can you do with that little barrel?” They danced on and continued to
make merry. Later in the evening, he reappeared and warned them again,
“Stop. Stop dancing, or I tell you everything will be flooded.” But again there
was just laughter. The third time he came around midnight, “If you will not
obey, I will pull the plug!” And he did.
Water began to pour out of the barrel and it ran and ran for so long that the town
was completely flooded. That is how the lake at Celovec was formed. For many
years after, a bell could still be heard chiming deep down in the lake. On that
spot a church was built – dedicated to the Virgin of Goretti and it is a place of
pilgrimage for Koroškans where they pray for rain. Many years later, the people
built the new town of Celovec where it still stands today, not far from the lake.
Close to the lake lived a farmer who had a seven year old rooster. That rooster
laid an egg that was buried in horse manure. Out of that egg hatched a dragon
that grew and grew. He was incredibly voracious. He lived in the lake where he
caught fish and everything else that he could swallow. If he did not find enough
food, he came inland and dined on passing carriage drivers and their horses.
He grew to be twelve metres in length from head to tail. He had such a strong
breath that he could use it to pull everything towards himself, even a person
L. Reggi, Zmaj v celovški okolici. Mir 24 (1905).