A is for…Ajatar

A is for Ajatar, a Finnish demoness.

Ajatar is also called The Devil of the Woods; she’s an evil spirit who manifests as a snake or dragon.

AShe’s also said to be the devil’s mother, and she breastfeeds horrible beasts and serpents.

She spreads disease wherever she goes. Her body is racked with pox and infections, and those who look at her become ill.

Ajatar is a woodland monster. She is, perhaps, the reason people get lost in the forest, never to return.

Ajatar is, perhaps, a perfect example of the monstrous feminine. You’ll see me talking quite a bit about monstrous feminine, probably, during this challenge. The monstrous feminine is an idea put forth by Barbara Creed, that monsters who are female are generally tied, in some way, to mothering and to the female body.

Most of Ajatar’s horrific qualities come from direct association with her femininity and especially mothering–birthing the devil and breastfeeding all manner of evil creatures.

And it is quite literally her body that is horrific–it carries plague and pestilence, and she can shift imagefromnansheher shape to that of a dragon or serpent when necessary. There’s an element of body-horror to Ajatar’s story, of her body warped and changing over and over again.

It is supposed that Ajatar’s name came from a word meaning “to pursue.” Some suggest that this is because she pursues people through the woods. I think it’s deeper than that. Women, as far as the social order goes, aren’t meant to pursue. They are meant to be pursued. When the opposite happens, the female becomes a monster.

*A to Z art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts
*Collage image from Nanshe.

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8 Comments

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  1. “Women, as far as the social order goes, aren’t meant to pursue. They are meant to be pursued. When the opposite happens, the female becomes a monster.” ~ So true in my opinion. Or at least, that’s how they are portrayed in various media. With the UK General Election on the horizon, it remind me of the Suffragette movement. Whereby women protested to get women the vote. So far as I understand it, they were categorized the same as ‘lunatics’ and therefore deemed monsters… Thought-provoking post. Thanks. #AtoZChallenge – Carol Cameleon at VirtuallyAllSorts.com @AllSortsHere

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think there’s a lot to consider there. I think monsters in general tell us something about society and about ourselves, and they also tell us a lot about traditional gender roles, too.

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  2. This is such a great theme. Can’t wait to read more.
    Atajar sounds pretty bad ass to me.
    I love mythology and I especially enjoy using monstrous, negative mythological females in my stories and casting them in a different light. I will put Atajar in my swipe file.

    Liked by 1 person

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