In Romanian folklore, Muma Pădurii is a spirit of the forest who appears as an ugly old witch.
Muma Pădurii lives in a dark, dreadful, hidden little house in the heart of the forest. Sometimes she has the ability to change her shape and can appear as an animal or a beautiful fairy woman to lure unfortunate passers-by . She seeks to kill those who passed alone in the forest or to scare them, causing them diseases of fear. She also has magical abilities, being an evil witch. Sometimes she ate the bodies of those killed.
In addition to the crimes committed, popular tradition says that the Forest Mother was the one who stole the children from the cradle or made them ill. The women guarded their strength by placing a broom and scissors next to the baby’s crib. Enchantments were also cast against charms. “The enchantress takes a broom, fire, an ax and a pot of water. He sits in the doorway and looks at a tree as if he is enchanted. The child’s mother is sitting behind her. It enchants only when the sun is shining, at sunset. When he says, “Fire burns you down,” he throws the fire down; “With the broom you sweep,” he touches the floor with it; “Drown yourself with water,” he pours down the water; “He cut you with an ax,” he knocked on the doorpost, right and left, “said Tudor Pamfile. …
In one popular story, at some point, she tries to boil a little girl alive in a soup. However the little girl’s brother outsmarts Muma Pădurii and pushes the woman-monster in the oven instead, similar to the story of Hansel and Gretel. The story ends on a happy note when all kids are free to go back to their parents.
Muma-Pădurii brings with her all the fears imagined by the archaic human community for the state of loneliness: dirt, negligence, strange or disgusting food, living among wild animals in conditions far from human. It is considered the evil in the shadow of the forest, which can lurk at any time with the evening in the threatening green darkness.
Muma Pădurii is also the protector of the animals and plants, brewing potions and helping injured animals. She cures the forest if it is dying and she keeps unwanted trespassers away by driving them mad and scaring them. Muma Pădurii is not only an evil character, but also the great Goddess of the Forest, mistress of everything that gives birth, grows and lives in the forest.
“Mother of Mother, Mother of Forests, To hear you from this night With cries screaming, With pigs growling, With dogs barking, With wolves howling… ”
The extrapolation from fairy tales and negative aura diminishes and we fully understand her role that communities have created for the Forest Mum – she is a sad mother who moans, mourns, sighs, growls, he wails because people are cutting his babies, the trees in the forest. As a great goddess she can be both good and bad: she punishes robbers and helps troubled people, she shows the good way to lost children, she knows all the trees in the forest, she calls them by name or nickname, but she curses them to be cut down by man or mad. of lightning when it upsets her.
Muma Pădurii punishes loggers who disregard the rules of the forest, those who pick berries (apples and wild pears, hazelnuts) on certain days of the year when wild animals would be entitled to get rich. She takes the form of an animal (mare, buffalo, cow), a woman who looks like a stubborn tree, with dry legs, long hair untangled or braided strands that fall from head to toe like snakes and is dressed in tree moss. From the enchantments it results that some spirits of the night (Midnight, Decuseara, Zorila, Murgila) are his sons.
We always see the affinity of this being for children, because they are pure, innocent and full of that light that adults do not have, on the contrary, adults who intend to harm the Forest.
In Bistrița Năsăud County, Muma Pădurii is presented as a magical creature. Until 80 years ago, the popular rhapsodists of the places say that the night “ciuia” (i.e. it shouts, usually on the moon) and that sometimes the Muma Pădurii showed up at the huts of those who lived near the forest to ask them for comb and butter to -does her hair beautiful and shiny. Legend has it that if you were visited by the Forest Mum you were not allowed to say more than three words. If you uttered the fourth word, the Mother of the Forest would take your voice. It is also said that any brave man who managed to bind this creature was granted a wish by it.
As the Mother of the Forest was or is a spirit of the forests, in the past she could fulfill the purpose of her existence safely in the dense and beautiful forests, but today, when the world became evil and the trees and forests were cut down, this spirit it is not very common at all, because people have become the monsters in the story, and the Forest Mum is a good spirit. The elders say that from this spirit of the forest only the old legends and enchantments remain:
”You, the Mother of the Forest, you, Midnight, and you Mamorniţo, how many of you to leave, leave the girl alone, not to pinch, not to bother, not to sneak, but to go to your children , that she adores you with the tables spread, with the burning torches, to eat, to feast, to quarrel with her, to leave her clean, enlightened, that I enchanted you with delight, I cut you with the knife, from her I took you away… ”