Basic Information

Plural: Aitvarai
Alternative names/spellings:

  • Damavikas ('house spirit')
  • Pukis ('dragon' or toy kite) [1]

Type: Great Serpent
Origin: Lithuania Mythology, Latvian Mythology, Prussian Mythology, Baltic Mythology

About Aitvaras

The Aitvaras is a species of flying dragon [6] found in the mythology of the Baltic Regions, specifically Lithuania and Latvia, [2,6] often represented as supernatural luck-bringers [6] and sometimes trickster spirits. [1,8] Aitvarai are also described as household spirits, [2,5] little demons, [7] family guardians, [2] goblins, [4] and nature spirits. [1] When injured, an Aitvaras need only touch the earth to heal itself. [1,8]

An Aitvaras is an enigmatic and curious being [3] that can take on many forms, [5] usually based on its current environment. [2,6] Inside the house, an Aitvaras may look like a black cat, black rooster, [2] or black cockerel. [3] When outdoors, an Aitvaras resembles a black crow, [4] a flying dragon, [1,2] or a serpent with a fiery tail. [2,6] As a serpent, the Aitvaras has the head of a Žaltys, the lucky grass snake. [3] Aitvarai can fly regardless of their current shape, [3] and when seen in the night sky, they appear to be wavy lines of fire, [5] which are sometimes interpreted as meteorites or comets. [1,3]

Traditionally, Aitvarai are powerful creatures that dwelled in the forest and roamed the wilds. [2,8] These spirits can be enticed or persuaded into being a family guardian and protector. [2,8] As creatures of good fortune, [7] guardian Aitvarai bring happiness, wealth, and abundance to anyone they favored; [2] an Aitvaras brings in grain, dairy products, money, coins, meal, corn, [4,7] and, in some cases, gold, into the household. [6]

Prior to Christianity's influence, the Aitvaras was regarded as a semi-divine creature that sometimes acted as a guardian for a family or household. [1,8] In this role, it became a kind of supernatural intermediary that regulates wealth in human communities, sometimes by Robin-Hood-like theft. [1,7]

An Aitvaras remains loyal to those it respects, but can and will turn on those it dislikes or mistrusts. [4] It can abandon a household whenever it desires; therefore, family members are careful not to harm, neglect, or insult it. Aitvarai don't possess a regimented moral code; instead, they support those who respect them or at least provide offerings and placations. [1,4] Even the most benevolent Aitvaras guardian maintains elements of its wild, trickster spirit, and incurring the wrath of an Aitvaras results in retaliation. [4] The perpetrator may be infested with lice or inflicted with an itch for which no cure exists, or the Aitvaras may destroy the treasures of the household or even burn the house itself. [4]

Once considered noble beings, [1] the perception of Aitvarai shifted when Christianity came to the Baltic Region. [8] Instead of guardian spirits that modulated wealth and luxuries, [1] they became beasts that brought good fortune by ill means. [8] Once crafty tricksters, Aitvarai became demons that dedicated themselves to augment the riches of their masters by any means, especially at the expense of neighbors; [6] thus, they transformed into symbols of greed and uncontrolled ambition. [1] Its presence in the home became blight instead of boon.

This negative perception eventually led to the Aitvaras being a creature that served the Devil [1] by tempting householders to sell their souls in exchange for an Aitvaras's life-long services [5] as a Familiar. [1] Therefore, those who never made such a nefarious exchange encountered Aitvarai that were either servants to others or emissaries to the Devil himself. People leave offerings of omelets to placate these demons and stop them from attacking. [1] Since they can take the form of innocuous household animals, such as a cat or a rooster, it is possible to introduce an Aitvaras into the home by accident. [3] Once it takes residence in the house, it becomes nearly impossible to remove. [6]

Aitvarai Habitat and Distribution

Aitvarai appear in Baltic Mythology, specifically in Latvian [2] and Lithuanian [5] myth and legend. Similar species of dragons, such as the Žaltys and Puk, can be found in the mythology of the Baltic regions, but Aitvarai exist primarily in Lithuania and Latvia. [2]

Aitvarai were once considered nature spirits [1] because they roamed the wilds. [8] They live in heavily wooded areas [1] or forests, [2] though their ability to fly often inspired the idea that they lived in the sky. [1,5]

Though technically never tamed, many of the stories of Aitvarai refer to them as household spirits or guardians. [5,8] A single Aitvaras resides within a house, usually behind the stove or oven, [7] where it nests. [1] These dragons always roost in houses that contained people, which ensures a steady supply of food and warmth. [1,8]

Aitavarai are territorial; thus, once they select a home, removing them is quite difficult. [1,6] This is also why more than one Aitvaras in the same house was very rare.

Aitvarai Life Cycle

Little is known about Aitvarai reproduction; however, like the Basilisk, [6] one can be hatched. though by no ordinary means. [4,6] A seven-year-old cockerel [6] or rooster must lay an egg, [1,7] which then must be kept warm under the armpit [4] until the Aitvaras emerges. [1,4] Another method is to incubate a boar's testicle. [4]

Household Aitvarai subsist off of leftover food, [7] though they prefer omelets, and some will only accept such meals from the family they live with. [6,7] The diet of wild Aitvaras remains undocumented, although it is likely they consume eggs, milk, and grain stolen either from local human habitations or other animals.

An Aitvaras has the miraculous ability to heal itself by touching the earth. For this reason, most accounts describe Aitvarai as immortal creatures or spirits; [1,8] however, some righteous individuals have killed demonic Aitvarai to eliminate them from a household, [7] though other versions claim the dragon disowned the home and escaped. [1,4]

Pre-Christian Aitvaras

Traditional legends of Aitvarai depict them as powerful beings or nature spirits that inhabit forests, prowling the wilds and flying through the sky. [1,2] One could be convinced into serving as a family guardian, [2,8] so long as that family respects it and provides food. [6,7]

People consider Aitvarai honorable regulators of human behavior and wealth; [1] however, they are also acknowledged as goblins of good luck [4,7] that plunder and trick those they dislike. [4]

Aitvaras and Christianity

After Christianity came to the region, perceptions of the Aitvaras shifted, [8] though their behavior and attributes remain essentially the same.

People acknowledge Aitvarai as infernal and immortal creatures [1] that provide wealth by ill means. [8] Furthermore, Satan himself commands every Aitvaras, and as part of his demonic forces, they can be granted as Familiars. [1] In exchange for his or her immortal soul, the person becomes the life-long master of the Familiar, [4,6] which has a single responsibility: making its master wealthy. [6] The Aitvaras-Familiar provides money as well as milk, grains, and other foodstuffs stolen from others. [1]

As an abiding symbol of greed, [1] even wild Aitvarai are not to be trusted. In many of its forms, an Aitvaras can be mistaken for a harmless animal and brought into the house by an unwitting soul, [7] allowing the little demon to claim the house and nest. [1] Once entrenched, the family has little hope to evict the creature. [1,7] Some sources claim that a demonic Aitvaras is more easily killed than driven out of a home, [7] but some accounts show that an honest, God-fearing person living in the house can eject the beast by acts of faith, such as sacred blessings of the house and prayer. [6]

Acquiring an Aitvaras

Though it may be possible for an Aitvaras to claim a house on its own, many accounts establish that one must be invited or brought into the home by someone who lives there before it can roost. [6,7]

In older legends, one need only persuade a wild Aitvaras into becoming the family guardian [2] and provide it with respect and sustenance. [4,7] Alternatively, patiently hatching an Aitvaras in the home allows it to nest in the house. [1,6]

However, such an egg only exists by fabulous means that paralleled those of the Basilisk. [6] Only a seven-year-old rooster [1,7] or cockerel [6] can lay the egg, [4,7] and for it to hatch, it must be incubated under an armpit. [4] Another tradition maintains one can be hatched from a boar's testicle. [4]

In later myths, when Aitvarai were considered demons, people could purchase one in exchange for their soul. [6,7] An Aitvaras acquired this way acted as a Familiar and provides stolen wealth for the duration of its master life. [1] Alternatively, an unwitting person could bring home an Aitvaras, either in disguise as an animal or as an egg, only discovering its true nature after its too late. [6,7]

Care and Keeping of an Aitvaras

Aitvarai take up residence in houses, usually behind a large stove. [7] A single Aitvaras will create a nest for itself near the oven; [1] multiple Aitvarai in the same house were rare.

By some accounts, Aitvarai feed on leftover food in the household, [7] but they display a strong preference for omelets. [6,7] As a guardian or benevolent household spirit, feeding the Aitvaras and caring for it ensures its continued presence and therefore continued blessings. [1,8] If nothing else, Aitvarai are believed to bring good fortune [7] to well-behaved families. [1] Thus, many families provide for the creature.

Later tomes report that, once entrenched, the Aitvaras may be very difficult, if not impossible, to remove from the home. [1,5] These later texts portrayed Aitvarai as demons, or at best tricksters, that steal from neighbors and passersbys [6] and wreak havoc on the household. [1] Should an Aitvaras be attained as a Familiar, [1] it makes its owner rich any way possible. [6] The Familiar Aitvaras provides grains, corn, milk, and even coins [4,7] though it undoubtedly obtains these items by stealing. [6,7]

To evict an evil Aitvaras, one of the occupants must be an honest, God-fearing Christian; only such a person can expel the demonic spirit from the home. [6] A demonic Aitvaras can be dislodged from a household even if another member of the house obtained it as a Familiar. [6]

As a preferred food, omelets are used to placate demonic or troublesome Aitvarai, and people leave offerings of omelets to prevent one from attacking. [1] However, others provide omelets in exchange for the goods the Aitvaras bring into the household, [6] which include dairy products, grains, and coins. [4]

Physical Description

As a species, Aitvaras have varying descriptions. One reason is that they were renown for their ability to transform, or take on different shapes, depending on their environment. [2,6] Another is that they appear across many different cultures; for example, the Aitvaras is sometimes described as a goblin in Lithuanian folklore. [4]

While inside a house or indoors, an Aitvaras will take the form of a rooster, [5,8] usually black in color, [1,5] or a black cockerel. [3,6] At other times, Aitvarai will prowl inside as a black cat. [1,5] Should one take up residence in a barn or a home of a farmer, the Aitvaras may even appear as a grain-vomiting rooster. [4]

When outside, an Aitvaras will transform into a flying dragon or a serpent of fire, [1,2] which is sometimes described as a snake with a fiery tail. [2,6] When Aitvarai fly through the air, they appear to be fiery zigzags [7] or even comets [3] or meteorites. [1] When witnessed up cose, the Aitvaras bares a strong resemblance to a Žaltys but with a fiery or comet-like tail. [3]

Some Aitvarai transform at-will between the following forms:

  • a flying, fiery snake [4]
  • a rooster or cockerel [5]
  • a flying dragon [6]
  • a black crow [4]
  • a black cat [6]

Known Aitvarai

  • In 1547, an investigation into a villager's sudden riches accounted the possibility of Aitvaras involvement. [6]
  • In another story, a newly wed became concerned when she realized that no matter how much grain she ground, the bin it came from never became empty. When she asked, all she discovered was that the container belonged to her mother-in-law. Curious, she took a consecrated candle, lit it, and investigated. To her surprise, she saw an Aitvaras continuously vomiting grain. When the candle came close to the creature, it screeched and rose up into the air, never to be seen again. The mistress of the house, the woman's mother-in-law, fell into grief over the loss of her Familiar, for she had come by it at the cost of her soul. [6]

Quick Facts

  • Aitvaras is a powerful being, [2] sometimes regarded as a demon [1,4] or even a goblin, [4] that lives in the forest [2] or within a household. [5] Sometimes they are called Damavikas or Pukis. [1,2]
  • They enjoy and prefer omelets, [1,6] though household Aitvarai can survive on leftover food. [7]
  • Household Aitvarai nest behind the largest stove. [1]
  • As a species, they are known to steal milk, grains, and even money. [1,7] At one point, these thefts were considered a kind of balance, regulating the wealth between neighbors, [1] but later such acts were seen as unbridled greed at the hands of a demonic emissary. [5]
  • An Aitvaras can take the form of a black cat, [1,2] a black rooster, [1,2] a cockerel, [3] a crow, [4] a flying dragon, [1,2] and a fiery serpent [2,4] that resembles the Žaltys. [3]
  • They assume forms to adapt to their environment. [2,6]
  • To heal, an injured Aitvaras need only touch the earth. [1,8]
  • A household Aitvaras provides food and sometimes wealth, [2] which was often stolen. [4,6]
  • Aitvarai can fly, [5] and when one moves through the night sky, it looks like a fiery meteorite. [1]
  • People once could persuade wild Aitvarai into serving as a family guardian. [2]
  • An Aitvaras can only be hatched from the egg of a seven-year-old rooster [6,7] or a boar's testicle. [4]
  • A householder can trade his or her soul for an Aitvaras, which would bring lifelong riches. [5,6]
  • On occasion, individuals bring an egg or an animal into their homes unaware that it was an Aitvaras. [4,7]
  • Offerings of omelets placate Aitvarai and prevent them from attacking. [1]

Related Articles


  1. Bane [Demons] 25
  2. Bane [World] 19
  3. Dixon-Kennedy [European] 26
  4. Larson 89
  5. Lurker 14
  6. Rose [Dragons] 10
  7. Turner 31
  8. Lithuanian Folk Tales

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.