Domovois were male house spirits that were said to live in Russian homes—usually the homes of peasants.
Domovois were not evil, but they could be mischievous or moody, particularly if the family in question failed to keep a clean house. Ifthe family was good to the domovoi and treated the house well, keeping it properly clean and tidy, then the domovoi would serve as their protector.
A certain amount of respect had to be shown to the domovoi. In addition to keeping a clean house, people had to be careful to keep places like the center of the room and the threshold of the house clear at night, since that was when the domovoi liked to move about.
The various noises heard in a house at night were said to be the sounds of a domovoi, although he preferred to stay invisible. Moans or loud noises were a sure sign of a displeased domovoi, while sounds of music or laughter were good signs. Some of the domovoi’s nighttime activities consisted of tending to the livestock and keeping outside spirits from intruding on and interfering with his family.
Although domovois preferred to remain invisible, they could take various forms as itpleased them, including anything from a frog to a copy of the human master of the house. If someone really did wish to see his or her domovoi, he or she had to wait until Holy Week or Easter Sunday. At this time, the individual had to take butter made from the milk of the ﬁrst seven cows to be milked for the ﬁrst time and smear it on his or her head, wear all new clothing and footwear to church, and, during the liturgical service, turn around. There and then, the domovoi would reveal himself.
A domovoi also could be prophetic. A sleeper rousing from slumber to feel a gentle hand touching him knew that he had received a sign of good fortune. If the touch was cold or rough, then bad fortune was imminent.
The domovoi had to be invited into a new home when a family moved. This was done by taking coals from the hearth of the old house and using them to start a ﬁre in the hearth of the new house. It was also considered respectful for the head of the family to walk into the new house with bread and salt.
Today, some people still believe—or at least claim to believe—in the domovois. Homeowners sometimes make respectful offerings to them.