Sunstroke Really IS Fatal… (ca. 10th-12th C AD)

By: The Scribe on Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't wander out around noon, you might get struck with madness!Whether you call her Pscipolnitsa, Poluudnica, Psezpolnica, Polednice, Polednica, Poludnitsa or – mercifully – Lady Midday, ancient Slavic mythology suggests that you really don’t want to meet this woman on a hot day. In fact, Lady Midday is a noon demon, which is just one more reason why staying indoors at the hottest part of the day is always a good idea…

According to Slavic mythology, Lady Midday (or Pscipolnitsa, ad infinitum…) had a tendency of appearing to people in the middle of hot, summer days, showing herself as either an old hag, a 12-year-old girl, or a stunningly beautiful young woman. The lady would stop people as they walked through the countryside’s fields or while they were working, and would ask them difficult questions or perhaps simply engage them in conversation… and as harmless as it sounds, she apparently had a bit of a temper. If a person failed to answer her question, or if they attempted to change the subject, well… Lady Midday would cut off their head, or alternately, strike them with madness.

Theoretically, workers could see Lady Midday as she approached, since she tended to take the form of a dust cloud before becoming corporeal – and she would often carry a scythe or a pair of large shears in her hands. According to mythology, she was also quite efficient at scaring away small children who might be up to trouble around valuable crops.

Slavic artists often pictured Lady Midday as a young woman dressed in white, roaming around the edges of crop fields – however, it is useful to keep in mind that she was only seen during the hottest part of the day… namely, she was a personification of sunstroke, and was a useful tool in teaching workers about the dangers of working through the noon heat. What better reason to take a lunch break?

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