Um, in Russia, we believe that there is a little gnome-like creature living in your house, and you have to, if you’re like, if you are, if you got robbed or something like that, or, if something bad happened to your house or you don’t have enough money or something like that, or you keep losing stuff that’s the main thing, then, uh, you have to like bribe the little gnome guy and everything’s gonna be ok, he’s gonna protect your house. And, I believed in him until I was like 13. Because, when I was like 11 or 12, I was in a camp, in a summer camp, and there was like uh, like I’m pretty sure it was a fire extinguishing door, like you know, like, just was like a little door on the wall, right? I’m pretty sure the fire extinguisher was stored there or something, but it could never open. And I believed that the little gnome, I thought that the little gnome guy lived there, and one day, I leaved – I left. I left, um, little snacks below the door, and the snacks disappeared and I was like, oh my god, it was the gnome guy.

People are looking for explanations for things they can’t explain, like. My mom still, or like even I, even I still do it I can’t get rid of it. When something disappears, like when I can’t find something I say, “Devil devil, you played with it, can you please give it back now.” And, in Russian, and like, just because, the moment when you say it you’re already desperate enough and you’ve looked for so long, that there’s a big chance you’ll actually find it, after saying the phrase. So because of that, it’s like, it almost has a 100% success rate so you continue doing it. And like, when I’m on a call with my mom and I say I lost something she’s like, oh have you have you tried saying the phrase yet?

Background: My informant is a recent immigrant from Russia. They recall having always had this knowledge and having continued the tradition of appealing to the Domovoy (a name which they later provided to me) until the present.



Context: This piece was collected in an in-person conversation in my apartment.

My thoughts: This legend reminds me of several other “house spirits” that I am familiar with. I was surprised at the benevolence which my informant described this creature as having. The invocation of this creature whenever an object is lost seems to be an extension of what my informant called “explanations for things they can’t explain,” a cry for supernatural aid when all natural means of finding a thing have been exhausted. I was interested to hear about my informant’s own encounter with the gnome – their brief story is a wonderful example of a memorate, of their witnessing their snacks disappearing and fitting that occurrence into their existing belief in this creature.