Suditse – The Three Graces of Slavic Mythology
In Czech and Slovak, they are called Sudičky. They can also be found in Serbian mythology by the name of Sudice, Suđaje; and in Polish mythology known as Rodzanice, Narecznice or Sudiczki. In Slovenian mythology, they are known as Sojenice and Rojenice. In contrast to Greek or Scandinavian mythology, the Suditse are young. Two of them are between 30 and 35 years old, while the youngest one is around 20. They all are very beautiful and usually wear white.
It was believed that a person’s destiny completely depends on the free will of the Suditse. They had the power to decide what kind of life they were going to have and for how long. Nobody could escape it. Everybody’s destiny was pre-determined, or “written down” as old people used to say, all the things that were to happen and for how long they would last.
The Suditse were female spirits, something similar to fairies, sent by Gods, who were responsible for the newborns’ destinies. Like all other demonic creatures, they were also symbolically connected to the number three. There were three of them and they appeared on the 3rd night after the baby was born. They appear only once, and it’s on the third day (in most countries) after the person was born and they the make destiny of that person: what will the baby become in life, when it will marry, when it will die. In some Slavic nations, they could also appear on the 7th night, which is also a number connected to demonic rituals.
As we said, it was believed that there were three of them, and each of them had her own purpose and area of influence. The first one was the most dangerous one: she was the Suditsa of death. The second one was also on the bad side, but she was not so lethal. She was in charge of misfortunes, illnesses and life difficulties. And the last one, was in charge of happiness, good luck and prosperity. They are here numbered as First, Second, Third, but the order of their appearance on the third night was not determined in any way. In fact, that was the whole point of the forecasting. The way in which they appeared was the life path of the baby. Having this in mind, Slavic people believed that all people must have these three periods in life: happiness, misfortune and death. The only difference would be the order in which they appear. The justification for believing this myth was found in the destinies of some people who were born very poor and later became enormously rich, or if those who had been rich practically for generations and had had a very happy childhood and early life, but died as poor people, often hungry and homeless.
On the third night, the Suditse appear together and start negotiating. The oldest one is evil, and wants the kid to die as fast as possible. The second one wants the kid to be lacking physically or mentally. The third one, the youngest one and the most beautiful one, wants a great and amazing life to the baby. Usually, they pick something with which all of them are happy, but the third one is the strongest, so mostly it’s by her wishes. Their decision cannot possibly be changed because it was not brought in the spur of the moment, or for fun, or their personal will; it is by taking into account many factors, such as the behavior of the ancestors, the destiny of their country, and the time the baby was born that they make their judgment.
Slavs highly respected the Suditse. Even in the medieval times, they would offer them gifts on the third day after the child was born in order to “corrupt and bribe” them. The gifts consisted of bread, cheese, honey and also gold, silver, wine or basil. Slavs believed that if they didn’t offer gifts to the Suditse, they may become angry and give a bad destiny to their baby.
The baby also had to be dressed, usually in some of its father’s stuff, and there are documents saying that the kid should have three dresses or garments on. There had to be a fire in the house. Even today, there is a proverb about people who are constantly having bad luck: “He/She was not nicely taken care of on the third night.“ The mother of the child is the only one that can hear them or see them, but she cannot sleep that whole night.
There is another spirit connected to this old baby custom, and it is called Usud. Usud is a male spirit who would come to the house after the Suditse and write down the order in which they came and the decisions they had made. The things he would write down were unchangeable in any way – that was to be the destiny of that newly born person. People can still be heard saying “If the Usud wrote down that you will eat the green grass in your life, then you definitely will“ in casual conversation.
This old custom was very popular among Slavic people. Actually, it was so popular that the stories connected to it are still alive, changing through time, but not disappearing. As a matter of fact, other non-Slavic people have also heard about it and were inspired to create their own stories. One of them is definitely the story about the Sleeping Beauty and her fairy godmothers. The number of the fairies was changed but the rest of the story is pretty much the same. Putting the main plot aside for a moment, the point would be exactly the same: no person, regardless of how rich or poor they are, or how influential their parents or family might be, can escape or be protected from their own destiny. The story also has many similarities to the Greek myth of the Moirai.
We would like to thank Igor Ozhiganov who has contributed to Slavic Chronicles by sharing his illustrations. Please check out his other work here.
If you like our content, and would like to support our work, please visit us on patreon.