Południca – Lady Midday
By: Christopher M. Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair
As a little boy, I remember my Polish Uncle and our Polish neighbors taking about Południca, on very hot days in the summer. They warn me about being out in the Hot Sun. That “Lady Midday” would “come and get me.”
The Lady of the Rye
Lady Midday is a Slavic noon-demon. Which is why, I see now, that my Great Grandmother would make me take a nap during the hottest parts of a summer’s Day. It is believed that She causes sunstroke and madness in fieldworkers. It is believed that, noon in the summer, is at the height of her power. The demon goes by many names, Poluudnica, Psezpolnica, Polednice, Polednica, Poludnitsa, Lady Midday Kornwyf and Pscipolnitsa, Lady of the Rye. She is reported to wear a white dress, carrying a scythe or shears, and can appear as a young girl, beautiful woman, or a an aged crone, whatever Her desire is at that moment. The Mythology tells that She would stop people as they walked through the countryside’s fields or while they were working. She would ask them difficult questions/riddles or perhaps simply engage them in conversation. This in itself is pretty harmless, right? Well, it seems that if she didn’t like your answer, or you failed to answer her question, or if they attempted to change the subject, the Lady Midday would cut off their head, or alternately, strike them with madness.
Slavic artists portrayed Lady Midday as a young woman dressed in white, roaming around the edges of crop fields. She would be shown carrying a scythe or a pair of large shears in her hands. The Field Worker, however, could see Lady Midday as she approached. They stated that She took the form of a dust cloud before becoming corporeal.
Południca, if nothing else is a useful tool in teaching farm workers about the dangers of the noon heat. What better reason to tell your Boss that you need to take a break?
She was also quite useful at scaring away small children who might be up to trouble around valuable crops.