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Legends of Ceahlău Massif

Baba Dochia and Mărțișor

 This legend, full of parables, tells us about Dochia’s Rock. It seems to be the result of the punishment of a mean and freakish old hag, whose end is related, year after year, to the coming of spring…

They say that in a village near Ceahlău there lived a woman who the older she grew, meaner and more peevish she became. Some say she hadn’t been so sour, but her heart gradually turned sour when, one winter, she lost her husband in the teeth of some wolves… Then, she somewhat forgot her sorrow caring for her flock of sheep and her son Dragomir! (As a lad used to hanging on to his mum’s skirt, he neither got married nor did he step aside his mother’s wishes or yard, but he brought the daughter-in-law to his parents’ home. The poor girl, no matter how diligent and obedient she was, she had no rest with her old crone of a mother-in-law.

One day, about the end of winter, what do you think crossed the old woman’s mind? Well, Măriuţa should go to the river, with a bag full of black wool and wash it like mad until it turns white! So, the poor young woman toiled herself for two days in a row, with her hands in the icy waters, but not a thread turned white. On the third day, while she was washing and shedding tears on the banks of the river, a lad come up of nowhere beside her. Upon finding out about her troubles, he gave her a white flower and – what do you think? – such a wonder! – the wool instantly turned as white as snow. The daughter-in-law rushed to the house to take the numbness out of her body, but the merciless old hag, staring in amazement, did find another chore for the young woman: to take all the white wool to the river and wash it until it would turn black!

The young woman headed for the river in tears but, when she was to put the wool into the water, the lad appeared again, giving her a red flower now. Poor girl, she barely asked what his name was, so that she could pray Our Lord for his good health, that the young man vanished while saying that his name was Mărţişor. And there was another wonder, the white wool turned black, even darker than coal! Măriuţa put the flower behind her ear and… hurried back home, hopping merrily because she was once again saved from the old hag’s hauling.

This time the old hag was even more wonder-struck and asked her what she did and how. When she learned of the young Mărţişor, the wicked woman couldn’t bear it any more: “Ha, he turned your head with deceit, didn’t he? What kind of a wife are you to go hither and thither with flowers lads gave you in your hair?” As soon as his son came home, she told him the whole story.

However, as she was completely not in her right mind, while remembering Mărţişor’s flowers, the old hag thought they were picked from up there in Ceahlău, where spring may have come, and the pastures await for her and her sheep: “Come, hurry up, my boy! Let’s take the sheep up in the mountains before the others find out the news and spoil the grass with their flocks!” Dragomir didn’t seem to be in a hurry as he came home from the woods, hungry and dead on his feet. Old hag Dochia went to take the sheep out of the enclosure. Then, as she was still wearing thick clothes, nine sheepskins altogether, against the frost, started hastily with the flock of sheep toward the top of Mount Ceahlău (she could barely find a minute to shout at his son, from the gate, to follow her the next day!)…

Going up grew harder and harder. There were spring-like breezes in the air and the old hag, who would step heartily, driving her sheep from behind to the green pastures, in her dreams, grew hotter and hotter and started to take off her sheepskins. Then a warm drizzle began and her burden of sheepskins grew as heavy as lead. Close to the top of the mountain, throwing away the last sheepskin, she was wearing only her hempen shimmy.

Then, God’s punishment for the strain and frosty days she had been given to her daughter-in-law, suddenly rushed upon her! A snowstorm broke out as if in the dead of winter and the frost engulfed the rocks and the valleys, the fir trees and the juniper, the barely grown pastures, dressing everything in an icy shirt. Under the same glass-like cover, Old hag Dochia and her sheep were stoned. As to the young Mărţişor, so kind to Măriuţa, he was – legend has it – none other than the Son of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ…

 

The Water Rock

Many a fog, rain, wind, and snow were driven onto Ceahlău, but as many the overflowing lights, the beams of rays in the clear sky and of its passionate prince. Just like, in the past, were the joys and sorrows of the people who saw to their daily living, the loneliness of unwillingness or the overwhelming warmth of love. The elders who do not forget their forefathers’ words, say the place called Piatra cu apă [The Water Rock] a sad life story happened once. We need to understand carefully the meaning of this story to this day…

Thus, in the old times, when people around Ceahlău could only live on shepherding and hunting, in a village at the foot of the mountain there lived an extremely  wealthy man. Now then, that man, who had everything he needed, could not enjoy sunny days. As he was so ugly and mean, his wish to find a hardworking and beautiful wife was in vain! The land and the huge house were for nothing and so were the things he had and the sheep since he couldn’t enjoy the sweet word, the loving look of a woman, and at night still alone would turn in his bed…

Eventually, he heard of a poor, hardworking and very attractive girl, old enough to be married. What did he think? He harnessed his most handsome horses at his cart, loaded it with several bags of grains, and several small bags of clothes and food, he tied two heifers behind the cart and started on his way to the girl’s parents to ask them their daughter’s hand!

Well, the mean man had heard the poor parents’ stables were empty and so was the yard and that they could not find a way to take poverty out of their house… So, what he did and how, no one knows, but promising to the poor father two more oxen and a purse of gold coins – he managed to find a wife for himself! As the girl, seeing their bitter tears of her parents and of her sisters, who stuck like a burr on her to marry the rich man, so that they could all escape from that poverty, agreed to be the ugly and mean man’s wife and followed him…

For a few years, she was a submissive and obedient wife, but only she knew how much bitterness she was gathering in her heart and how many tears she was shedding secretly as she hated so much his ugly and means husband. And here we are, one summer, wandering for herbs around the Poliţelor cu crini [Shelves with lilies] in Mount Ceahlău, she came across her love: she met a handsome, well built young shepherd, who was wandering too in search for a stray sheep…

Now then, if this young shepherd was meant to the miserable wife, they love each other for three summers, in the mountain. The legend also says that even the dog – that would follow its mistress all over the place upon the orders of the money bug, as it was trained to attack any stranger that would dare get near her – watch over the small hollow in the rock where they would live their happiness. But, again no one knows how, the mean and ugly husband did find out in the end! He was furious and foaming, still he did not say a word to his wife! … He paid some loafers though who, as agreed, clubbed to death the young shepherd and threw his body into the abyss under the rock sheltering the nest of their ardent love.

The miserable wife kept coming to look for her lover but to no avail. She would wait for him patiently for an hour or two…

After more than a week, the dog started to yelp and, getting closer to the edge of the abyss, began howling painfully. It made its mistress get closer fearfully. Alas! – she almost fainted with pain! – she could see her lover’s crushed body hanging among few large tree trunks in the “shelves” with “lilies.”

The elders say she never left the spot for three weeks. She kept mourning and her painful and endless screams echoed in the surrounding valleys. Then one night, quietness came down again, shivering in the valley the poor woman had climbed so many times bouncing with love… When people climbed the mountain to find the spot of the terrible misfortunes, in the hollow that once sheltered the two, they could see in awe that there was water dripping – the tears of the eyes that weep the lost love to this day…

 

Dochia and Trajan

 This is another legend that was past down us about Dochia’s rock in Ceahlău, ever since the terrible Dacian – Roman war in 105-106 A.D.

Trajan, seeing the failure of his first campaign to conquer Dacia, spent some three years preparing his revenge. And the bloodshed started again and filled the fortresses in the mountains as this was the only way the Romans could weaken resistance of Decebal’s brave warriors. Lest he missed the victory again, Trajan selected the most hardened soldiers and he led them in the battle himself under the walls of the greatest stronghold, Sarmizegetusa Regia (i.e. the Royal Sarmizegetusa), the capital city of the country, in the Orăştie Mountains…

For some time now, among the Romans a stunning rumour was circulating: up, on the walls of Sarmizegetusa, a young maiden wearing leather and brass armour was fighting like a lioness spreading death around her! … She must be a goddess or a witch – some said with fear – that she would blind anyone would her beauty. Who had ever seen a maiden so skilfully handling the bow, the spear, not to mention that cursed curved sword, invented by a Dacian’s mind to put a stop to one’s life in the blink of an eye? This rumour reached Trajan eventually, so he started to boil: – “How can a mere maiden sow death among my soldiers?”

Eventually, Sarmizegetusa Regia fell, rotten slowly by the furious siege and outnumbered by the enemy. The Romans dashed upon the stronghold like jackals trying to find Decebal and his chieftains. It was the very order of the great emperor to have the Getae-Dacian king and his entire close circle as “trophies” of the spoils he would carry back to Rome upon his triumphant return… However, Decebal had fled the stronghold at the last minute through a secret escape route, together with his chieftains and his family! Trajan flew into such a rage at the news of the escape! On top of that, he heard that the beautiful “goddess” or “witch” was… Decebal’s daughter! Then, he saw red: he ordered that the escapees be followed mercilessly and brought in chains before him.

As Decebal understood that he could have been captured and humiliated by the Romans at any time, he first parted with Dochia, his beloved daughter. He advised her not to stop until she reached the sacred Mount Ceahlău, where, in retreat from so many dangers, she should live the peaceful live of a shepherdess. Then, the great king, in the name of his people’s liberty and immortality, sipped greedily from the poison cup prepared to this purpose. For Dochia, many days of running, on foot and on horse, followed Dochia, together with some other escapees. After a while – no one knows for how many days and nights – there they were, at the foot of the mount dedicated to praying: their ancestors’ and the holy shadows’ mount Ceahlău… Arriving there, the small company scattered seeking shelter and rest; Dochia stopped only to catch her breath, as she could feel with all her being that the followers were closer and closer…

So she reached, powerless, almost to the peaks surrounded by the clouds. She stopped again to let her heartbeats settle down after such an effort, but when she turned her head, she could see in horror that the Romans where behind her. She tried to run but she could no longer run and there was nowhere to run… Desperate, almost breathless, and horrified at the thought that she could be chained into slavery and dishonour, she prayed to Zalmoxes: – O great, merciful, and almighty god, have mercy of me and do not let me pray to my enemy!

A dark cloud wrapped the followers; thunder lit the princess’ exhausted body and rolled its roar over the mountain. When the smoke-like veil broke up, Dochia was nowhere: there was only the rock in front, with a maiden’s face, standing there to tell, over the centuries and millennia, about the wonder. As for the followers, there was no trace left: the darkness in the cloud carried them as if in a whirl, to the bottomless abyss…

 

The Thunderstruck Rocks

In a long forgotten past, at the foot of his Mount Ceahlău there lived a boyar. He was so rich that he himself lost track of his countless and endless fortune. If you do not believe me, I’m telling you that had he gather his cattle at one place and then herd them to water in the crystal-clear and lively Bistrita River, and then at once would have dried it, part of the cattle would have died of thirst!

Well, every man was given his share of misfortune… And so was our boyar: although he was kind-hearted and hard-working as one could rarely see (as it was not by theft or greed that he gathered such wealth), none of his three sons followed in his footsteps. Well, you see, they got used to living carelessly and they no longer knew its price. Let me add that of late they vied wasting – as if with four hands instead of two! – all they reckoned they deserved of the plenty but not toiled wealth…

Their father was patient enough, he would urge them to be wiser and industrious, but as they say, it went in one year and out the other. As soon as they saw they pockets full, among fiddlers, pails of wine and women skilful at turning men’s heads with sweet words and sly whispers, nothing of what they had promised to their father that morning, with lamb’s voice, was worth a penny that very afternoon…

However, the boyar’s patience had its limits! This is how, one day, the poor man drew the strings of his heart and – despite his parental sorrow – decided to let the three without any fortune – that is, to disinherit them completely, even of the good and undeserved living of some prodigals indulging in debauchery and idleness. Then he sold all his fortune leaving only a little he and a few servants could live on, as he had no wife and no other kin…

Then, almost all the gold he thus gathered they loaded in bags and put them on stout mountain horses, trained to trod on slopes they – the boyar, the horses, and the servants – lined up Mount Ceahlău majestic peak. The miserable father was well acquainted with a hermit who had been dwelling – in devout and profound prayer – on the Sacred Mountain for a long time. The boyar had helped the hermit dig his hermitage under the edge of a tilted cliff, not far from Piatra Altarului [The Altar’s Cliff]. Both of them – the boyar and the hermit – knew very well that “money is Satan’s eye” and they buried it deep, in a safe spot, under a great rock, the entire fortune carried in bags. They further consecrated the spot and erected a wooden cross above the hide to keep evil spirits or any of devil’s work away.

Many years went by – more than one or two centuries. The wooden cross rotted and disappeared as if it had never been there, and those who had known the secret of the treasure turned to dust, too.

Only Satan, the tireless evildoer, remained to care for the money that he knew could help him drag many a people – easy to turn away from the right path and good deeds – into sin. As he himself did not know where the treasure was as the hermit’s divine services made the treasure invisible to Satan’s sly eyes, began digging among the rocks. He could not find a penny! Then, redder in the face with anger, redder than the fire in the hell he came from he threw a flow of thunder onto the huge rocks, among which the one with the treasure.

Our Lord from Heaven’s height saw Satan’s vile work so that he could find the treasure and lose so many Christian souls. He then sent from the skies a long lightning like a pole of light. All the gold melted instantly and disappeared into the impenetrable depths of the earth. It is only the thunder-struck and crashed rock, like a saw’s grin, that reminds us to this day of the Satan’s plot and the Almighty’s punishment…

 

Panaghia 

Panaghia is said not to have been a rock from the very beginning, but a frail little girl, born – poor thing – in a hamlet at the foot of Mount Ceahlău, in some poverty-stricken people’s family. Still, she was endowed with many a gift as the Fatal Sisters hastily gathered around her cradle wishing her all the good things in life. The trouble is that while competing to enlighten the little girl’s future, the sisters endowed her with everything… they only forgot about good luck! So, Panaghia grew up, the apple of her parents’ eyes and souls. They passed away on a rainy ad chilly autumn day, crashed by a tree trunk just when their daughter was reaching the age to join the hora [round dance].

Well, when Panaghia remained an orphan, a well-off but childless couple from a neighbouring larger village, seeing her rare beauty, took her in their care. The new parents joy was short-lived because as soon as Panaghia went out in the street, or making hay, or taking the cattle to water, to the church or to the village dance, all the lads were sticking like a burr to her, feasting their eyes on her and wishing her for a wife. So, one day the lads started to fight even over the beautiful maiden’s smile…

People began gossiping. No one could blame her for something, for anything on the shady side, but – that’s life! – her charm would turn the lads’ heads! Could they wait any longer: no, they were willing to kill for her? The parents’ soon decided, until it was not too late, to take Panaghia up in Mount Ceahlău, where once sister Nazaria lived before climbing down the mountain and founding the Durău monastery…

Overwhelmed with grief when she saw herself in that wilderness, the poor girl climbed up the highest peak – Toaca – seeking to put an end to her misery by throwing herself into the endless abyss under the mountain. While she was saying her farewell from the world, she suddenly felt the warmth and bright Sun, just rising above the horizon, wrapping her all over…

The Sun was climbing slowly to the skies, the maiden stood there spellbound and neither of them could have enough of the sweet sip and… This lasted for the whole day and most of the night, which was still a day in the end because the Sun remained in the sky half the night, although people and stock went to sleep when the Sun was up in the middle of the skies!

The following day was the same, and the following, and the ninth day, and who knows how long it would have lasted, if even the Night – which could barely open the darkness’ eyelid and raise the Moon, the evening star, and the whole parade of stars in the sky – had not complained to God. God grew sad at the deed of the two, so reckless in their ardent love… And, so that all things be again as they used to, as He left them to all the people and to the entire universe, he wrapped Mount Ceahlău in a dark mist so that the two could no longer see each other…

One morning Panaghia saw that the Sun’s rays caresses the slopes at the foot of the mountain and she wanted to go down there to seek the warm and bright cover of her lover. Hopping merrily, she reached at the foot of Toaca. Then she realised that her steps are clumsier and clumsier, that a weary dizziness penetrated her body and before she realised she turned into stone! It is only her heart – so genuinely and ardently given to the Sun – that didn’t turn into stone. So the legend says and so do those that rest their eyes on the harmonious outline of the wonderful rock. It continues to give and receive love whenever the Sun caresses its rocky body…

Butu and Ana

In a dim past, some six centuries ago, in Moldavia there was a ruler, a very worthy voivode in his deeds and gentle in tongue, who remained in the people’s minds as Alexandru cel Bune [the Good]. As these were troubled times, with wars and enemy overrunning, the bravest soldiers were highly praised both at the princely court and by those who would pas down the deeds from one generation to the other…

Butu turned out to be the most skilful of the Prince’s brave-hearted youth. It couldn’t have been different as he had been born and spend his childhood around the proud Mount Ceahlău, the guard and icon of all Moldavia! Butu was also dear to the Prince himself, so, when he learned about the love blooming between his daughter and his brave captain – Prince Alexandru soon gave them his blessing and celebrated their engagement with splendour. Even preparations for the wedding were already on the way! …

Unfortunately, tis’ not always as one plans!

Somehow, just at that time a new war broke between the Poles and the Teutonic Knights. Prince Alexandru, having pledged allegiance with the Poles’ King readily sent 400 horsemen, led by brave Butu, to shatter the Teutonic knights and to come back hastily to wed…

The brave horsemen returned in triumph from Marienburg stronghold on the Vistula, but some were missing – among them their glorious leader. Ana was struck as if by lightning at the horrific news and her miserable father was deeply saddened by his daughter’s sorrow and by the loss of his proud warrior!…

Hard weeks and months passed by, in tears and mourning as Ana could not forget the one she had vowed forever fidelity and love. The father – to end her misery – started to speak to her about other suitors, urging her to put an end to her mourning and start thinking about a new husband. One day, thinking that he could pull her away from the flood of tears, Alexandru the Good told her resolutely:

“Enough’s enough, my child, it’s time to rise and shine again, as wise people say: Let the dead bury their dead! Brave and worthy as Butu may have been, the new groom I’ve chosen for you is no less…” – and he uttered the name of another captain whom, to end her misery he wished for a son-in-law.

Poor Ana did not want to hear any of this and when she saw preparations for the wedding being already on the way she was overwhelmed with great disappointment: what was there to do, how could she get out of this? She learned of an old witch nearby the princely court. She secretly ran to her and told her about the burden in her heart, gave her two rings and begged her to help her hastily, even if it were to bring Butu out of his grave on the wedding night so that the new groom would be frightened!

The old hag agreed and as she promised to the young princess, the night when the new husband was to enter the chamber, Butu, her former groom-to-be made his entrance – pale but passionate in speech. Hugging her tight, he asked her to follow him to the window wherefrom they started flying toward Mount Ceahlău, in the moonless night, on the ghost of his white horse.

The rode a long journey from the Suceava stronghold to over Ceahlău, on heights Butu wanted to find shelter for his beloved. When he was scrutinising the long known hidden, from down in the valley the rooster’s crow was already heralding the new dawn. The spell undid at once, the horse’s flight and Butu’s power ceased, and the three of them falling from high in the skies with a deafening thunder, turned at once into rocks: Butu’s tower having Ana’s slender silhouette beside him.

Thus, clasped in each other’s arms with love, the two found their everlastingness on one of Cealhău’s peaks, some other mysterious stonework: Creasta Cocoşului [the Rooster’s Crest].

 

Dochia, Trajan and Cobal

Who has not heard of the brave Dacian king, Decebal and the great Roman emperor Trajan? Well, and then you should know about Dochia, too, the beautiful and courageous princess, king Decebal’s very sister. It is no wonder that many would sigh thinking of her and wishing her for a wife. The brave Cobal – brother of the late king Duras, who had reigned before Decebal – was one of those who suffered secretly. CobaI would love her dearly, but being less courageous in speech would still wait for the right time to tell her of his heart’s torment…

The problem was that the country was engulfed in a terrible was with the army of Emperor Trajan, who was leading his legions seeking to conquer the rich country of the Getae-Dacians.

The story goes that Trajan dressed in plain clothes, while walking one day through a forest, in a clearing, came across, princess Dochia, wearing a soldier’s dress. As she was tired and much too skirmish with the worries of that war, Decebal’s sister was so startled at the unexpected apparition that she fainted… Bending over her in amazement and taking her fur cap aside, Trajan was even more astounded to see that it was a maiden – a very beautiful maiden one! No wonder, he fell for her that very moment! …

They met for several days in that clearing and chatted as Dochia also felt for Trajan, whom she thought a brave Getae-Dacian. It was only the faithful Cobal, not losing his beloved from sight, who quickly understood who was now winning a place in the princess’ heart. Grieved and foaming with anger, he vowed to forget about Dochia and to take a cruel vengeance on Trajan. Unfortunately, the war soon came to an end, and there was peace between the Dacians and the Romans again. Three years later, Trajan and his legions embarked upon a new war against Dacia, a more successful one this time.

The strongholds were either conquered or crashed one by one and the thousands war prisoners were sent to mighty Rome. The brave Cobal was there, too, in chains, after one night, when dressed in Roman clothes, squeezed through to Trajan’s tent, trying to kill him. Decebal himself, seeing that the invaders could not be held back, drank from a cup of poison lest he would fall into enemy hand, hence dying a free man as he lived all his life.

Overwhelmed with worries and sorrow, just like many escapees, Dochia started her trek to the east and north of the land, thinking that she would become a shepherdess. But… she was not meant to find her peace as Trajan himself, his love unrequited yet.

Dochia, who reached as far as the rocks and pastures on the sacred Mount Ceahlău, chose a flock of sheep and, in the mountain quietness, started her life of a shepherdess. This is how the passionate Trajan found her. As he started as once to share with her the ardour in his heart, wishing to take her with him, Dochia remembered that she did not know his name…

“I am Emperor Trajan and I would do anything for you!” – said all in one breath the mighty Roman leader. When he heard that she was facing the deadly enemy of her land, Dochia severed her heart’s feelings instantly and overwhelmed with hatred, pulled herself off his arms, seeking escape on the top of the sacred mountain. She was quick but Trajan was even quicker owing to the wings of his passion. Seeing in horror that there was no escape, Dochia prayed to the great Zalmoxes not to let her at the enemy’s mercy. Then, a lightning struck the clear bright sky turning the miserable princess into a rock.

The old people also say that, when Cobal returned from the dungeons of Roma, asking about beautiful Dochia, he reached the majestic rock appeared from the maiden’s desperation and the skies’ mercy. He mourned for several days and nights and then thinking that his life is pointless, he plunged into the mountain’s abyss, his beloved name on his lips. Zalmoxes took mercy of him, too, and turned him into a rock so that the image of the brave and faithful lover can be deciphered still in stone, higher from Vulturul lui Traian [Trajan’s Eagle], along Plăieşii [The Frontier Guards] and Cetăţuia [The Stronghold]…

 

Stănilele

Ever since the Creation, God meant Ceahlău  to be the mountain of praying and grazing. If snows, rains, windstorms took turns in ravaging its steady peaks, so did the monks and the shepherds endure their worried, joys, and suffering… We will discover such a life story from the legend of Stănilă’s Rocks, an imposing creation in stone known by the name of Stănile.

It is no longer clear when, but it must be at least five or six centuries since, among the shepherds wandering on Mount Ceahlău, there was a shy but hardworking lad called Stănilă.

Well, you see, still owing to his diligence, he had that small flock he shepherded from the east of the mountain! First, he was a diligent apprentice of shepherds, richer and more skilful at shepherding sheep and goats.

Then, one of these shepherds, who had known his father very well (Stănilă had been an orphan from a very young age!), seeing the lad’s diligence, agreed to give him as double payment some ten sheep and a breeding ram. And this is how, within five years or so, Stănilă managed to enlarge his flock which now he counted up to some fifty…

Naturally, so did the lad grow – well built and so handsome that most of the maidens took pleasure in looking at him. The trouble was that Stănilă, as I was saying, was very shy and was all work. Therefore, he could not even think of looking at one of the basil-fragranced skirts and blouses he passed by on Sundays when he sometimes came down from the mountain.

However, one day, on top of the mountain, a maiden passed on her way to her father’s flock. She was a very good-looking girl. Her had beautifully outlined eyebrows and had a swaying gate that made her body look even slenderer. Then, our poor Stănilă, as if a club struck him in his chest, he suddenly lost his breath and his hear started to beat like a drum in the rhythm of the merry girl’s gate – tap, tap, tap, tap…

He managed somehow – as he seemed to overcome his shyness! – to appear in front of the maiden on her way back. He walked with her for a while, almost reaching the foot of the mountain and forgetting about his sheep…Later on, as the maiden also felt something for him, this maiden called Maria started to come all the week long to her father! When the flocks were brought down to winter, the two went on seeing each other at the village dance or at the evening sittings, so that the others couldn’t help noticing their love.

Clean and deep was their love, but Maria’s father – who was by now the richest shepherd in the village – grew bitter and bitter and his soul grew darker. As he was greedy for sheep, land, and money, he had long planned to marry Maria to a rich widower so that his fortune may grow bigger. Therefore, he learned about the love between his daughter and the “penniless” Stănilă, should one have poured petrol over him, he wouldn’t have turned red with fury as he did!

He summoned his daughter at once and, as Maria would not forget about Stănilă, according to her father’s demand, he got so enraged that almost trampled his daughter under his feet… His wife came to rescue her child from his hands, but the wicked man was adamant. He kept Maria locked inside the house for several weeks, and then, just after holy celebration of Epiphany, made her, rather dead than alive, marry the widower.

As for the unhappy Stănilă, what is there to tell? He kept on suffering, hoping that one day, the stony heart of the miserly father would bless Maria’s and his love. When his last hope vanished, in the dead of winter, broken down with grief, he reached the top of the cliff that has borne his name ever since, and he committed himself to the abyss…

 

Cilu-Cilihoiul

On the forever green and abundant land Old Ceahlău guards and mother Bistriţa waters, in a dim past, there lived a brave man, chieftain of the people in this part of the country. He would walk with a beautifully encrusted staff, but his pride and joy, as well as his wife’s, was their handsome lad called Cilu.

They had been having a cheerful and tranquil life for a long time until Cilu’s father was murdered by some Tatars who invaded the area to loot their homes and to take their children in slavery.

Well this was not the only misfortune that befell the orphan lad, an heir of the great chieftain. A draught – which seemed worse than the Tatars’ raid – dried out the entire Bistriţa Valley until far downstream. The waters retreated so much and the land scorched that the poor people in the villages or the beasts in the woods could barely to eat or drink anything.

Cilu looked thoughtfully at the boiling sky, at the chieftain’s staff, at the disaster around him, but in vain – he couldn’t find a solution to the merciless calamity.

However, one day he set on route in want for some grass or fruits, anywhere in the mountains to feed at least the children and the old. As he was walking, leaning heavily on his staff, as his exhausted, he went down some steep valleys. Suddenly, he felt a flying flower caressing his cheek and then the flower started speaking to him! This is how he learned that he was standing in front the monk’s hood flower rarely to be seen by humans.

“Put me on your head – the flower asked him – and I will help you be useful to all people!”

At the sound of this, Cilu hastily placed the tender helmet on his head and… instantly he felt he was floating. He even dropped the staff from his hands as they turned into wings!

He was a bird, he was an eagle, and he was even flying higher than CeahIău’s heights! …

People – whom he now greeted hastily – “Cilu-Chiau, Chiau-Cilu…” – could see him now.

“Fly, fly, Cilu-Chilihoi (that is Cilu the eagle) and remember that you can bring the rain. In one year, I’ll be back to turn you again into a human,” said the flower and vanished.

Left alone in the endless sky, Cilu started to look with his eagle’s eyes for the rain clouds. He could see them far, far away, but he soon reached them and began to herd them with his beak or pushing them with his large wings. Thus, after a whole day and a whole night’s toil, here he was with the clouds over Ceahlău and its surroundings.

He picked at the clouds for several times with his beak and, with their thundering prelude, the clouds began pouring the life-giving rain.

The happy people went out in their yards in the village streets to gulp with their bodies the beneficial rain: “Look! The eagle brought the rain to us!” and they would shout to the sky: “Cilu-Cilihoi!” And Cilu, still flying over the clouds, shouted happily his name back to them: “Chiau­-Chiau … Cilu … Chiau, Cilu … “ Little by little, all that scorched and cracked started to be yield richly again, and Cilu kept rotating in the air, happy that the people did not forget him and kept greeting him, shouting his new name: “Cilu-Cilihoi!”

Sometimes, he would have wanted to go down to be closer to them, to sit in his mother’s yard, but the monk’s hood resolved that he would never set foot on earth again, only on rocks. That is why the place up there on Ceahlău the spot is called ever since the “Eagle’s Camp.”

Thus, the year passed by and the flower looked for him to turn him into a human again, but Cilu … would not want that! “If I were to be a chieftain, who would help people in times of drought?” he thought. “I’d better stay here and watch over life from up here, from Mount Ceahlău, as down there on earth, there would be other brave lads to lead all the people for better or for worse!” …

 

Stephen the Great in Ceahlău

In the summer of 1476, when the battle of Războieni from Neamț was fought, Turks had entered the country like a hoard or a swarm of locusts… and if there were so many in the beginning, although they had first staggered away under the blows of Stephen’s warriors, it turned out that, until evening, they overwhelmed the Moldavians. He then commanded all the men to scatter in the night’s shade, losing their way in the forests and mountain villages. He himself, seeing his own defeat this time, retreated to Neamț Fortress. But then his mother reminded him that the most dangerous thing would be to stay in a confined place, where the enemy can always hit and strike: – ”Run into the mountains and gather another army, that is the only way you will vanquish!…”

This way, Stephen took two companions and set off in a one day journey, towards Ceahlău, through the woods where he had often gone hunting… and had reached the west boundary of the Hangu estate, not too far from the foothill of the Holy Mountain, they also stopped in a meadow, leaving the horses to graze and drink water. Well, that night they slept how they could, and they ate … let’s say that in the morning they still had an empty stomach! The following day, however, was a productive one, filled with hunting and  working to build a shelter made out of wood and stones – because indeed, that’s the way  most soldiers knew how to do it!…

While they were getting to the end of their work, some shepherds, hearing the noise made by the trumpeted wood and foreign voices, seeing the thick smoke (from the logs burning at both ends, to make them stronger), became very suspicious. So, they sneaked up close to the meadow and… they jumped holding their bats at the three men – oh, I almost forgot to say, Stephen had an ordinary gown on him! The shepherds soon figured out who were the “robbers” (i.e. the thieves) in the meadow and, as soon as they learned the prince’s sorrow, they were all animated: “Well, if you need soldiers to send the Turks running, well, My Lord, we will leave the sheep in the care of our wives and  children, and we’ll follow you…”

Moreover, all of them soon found themselves, by their very will, taking a tour around the surrounding villages and mountains, to gather young men and boys, good for being soldiers. And while the shepherds went after other comrades, neither Stephen the Great nor the other two men stood there doing nothing. Stephen the Great began climbing on  Ceahlău, going to see the old hermits near Toaca peak, to ask for advice and help by the means of their prayers. The servants, by the help of the people from around them, started building other huts (small huts) for those who were about to come, brought by the shepherds to rest.

Going either by trot, or galloping, on the horseback, Stephen the Great finally arrived at the cell of the hermit, who was more than a hundred years old. Stephen the Great  began confessing his sorrows of his heart and soul, and the hermit replied:

“You know, My Lord, that from where we stand, by the means of our prayers, we are closer not only to heaven but also to earth. I know very well the pain you are going through and how much turmoiI enemies can bring now… but don’t you fear and dispair, because you have a great heart and a strong faith! Here, take this icon of Saint George-Holy Great Martyr and Victory-Barrer, always take it with you when you go to war and you will see that you will strike again!…’’

 

Stephen came down the mountain with a light heart and a wrath only in his mind, planning how to crush the Turks ruled by Mahomed the Conqueror himself, the Sultan who had scared the whole Christianity by undertaking Constantinople through the ordeal of his sword and fire. Stephen’s eyes brightened when he saw that most of the people willing to follow him had gathered in the place they started calling “At the Huts”. So, they lingered there for only three more days so as those who had started from Suceava County to arrive. He gave the command for all of them to get in line and get ready. They began their journey under his rule to vanquish the Turks who were coming after their prey in the country.

And, by God’s will, Stephen the Great and his brave soldiers gathered from the villages of Ceahlău and many other surroundings, won the battle ! …

Summer by George Coșbuc

“At the splendour of the sky,

I could see Ceahlău westward,

Far away in the horizon,

The giant’s forehead in the sun,

Standing guard to fatherland!

A cloud – a passing secret so to speak,

A neighbour to the mountain peak

Was floating in the pure blue sky

while having lost its wings to fly!

And all the skies did fill

With chirping songs.”

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