**Written by Brunjōhildiz**
Would a Bolgos have a personal tutelary spirit? Is there a local equivalent of the genius and Iuno of Rome and the daimon of Ancient Greece that would be suitable for a practitioner of Senobessus Bolgon to fall back on? Surprisingly, we can’t really discuss this without referring back to the Pettîs Anamos or the parts of the soul as extrapolated by Selgowiros.
The most important remark we can make here, to follow Claude Lecouteux, is that talk of a pre-Christian soul is unfortunately incoherent, because we can’t help but import a lot of baggage and Christian attitudes towards the nature of the spiritual body someone possesses. Instead, Lecouteux proposes the idea of a multifarious self, going back to a strongly animist concept of self. His argument is that the self is not coterminous with the body but that every depiction of the individual, including shadows and reflections, are to be thought of as part of a person. The personal tutelary spirit, then, is the spiritual body of the practitioner, even though it is simultaneously an independent entity.
In the book “Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages” he refers to this as the ‘psychic Double’, and he leans heavily on Norse concepts of fylgja and hamr. We’re especially interested in the fylgja here. Important to note is that while someone can have either of those from birth, this isn’t necessarily the case, and someone can have multiples of each of these doubles.
A fylgja or “female follower” is a tutelary spirit that can take the form of either a human or an animal. They hail from the other world, the invisible spiritual world, and can be an ancestor spirit or a hypostasis of a helpmeet of a deity. When they incarnate, they attach themselves to an individual and by extension their family, and when that individual dies they will attempt to switch their own attachment to a descendant.
A fylgja can be sent out by a skilled practitioner to attack someone, which causes them to be overcome with sleepiness and lose consciousness, but it can also seize its opportunity when the possessor is asleep and go wandering in response to a strong desire on the part of the individual or someone else, the part of the self called the *Cugis, which can force it to manifest.
The Bolgoi stand at the crossroads of Germanic and Celtic cultures, though, and it’s worth taking a look at the fairy as well. Fairies are not of Scandinavian origin, but occur in French and Celtic sources, where they fulfill a hierogamic role and marry a (male) mortal; such as in the Lay of Lanval by Marie de France. They do not intrude or kidnap a mortal without his prior agreement. In addition, they are associated with animals such as wild boars and deer.
It’s striking how strongly this resembles a psychologized version of the fylgja, with the negotiation and the bond of affection taking center stage, and we can assume the same thought processes and concepts of self-image were familiar to the Gauls.
While these stories speak of very strongly gendered fylgja, it’s debatable whether spirits are strongly gendered. Instead, the protagonists or authors of the tales we have tend to be men, and the spiritual body is said to be the opposite sex largely because of completionist thoughts – a person is not merely physical, but needs a spiritual body to ‘become whole’, and that in this existence it is important to embrace both the material and the spiritual and thus unite with our Double.
So while there is a certain “feminine quality” to the tutelary spirit’s activities, nurturer and protector, that doesn’t make them assume a specific gender. In fact, when they take animal forms those animals are rarely specifically gendered.
In some sense, this psychic double is like an extra shadow, an additional reflection that follows you around, and that can attach to you at any point during your life, but that is not born when you are born and does not die when you die. As a part of the self, it’s unique in that you may have one without it having been revealed to you as part of a family heritage. It becomes, from being an independent entity, an essential part of you, when it becomes inseperable until a point in the future where that can’t be sustained. And its origins as a spirit mean that it is a part of yourself that’s subject to the gifting cycle, that is a legitimate object or subject of worship.
For this Belgic concept, Senobessus Bolgon has come up with terminology; a calque of fylgja in Gaulish and a borrowing of P. Germanic, both of which are in the neuter case so as to not assume gender of these beings (sing/plural);
*Linaion/Linaiâ – from Proto Celtic *Li-na- ‘stick/follow’
*U̯ulgion/*U̯ulgiâ from Proto Germanic *fulgjō- ‘follower/guardian spirit’.
Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecouteux