Werewolf Trail in Rauda Forest
Mystical stories and legends abound about the Rauda Forest — a truly ghostly forest! Sages say that in the sense of energies, it does not lag behind the legendary Pokaiņi Forest. The Rauda Forest is special with the fact that here — unlike anywhere else in Latvia — one can experience a marked contrast of energies. Here, the positive and the negative energy come face to face.
The theologian Ralfs Kokins has described the mystical side of the Rauda Forest in his book “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti” (Werewolf tales of Kurzeme).
“There is no point to debate the existence of werewolves from a comfortable and sterile apartment in the centre of Riga, as you browse the internet. All is different in Kurzeme. People say that the werewolf is very evil, nearly like the Devil itself — there is nothing quite as harrowing as to see it with your very own eyes. But only living people think so and are very afraid. But it is most certainly not a good creature, because as a rule you don’t feel scared from good beings. Possibly, we have inherited this strange and strong sensation of fear from the olden days, when intuition and rationally inexplicable inklings helped people survive. Many locals of Kurzeme have seen werewolves, but there have been no reports of killing children. But certainly, some adults. Kurzeme has some rather violent stories going around...”
/Ralfs Kokins “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti”/
The Werewolf Trail is created to end in the energetically positive part of the forest, but you should not step off it or change the direction half way. The Werewolf Trail is marked with a white wolf pawprint, and the family trail with 2 little pawprints.
Werewolf Trail “A wolf howling at the moon” – a natural and at places even wild trail with changeable scenery and a terrain for physically fit walkers. The nature itself has made sure that the Wolf’s nose is the most difficult to traverse — especially the jaw, but the most horrific look opens into the throat. If you activate a route-mapping app on your device to mark the route on the map, at the end, you will have “drawn” a shape of the head.
Werewolf Trail Wolf-cub’s trot – a trail suitable also for children and the elderly.Several mystical objects on the way: The Nasties’ Tent (Nejaucēnu telts), Sausenis, Werewolf’s pine (Vilkača priede), Spruce – the Boulder’s Daughter, the Evil Spirit’s Hill (Vadātājkalns) and the Lousy Oak (Draņķozols).
Both trails start and end at the same point. Request of route's GPX file send to Tukums TIC.
Author of the Werewolf Trail and the Buck’s Trail — writer Guna Roze. Source of inspiration: the book “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti” (Werewolf tales of Kurzeme, 2007) by the theologian Ralfs Kokins. Map – Raimonds Lapiņš.
Stops Along the Route | Information Stands that You Will Find in the Forest
Horse Lake (Zirgezers)
“In the energetically strong Rauda forest massif between the Lark Bog (Cīruļpurviņš), Buck’s Hill and Lousy Oak, amongst steep hillocks and unsurpassable thicket, you will find the Horse Lake. When you stand on the shore of the lake, the earth under your feet makes a deep sound due to the hollow cavities and water amongst the roots. The depth is considerable right at the shore where tangled spruce roots abound.
The lake got its name from a tragic event, when in the late 19th century, a man was taking firewood back home. As trails in this area are meandering and go up and down, the man chose to cut the distance and started crossing the frozen lake with the firewood. Around half way, the ice caved in. Despite all effort, the horse lost strength in the cold water and finally drowned.
Since then, more than once, ghostly fog in the shape of a horse’s head and werewolves bathing in late autumn evenings have been seen. The werewolf’s shoulders and head are protruding out of the water, and hot steam is emanating all around. Mushroom pickers and berry pickers here have also seen the ghost of a young, very pale girl with empty eyes and a tied or sewn up mouth.”
/Ralfs Kokins “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti”/
Will-O’-the-Wisp Near Sausenis
Will-O’-the-Wisp (Ignis fatuus) is a natural phenomenon — a faint flame-like light floating slightly above the ground. Usually seen in darkness over marshy grounds or in cemeteries. Will-O’-the-Wisp is also often mentioned in folklore in relation to ghosts and evil spirits. They trick people into thinking that it is a drying money. Will-O’-the-Wisp, like greediness, can lead you off the road and into the swamp.
Scientifically, the phenomenon of Will-O’-the-Wisps is explained as oxidation of flammable gases. Will-O’-the-Wisps can also be caused by bioluminescence — glowing of organisms observed on rotting wood, bacteria, microscopic mushrooms, some insects and marine creatures. In the nature of Latvia, Will-O’-the-Wisp is most often caused by glowing of rotten wood.
Would you be brave enough to come here in darkness to see the Will-O’-the-Wisps?
The trunks of dead trees in a forest look like a forest cemetery, don’t they? This is caused by the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle ips typographus, found on spruces and less commonly on pine trees. Mostly they affect spruces that are weakened by wind or lasting draught, but they can also colonise completely healthy trees. The small 4-5 mm long beetles carve through the bark, where a small part of beetles is eliminated by intensive release of resin, but if there are many beetles, trees die.
Do not destroy and do not litter in the forest — the home of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and forest spirits.
You are now in the Werewolf’s Throat! Beware! People often get lost here. The marked trail leading out of the “throat” will also have some obstacles.
“...on the trail, there was an eerie, very dark creature. The head of a wolf, without ears, with very dark, deep eyes and unnaturally long, thin, irregular crooked teeth. Suddenly, everything was wrapped in an unbearable stench of decaying flesh and complete silence. The forest-guard took out from the pocket an old cartridge with a silver bullet and loaded it into the gun. When he wanted to press the trigger, the creature suddenly started talking. It was a sort of a primeval animalistic language like a chant that we all are capable of understanding but that we — people, animals, reptiles and birds alike — have unfortunately.
/Ralfs Kokins “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti”/
Evil Spirit Hill (Vadātājkalns)
You are at the Evil Spirit Hill, where berry pickers and mushroom pickers have always been getting lost and walkers get confused right at the outset. The Rauda forest often is the venue for orienteering competitions, and all the athletes are aware that in the area of the Evil Spirit Hill, compasses are unreliable with the arrow dancing about like crazy; orienteering runners cannot detect the control points and run past them. Records made on journalists’ dictaphones in this area are ruined by noise interferences. If you follow the trail indications, you will not get lost!
Ancestral beliefs not to get lost
- If you keep getting lost, swap your shoes: out your left shoe on your right foot and vice versa — then you will find the way.
- When you are hopelessly lost and can’t find your bearings, then bend forwards as low as possible, until you can look backwards through your legs. This way, you start understanding which way is the north, the east, the south and the west.
- When you lose your way, lie down on the ground, close your eyes, and turn your legs towards where your head was.
- If you get confused about your whereabouts in a forest, you should turn your scarf or hat backwards, and then you are sure to find the way.
- When you are lost, say the Lord’s prayer backwards three times to find the right way.
Lousy Oak (Draņķozols )
Even many locals struggle to find the Lousy Oak, entwined in distressing legends. Chronicles of the 15th and 16th century already mention a very large, mature oak-tree where many witches and Devil’s servants were hanged and burnt. During the serfdom, farmers who were driven into desperation used to commit suicide by hanging themselves off the oak branches. Even in the more recent times, this is where people have mysteriously gone missing here. The tree fell in the fall of 2015 after vandals burnt it down, but the place has not lost its peculiar energy.
The sage Māris Zvaunis tells about the oak-tree: “The Lousy Oak (Draņķozols) is growing at the intersection of three underground water streams. To survive in a place like that, you have to become nasty, whether you want it or not. The tree has a massive negative energy. You shiver as you stand near it, claims Ralfs Kokins in his book “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti.” But the most interesting place is the ditch right beside it — the dual world border between the positive and negative energy. Nowhere in the nature you can see such a marked borderline — as if carved with a sword.”
“... the forest-guard looked back and was scared stiff. Behind him, on the trail, there was an eerie, very dark creature. It was at least three to four metres tall. The creature resembled a human being, and it was very wide at the bottom and very thin at the top. For a moment, it even looked like a burnt, charred person. The head of a wolf, without ears, with very dark, deep eyes and unnaturally long, thin, irregular crooked teeth. The entire body was covered in black dishevelled hair. Suddenly, everything was wrapped in an unbearable stench of decaying flesh and complete silence. Even the nature itself was completely still — not a leaf or a stalk was moving. The forest-guard quickly grabbed his carbine, took out from the pocket an old cartridge with a silver bullet and loaded it into the gun. His tongue seemed paralysed, and he could not manage even the slightest sound. When he wanted to press the trigger, the creature suddenly started talking. Rather, it started making ghastly noises. It was a sort of primordial voice coming from the depths of the earth, a primeval animalistic language like a chant that we all are capable of understanding but that we — people, animals, reptiles and birds alike — have unfortunately.” The creature said that he is neither good nor evil and that he is a werewolf.”
/Ralfs Kokins “Kurzemes vilkaču nostāsti”/
Secret Keeper's Eye (Noslēpumu glabātāja Acs)
Not a hundred metres away from the Lousy Oak and just a couple dozen metres away from the tail of the Buck’s Hill, there is another unique natural formation — two funnel-type dips. It is possible that both holes formed as glaciers melted.
The explanation offered by researchers of Latvian sacred sites and magic rites is not an official version, but certainly a more interesting one. They call these dips on both sides of the road the Devil’s Eyes.
The sage Māris Zvaunis: “The circles look like perfect funnels as if drawn by compasses. The soil cannot itself form it. About 4000 years ago, a meteorite fell here and split near the ground, carving out these funnels. Energy perturbation occurs at this crater: sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Perhaps that is why no plants are eager to grow in the funnel, only some feeble osiers grow around the edges. In addition, water even in the coldest winters never fully freezes over.
The water of this Eye keeps a secret of everything happening around this place. This could be a perfect venue for Native American chiefs to smoke a peace pipe, discuss their matters and nobody else would ever find out about it.
Even though the water is as dark as black tea, they say that it is potable. Due to the dry weather in the spring, summer or autumn, the water in the funnel may have dried out.
Go travelling and enjoy nature!
Before Going to the Forest
- Before you go to the forest, notify your family members and tell them your destination, where you are going, as accurately as possible, and the time you plan to return.
- If possible, avoid going to the forest alone. Even in a familiar area, an accident might occur, for example, you can trip over and twist an ankle.
- Take along a torch, which will not only help you avoid panicking, but also make it easier for rescuers to find you. A whistle will also help.
- Make sure to dress to protect yourself against ticks, but also to ensure that rescuers can see you as easily as possible. It is useful to wear bright coloured clothing — a jacket, a hat or shoes.
- Make sure you have on you an identification document or at least a little note with your name and address.
- Before you go into the forest, make sure to fully charge your phone battery. Modern technologies allow finding the signal also where there is no phone network coverage.
- Take along a water bottle and chocolate, which will help you regain energy in case you get lost. If you need to take medicines daily, make sure you have them with you.
- When you walk in a forest, look around and take note: a railroad, roads or peculiar-looking trees can serve as good landmarks in case you get lost. When you walk into a forest, always remember on which side is the sun. You will have to return going the opposite way.
How to Behave in a Forest
- If you bring something along, make sure to take it back with you!
- Be careful with fire in the forest!
- Beware of ticks!
- Relax responsibly and safely in the forest!
- Be sparing with inventory at recreational areas and clean up after yourself!
- Drive only on roads, when you are in a forest.
- Supervise your pets to make sure they do not destroy nature or bother other people.
- Only make fire in designated areas. Before you leave, make sure that the fire has been extinguished.
- Do not drop burning or smouldering matchsticks, cigarette butts or other objects on the ground.
- In case of fire or accidents, call the rescue service at 112 without delay.
You can read about the stories of werewolves in Kurzeme in the book "Werewolf Tales of Kurzeme" by the theologian Ralph Kokin, but the stories recorded here - in the Raudas Forest, can be read here.
Do not destroy and do not litter in the forest — the home of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and mythical creatures. The werewolf sees and remembers everything!