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Ala

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Ala

An Ala (also called a Hala).

An Ala or Hala  is a female mythological creature recorded in the folklore of Bulgarians, Macedonians, and Serbs. Ale are considered demons of bad weather whose main purpose is to lead hail-producing thunderclouds in the direction of fields, vineyards, or orchards to destroy the crops, or loot and take them away. Extremely voracious, ale particularly like to eat children, though their gluttony is not limited to Earth. It is believed they sometimes try devouring the Sun or the Moon, causing eclipses, and that it would mean the end of the world should they succeed. When people encounter an ala, their mental or physical health, or even life, are in peril; however, her favor can be gained by approaching her with respect and trust. Being in a good relationship with an ala is very beneficial, because she makes her favorites rich and saves their lives in times of trouble.

The appearance of an ala is diversely and often vaguely described in folklore. A given ala may look like a black wind, a gigantic creature of indistinct form, a huge-mouthed, humanlike, or snakelike monster, a female dragon, or a raven. An ala may also assume various human or animal shapes, and can even possess a person's body. It is believed that the diversity of appearances described is due to the ala's being a synthesis of a Slavic demon of bad weather and a similar demon of the central Balkans pre-Slavic population. In folk tales with a humanlike ala, her personality is similar to that of the Russian Baba Yaga. Ale are said to live in the clouds, or in a lake, spring, hidden remote place, forest, inhospitable mountain, cave, or gigantic tree. While ale are usually hostile towards humans, they do have other powerful enemies that can defeat them, like dragons. In Christianized tales, St. Elijah takes the dragons' role, but in some cases the saint and the dragons fight ale together. Eagles are also regarded as defenders against ale, chasing them away from fields and thus preventing them from bringing hail clouds overhead.

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