(PERUNKA, PER(K)UNOVA, PERENA, L(J)EL(J)UJA, LJELJA, GORKA, VERONIKA, OGNJENA MARIJA (Fairy Mary))
Perun's wife, goddess of lightning, weddings, motherhood, and protector of marriage and justice on
earth. Later, under Christianity, her importance was degraded and she was regarded as an evil goddess,
described as an evil and ugly woman named Irudika (who was in turn a daughter of Poganica).
Perunika wears a rainbow as her belt, uses a heavy sledge to punish people, and controls lightning. The
lightning comes in two so-called forms: elongated watery type and glassy type. The latter is ball
lightning, a rare meteorological phenomenon, embodied during old times as apple, rosette, or female genital
organ, in the mythical perception of the world. Thanks to Perunika's lightning, people learned about the
fire and water in clouds. According to the folk calendar, Perunika's celebration is on July 22, in
Christianity it is also known as the feast day of Mary Magdalene. Actually, the Christian saint Magdalene
represents a pre-Christian goddess known as Ognjena Marija (Fairy Mary).
The flower perunika, iris, sabljarka, bogiša (bogisha, this name originates from the region around
Dubrovnik town, southern Croatia), is dedicated to the goddess Perunika. In Medjimurje (northern Croatia),
one greeting used on the feast day of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) mentions God with lelulja (ljeljuja), i.e.
perunika, in his hand. This is the most probable origin of the alternative Perunika's name Ljelja.
According to a legend, this flower grows at the place where Perun's spark hit a fertile soil. In the
same way, a place hit by lightning was considered sacred and objects, like a stone or tree, from such a
place were consecrated. Since Perun is a heavenly god and Perunika is an earthly goddess, it is believed
that this represents a divine sexual act: Perun, the thunder, penetrates the earth, releases the heavenly
waters inseminating the earth with heavenly semen, i.e. rain.
Thus, it is not surprising that Gromovnik (God of Thunder) Perun, helped by his wife, ''loads'' the
thunderbolts and shoots them at thieves, liars, and unmoral people in general. This is a transformation of
fertile ''tools'' into deadly ''weapons'' (destructive thunders or dragon's fire that
creates droughts). In this context, it sounds logical that Perun's female companion punishes unmoral and
dishonest women by the ''white plague'' (sterility). Another incarnation of this goddess is a
woodpecker, a bird that announces an upcoming storm. Under the people's fear of Perun's and
Perunika's revenge, and also under the influence of the new religion, the human imagination has
transformed this divine couple into its reverse side: horrible monsters, e.g. a dragon and snake, some of
them becoming separate mythical creatures.