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  • Mother of Mugwort

Folklore Friday: The Hoia-Baciu Forest

The Hoia-Baciu Forest sits ominously near Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in a geographical area better known as Transylvania. The forest covers an area of roughly 3 square kilometers and is sometimes known as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania.

Legend has it, the name comes from a shepherd who disappeared in the forest with a flock of two hundred sheep. It's said that most of the people who live nearby avoid the forest due to the stories and folklore passed down through the ages, but it is possible to book tours of Hoia-Baciu.

It has a reputation for paranormal activity and demonic energy that has attracted ghost-hunters and witches alike. Reports range from ghost sightings to UFOs to floating orbs of light and apparitions. There are some claims of people entering the woods and leaving with rashes, nausea, migraines, burns, and scratches. People say they feel unsettled and anxious in the woods. And even if none of that were actually true, the look of the forest itself is enough to give you chills. The trees bend around each other like vines--warped and twisted. And near the center of the forest is the area most known for unexplainable events--the Poiana Rotunda.

The Poiana Rotunda is a circular clearing deep in the forest that is entirely bare of trees--which differs greatly from the rest of the dense forest. Many consider this area to be the home of the dark energy that emanates throughout the woods. Some even think it's the door to another, more evil dimension.

While I was living abroad in Romania for a year, I had the opportunity to tour Transylvania and leapt at the chance. I saw Bran Castle, bought a bat encased in glass, explored the Cimitirul Vesel (Merry Cemetery) and had the pleasure of visiting Hoia-Baciu with my group.

In the forest there was an eerie silence. Most of us didn't speak or said very little at first. We touched the gnarled trees and I felt as if there were a presence watching over the forest. We didn't make it to the Poiana Rotunda and we also didn't experience anything particularly frightening, but nonetheless, it has stuck with me. One thing I'll say for sure, is I wouldn't go back at night time.

One of the most popular legends of the forest is the story of a 5-year-old girl who went into the forest and disappeared. She was searched for endlessly, but they never found her. Until five years later, when she walked right out and back home. Some people claim she was even wearing the same clean clothes she had on when she went missing. They also said, oddly enough, she had no memory at all of the lost time.

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