In the spiritual tradition of our Slavic ancestors, the forces of nature, which over time gained many physical “clothes”, have generally always possessed both good and bad.
Such is Nature – it gives us life but She also gives takes it and the followers of the old ways accept life as it is, without dualism black / white, good / bad, light / dark, god / devil.
However, when the new religion, from a different environment destroyed the original beliefs, most often certain mythological creatures of our ancestors received a negative connotation due to their characteristics or physical appearance. It was usually the image of underground creatures with horns such as dragons or snakes that were later associated with the devil.
Thus, Čatež also got the role of a villain even in the proverb itself, as well as the underground god Veles, the god of wisdom, the guardian of the dead in the afterlife, the protector of animals and art, who reigns in winter. The rest of his cult can be seen in e.g. in St. Nicholas’ Day, Christmas carols and other rituals where masks are present, these illustrate the souls of ancestors.
According to our forefathers, Čatež is half man, half goat in appearance, sometimes they are similar to the forest demon Leshy, sometimes they are old… because it is known that Čatež creatures were also merry and like to get drunk. So we can draw a parallel with the Greek Pan. Sometimes they are good and bring food to forest workers and look for water, and sometimes they like to annoy travelers. they are also the guardinas of the forest springs.
They once wrote about them like this:
“Čatež, who is half human, half goat, is also known to Slovenes in the Soča Valley, Ajdovščina, Buzet and by Lake Čepičko. He has horns, long ears and a beard. He can change his physique as he pleases: in the grass he is often no bigger than a herb, and in the forest he may even surpass a tree in size. He hides behind trunks in front of people; whoever had the opportunity to speak to them could realize that his mind was simple, but that he was reluctant. Čatež creatures often frighten travelers and loggers, imitate familiar voices, and lead people down crooked paths for so long that night falls. Čatež then lures them into his cavity and pinches them for so long that they perish.
These creatures often appear at the top of cliffs or on swampy soils, where they investigate springs; in the places where Čatež was busy, people have repeatedly discovered springs with good drinking water. Čatež even happens to endow shepherds with whips. But if anyone irritates him, he takes revenge by throwing stones down the hills, which undermines the peasants’ temples.
Čatež is half human, half goat – the devil himself. The goat is down from the navel. That is why we free people say, “Go to the goat!” This is to the Devil. (slovenian: Pojdi h hudiču!) He is not as small as the Dwarf, he is more of a medium build and old-fashioned. People sometimes see him sitting on high cliffs and basking in the sun. If lumberjacks do a good work and are thirsty, Čatež would bring cold, clean water, and he gathers strawberries and raspberries for the mountain shepherds.
But you must not make fun of him. If you show him the horns, he starts rolling strong cliffs to break the temple, standing under the mountain. ”5
5 Kelemina J., Fairy tales and tales of the Slovenian people, 1997, p.145 (second edition from originally1930)