Rope in Slavic tradition – part 2

You may have seen a wedding ceremony tradition, where people are putting a rope across the road before the newlyweds who are coming back from the wedding. This is an ancient Russian custom for protection against curses. The same method (pulling a rope across the road) was practiced by the Eastern Slavs to protect cattle from witches.

But the witches used the rope to mend evil as well. For example, to curse the cattle they also pulled it across the road, along which a herd of cows should pass on St. George’s Day or on Kupala. Eastern and Western Slavs believed that in order to “steal” milk from cows, the witch collected night dew with a rope, and then milk was dripping from that rope. In the beliefs of the Ukrainians, the Luzhichians and the Southern Slavs, the witch, for the same purpose, “milked” a rope (or belt) thrown over the ceiling beam – and milk was believed to be dripping from it.

In Kostroma, a rope that was in contact with the deceased was of great magical significance. Such a rope was used as a belt by a witch who would set off on the Kupala night to “steal the harvest” from other people’s fields.

More interesting facts can be found in: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.