Forest in the Slavic tradition – Part 2.

Numerous traditional medicine magical practices are associated with the forest. Also, the forest is the habitat of demons and the place where people interact with “dark forces”. In order to find out the cause of an illness from the Leshy, the healers in Olonets region went to the forest, found a rowan tree, split its trunk in half and left inside a letter for Leshy with questions.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

In the Northern Russia, on the day of Ivan Kupala, before sunrise, women went into the forest and made a “treasured” broomstick, which brought prosperity to the house. According to the beliefs of Slavs of Polish Pomerania, a person who dares to go into the forest on Easter night, approach a birch tree going backwards, and then break a branch – will get a magic wand.

The question of gathering herbs in the forest on Kupala night in the XVII century was included in the Christian confession: “Did you dance or do anything outrageous before the John the Baptist holiday? Did you go to the forest to collect herbs and roots?” (Almazov A. “Secret Confession in the Orthodox Eastern Church”, 1894)

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Forest in the Slavic tradition – Part 1.

The forest stood right outside the yard fence of our ancient Slavic ancestors. Forest provided food and clothing, tools and household items were made of wood. In many ways, the forest determined the way of life of the Slavic tribes. At the same time, it was considered as remote, impassable and vast place. In their beliefs, the Slavs opposed the forest to the home, associated it with “the other world” and saw it as the habitat of the Forest Master (Leshy) and other mythological creatures.

The forest was a place of miracles and esoteric rituals. According to the Slavic tales, deep in the forest, as far from human settlements as possible, a magical fern flower can be found: “If you want to do sorcery, you have to go deep into the forest on Kupala night, far away from the settlement, so no rooster cry can be heard… And if the fern flower blooms and you grab it … then anything you can think of can be done. But all evil”.

To be continued…

Forest

Comb in the Slavic tradition – Part 2

Slavs also used the comb in reproduction magic. Going to the first seeding, the Serbs and Macedonians would put it in a bag of seeds or stirred seeds prepared for sowing with it, so that the spike of wheat / rye would have “frequent grains” like the teeth of a comb. The Croats, before taking the cattle for sale, combed it and pronounced: “Koliko zubaca, toliko kupaca” (“How many teeth, so many buyers”). After combing the sheep, the Russians threw the broken comb and the wool back into the sheepfold so that animals would have more wool.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

All Slavs used the comb as a talisman against evil spirits, curses, diseases, wild animals, etc. The Serbs protected newborns from Veshtitsa (Вештица – Witch) and other demons with one or two combs, put on both sides of a child head. Therefore, Veshtitsa would prick herself if tried to approach the baby. The Eastern Slavs used to put a comb or a spindle in a cradle so that a baby could sleep peacefully.

A comb was also used for hexing others. The Serbs for example, would put two combs on both sides of the road on the wedding day, and when the young couple passed, they connected and hid those combs: after that, the couple would have arguments for all their life. The Russians of the Novgorod region believed that sorcerers performed all their malicious actions with the help of a comb. The Macedonians believed that women who had violated the ban on work in the evenings, were drowned in the water or brushed with large combs by Karakondzhulas (Караконцол). Interestingly, the comb is an attribute of many mythological creatures: goddesses (boginka), mermaids, female water spirits, etc., who usually combed their long hair in a story.

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Slavic comb

Comb in the Slavic tradition – Part 1

A comb was traditionally regarded by Slavs as sharp, pricking apotropaic object as well as female and erotic symbol. Due to its frequent teeth and contact with hair, it was also endowed with producing properties.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

According to Bulgarian customs, the girl hid her comb from strangers, since it could be used to hex the owner. Thus, after combing, she would immediately wrap the comb in a towel and put it in a secret place. In Belarus, people were not allowed to leave the comb in an open place, believing that this could cause trouble. In Poland, if a comb fell on the floor, people would guess which visitor to expect – frequent or rare (depending on the frequency of the comb teeth).

In girls’ divination and in love magic, the comb symbolized a girl or was an attribute of a groom. In the Vologda region, the girls hung a comb outside the window and chanted: “My betrothed, come and comb your hair!”. In Polesie region, on Kupala night, the girls made a comb of “ant oil” and combed guys with it to bewitch.

“The Catalogue Of Rudolph’s Magic” (13th century) says about divination ritual using a comb by Slavs in Silesia: «They prepare water and put it together with a comb, oats and a piece of meat with these words: “Come, Satan, take a bath, comb your hair, give oats to your horse, and meat to your hawk, and show me my husband”». In Eastern Serbia, around a new year, girls would put fragments of a comb, a piece of coal, soot, a mirror, etc. under the shards: whoever pulls out a comb fragment will get a groom “with teeth”. The comb was given to the bride at a Russian wedding; among the Serbs, the mother-in-law always gave the daughter-in-law a comb along with other gifts.

To be continued…

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Slavic comb

Slavic amulets – Part 4

Neolithic stone tools (“thunderstones”) were divided into two types: “thunder” arrows (mainly silicon arrowheads) and “thunder” axes and hammers (stone adzes and axes). Sometimes belemnites were also regarded as “thunder arrows”, but more typical name for them contained a “finger” in it (for example, Russians called them “Devil’s finger”, the name “God’s finger” was mostly used in Poland and Polesie).

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

The Slavs believed in the power of “thunder” stone tools as a talisman against evil spirits, jinxes and evil eyes. Ethnographers written down texts of many protective spells, which contained these objects as part of incantations. “Babushka-sorceresses”, who used thunderstones in healing magic, passed them down from generation to generation. Thunderstones were also talismans from thunderstorms and lightning: keeping them in the house protected from evil spirit entering home, and, therefore, shielded from a thunderbolt aimed at this spirit.

“Thunder arrows” were also carried as a personal amulet by both ordinary people and warriors in order to “defeat the enemy”. There was an interesting statement in the 18-century’s handwritten Healer Guidebook from the collection of the researcher Ivan Zabelin: “If someone carries a thunder arrow, he can defeat anyone with his strength, and no one can stand against him, even if they are stronger”. The amulet was worn on a string, in a pouch or sewn into clothes. Such ways of wearing amulets are known from the ethnographic materials of various Slavic nations.

This post was prepared based on the articles by E. A. Tyanina:
(1) “Tools of the Stone Age in the cultural layer of medieval Novgorod: pagan cult objects or random things?” // Novgorod and Novgorod land. History and archeology, 2008;
(2) “The discussion of the Perun’s cult in the Novgorod land (based on records of the archaeological research of Novgorod)” // COLLOQUIA RUSSICA; Series I, vol. 8; “Religions and beliefs of Rus’ (9th–16th centuries)”; Krakow 2018

Additional sources:
(3) “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
(4) M.V. Sedova, “An amulet from ancient Novgorod,” Soviet Archeology, No. 4, 1957
(5) A.N. Afanasiev, “Poetic views of the Slavs on nature,” vol. I., 1865

Slavic amulets