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

The hunter in the Slavic tradition

Along with other “knowing” people (a shepherd, musician, blacksmith, etc.), the hunter was often believed to have magical abilities and witchcraft knowledge.

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 … 😉

Hunting craft was passed within a family from generation to generation and was kept secret. Just like with a witchcraft, an elder hunter-sorcerer could teach an apprentice, who was subjected to various trials.

According to Russian beliefs, in order to hunt successfully, it was necessary to enter into a contract with Leshy (Borowy): without his permission, the hunter not only remained without prey, but could also get lost and die. The agreement had certain conditions, like not to take more prey than was allowed by Leshy, go hunting on certain days, etc. Otherwise, Leshy punished the hunter by whipping him with the tops of the trees or cursed him with a disease.

For the hunt to be successful, it was necessary to follow a number of prohibitions and prescriptions: for example, not to name some animals by their real name, but to use substitute names (thus, Russians avoided mentioning the raven, but called it “chicken” 🙂 ). There was a significant number of hunting spells to ensure abundant prey, to protect oneself and weapons from a curse, to drive away birds that interfere with hunting, particularly ravens. There were luck spells for hunting on hares, ducks, squirrels, bears, etc. The hunter pronounced a spell every time he went out on a hunt or enchanted various objects: a knife, a tree twig, bread, honey, a snowball, etc.

In addition to spells, numerous amulets were used to protect a hunter from wild beasts, and a hunting gear from an evil eye or curse. For example, it was believed that carrying a lynx claw could shield its owner from a predator and various dangers. Serbian hunters, in order to protect the caught prey from an evil eye, upon their return from the hunt, concealed the amount of prey and removed animal skin away from the prying eyes.

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

Hunter in Slavic tradition