A part of the Voices of Folk Magic Series
This class will livestream via Zoom at 7pm Eastern on Sunday February 19th 2023 and will be available as a video for viewing afterwards
Breaking bread for the saints and the fairies, praying to St. Michael at funerals of the dead and wolves alike, and cursing and curing with both hands clasped over icons—in many parts of the rural Balkans, these practices are anything but incongruent, rather all modalities of spiritual engagement. This class serves as an introduction to the ways in which Eastern Orthodox saint veneration, calendrical observances, and syncretic attitudes and ways of life map onto the robust, living traditions of folk magic among Eastern Orthodox Balkan communities. Drawing on literary, anthropological, ethnographic, and personal accounts scarcely available in English, we will examine the cosmologies of rural Balkan life: syncretisms and folk religiosities that do not consider concurrent veneration of saints and fairies to be examples of “dual observance”, “double belief”, or anything other than genuine expressions of Eastern Orthodox ways of living. We will begin by sketching a rough road map of these worldviews—especially as they relate to ancestor veneration, vampires and restless dead, and the interconnectedness between the living and the dead in celebrations, feats, and marriage rites—and proceed to a miscellany of translated charms, rites, and practices centering around the cult of the house spirits, everyday divination and diagnosis, and spells for social domination, mobility, and control.
Katarina Pejović is a doctoral graduate student at the University of Toronto, researching the legends and grimoires of the sorcerer saint Cyprian of Antioch. In addition to her work on St. Cyprian, she writes on various topics including grimoire history, folk Christianity, Western occultism, and traditions of divination and witchcraft in Eastern Europe. Her lifelong passion for the unique folklore, sorcery, and spirits of the Balkans form the roots of her personal praxis; watered by ancestral veneration, enflamed by Quimbanda and dragon-fire, and nourished with an endless curiosity of mystery.