October is a month filled with magic that culminates on Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, when witches, goblins, and other creatures of the night prance about. Although many people see magic as a fun party trick, others take it more seriously. Magic and witchcraft have been around probably as long as mankind has existed and has been perceived differently over the ages and by various cultures.
Our latest book is about Baba Yaga, because she is considered the most powerful Slavic witch. You may think of the word “witch” as applying only to females, but this is incorrect. Men are called witches, too, and practice magic. In Slavic languages, common words for a male witch are ved’miak or vedun, and ved’ma for a female, the root of the words comes from vedat’, which means “to know” and came to be associated with sorcery. Among the peasants, people like these who had supernatural powers were called “people with knowledge.”
But their knowledge was meant to cause harm and misfortune. As a child I heard my grandmother and other people in the village frequently talk about someone using dark magic. People in Slavic villages still perform secret pagan rituals that focus on the four elements: fire, air, earth, and water. In Bulgarian and Slavic folklore there are a lot of rituals for making and breaking spells. There are spells for love, money, health, you name it. We included some in our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs.
Even when these witches or sorcerers died, they still could inflict harm on people. In such a case, they were called “heretics.”
Today, the word implies a connection with the Devil, although this was not the case for trials for witchery among the Slavs for the most part. This kind of sorcery was not associated with religion. Those who practiced it, instead caused harm to an enemy’s person or property, being accused of causing diseases and famine, and using the forces of nature.
Although these sorcerers looked like their neighbors, they could be found out because they possessed a tail. At least those who were born a sorcerer had a tail. Others who trained to become one could be given a tail that eventually grew on him. Other features that were harder to conceal were his busy eyebrows, his penetrating glance, and his desire to be secretive. He was also a bachelor with a little black book, only this one didn’t contain names of his female conquests… It held magical knowledge about herbs and spells.
We hope your Halloween will be filled with a lot of magic, laughter, and candies. Wear your favorite costumes and please be careful with the spells. We don’t want to see a lot of ugly frogs hopping around after Halloween.
If hear a noise in the sky, look up. Who knows? Perhaps it’s Baba Yaga flying on her mortar, visiting a friend to have some fun.
And don’t forget to take a look at our campaign about Baba Yaga. It’s ending on November 1, so don’t miss this opportunity: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga?ref=d97tft
If you’ve never logged into Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. But then, you’ll have access to all the great projects going on every day, not just for the Witchstarter program.