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Thursday, 16 June 2016

In Need of Returning Home


The sudden need, can't escape it,
Energy, inspiration, whatever.
It has started leaving my body,
My thoughts and my deals.

I search for it where
It never was kept.
At least, not for me.
In need of touching my roots.

Connect with my folks,
My air, my water and fire -
It's not the same here.
The energy's dying.

I am heading to land
Where my existence was born.
Where winter is harsh and summer is too...
That's what I was made of and for...


Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature








Friday, 20 May 2016

Let Me Be Witch

By the time I knew it, Muse visited me again,offering a somehow witchy piece of poetry. I am afraid glad that this will keep on happening because I felt a sudden need of self-expression. Writing about family stuff and such is great, but one needs to let mind work in another direction too, finding answers and relief in the world of imagination. A little sweet poem "Let Me Be Witch" :) Oh, Let me, please! :))

Let Me Be Witch, no boundaries.
Let Me Be Me, have no fear.
I put in a closet my sundries,
Let my delight be sheer.

Let go off mundane, Be You -
Vengeance is not our fate.
Tell them to smell the sundew -
Then free yourself to create.

Let Me Be Witch, I am ready.
Put on a hat and let's go.
Woods always seem to be shady -
Let your red heart be aglow.


Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature







Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Inhaling what's not true

My witchy inner-self decided to take a really really long break. Nonetheless, she was never gone and will never be. I do realize one thing very clearly: perhaps I will never be able to become that true pagan but this is in my nature now, and I do see sprouts of it here and there.

Today, to my own surprise, my muse (to her own surprise, I believe, too) wrote this short poem... Though the poem has a more or less melancholic tune, I feel light within.

Inhaling what's not true,
The essence of the thoughts is gone.
I thought you were the one I knew,
But happened, you were never known.

I never knew myself. We come,
We go - the ways are separate.
The only thing is left now - hum,
Though even this will soon evapourate.

Inhaling what's not true,
Deceiving memories of you.
I thought you were the one I knew,
But happened, you were never known.


Sending healing energies and positive waves to all who still are here for me :)

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature

Friday, 4 March 2016

Margarita - a witch of Russian descent

      I assume that I have special relations with this book . Its incredible author M. A. Bulgakov created a  genius novel, which has been interest of many researchers for over sixty years. "The Master and Margarita" novel was introduced to me by my mom long before I studied it at school. The novel seemed to me strange, I didn't understand it completely and couldn't give value to its language and plot.
     Later, when I read the novel with the full awareness about its contents, I started enjoying it much more, liking certain chapters and details. Then I realised that I fell in love with it forever. No wonder "The Master and Margarita" became one of the subjects of my final diploma project in the university. This is when I started exploring the novel from a scientific point of view, discovering more and more beauty in it and getting to know new things about the world of the novel created by Bulgakov.
an illustration to the novel The Master and Margarita
      The topic I am raising today is quiet broad nevertheless interesting and directly related to the idea of my blog. I am going to make few posts telling the story of Margarita - a witch of Russian descent.
     Margarita is the most famous witch of Russian, and perhaps, World literature. There are numerous books written about her character and I in turn would like to concentrate on her witchy side.
       As soon as it is a novel I am talking about, there is a great love story in it and Margarita is a part of it. She is pictured as an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with a husband she doesn't love. The routine life makes her to search for a wonder of love. And she finds it... or it finds her?
       Margarita means "pearl" (derived from a Greek word "margarites"). Pearl is a talisman of arts, inspiration and spiritual perfection and besides is used in witchcraft.  Margarita is a symbol of  Master's renewed belief in creation, this is she, who saves few pages of Master's novel he intents to burn, and also a symbol of sacrifices done in the name of love.
       I used to tell in the first posts, that a witch plays a dual role in humans' life: good and bad. Witchcraft helps people get what they want. Margarita decides to become a witch and makes a deal with Devil  in order to find her lover Master who seemed to be lost somewhere.
     Though it seems that Margarita is chosen by Woland (Devil in Bulgakov's novel) randomly, it is not so. She was always meant to be someone else. Margarita has a squinting eye which is considered to be a mark of a dark power, she has black hair and she wears preferably black attire - a color of witchcraft; she sees prophetic dreams and is very sensitive towards the meaning of the signs around her. Her soul feels that something is going to happen.
     Bulgakov describes how Margarita turns to a witch. But why turns? Because her very appearance changes when she applies a cream given by one of the servants of Woland, Azazello, on her face and body. She becomes a twenty years old instead of thirty, her eyes turn greener and she feels like... laughing! She gains strength and happiness she never knew before. Here we see one of the attributes of a witch: a magical ointment. Moreover, Margarita's initiation into a witch happens during a full moon when most of the important magical  rituals are done.
Margarita in modern art

    Our Russian witch is now ready to act, she is awaiting for signal to move out of her boring house... After a call Azazello gives her, she hears a strange knocking behind the door of her room. When she opens it, a floor broom comes out jumping and eager to fly away through the window. So here comes a necessary tool of a witch  a broomstick, though a bit modified. Margarita then heads  to a gathering of the witches called Sabbath (rus. Shabash) naked what once again refers to a usual practice of witchcraft.
     I have tried to explore which features and attributes of a "typical" witch Margarita is bestowed by Bulgakov. Among them are magical tools like broomstick and ointment, a ritual of initiation during a full moon, features of Margarita which make her look like a witch before and after initiation. I am going to continue with the novel The Master and Margarita in my next post. There is plenty to tell about :)

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Ukrainian Witch in Gogol's Short Horror Story - Lift My Eyelids!

It is difficult to follow a plot with such wide breaks between narratives. I know and apologise to myself for this, like I did a hundred times. And a hundred times I promised to blog here regularly. When I told my friends during our meeting in my native city last summer that I have a blog about witchcraft and witches in literature and mythology, all of them were amazed that I started this topic. I am not the only who blogs about the same, but they found it, being themselves philologists by education if not by present profession, very interesting and one of them even suggested me to try to publish my "research"... Yea this is what I need now, but that is just a thought, a good one I agree.
I lost few followers over time, as I understand completely well that it is no fun to follow a blog which is not being updated. I'd not like the project I was so excited about in the beginning, to wither, decay and vanish completely from the Internet surface. So today I am here again, dragging feet and a *utt and a head of course to continue what once has been started.  
Pannochka by Blavatskaya
Homa, having no other choice, forced to come to centurion's house. The same night his sleep is disturbed by running of people and some noise, the whole house appeared to be on the move with the news that pannochka has died. Homa's first thoughts are to escape, to get rid of the duty he has been forced into. But the fate or better doom doesn't leave, him and he is called to the centurion (not sure whether this Russian word's translation is correct) himself. It seems that Homa now is at the mercy of Pannochka's father as well as demonic powers which drag him farther and farther. The same day Homa enters the room in which the corp is being laid... her father is inconsolable as he also doesn't know who was the reason of the daughter's death. Homa is full of fear but decides to start reading prayers. Centurion exits the room and then Homa looks at the body for the first time - a beauty he has never ever seen before is in front of him. She looks alive, with sharp features on her snow white skin... But through these Homa still recognises the witch. Later in the evening the body is being laid in the middle of a church on the outskirts of the farm. The church has been abandoned and no service has been held there for a long time.
The very same evening Homa hears talks and stories among local people about Pannochka's acquaintance with  "unclean, a wicked one" as Satan is called by Slavic people nowadays too. Right after dinner Homa is being escorted to the church for the first night of the prayers. The fear begins to settle in Homa's heart but first in his mind. He tries to persuade himself that the prayers he is about to read can banish any evil forces. He sticks the church candles all over the place... The witch's corp in the coffin as if beckons him and he looks at it again... She is still as beautiful in her mortality as before. Homa stands near choir and sings the prayers, however with every page he turns the fear doesn't subsides but increases, and thoughts of Pannochka's dead body so close to him haunt his mind. Meanwhile he tries to reassure himself that there is nothing to be afraid of as the young witch is dead and cannot arise from the coffin. Pannochka lifts up her head, and Homa catches a sight of her already sitting in the coffin... A moment later she is already standing on the floor and the next moment moving towards Homa, who hurriedly draws a circle around. She cannot cross it to her displeasure. 
Her appearance changes - skin becomes blue as of the dead body and her eyes look blindly around. Pannochka gets angry as she is not able to harm Homa, she lies back to the coffin which lifts up and starts flying almost above Homa's head but not crossing the circle. As this try fails too, Pannochka arises again, and this is when the rooster sings announcing morning. Of course Pannochka, being a demonic creature,cannot stand the morning light and settles in the coffin again, closing the lid.
The folkloric filling of this story is enhanced by the sacred number 3. Homa spends 3 nights in the church, each of which is more scary than the previous one. Homa notices however that Pannochka  tries to fetch him not where he stands as she is actually  not able to SEE him because of the magical circle.
gothicsstyle.ru
Hence on the third day Pannochka driven by revenge  has to summon a powerfull creature which comes from the depths of Earth,Viy, in order to see Homa and kill him. Homa, glancing askew saw that some squat, burly, clumsy person is being led. He was all in the black earth. His hands and feet knobbed like sinewy, strong roots, buried underground. He walked heavily, constantly stumbling. Long eyelids were lowered to the ground.  Homa noticed with horrorthat the person had an iron face. They brought him under the arms and put straight to the place where Homa stood". Viy demands to lift his eyelids...Though Homa's inner vocie tells not to look at the terrible creature, he fails to do so, and with the Viy's words "Here he is!" all the unclean sprang on Homa, and "breathless he thundered to the ground and his spirit departed at once because of FEAR".
I suppose that this story by Gogol is the scariest in its genre. In the very end author once again confirms the thought that if Homa was not scared Pannochka wouldn't have had any influence on him. It is also interesting that the holy place in Gogol's work itself becomes a habitation of the evil - the church which is no longer a hope for a person and doesn't save him, it wants to punish and take revenge.
I would like to give a list of the movies which are based on this story:
1. "Viy" 1967 - a classic old version which remains the best till date.
2. "Witch" 2006 - an attempt to scare.
3. "Viy" 2014 - a collaborative project with all modern special effects and as the critic said reminds of the Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton. I haven't seen it.
Sincerely Yours,
Witchcraft and Literature


P.S. I will credit the authors of the pictures later, as I am not able to retrieve the sites' names right now.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Queens' Broomsticks on The Bayou

Today is a special day as we participate in a wonderful blog party Broomsticks on the Bayou. Special thanks goes to Anna of Frosted Petunias and Marfi of Incipient Wings - two creative ladies, mixed media artists and simply one of those bloggers who bring magic to your life.
Let us start our journey then. It is definitely a journey for me as I get to know so many new things while preparing this party entry. It was somewhat difficult to find what I exactly wanted to write about also because of the topic itself which revolves around New Orleans and its Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. I, being a foreign blogger, am not familiar with oh so many cultural phenomena of America, that simply retelling a story of Marie Laveau taken from Wiki was not an option. So I chose to mix and connect, my Slavic roots with American tradition.
At first I looked at the name of the Voodoo Queen Marie and couldn't help but recollect my forever favorite heroine Margarita, who by the way became a Queen of the Ball of the Full Moon once, if you remember. So both are Queens and well, witches. The meanings of both names are different though, as Margarita means "pearl" and Marie (Maria) supposedly means "beloved", "love". 
 In addition their names have a common syllable mar- which is also can be related to pro-Indo-European root *mer, meaning "to die". I know that these analogies are just a theory, imagination of you want, nevertheless I believe that as soon as linguistics and other human sciences propose existence of a pro-Indo-European language which was common on our Earth before the continents separated, any such coincidence is possible, even though some may argue that roots can just sound similar but be of a different origin. I don't insist on linking Marie and Margarita through the names, but somehow one being a book character, another, a real person, are connected by a thread of witchcraft. And you know what, they once met at the Bayou, not far from Moscow, in the beginning of 20th century. What do you think they spoke of with each other that night?
"Margarita, hot after the flight on the broomstick, slipped into the soothing waters of a small river. The Moon was shining bright and she could see its glitter on the water. "I can do anything tonight!", - thought she. She felt so much strength in her body that needed more movement, more action, when she suddenly heard a rhythmic sound of drums, somewhere half kilometer away from the pond. "I want to dance!" - vigorous thought crossed Margarita's mind, and leaving her broomstick on the bayou, she followed the sound which was becoming louder with her approach. "What a wonderful night!", - she couldn't stop that fountain of joy and happiness beating its waters from inside her. 
Dancing Margarita came near the lush of bushes and trees through which she could witness what was happening in the inner open space: a gorgeous woman was sitting in the center of a circle and beating one of the drums with her right hand. "The Queen", - guessed Margarita, and she wished to immediately enter the circle of dancing people and creatures. Not even a second passed how she was already among joyous crowd, which was shouting "Queen!" and bowing... to her, Margarita! "There must be a mistake! That one is worth being called Queen, not me!"
- That's right, my dear, you are the Queen of the Ball of the Full Moon today. And I am your preceptress tonight. Come over here and help yourself with that steaming drink!
Margarita smiled at the lady and accepted the chalice from a goat-like creature. 
- To The Queen! - shouted from all the sides.
-To the Queen of the Ball of the Full Moon and the Voodoo Queen! - screamed the goat-like creature.
When Margarita's chalice was empty, she was offered to sit beside the Voodoo Queen. Now looking at this woman so close she could recollect dreams she experienced three months ago of far land, and a woman in bright cloths and a turban, who always seemed to call Margarita somewhere, and it used to feel so good, so soothing, like mother's presence...
- I know you, Voodoo Queen. I knew you before I even could realize it.
The Voodoo Queen kept on looking at the dancing and the big bonfire in the middle, a smile kindled on her face:
- My dear Queen Margo, I never left you. It is just you didn't understand me then, and perhaps were afraid of me, but when the time came, you accepted me and now you are me as much as I am You. I hope you enjoy my little gathering on the bayou tonight, but don't be late for the Ball, my dear."
Hope you too enjoying the Broomsticks on the Bayou, my dears, and trying out all the yummies Marfi and Anna prepared for us!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Anna Dressed In Blood - Modern Witches and Witchcraft in K. Blake's Fiction

“It isn’t going to work. I can’t cast the circle. I’ve never had the knack for witchcraft. Mom must’ve told you. I messed up her Beltane cookies every year until I was seven.”  ("Anna Dressed in Blood", Ch. 13, Kendare Blake)
When I stumbled upon Kendare Blake's dark horror story, I expected some kind of violent fiction, full of characters' dark thoughts and intentions.. but it appeared to be a very pleasant read for a teenager age group, and okay, for adults, like me, though I don't feel like I am a grown up woman yet.
Most interesting for me in this story was a leitmotif of witchcraft (obviously!). The author creates a world where the souls are vengeful and like to kill and a hero who kills...  those vengeful souls. The hero's mother is  a witch who helps her son named Cas in his job of murdering the awoken dead. 
Cas calls his Mum a "mobile witch" because they move from one place to another quite frequently. She makes their living by "doing tarot card readings and aura cleansing over the phone, and selling occult supplies online". There might be some irony in those words about people believing in such things, but for Cas it is pretty much a reality of his life. 
I must say that the way Blake portrayed her witches is somehow close to what I got to know about modern witches's lives through some of my blogger friends. For us, people far from the practices of witchcraft (for the time being), what they do is what they believe in, this is their life, and it is not something to be afraid of or go away in disgust. Other story characters accept the fact of having witches as their neighbours totally normal and they are even not as much amazed to see the witches performing rituals accompanied by the ignition of flames out of nowhere or a tremor of the ground and so on.
Nevertheless the story's depiction of the witches is not free from representation in popular TV series. The witches control the weather, ignite flames, get inside your mind, and can destroy. I believe that the entertainment industry of course needs spectacular scenes, breath taking adventures, extraordinary characters. This could be the reason why the witches are presented in a such an "out of this world" way.
What I like about Blake's writing is that she has that witty irony through out the narrative. You can go by the extracted lines I gave in the very beginning of this post - messing up Beltane cookies? Oh my, that could be a catastrophe! But the author makes it feel like an ordinary thing (like burning an oatmeal cake), because it is such for her characters, and there is no exaggeration of the life of a modern witch.
"Anna Dressed in Blood" contains not only witches but also warlocks, one of them is a Cas's schoolmate, another - this schoolmate's granddad, who actually passed on the witchcraft skills to his grandson. So these two and Cas's mother make a magical team who fights with a powerful soul of an obeahman. There was also a good educational moment for me personally as I never knew who that was and had to read about it in the net. For me this novel was a novelty, a fresh insight into the modern witchcraft and a nice free from judgement depiction of what witches do or what they don't. 

P.S. I have the 3d and the last post about Gogol's horror story in my mind, though I decided to switch to another witch in this post. Pannochka is yet to come! Stay tuned, my dears.

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Ukrainian Witch in Nikolay Gogol's Short Horror Story "Viy" - Pannochka

I am sorry but you will have to go and check out my latest post about the Ukrainian witch in order to have a link to this one :) Just kidding of course. I am going to tell you what happened after the crone jumped on Homa's back and bewitched him to take her...out in the fields and forest at night! Gogol' knows how to ignite fear... 
In a state of bewitchment Homa sees the nature around him differently. He is able to perceive every single flower, feel the smell of the soil, and the Moon appears to be the Sun to him as it is so bright. Homa's senses are at  the limit, "He felt a tedious, unpleasant and at the same time sweet feeling, rising to his heart". This state of his I can compare with a great Margarita's flight scene, in which heroin's perception of the actuality becomes sharper, transforms and seems like another dimension. There are even more reminiscences with Bulgakov's writing. Like that of when Homa notices a mermaid swimming in the pond, and mermaids are one of the first creatures Margarita sees when arriving at Sabbath.
Our hero though is afraid of what is happening to him (opposite to Margarita), he starts saying some prayers or some kind of exorcism spells, when feels that the witch is no more gets tight hold of him. Homa manages to snatch a log lying on the ground and starts beating the witch for all one is worth. The witch screams, curses, but fianlly falls on the ground with words "Oh, I cannot take it anymore"", when it is already the hour of dawn. However when Homa looks at the defeated witch he sees before him... a beauty, with tousled luxuriously scythe, with long, like arrows eyelashes. Insensitively she threw the white naked hands on both sides and moaned, lifted up her eyes full of tears".
The hero, tormented by the feeling of guilt and strange anxiety, flees the place, with a desire to reach Kiev (a capital of Ukraine) and never be seen again in this spot. But another Russian writer told us, where there is a crime, there is a punishment ...
Homa reaches a nearby settlement and spends some time in drinking and thinking in a pub... when accidentally hears that the daughter of one of the richest centurions who resides on a farm just few kilometers away from Kiev, "came back home from a  walk all beaten up, had barely strength to limp his father's house, is now near death; and in the hour before death she has expressed a desire that the dirge and pray for her to be read for the next three days after the death by one of the Kiev seminarians: Homa Brut".
Pannochka (1) by nordlige-tale Deviantart

To Be Continued...
1. Pa'nnochka (Rus. панночка) diminutive from panna - unmarried young woman, unmarried daughter of a pan (meaning "gentleman"). Pan, panna and other words with the same root, are the words of Slavic languages like Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Belorussian. However only Polish language seems  to have  preserved these words for usage in polite or formal communication.

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.



Friday, 10 May 2013

A Ukrainian Witch in Nikolay Gogol's Short Horror Story "Viy" - Who Is Viy?

Viy (Вий)... I bet no one of you have ever hear this name. But for Russian literature this short story was
of a great significance. It was written by Nikolai Gogol' - a Ukrainian born Russian writer of the 19th 
century, who along with Pushkin and Griboedov created the way for Russian literature development in 20th
century. My favorite 20th century Russian writer Bulgakov, author of the novel "Master and Margarita", was Gogol's admirer and you can definitely find influence of this in his fantastic compositions.
Viy Illustration by Eduard Novikov
But why do I choose to speak about Viy and who is this at last? This would be not easy to explain. Though giving a definition of Viy Gogol himself says that "He is a colossal creation of folk mind.
By such name among Ukrainians is called a chief of gnomes, 
whose
eyelids go till the ground.The whole this story is a legend. I didn't 
want to change it in any way, so I am telling it in the same simplicity as I have heard it." The author told us where Viy was originated 
from...but in real there was never such a creature in Ukrainian 
folklore. Hence Viy is a pure fictitious character, which was born in Gogol's mind, and who knows, how it ever got in there.
However, I am not going to dedicate my post to this "sleepy" monster, as I have something more interesting to discuss. And this is a witch of course. Before I had acquainted you with Russian witches mainly, whose witchy nature either helped in solving love and life issues, or made their love story unhappy. Both however had to flee of the society in order to gain peace of mind and soul.
The witch I am going to tell about has particular differences from those created by Bulgakov and Kuprin. Let us explore this.
Gogol produced such a story which to this day excites reader's mind and lets be honest, scares. On just about 20 pages the complete narrative unfolds with all the details of horror genre which I believe are used by nowaday writers and filmmakers. The author uses folklore plots as well as his own creative mind to describe the scenes and characters. The conventional motif of many Gogol's short stories is a scary legend or a hearsay told by one of the story's characters, which then becomes true as the narration proceeds. This is how  the real world and the world of supernatural is linked  in Gogol's early compositions, and "Viy" is not an exception. However one can not deny the author's subtle irony in his writings somehow prevents you from being swallowed by fear... unlike the protagonist of the story Homa Brut... Now it is time to switch to witch!
Homa Brut is a philosopher - a senior student of a seminary, who being on vacations, makes his way back home with two of his fellows. They cross various places, settlements, stay in the fields over night, but at some point of time they feel to rest and refresh. They make a long journey, but all the efforts of finding a sanctuary for the night come to nothing. Homa with his friends don't give up and when the night already has covered the fields with its cloak they see a flickering light afar - a sign of a farm (a "hutor" in Ukrainian). The travellers are very pleased to finally reach near humans...
As they approach one of the houses of the farm, and knock the door, an old lady opens them and first is not happy to see young lads and refuses to let them stay. But the seminary students good at talking, they coax the old woman, and she being wary makes them sleep in tree different places of the farm. Homa Brut is settled in an empty sheep barn. Late at night he is awaken by a noise of a door opening  in the barn - the old woman enters premises. Homa asks why is she there... but the lady proceeds walking towards him with open arms... He assumes that the crone comes to get some pleasure from him what scares him a lot and he is trying to stop the woman but she stares at him and he is not able to move or speak... : "He could only hear how his heart was pounding, and he saw an old woman came up to him, clasped his hands, bent his head, with the swiftness of a cat jumped on his back, hit him with a broom and by his side, and he bouncing around like a horse, carried her on his shoulders...". That is a moment when Homa thinks : "Aha, it is a witch."

To Be Continued...

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.




Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Exploring Pagan Yourself

After a wonderful celebration of Pagan Culture's anniversary, I again fell into void...It is not like I've nothing to write about, because I still keep on posting in Hindustanka's Sunny Indian Days. Today I would probably be more open with you than any other time I used to write. Open in a sense that I've never voiced the following thoughts. They kept on whirling in my head, but now I have a place and friends to share it with.
We had a great weekend with my husband, met our friends, and on the Saturday night, when we returned home, we sat on the chairs at the backyard and started talking. The sky was cloudy, the Moon was not visible, and I kept on looking at what was happening up high and suddenly I asked my husband whether it is okay in India to worship... nature. I mean, not Jesus, not Krishna... but nature itself, which is the most fascinating thing we have on Earth. He said in India all the beliefs are accepted... Then I asked in a different way: are you yourself okay with such idea? (meaning some of my Pagan interests of course). He said he was fine with this too... I felt like I really wanted to free my dreams...make them reality, believe in what I want to believe and learn. 
Every year I celebrate all Christian holidays, I do what needs to be done on these days, I go to Church... but without dedication. I do enjoy preparing Easter eggs and Christmas cakes, but those are just attributes.  Perhaps I'd not like to be pure Pagan at the same time, but definitely would like to mix two traditions... because you see, there was Pagan Russia before 998 year when Vladimir baptised it. My ancestors worshipped nature, they had Gods and Goddesses, who helped them in living life. I was always into learning of ancient mythology, be it Greek or Egyptian, or Scandinavian. My Mum was the one who supported these interests and she taught me such things like chiromancy, introduced to the Zodiac circle, movement of the Planets. I used to see her and my father sowing seeds and getting good harvest every Autumn. Nature was my guide and friend since my childhood... I don't want to lose it.
I realize now that this blog is giving opportunities for finding my inner self. I don't want to seem though as some kind of a double personality, I don't hide this blog and my interests from anyone, including my family. Hence if anyone reads it some day, it is about me too. I am glad to have found people who share same views  with me and who find it interesting what I write here and in my other blog, which, you must have noticed, have a great part about plants and nature :) Do read it here if you wish so.
It is the time of Beltane festival, and in order to celebrate it I offer you a picture of Slavic Goddess of the Spring Lada. May your days be fresh, bright and full of warmness of the Sun.

Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature



Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Baba-Yaga - Leg-Bone

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Not finding (yet) anything  suitable to the theme "Witches in fiction... To The Bone" in actual fiction I've read, I again come back to folklore. Russian folklore of course, and my favorite witch Baba-Yaga. Sometimes her name gets that funny sounding in Russian "Kostyanaya-Noga", what means Leg-Bone. Why is that so? Let's find out of course. 
Baba-Yaga has many archetypal references and linked to the pagan tradition of ancient Rus'. I personally incline to the version that under her name is hidden (and most probably forgotten nowadays) image of ancient Slavic Goddess Makosh', you can read a nice article about her here.  In the Russian fairy tales Baba-Yaga always lives in the hut in the deepest part of the forest, and the hut where she dwells is not an ordinary one. It has so called chicken-feet on which it stands..and turns and maybe dances. Now be ready for a scary historical fact:  in ancient times the dead were buried in Domowina - - houses, located above the ground at very high stumps with roots peeking out of the ground, like chicken feet. Domowina staged so that the hole in which it was drawn was turned in the opposite direction of the settlement (village). As you can see in the picture below, Baba-Yaga actually lives in such "house" hence she has connections to the world of the dead, though herself is not dead at all. She is in between, and this is the explanation (according to one of the versions) WHY she is called Leg-Bone.
You can also see that the skulls with shining eye holes usually depicted in the fairy tales as a necessary attribute of hut's exterior. Yes, Baba-Yaga likes bones. I stumbled upon interesting thought  that "Baba-Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth" **.
Here is a cute illustration of my dear witch I found in the internet. 
Another one, more realistic, and scary. But don't be afraid, we are just celebrating To The Bone!
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and More.



*Image credit (in order from top to bottom):

Monday, 1 April 2013

Drink to Being

Today is the first day of the 4th blogoversary of Magaly Guererro's inspirational "Pagan Culture". This event has got a very intriguing name "Witches in Fiction... To The Bone". The celebration will continue till 13th of April, and I'm sure it's going to bring many interesting posts to live. I'm very grateful for such  idea to mark the event because it will give me a kick to post regularly in Witchcraft and More. Also Magaly will be holding various giveaways in her blog, so there is a chance of winning some nice art pieces and goodies. 
Now, let's celebrate! The very first time I saw the theme of the blogoversary, I immediately recollected a greatly suitable episode from my favorite novel "Master and Margarita". I had made few posts about this novel as it has such rich material for exploration and reflection.
The episode I want to talk about belongs to the series of events at the Ball at Satan's. The last moments of the ball were perhaps the most difficult and most terrifying for Margarita. She appeared on the podium in the middle of the room. Then Woland turned up in the very same look he was in the apartment just some time before, wearing dirty night gown, and home slippers, using his sword as a cane to ease his limping. He stopped beside his podium, and Azazello offered something on the tray... which appeared to be... 
                                          *

** "a severed head of a man with broken front teeth. 
Woland called out quietly to the head:
 -  Michael Alexandrovich -, and then the eyelids of the killed lifted up, and Margarita, shuddering, saw absolutely lively, full of thought and suffering eyes on the dead face. 
- All come true, is not it? - Woland continued, looking into the eyes of the head - the head is cut by a woman, the meeting did not take place, and I live in your apartment. This is - the fact. And the fact is the most stubborn thing in the world. But now we are interested in the future, and this is not a fait accompli. You have always been a hot preacher of the theory that by cutting off the head life in the person stops, it turns to ashes and goes into oblivion. I am pleased to inform you, in front of my guests, although they serve as proof of a different theory, that your theory is solid and witty. However, because all the theories are all the same. Among them are such, according to which each will be given according to his faith. It might be fulfilled as it is! You go into oblivion, and I will be happy to drink for being out of the ***chalice, to which you turn. - Woland picked up his sword. Immediately head skin darkened and shriveled, then fell off in pieces, the eyes were gone, and soon Margarita saw on the dish yellow with emerald eyes and pearly teeth, and on the golden leg, skull. Skull cap sat on a hinge."

Our heroine of course was shocked and terrified, but what happened next, made it even worse. Another guest entered the ball room through the fireplace. It was baron Meigel, a person, known for spreading the rumors about Woland's visit, and therefore considered to be a spy, he had to be executed by the government  anyways (here author refers to Stalin's regime). In order to "help" him to avoid such destiny, Azazello insensibly stabbed him into the heart, and blood covered Meigel's starched shirt and waistcoat. 


"Koroviev meanwhile put the skull chalice under the spurting, and when it was filled handed it over to the Woland. 
- I drink to your health, gentlemen - Woland said quietly, lifting the cup and touched it to his lips.
Then there was a metamorphosis. The patched shirt and worn-out shoes disappeared. Woland turned to to wear some black mantle with a steel sword on his hip. He quickly approached Margarita, offered her the cup, and said imperiously:
- Drink!
Margarita's head started spinning, she was unsteady, but the cup was already at her lips, and someone's voice, and whose - she could not make out, whispered in both ears:
- Do not be afraid, Queen ... Do not be afraid, Queen, the blood long since gone into the ground. And where it is spilled, already growing grapes."
The ball at Satan's ends here, but Margarita's venture continues... like our journey into the world of fiction with the next To The Bone post! Just let me find something witchy-nice for you :)
Happy blogoversary, Magaly!
* Skull Chalice image credit - Sergei Tunin.
* *Translation of the Russian text is by me. Not perfect, but hopefully is good enough to understand the idea.
*** Read about the symbolism of Chalice here.
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature



Monday, 11 February 2013

Witchcraft and ... Magic

Now it's time for me to finally get back on track and continue with Witchcraft and More. I've read plenty of articles, some books about witchcraft. Somehow it became more familiar to me, I can proudly identify the witchcraft tools when they showed on TV, and can say that yes, a witch and a wiccan is not the same. However, while opening up my blog's page I actually asked myself what is the relation between witchcraft and ... magic.
First, magic is a broader concept, I hope you agree. The Macmillan on line dictionary says that magic is "the mysterious power some people believe can make impossible things happen if you do special actions or say special words called spells". That's how it is understood in modern TV shows and movies. The latest  (one of them) vampire saga  "The Vampire Diaries" pictures a witch, who uses spells and her implicit powers for performing different rituals and creating magic. Or my favorite fantasy novel Harry Potter portrayed magic in an appealing way (besides all those Lord Voldemort's dark deeds).
I was already raising same kind of issue with witchcraft and witch connotations in old time and modern life. In my search through the global network and books, I found an acknowledgement of my thought once again - the concept of witchcraft bears a negative element, while magic is treated as a fascinating phenomenon. 
cannot agree with this as witchcraft is a part of magic, or better, one of the ways of its implementation.  As Wiki says "in non-scientific societies, perceived magical attack is an idea sometimes employed to explain personal or societal misfortune. In anthropological and historical contexts this is often termed witchcraft or sorcery, and the perceived attackers 'witches' or 'sorcerers'". 
There are such expressions like "a magic moment", "a magic touch", which we take positively, we love to say them to show that something was special and it made us happy. But imagine such word combinations (if they can exist ever) as "a witchcraft moment", "a witchcraft touch" ... one probably recollects a steaming cauldron, dark rooms and black robes. Feel the difference?
In my opinion, witchcraft is a very personal thing, judging by the blogs of the modern witches I follow. It's not something what comes easily to you. It is personal also because every witch invents her own ways of making a brew, or cleansing a house. Also witchcraft has a very big psychological impact in a way that saying of  a particular spell, or may be any written spell, tune you in a successful problem resolution for example.
Another moment I'd like to reflect on is that magic actually can be of two kinds: black and white. I  consider that here's where the confusion occurred. Association of witchcraft with black color, and dark side overall automatically linked it to black magic, and further, all the witches were considered causing only harmful things. However, there were and are such women/men in every country of the world who do such "magical" actions like herb brewing and healing with the help of words and touch. Are they doing magic? Probably, no, but they use witchcraft techniques, if there are such.
I don't know where today's thoughts led me, and whether I was able t and explain them to you, but I feel that something became more clear for me in the world of witchcraft.
Just as addition: I'm reading a very nice horror fantasy novel "Anna Dressed in Blood" by Kendare Blake, and I'm liking it! Guess, what attracted me first of all in this novel?;)
Thanks for all your comments and staying with me even if I don't post frequently. My other blog takes a lot more of my attention, but this one is dear to my heart too. Keep on writing and reading.
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Goya's Dark Painting

Two days ago we were watching a program on BBC channel, in which the anchor travelled to Spain, Barcelona. Among the facts about this beautiful city, he was also telling about Spanish artist Francisco Goya and his Dark paintings. I used to see these paintings before but never knew the story behind them. It's a dark story of person's mental and physical suffering, as Goya became deaf due to some serious illness, and it lead to change in his art. This narrative disturbed me that much that I was trying to find more information about it since then.
Obviously that our creations reflect our inner self, our emotions, or their absence, our feelings. Goya's late paintings is a mixture of apocalyptic vision and despair. I would like to pay attention on one of them which is called Witches' Sabbath or The Great He-Goat which was created. The figures in this painting look like a solid piece of clay, they fear and their faces express horror. There is a girl sitting separately from others who seems to be calm, as she is observing the happening. It's said that she is likely to be initiated into coven.
(El Gran Cabrón/AquelarreWitches' Sabbath 
Certainly you don't need to be a visual arts specialist  to notice that the colors Goya chose for his painting are dark, light is dim, and the figure of Devil in goat's disguise/costume is more like a shadow than a real entity. What was the condition of a man who created such scary, disturbing picture? What did he see what other couldn't or were afraid of? The Peninsula war and other political causes of 19th century Europe serve as an explanation of Goya's dark images and scenes incarnated in his works.
But I feel it might be something like games which artist's mind played with him dragging out the darkest fantasies and making him to create on the walls of his house... and live among them, those fantasies. This Witches' Sabbath painting is just one of the examples of the artist's mental breakdown, which actually increased over ages, as he had painted another Witches' Sabbath before, but the colors in that picture were brighter and figures - more clear.
You can read more about Goya's art, the story of his isolated life and a search for some way out of the turmoil in his mind and chaos in the world. I found this painter's works actual for our modern time, when the world is distorted by wars, conflicts which sparkles even more violence, hatred, wish not to preserve but ruin.
I hope my post wasn't too gloomy, I just wanted to share some interesting subject with you, dear friends :) Hope you found some thoughts close to what you reflect on or, at least, worth reading once. I haven't started to discover my dear witches in other folk tales or any fiction, but I intend to start searching again :)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Saddest Little Zombie - Not a Cute One

Hello, my dear friends! Hope your days are great and full of things you enjoy to do. I do enjoy reading and, as it happens frequently, some new read finds you itself.
I was looking for some good point and click game in the net, and found one with oh so creepy pictures! Then I saw there was a link to a book, I followed it and met even creepier poem "The Saddest Little Zombie" by Douglas Clegg! Some of you might have heard about this author, for me however, his name is completely new. 
Well, so I'm talking about the book. As the author says himself, it's neither for kids nor for adults...then maybe for zombies? The content is indeed is not kind and sweet,  it's a not a story about a cute living dead chap. The illustrations by Glenn Chandbourne made me speechless, as they are way too expressive, but I liked this. The plot has many scary events which take place during the Christmas holidays. I find that the idea of the presence of something dreadful close to the most jolly time of the year is a reflection of our reality - while someone is happy and celebrating, others dying and suffering.
To my delight I can also include this poem in my research, as one of its characters is a French Voodoo Queen, who actually awakes the little zombie and unfortunately is stabbed by him on the spot. 
The story of course has big bits of irony in it too, and calls for not a "serious" reader, the one who will start complaining about the book's dark content. That's why I'm inviting you to go ahead and simply enjoy this modern dark poem, which you can download here on the author's website for free.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Morozko (Jack Frost) - the Russian Magical Winter

The power of imagination can make a lot of difference in how you feel at the moment. So here I am, imagining a typical Russian winter. Everything is under a thick layer of snow and when you step on the snowdrift, your feet sink into its softness. The sky is clear blue and you can see crystals sparkling in the air. It's frost. Moroz in Russian. 
The winter season found its reflection in Russian folklore. As it can last up to 7 months, this season is a significant part of the Russian annual life cycle. There are numerous festivals celebrated during the winter, as to brighten up and warm up the cold days. Also, important to note, that the weddings were conducted in the winter too.
As I had promised earlier here is another Russian magical fairy tale. "Morozko" (Father Frost, Jack Frost) is its name. If interested, you can read it here. Not only this fairy tale pictures the Russian winter, it also teaches us very good lessons of patience, politeness, respect and kindness.
The female character of Morozko is a girl, who has to bear all the challenges of being a step daughter. A step mother hates her, as she is, first of all, beautiful, kind, and a good helper in the house. These qualities may affect her own daughter's marriage proposal success, as step daughter will be preferred upon her. Thinking of what shall she do with her accurst step daughter, the wicked step mother forces her husband to leave his daughter alone in the winter forest as she can freeze there to death.
Obeying his wicked wife, he takes the daughter to the woods on the sledge and leaves her under a big pine tree (a great father!). Later the girl starts feeling very cold, trying to warm up her ice cold hands with her breath when suddenly hears :"Are you warm, my girl?" This is Morozko, leaping from one tree to another.The girl being very kind and polite answers him: "I'm warm, father, thank you..." Morozko first wants to freeze the life out of her, but seeing her good nature, has mercy on this nice girl. them he keeps asking her same question few more times, and when she still replies "You are welcome, father, I'm warm", decides to bestow her with jewelry and a trunk of gems. The girl returns home in rich clothes and in beautiful sledge. 
The wicked step mother of course, becomes furious, and asks husband to send her own daughter to the forest as she can also get all those treasures from Morozko.
Now we assume that the story ends good for those how deserve happiness and bad for those who deserved  punishment. In this way the fairy tale seems to be quiet cruel. The step mother's daughter never returns home in all the glory. Placed under the same pine tree,she is also questioned by Morozko how she is doing, but she replies rudely : "Are you blind? Can't you see that my hands and feet are numb?" In the end what the step mother gets is her daughter's cold body in the sleigh... Morozko didn't have mercy on her rude, lazy daughter. The old man's daughter marries a neighbor, and they live happily ever after.
Yes, many Russian fairy tales have this moment in them, when the main character gets everything after sufferings, and the offender left with nothing or even finds his or her death. Morozko meanwhile is a personification of the Russian winter, which can be kind or cause many difficulties to people. So as to please it, you have to be kind and polite to it always. 
Have a happy magical winter and a Happy New Year!
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Feather of Finist the Falcon

Continuing with the Russian fairy tales, the next one to talk about is a beautiful The Feather of Finist the Falcon (Пёрышко Финиста ясна сокола). Yes, I found my dear witches in it as well :). One of them - our very well known Baba-Yaga  and another- a queen enchantress.
The story about Finist the Falcon is a traditional Russian folk tale about a lad who can turn to a feather or a falcon and about a girl who fell in love with him.
Obviously, that being in love with a supernatural guy has its difficulties and challenges. Finist the Falcon has to fly away from the girl Maryushka after wicked sisters prevent him from entering the room by inserting blades in the window frame. He says at last that she'll find him only after she wears out three pairs of iron shoes, breaks three iron staves and three iron caps. The number 3 has always been a magical number (lucky too) in Russian folklore. So many actions are repeated for three times in the fairy tale (and in life's superstitious moments) as to ensure success. Maryushka is able to reach the palace where her Finist is held by the Queen, exactly after she breaks all those iron items (3 items, three each of them).
I had been speaking already about traditional folklore theme of the meeting of the main character with Baba-Yaga  several times with regard to Olesya and Russian folklore. Same is in the Finist the Falcon as the protagonist can't accomplish her journey without help. This help, as usual, comes from Baba-Yaga. In fact, there are 3 of them in the story, each of which helps on the particular stage as the plot unwinds. Each of Baba Yagas gives Maryushka a bewitched thing which is supposed to aid her in future. Maryushka gets to know that Finist the Falcon was given a potion and, befuddled, was forced to marry the queen. First Baba Yaga provides her with a golden plate and a golden egg.
Second Baba Yaga's  gift is the needle which can do embroidery with gold and silver on its own. The third bewitched object she is given is a spindle which can spin on its own. Maryushka has to exchange all three things on the right to see Finist the Falcon.
Moreover Maryushka is assisted by animals as well. She meets a cat and a dog, who encourage her (yes, they can speak!) to continue her way through the dark forest in spite of fear. The third animal she meets is a wolf who gives her a ride on his back.
I.Bilibin, Finist the Falcon
When Maryushka dwells to the walls of the crystal palace, she, following an advise of the first Baba Yaga, hires out as a queen's maid. The queen, seeing all Maryushka's peculiar objects, wants to buy them. Maryushka however  requests to see Finist the Falcon in exchange. Another challenge now is that Finist, being befuddled, fell into a wakeless sleep, and she can't make him to see her. Last time, when she almost lost hope to wake him, and starts crying, one of the tears drops on the shoulder of her beloved and this awakens him. He is happy to see her, they head back home and get married.
I.Bilibin, Finist the Falcon
Russian Wedding in old times
Hope you liked this fairy tale with few witches in them. I'm going to make a post about a winter fairy tale, with little bit of magic in it too, of course:)
   *** Hope you had a great Winter Solstice day. Merry Christmas and Yule to all! ***
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature