Charms in the context
of Magic Practices,
the case of Slovenia
by Monika Kropej
In Slovenia, charms or invocations are one or two strophe formulas that the medicine woman or man used at addressing the powers beyond to procure healing or to influence certain natural processes. They are as if a bridge between this world and the other, helping achieve to something on clearly supernatural or magical grounds. The following paper provides a brief insight into magical folk traditions as preserved in Slovene oral and written sources. The present article gives a short overview of contemporary magical practices in Slovenia, introducing a healer with inherited gift and words and her usual healing methods. I will also present a systematization of Slovenian invocations with text samples and some cosmological principles as reflected in charms.
MAGICAL PRACTICES IN SLOVENIA
Interestingly, according to folk tradition there are differences between the magic acts performed by male magicians and those performed by female magicians, the prevailing opinion holds that women acquired their abilities from the cultures of shamanism and then later the Great Goddess, a lunar deity from whom the mysterious and orgiastic characteristics of female magic originated elements in their traditions.
Since a shaman was usually the leader in society, the tradition is believed to have descended from the worship of a certain important deities. Slovene traditions, for instance, mentions kresnik as ‘protector of the clan’, whom creator gave to humankind in order to protect humanity (humans) against the evil (humans) that threatened its existence. According to folklore sources, the kresniks often fight evil and evil wizards and evil witches.
Flying as well as meeting spirits is generally understood as a “journey” where the spirit leaves the body behind in a trance-like state and travels around in other worlds, coming into contact with ghosts and spirits of the dead. People used to say that witches go to dance on Klek or some other mountain, for instance Slivnica, Grintavec, Rogaška. One widespread belief maintained that at midnight women fly (dream walk) to a mountain and gather among the hazel trees where they are sometimes perceived as shining lights.
People also believed that women danced in whirlwinds or that wind gusts carried hail-making shaman women, sometimes depositing them in a nearby brook. In addition to belief records, many magical actions were recorded. Among other things they could conjure or prevent hail, thunderstorms, or strong winds. According to mainly older sources, they performed magic by imitating the natural phenomenon: linen, for instance, represented fog or clouds, a match is lightning, etc. Also, evil thunderstorms were often driven away with a blessed bell, holy water, cannon shot and the like.
The healing process could involve numerous other healing practices and expedients – water and herbs were of special importance.
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