Karelian Magic

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – The Republic of Karelia is a region in northwest Russia, bordering Finland. Beside Lake Onega, capital city Petrozavodsk is home to cultural artifacts at the National Museum. On an island northeast, Kizhi Museum is an open-air complex of traditional wood buildings. Northwest, Kivach Nature Reserve has pine woods and a waterfall. West of Petrozavodsk, blue-domed Valaam Monastery is on an island in massive Lake Ladoga.

Various folk shamanic tradition practices are called Folk Healing, like the Grandmothers in this video below (in other traditions its called medicine woman). The Slavs, Balkans and Northern regions like the Karelians pretty much have the same basic rituals for healing.

The feet are important because they are both where the greatest amount of our detoxing of sickness releases and our root on the earth and grounds our body to the earth.  The folk singing (chanting, spells its called in some traditions) are the direction in which the healing “intent” of the energy is given as a direction.

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marppa-martiskainen-embroidering-a-ritual-towel-kaspaikka-in-ilomantsi-karelia

Song, movement, specific parts of the body, water and fire rituals, all work together as the root foundation, be that medicine chanted or spoken into sacred clothing through  embroidery, or the folk healer (who whisperers) a directional energy, or our relationship to the spirit (benevolent energies) of earth to work with the healer (in shamanic way), which is closest to our body and soul of the sick.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (Finnish, 1865-1931) - Karelian MotherThe Karelians are a nation that belongs to Baltic-Finnic ethnic group that are currently living in Finland and Russia. In Russia Karelians mostly settle in the Republic of Karelia and in other north-western parts of the Russian Federation. There are also significant Karelian enclaves in the Tver and Novgorod regions of Russia, as some Karelians migrated after 1656 because of war.

In Finland they traditionally settle in the regions of Savonia and Northern and Southern Karelia. The historic homeland of the Karelians has been the Karelian Isthmus, Ladoga Karelia, Olonets Karelia in Russia and the provinces of Northern and Southern Karelia and Savonia in Finland. Many became refuges from German Occupation (of ww2) and their numbers are very small today.

Photograph of Marppa Martiskainen embroidering a ritual towel, käspaikka, in Ilomantsi, Karelia which is very similar to Russian or Slavic Embroidery of the Goddess Makosh. Ancient Karelian jewelry – In the ancient Karelian-Finnish epic Kalevala women’s ornaments and jewelry are mentioned, among them the standard pagan golden rings, many bracelets for the wrists, the headdresses, earrings and pearl necklaces. A lot of factual material is collected in the book of the archaeologist SI Kochkurkina “The Peoples of Karelia”.

karilian pine bread

Karelian bread from pine bark
In lean years, only prosperous families could find bread baked entirely from flour. Trying to feed the family, the Karelians used additives that increased its volume and were mixed into rye flour. These could be ears and straw left over after threshing grain, marsh grass, clover, moss and tree bark. In the latter case, sapwood of pine (less often birch) was used – a layer between the upper bark and wood. Harvested additives were dried and ground into flour.

They invented their own bread. Instead of pies, what did they do: in the spring with a young pine tree, they peel bark and they cut off the sapwood – it’s so soft, so greasy in spring. Then they dry the sapwood in the sun, then dry it in the fire oven. Then they rub it between millstones, and comes out of it like flour.

They take this flour dust in three parts, and one part of the flour with wheat flour, they mix it together to make a dough, they turn the dough until its able to be bake. It is interesting that in the diet of Karelians is mostly dried fish which became a very important ingredient.

Karelian peasants relied on fish 90-95%  of the time and on bread only 5-10%  of the time. In spring, peasant families completely switched to dried whitefish, which they called “snacks.” But it was the abundance of fish that saved people in the North.

Karilian Baba

Karelian Pre-Christian Beliefs
Yu. Yu. Surkhasco Family rites and beliefs of the Karelians 1985
via https://www.vottovaara.ru/doxristianskie-verovaniya-karel.html

A much wider range of religious and magic functions was characteristic of those numerous elements of family rituals, which were based on a variety of pre-Christian (pagan) beliefs and cults.

Conservation Magic
One of the main functions of the religious and magical elements of the Karelian family ritual remained safety-saving (or apotropic – according to E. G. Kagarov). The reason for this situation lay in the difficult living conditions of the Karelian peasantry, which contributed to the emergence of various diseases and high mortality, especially for children. This, in turn, served as fertile ground for preserving in the public mind the superstitious notions that a person is constantly at risk of harmful effects both from all kinds of evil spirits and from ill-wishers. Moreover, the person who turned out to be most susceptible to the effects of evil and the “evil eye” was supposedly at such crucial moments in life as birth, marriage and even, to a lesser extent, death.

In the ritual associated with the birth of a child, savings religious and magic tricks and ideas were three main groups. The first, largest group included numerous prohibitions and superstitions regulating the behavior of a pregnant woman. Compliance with these prohibitions was, on the one hand, to facilitate the upcoming birth, and on the other, to protect the unborn child from spoilage, etc.

The second group consisted mainly of cleansing and protective actions and techniques with which supposedly more safety was given to the woman in labor and the newborn from the “evil eye” and evil spirits. For example, childbirth, which took place in a crib, and even more so in a bathhouse, under the protection of the corresponding family patron spirits and secretly from those around them, undoubtedly seemed safer than deliveries in a hut in people.

Ritual washing of women in childbirth and the child in the bathhouse, along with hygienic, also had a cleansing and protective value. A variety of means of magical “protection” of the child, comprising the third group, were used during the first days, weeks, and often months of his life. At the same time, pagan charms were usually supplemented by Christian ones.

For example, if a newborn midwife was particularly sick, she could perform the rite of emergency baptism and put on a baby cross. According to information collected in the Olonets region by L.I. Kapusto, a cross was often worn along with a pagan amulet – a piece of skin depicting a five-pointed star. 6. and often months of his life. At the same time, pagan charms were usually supplemented by Christian ones.

For example, if a newborn midwife was particularly sick, she could perform the rite of emergency baptism and put on a baby cross. According to information collected in the Olonets region by L.I. Kapusto, a cross was often worn along with a pagan amulet – a piece of skin depicting a five-pointed star.  At the same time, pagan charms were usually supplemented by Christian ones. For example, if a newborn midwife was particularly sick, she could perform the rite of emergency baptism and put on a baby a cross.

The complex of isotropic (savings) elements of ritual as part of the wedding ritual was even more developed and diverse. In order to protect the bride and groom, as well as other wedding participants from spoilage and evil spirits, whole rites of “protection” (various) were performed, similar to protecting women in labor with a newborn, traditional amulets (varat) were used, of which the most difficult were intended for the bride and groom. Moreover, the majority of the Karelian population entrusted the general management of the ritual (starting with the matchmaking) with special sorcerers (patvachki, etc.) and even where, for example, in large South Karelian villages, wealthy peasants invited church attendants to the wedding, the role of the saver was assigned to the sorcerer. B

esides, with a protective (ultimately) purpose, many propitious acts were performed at weddings (for example, offerings by young people to spirits – the patrons of the husband’s family). Initially, shooting and lighting of lights on the way of the wedding train also had a saving meaning, although later in these actions they began to see only a celebration of the newlyweds.

Apotropic elements in funeral and funeral rituals are much less represented. The ritual performers mainly sought to protect themselves from the harmful effects of Kalma, for which they used the appropriate amulets. To get rid of Kalma, they washed and fumigated the hut where the deceased was kept, carefully cleaned the shoes of the cemetery ground, touched the stove with his hands, etc.

At the same time, fumigating the deceased with incense, which was periodically repeated until the funeral, as well as fumigating the grave (pits before the burial of the grave mound – after the funeral and during the funeral visits) was dictated by the care of the dead, the desire to protect him from evil (according to Christian concepts – from “evil spirits”). In the very custom of incense, you can see a Christianized, but in its origin clearly pre-Christian, the pagan rite of magical purification and preservation with the help of fire, moreover, as a rule, of “living fire”, that is, obtained by friction or carving, or taken from a jarat. However, the manifestations of concern for deceased relatives also had a certain protective propitious meaning.

Producing Magic
An essential role in Karelian family rituals (mainly weddings) was played by elements of producing, or protective, magic. In maternity rites, their specific gravity is less significant, and in the funeral and funeral rituals they were practically absent. And this is understandable. In a traditional Karelian wedding, elements of producing magic were supposed to contribute to the well-being and happiness of the newly formed family. It was considered necessary not only to protect marriages from spoilage and evil (for this, all kinds of methods of saving magic were used), but also to provide them with adequate means (also mostly religious magic) of childhood and a more or less high welfare. .

In a pre-revolutionary Karelian village with a characteristic high infant mortality rate, a married woman’s ability to bear children was vital for the entire family-clan community, and not just for the spouses themselves. Therefore, wedding participants usually showed an increased interest in the question of how well the newlyweds began their married life. During the wedding, a variety of methods were used, with the help of which allegedly fertility was stimulated. Since the main elements of producing magic that were part of the wedding ritual (the ceremony of connecting the bride with the child, putting the bride and groom on the stove, the desire to time the wedding, and therefore the wedding night, to the new moon period and a number of others) are considered above there is no need to dwell on them in detail.

Add only that in order to rid a married woman of infertility it was customary to use pieces of the umbilical cord of a newborn child as a magical “medicine”, water for washing a woman in labor was sometimes saved and used. Finally, it was possible to recover from infertility, according to Karelians, also in cases where a woman would seek help from her late ancestors and if the latter would be supportive of her. Thus, religious and magical elements, which, according to popular beliefs, could one way or another promote fertility, were presented in a large variety in the wedding ritual, rather sparingly and also indirectly in maternity rituals and were absent in funeral and funeral rituals, if not to consider the childless woman referring to the funeral rites for help to her deceased relatives.

The elements of producing magic also included ritual actions and means that supposedly had to ensure the material well-being of the newly-formed family (in the wedding ritual) or the newborn (in the rites of the maternity cycle). During the wedding, it was customary, for example, to shower young people with grain (most often with barley), they kept special wedding breads on the hatcher and drive tables, combed the bride’s hair with bread peas while wrapping it blessed the newlyweds with bread – they tried to increase the well-being of the young with such magical methods family, so that she would not know in the future neither need nor hunger. In maternity rituals, similar elements were used in order to provide the newborn with wealth, as well as possessing the qualities necessary for the peasant – industriousness, craftsmanship, housekeeping.

Sexual Magic
A prominent place in the Karelian family ritual, also mainly wedding, was occupied by sexual, or love, magic. Up to our century, the Karelians retained a ritual complex associated with sexual magic and, apparently, originating from the pagan cult of the Lamb. The concept of “lambi” has come down to us only as a designation of female charm, attractiveness, glory, girlish honor, expressing popular ideas about morality, female beauty, the nature of relationships between the sexes; “Lembi” was often generally understood as merely the ability to arouse attraction in representatives of the opposite sex, which is especially pronounced in Karelian love conspiracies and spells.

However, there is reason to believe that the Karelian word “lembi” originates from the cult of the ancient deity of the same name of love and fertility, and that it is from this cult that the Karelians inherited a significant part of the rites and ideas in the field of sexual magic, and above all the ritualism associated with the concept of “girl’s lembi”. In the wedding ritual of the late XIX — early XX centuries ritual actions are abundantly presented, aimed at enhancing mutual love between young spouses with magical, and in many cases rational 8 ways. Partial magic included techniques for charming the groom to the bride using, for example, a special treat (most often a cake) prepared on water (milk, in variants), which washed the bride during the “bride’s bath” rite, the after-wedding bath for newlyweds, their co-feeding, etc.

The ritual dedicated to the girl’s lambi is also represented in many ways in the wedding ritual. In this case, the object of the action was usually not the spouses themselves, but the girls who tried to increase their glory mainly due to the bride’s lambi. It was widely practiced, for example, the custom of girls going to the “bride bath” together, where they steamed with the same broom and washed with the same water as the bride, races sat in her place, etc.

Similar collective techniques for raising the lamb were part of the rite weaving and untwisting the bride’s braid into which the ribbons of her friends and sisters were woven, so that when untwisted, each one received its ribbon back together with a particle of the bride’s lambi. From almost the matchmaking to the delivery of the bride to the groom, unmarried peers were in contact with her, in a direct or indirect way, taking a lamb from her.

In general, the concern for strengthening and raising the lamb took an important place in the life of Karelian girls, because, according to legend, the loss or damage of the lamb threatened the girl with great misfortune – she could remain an old maid. This concern began in essence from the first days of the girl’s life, when they tried to have a magical effect on everyone who came into the house with the help of a dried umbilical cord that was hidden above the entrance to the hut (see p. 29), and ended when the bride was supposed to not to worry about preserving your lambi, but, on the contrary, to share it with unmarried sisters and friends so that they too get married soon.

Cult of the Home patron Spirits

The traditional family ritual of Karelians organically also included various elements in which cults of family-patron spirits-patrons, as well as cults of spirits – “masters” of land, water and other natural objects were directly or in a surviving form. As a rule, all the ritual actions associated with these cults, even if their initial, pre-Christian religious foundation was weathered in many cases, were propitious. As part of the wedding ritual, the ritual role of the bride was most saturated with such elements. This is clearly enough shown in her behavior during the rituals of the maiden bath, “free will” and farewell walk around the house and yard, when the bride, accompanied by weeping and friends, said goodbye to the world in which she grew up and parted with which she defiantly mourned.

But even brighter was the desire to appease the spirits in the rituals that accompanied the arrival of young women in the husband’s house. So, barely entering the hut, she threw a pre-prepared coin on the stove or in the bake, which, according to popular beliefs of the beginning of our century, was understood as a bride buying a “place”; the initial meaning of such an action was, obviously, in a propitiatory sacrifice to the spirit – the patron saint of the hearth in the husband’s house.

Young women made similar donations to other spirits – the patrons of the family into which she entered as a daughter-in-law. In particular, she gave the “owner” (“mistress”) of the bath the towel or shirt when she first went to wash, the same to the “owner” of the barn when she brought her “dowry” cow, etc. True, the original basis of these of customs – appeasement of spirits – “masters”, that they favorably relate to a young alien, to a large extent, was forgotten, and offerings to the “masters” began to be perceived as gifts for the mother-in-law. Another ritual is known, although apparently not very often practiced at the beginning of our century, a ritual associated with the drive of a daughter-in-law into the house – the ritual of the redemption of “land.” Often it merged with the ransom of the “place”, that is, with the appeasement of the spirit – the patron saint of the outbreak, but the spells cast during the ceremony were addressed to the spirit – “the lord of the earth” (maan haldia).

As a special rite of “earth health” it was usually performed when a new member appeared in the family – a daughter-in-law or a newborn. associated with the drive of the daughter-in-law to the house – the rite of redemption of the “land”. Often it merged with the ransom of the “place”, that is, with the appeasement of the spirit – the patron saint of the outbreak, but the spells cast during the ceremony were addressed to the spirit – “the lord of the earth” (maan haldia).

As a special rite of “earth health” it was usually performed when a new member appeared in the family – a daughter-in-law or a newborn. associated with the drive of the daughter-in-law to the house – the rite of redemption of the “land”. Often it merged with the ransom of the “place”, that is, with the appeasement of the spirit – the patron saint of the outbreak, but the spells cast during the ceremony were addressed to the spirit – “the lord of the earth” (maan haldia). As a special rite of “earth health” it was usually performed when a new member appeared in the family – a daughter-in-law or a newborn.

Particularly noteworthy are the survivors of the outbreak cult in such elements of the Karelian family ritual as customs to put the bride and groom on the stove, put the box with the newborn at the mouth of the stove, give the bride ash from the hearth of the parental house so that when she arrives at her husband’s house, she spills it in the heat.

In the last element (as in the custom of giving incense with ash to new recruits and other family members who left their home), the initial basis, obviously, was the desire to provide a woman who left her native family and entered into someone else’s protection and support from the spirit – the patron of the parental outbreak, while the first two elements can be considered as methods of introducing a young woman and a newborn baby to one of the main family shrines – the hearth. The introduction of new family members to the home hearth was apparently once perceived as taking them under the protection of the spirit – the patron of the hearth, which seemed especially important for a child who did not have his patron at first, chaldia.

It is likely that one of the initial goals of living a woman in labor with a child in the bathhouse in the first postpartum days was to introduce a new family member to the family cult of the “owner” (“mistress”) of the bathhouse; the same can be seen in the rite of the after-wedding bath for the bride and groom, all the more so as the young woman was obliged to make appropriate gifts to the “master” of the bath. 9 In the funeral and funeral rites, the animistic cults of family patrimonial patron spirits were represented much less than in the wedding and maternity . So, a relic of the cult of the hearth can be seen in the custom, according to which the participants of the funeral returning from the cemetery had to touch the stove with their palms in order to clear themselves of calma: the hearth acted here as a powerful talisman.

The main functions of wedding and maternity rituals: the entry of a guy and a girl into spouse status and the age and gender category of married women and married men (in a wedding ritual) and the adoption of a newborn in the family-clan community (in a maternity ritual), would seem to be decisively different from the functions of the funeral ritual, where importance was attached to the motives for the deceased to part with the living relatives and neighbors, with the whole microworld that surrounded him during his lifetime. At the same time, the motives for the separation, so characteristic of the funeral, had very close analogies in many wedding rites, dedicated primarily to the farewell of the bride to her relatives, stepfather’s house, yard, village, bathhouse, etc. Moreover, both in the funeral and in the wedding rituals of the rites of farewell were accompanied by corresponding lamentations,

Cult of the Dead
Especially developed and tenacious was the system of rites and representations associated with the cult of the dead. In the literature, this cult is often called funeral. For example, S. A. Tokarev directly defined the “funeral cult” as “the cult of the dead”, seeing in it “the totality of religious and magical rites and ideas associated with the burial of the dead or with the dead themselves,” and separating it from “the funeral customs themselves” [97, p. 158]. However, the definition of the “cult of the dead” seems more acceptable to us, since the latter includes the funeral ritual itself, the funeral ritual, and a whole range of other ritual actions.

Considering the origin of the funeral cult of different peoples, S. L. Tokarev strongly criticized the prevailing among most scholars desire to derive all funeral customs from purely superstitious, that is, religious, motives and, in turn, argued that the funeral rites “in basically, they were not generated by superstitious notions, but, like the methods of burial, by deeper, instinctive-emotional impulses, inherited, obviously, from the era of human formation.

This point of view is probably quite true when it comes to funeral rites of peoples who were in the early stages of socio-economic development (Tokarev’s conclusions are based mainly on similar data). But the Karelian material of the late XIX — early XX century., as well as materials for many other peoples of our country (especially for the peoples of the Russian North, Siberia and the Far East), it shows that the basis of most of the rites and customs of the funeral and memorial rituals was faith in the afterlife, faith in the reality of the relationship between living people and the dead their relatives.

Even in the rites and customs that directly entered the funeral cycle, the cult of a specific deceased remained dominant, supplemented and strengthened by elements of the cult of previously deceased relatives, and in particular elements of the cult of the ancestors – “parents” (syndyzet). Without going into the theoretical aspects of the origin of the cult of the dead (the state of the issue of the roots and nature of this, one of the oldest forms of religion, is sufficiently covered in the monograph by S. A. Tokarev [97]), we will try to reproduce a generalized picture of his real life in the family ritual of Karelians.

According to the traditional beliefs of the Karelians, the death of a person was not his physical death, but meant only a transition to another world (Tuonela or Manala, that is, to Tu or the Underground Country), the transition from earthly life to the afterlife, which differed little from the earth: the dead are engaged in the same activities as during life on earth, their needs do not change, relations with living and dead relatives remain the same, even character traits are preserved; only those who died in childhood or adolescence grow up with time and can supposedly even marry.

But, on the other hand, the entry of the deceased into the world of the dead gave him special supernatural qualities and abilities. Moreover, the latter seemed all the more powerful, the greater authority the deceased enjoyed during his lifetime. First of all, such mystical power was attributed, of course, to the founders of the family and clan, the nerve-inhabitants, in a word – the ancestors. Moreover, joining the “high ancestors” (s. To. Tuonelan orheit syndyzet – letters, “glorious ancestors of Tuonela” with their wisdom and power made the newcomer, at least partially, the owner of similar qualities or at least we ask the Syunduzet for our living relatives.

It seems that it is no coincidence that the Karelian funeral and nominal lamentations consistently pass the idea of ​​introducing the deceased to the ancestors who are asked, and in the most intelligible language for the dead – the language of lamentations, to meet the new-found dead in his the queue is being asked about how relatives who had died earlier accepted him, etc.

According to information from the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries, the Karelians did not have in the cult of the dead a clear-cut contrast between the newcomers and the earlier dead, which, according to Yu. I. Semenov, is characteristic of all the peoples of the world and which manifested itself in different ways and others to the living: the former are supposedly dangerous to the living (hence, they say, fear of the dead), the latter are not dangerous.

In the previous chapter, we noted that the Karelians were not so much afraid of the dead as calms. In every possible way protecting themselves from calma, they did not at all seek to break off contacts with the deceased relative and get rid of him as soon as possible. On the contrary, they kept the deceased for two or three days in a hut, took care of him, sat near him days and nights, and finally buried him in his often clan (with small patronymal villages) cemetery, where the living could easily visit him and from where he, the deceased, was also not hard to come to the old house when necessary. Thus, the dead and living relatives were united in a more or less single family-clan collective.

Family ties did not just unite the living and the dead; these ties found systematic support in various forms of interaction between the two. Moreover, the dead, as more powerful and wise (“parents” seemed to be such), should, according to beliefs, in every way protect their living descendants from troubles and help them in all important matters. This is evidenced, in particular, by the options for spells that were considered particularly effective, since “the old people, who sat for a century, slept in a turf, and who under the snowdrift secreted”, in other words, “the population of Manala” (Manalan rahvas) acted as mystical defenders in them.

The whole army of the dead is clearly also referred to in the enchanting rune of the mythical eagle flying from the northeast and carrying hundreds and thousands of warriors under the wings, “who have been seated for the whole century” [162, vol. 2, No. 1049; T. 7, part 5, No. 4853, 4861, 4872, 4874, etc.). The sorcerer also addressed the late relatives in the version cited by K. Kron in his study of the religious views of the “Finns” based on the materials of the Karelian-Finnish runes: “I will raise my big family. . . to help one hero.

W. Harva spoke well of how important the cult of the dead was in the social and family life and in the beliefs of the Baltic-Finnish peoples, in particular the Karelians and Finns: “The sacred duty of the descendants was to continue the work begun by respected deceased members of the family and clan, fulfillment of their aspirations and desires. This heritage served as the basis for the entire social life of the ancient people. At all stages of the life of the individual and the genus, it was customary to turn to the deceased. They were considered guardians of morality, judges of customs, guardians of public order. In this regard, even the Most High God could not compete with the inhabitants of Manala.

However, according to traditional ideas, only those who themselves showed proper care for the dead, appeased their offerings and ceremonies, could count on the protection and help of the deceased relatives. Conversely, insufficiently careful performance of one’s kinship to dead ancestors and relatives could cause disfavor on their part. Therefore, cases of illness and failure were often perceived as a measure of punishment, determined by one or another deceased for any omissions.

In the previous chapter, examining the rites of funeral and funeral rituals, we noted the various manifestations of traditional care for a deceased relative. These included, for example, ceremonies of lifetime and posthumous farewell, during which relatives and friends asked the dying (or deceased) to forgive them, even if they did not blame him. Moreover, if it was suspected that the disease had been sent by a specific deceased (and not necessarily a relative), he was supposed to visit his grave and again ask for forgiveness, accompanying the request with appropriate offerings.

The living had to take care that their dead relatives did not suffer from hunger, lack of clothing and shoes. For this, for three days, while the deceased was in a hut, he was periodically served refreshments; on commemoration days the guests brought to the grave, they handed out “memoirs” to those around them, at the memorial dinners they put a special appliance for him with dishes, etc. The custom even demanded that a sacrificial cow be allocated to the dead man (however, this remnant of paganism was redirected by the church to their advantage, and the cow was given to the priest – “to remember the soul “).

It was believed that cattle, which should have been sacrificed to the dead, but which for some reason were not sacrificed, would still fall; It is noteworthy that the same belief was supported by a similar custom of separating a cow or heifer into a bride’s dowry. It was believed that cattle, which should have been sacrificed to the dead, but which for some reason were not sacrificed, would still fall; It is noteworthy that the same belief was supported by a similar custom of separating a cow or heifer into a bride’s dowry. It was believed that cattle, which should have been sacrificed to the dead, but which for some reason were not sacrificed, would still fall; It is noteworthy that the same belief was supported by a similar custom of separating a cow or heifer into a bride’s dowry.

To make it easier for the dead to rest during land wanderings, a towel or cloth was tied to a grave cross (column, etc.), towels were hung on memorial days at the entrance to the house and along the walls of the hut; a bed was prepared for the deceased, most often a pillow. Even the bathhouse was heated for the deceased relatives, water and a broom were prepared so that they could steam and wash.

All orders and orders that the deceased gave to his relatives during his lifetime or posthumously – in their dreams, as a rule, were carried out so as not to cause his anger. So, the deceased could dream of one of his relatives and order that his or her thing be presented to him, “and such posthumous orders,” emphasized N.F. Leskov, “are executed exactly”; if the deceased complained that he was hungry or cold, they acted accordingly: they distributed food or clothing to the poor [53, p. 512; 136, p. 288]. If the deceased, according to legend, could take revenge on the offenders for the troubles caused to him during his life (therefore it was so important to receive timely forgiveness from him for real and imaginary offenses), then it was considered even more dangerous to upset the dead.

The Karelian cult of the dead back in the late XIX – early XX century. had a rather remarkable feature. As already noted, the Karelians were much less likely to shy away from dead relatives than was the case with many other peoples. On the contrary, in the Karelian funeral and especially funeral rites, and even more in the accompanying rituals, the idea of ​​the possibility of meeting with dead relatives is clearly held: the cries make sure that “ant paths” remain during the burial to exit the grave, the deceased is invited to visit home more often ; when visiting the grave, they ask the deceased to get out of it for conversation; on commemoration days, they solemnly “meet” dead relatives, receive them as the most honored guests (with a bathhouse, refreshments, etc.) and just as solemnly escort them from the yard.

The literature on the Karelian funeral and funeral ritual usually emphasizes the widespread notion that after a person’s death his soul is only close to his body for six weeks, visits a house and other places of his former dwelling, and after this period he supposedly leaves for the kingdom the dead [48, p. 55; 53, p. 512]. The author also had to write down such information. “The dead man walks home for six weeks,” said, for example, a resident of the village of Sambatuksy (Olonetsky district) F. A. Makarova, “a bird (heavy liipoilindu) flies to the window.”

However, real ritual practice testifies to the preservation in the national consciousness of another, more archaic layer of beliefs. According to them, the dead, having moved to the cemetery, continue to “live” there not only for six weeks after death, but essentially forever. It was at the cemetery that the living ones came in joy and sorrow, on holidays, and if there was a reason, then on weekdays to communicate with dead relatives, both close and more distant ancestors – “up to the ninth knee”.

The role of the cemetery as the main place where the cult of the dead was performed is especially visible in the traditional ritual of village temple festivals. As you know, the church for centuries tried in every possible way to Christianize the calendar holidays of the peoples of Russia, however, it achieved relatively small successes, being able to only give them the appearance of a cult of Christian deities and saints.

This was the case with the Karelian holidays of the late XIX – early XX centuries. In which, despite their strict attachment to certain church dates and specific cults of saints, the traditional basis of the past tribal festivals was very distinct. In particular, along with worship, which was supposed by church rules, to which a significant part of the population belonged formally, before the start of festive feasts and festivities it was considered obligatory to perform another rite – to visit the deceased relatives.

Residents of the village, together with relatives gathered from all around, solemnly went to the cemetery and commemorated their deceased relatives. Joint visits to the cemetery on the days of temple holidays (this tradition, by the way, is still practiced in a number of places in Karelia in the past seemed especially important if only because besides the religious they also had a certain socio-legal and educational value , since the cult of single “parents” strengthened the idea of ​​kinship and collectivism in the minds of the participants of the rite.

The second most important place for performing the cult of deceased relatives was the dwelling. But unlike the cemetery, where the dead were constantly, they only came to relatives’ houses for a while, mainly on funeral days. In addition, it is believed that the junior suite comes to the dying and surrounds the head of the death bed (see p. 60 – 61). Judging by the information related to the end of the XIX – beginning of the XX centuries, the main place of stay of the “parents” in the hut was considered a large angle (with. Suuri cuppu).

This partly explains the custom of laying the deceased with his head in a large angle – closer to the room. And although the Orthodox religion managed to infiltrate icons in the sacred corner (at least among most Karelians), it never succeeded in completely supplanting the pagan idea of ​​the ancestors with images of Christian deities and saints: in prayers pronounced before the icons, Karelians often turned to their unions, and not to the savior and other characters of the Christian faith (see p. 61). And one cannot disagree with the statement of L. Honko that in a large corner “they could fulfill the cult of the dead members of the clan for a long time after their death”.

As already noted, a significant role in the cult of the dead was assigned to the furnace pillar and the furnace itself, although we know very little direct information about this. So, S. Paulaharyu recorded the belief that existed among the northern Karelians, as if the soul of the deceased sits on the top of the oven column for the first three days after death; he also reports that the remnants of the memorial dinner, organized in honor of “Parental Saturday,” the crumbs were supposed to collect from the table and put in a birch bark box on a pillar.

In Kolatselga (Pryazhinsky district) back in the 1940s. believed that the deceased relatives gathered in the hut for a memorial dinner can be seen if, having climbed up the stove pillar, you can look from there through a network connected from textile waste [191, p. 3855]. The custom of the wedding ritual of the Segozero Karelians is also characteristic: the young woman, displaying her towels for everyone to see at her husband’s house, hung one of the best on the “tip” of the stove pillar.

The traditional family ritual of the Karelians also contained many elements reflecting the existence in the public consciousness of a certain connection between the cult of the outbreak and the cult of the dead. In a funeral ritual, it is a custom to lay a pillow with the imaginary spirit of the deceased on the stove; in the wedding – the bride’s appealing spirit – the patron of the hearth – and planting the bride and groom on the stove; in maternity rituals, it is a custom to place a box with a newborn, first introduced into the hut, in front of the mouth of the furnace.

All these and other similar elements of the Karelian family ritual, directly or indirectly (through the kiln pillar) connected with the stove, would hardly be considered so obligatory if they were based only on relics of the ancient cult of the hearth, for essentially no clear ideas about the spirit – the patron hearth – at the Karelians of the XIX — beginning of the XX century. not fixed and in ritual practice only a few survivals of this cult were preserved.

At the same time, the cult of the dead, especially the ancestors, remained with the Karelians one of the leading forms of folk religion and undoubtedly had a decisive influence on the development of the entire system of beliefs and religious rituals. This influence was so great that, as S. A. Tokarev observes, many researchers “considered the funeral cult (the cult of the dead. – Yu. S.) not only an independent, but also an ancient form of religion, considering everything, including the most complex, religious views and rituals as a further development of beliefs associated with the dead ”.

From the Finnish scholars, this point of view was clearly expressed by K. Kron, who believed that many characters of the folk demonology of the “Finns” come from the cult of the dead: the spirit – the “master” of the earth (maan haltia) – personified in the image of a deceased buried on the estate; “Owners” of the forest and water, respectively, were those who died in the forest, drowned in water, etc. Kron, however, expressed an interesting idea that the spirit – “the owner of the home or fire” (asunnon eli tulen haltia) – could supposedly to become after death the one who first made fire in the hearth.

And although Kron’s opinion is too straightforward and simplistic, since he ignores the fact of the widespread existence of animistic representations among Finnish-speaking peoples, nevertheless he is probably to some extent right. Judging by the ritual material of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, some images of Karelian folk demonology were the result of the interaction of different forms of religion.

Therefore, in the cults of such “home” (that is, family) patron spirits, as the “masters” of the hearth and home, baths and cribs, along with animistic elements, there were also elements of the cult of ancestors. A similar phenomenon was characteristic of the corresponding religious representations of many other peoples. The fusion of the ancestor cult with remnants of animistic representations associated with the hearth and dwelling is especially noticeable in the cult of the house that is widespread among East Slavic and Finnish-speaking peoples (among the Baltic-Finnish peoples, the “master” or “mistress” of the house corresponded to Kar. Kodinhaldia, Veps, pertin izand and pertinemag, est. majahaldjas and majavaim and others).

The fusion of the ancestor cult with remnants of animistic representations associated with the hearth and dwelling is especially noticeable in the cult of the house that is widespread among East Slavic and Finnish-speaking peoples (among the Baltic-Finnish peoples, the “master” or “mistress” of the house corresponded to Kar. Kodinhaldia, Veps, pertin izand and pertinemag, est. majahaldjas and majavaim and others.

According to Karelian folk beliefs, the permanent residence of the dead is a cemetery. Here they live in their dominos, here come the living to communicate with the deceased relatives, from here they are invited to commemorate feasts and here they escort back. This afterlife was seen as simple and intimate. However, in the oral poetry of the Karelians and Finns, a slightly different picture of the kingdom of the dead appears, known under the names Manala, Tuonel, Pohol (“Northern Country”), Manalan Saari (“Manala Island”) and others. Mythological afterlife, where “there are a lot of (people. – Yu. S.) comes, but returns a little ”, is usually portrayed as a large gloomy island, where the sun never shines, nothing grows and where the dead, including the“ Kalma children ”(kalmanlapset), live in huge dwellings.

In general, it must be recognized that the real representations of the Karelians of the late XIX – early XX centuries about the kingdom of the dead still suffered considerable vagueness and even contradictory. This is especially evident in funeral and funeral lamentations, the performers of which most often meant a specific cemetery under Manala (or Tuonela). But often they supplemented the epic picture of Manala with individual details, borrowed from the Christian doctrine of the afterlife. In this case, the images of Christian deities and saints were usually mixed with images of the syunduzet; in lamentations and prayers there is even such an incredible phrase as “spas-ancestors” or “spas-ancestors” (spoassozet syndyzet) [150, p. 162]. the performers of which most often meant a specific cemetery under Manala (or Tuonela). But often they supplemented the epic picture of Manala with individual details, borrowed from the Christian doctrine of the afterlife. In this case, the images of Christian deities and saints were usually mixed with images of the syunduzet; in lamentations and prayers there is even such an incredible phrase as “spas-ancestors” or “spas-ancestors” (spoassozet syndyzet) [150, p. 162]. the performers of which most often meant a specific cemetery under Manala (or Tuonela). But often they supplemented the epic picture of Manala with individual details, borrowed from the Christian doctrine of the afterlife. In this case, the images of Christian deities and saints were usually mixed with images of the syunduzet; in lamentations and prayers there is even such an incredible phrase as “spas-ancestors” or “spas-ancestors” (spoassozet syndyzet) [150, p. 162].

According to Christianized beliefs, in the realm of the dead, everyone who was a good person in life is given places on the right side, where there are “great grandparents big reeds”, while bad people are taken to the left side – to the “satanic companion” [35 No. 177, from. 324-326, 513; 140, p. 122]. If the lamentation refers to paradise itself, then his picture usually turns out to be very simplified and close to the traditional idea of ​​Manal. The deceased has to cross the fiery river Tuoni. The great ancestors who meet the newcomer with wax candles (Christian saints and novices are sometimes mentioned in versions) lead him to the gates of paradise on nine loops to the huge, “from end to end, thrones”, on which “sixty-six towels and forty four snacks ” and here the newcomer is surrounded by “great relatives and glorious tribesmen” to speak with him [35, No. 136, 177]. As you can see, such a paradise is not far removed from the traditional semi-pagan ideas of the afterlife. And it seems strange to us, the statement of L. Honko, one of the largest modern experts in Karelian lamentations, that “there is an abundance of versions of Tuonela’s images (from the mythological picture of the kingdom of the dead beyond the river of fire to paradise with shards and saints Peter and Paul at the gate. – Yu. S.) it could sometimes lead mourners to a state of confusion and perplexity ”[131, p. 113]. Perhaps, the Karelian lamenters could really get lost and be confused if they were required to give a clear answer to the question of how it works and where, in their opinion, the “true”, that is, the Christian world beyond the grave, the general view of which they , presumably had. However, in their ritual practice and in their lamentations, they adhered without any hesitation to the customs and views inherited from their ancestors.

Magical means.

One of the main components of the religious and magical substructure of family rituals was considered to be the means by which certain supernatural qualities were attributed and by which the performers of the rites hoped to achieve their goals. The arsenal of such tools at the beginning of our century was very diverse among the Karelians. It included, for example, various objects of inanimate nature: pebbles, earth (from the underground or from the cemetery), ash and coals, mercury, water and even fire (the last two were more often used as a cleaning agent); objects of plant and animal origin: broom, flax, bread, grains, fur, teeth, claws, etc .; tools and household items: scythe, ax (including stone axes, tesla, etc.), knife, scissors, poker, etc .; woven (e.g. towels), wicker (belts) and other products from homespun or factory material. This also includes, of course, the attributes of the Orthodox cult: icons, body crosses, incense, etc. In addition, some accessories of the human body were endowed with magical properties, such as the dried and fallen off part of the newborn’s umbilical cord, hair, nails, etc. Finally , verbal means were very widely used in religious magic rituals: spells, conspiracies, prayers and oral formulas-wishes. It was especially highly developed among the Karelians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. traditional spell poetry: spells and plots of predominantly runic size. 15 Christian prayers, on the contrary, were distinguished by formality and primitivism,

The runic (Kalevala) metric of the verses of spells and conspiracies brought them closer to epic songs, but there were a lot of similarities between the named genres in the figurative system, rooted in the oldest layers of Karelian mythology, and in their content. This proximity is so great that many fragments of runes, and in some cases (for example, in some places at weddings of southern Karelians) even whole runes [52, p. 22 next] were executed as independent conspiracies.

The content of Karelian conspiracies and spells reflects the long evolution of the religious ideas of the people. In relatively simple conspiracies, such as the story of the iron fence around the protected participants of the rite, the belief in their effectiveness was based on the idea that the word itself has magical power, and therefore the hedge constructed on words was perceived as an invisible, but quite real fence. And we completely agree with the opinion of O. V. Kuusinen regarding the faith of the Karelians in the power of the word: “The singers of ancient runes, as well as their listeners. . . the idea of ​​an object was often taken as an object ”[49, p. 34]. | 6 If in simple conspiracies the performer of the rite usually acted himself as an imaginary actor, in most of the more complex spells, he turned to various supernatural beings and powers for help. Such could be pagan, and often Christian deities, various spirits (especially the spirits of their ancestors), some animals and even natural elements.

In addition to poetic conspiracies and incantations, the Karelians had prosaic formulas, relating, in particular, to the rites of “vacation”. The fairly widespread existence of prosaic conspiracies, mainly among the southern Karelians, is explained by a more accelerated fading of their original poetic tradition [cf .: 69, p. 247]. A significant religious and magical function in funeral-memorial and wedding ceremonies was also performed by lamentations. The archaic language of lamentations, saturated with metaphorical allegories, was considered, as is known, a means of communicating with the dead, at least in those cases when they were performed as part of funeral-ritual rituals. However, lamentations served not only for the imaginary communication of living people with the dead, but also for ritualized relationships between living participants in the rite. Therefore, despite all the archaic form and the canonicalization of the rite by conservatism in relation to “ritual-obligatory moments”, lamentations demanded improvisation from performers [35, p. 23, 441; 108, p. 25]. Creating this or that cry by traditional poetic means and methods, the launcher put in its content specific information about the person to whom the tribute was addressed, about the event about which the ceremony was performed, and also expressed the attitude of the participants of the ceremony to what was happening. All this, together with the melody of the lamentation, caused the listeners a certain lyrical and emotional mood, the strength of which directly corresponded to the strength of the talent of the launcher. Creating this or that cry by traditional poetic means and methods, the launcher put in its content specific information about the person to whom the tribute was addressed, about the event about which the ceremony was performed, and also expressed the attitude of the participants of the ceremony to what was happening. All this, together with the melody of the lamentation, caused the listeners a certain lyrical and emotional mood, the strength of which directly corresponded to the strength of the talent of the launcher. Creating this or that cry by traditional poetic means and methods, the launcher put in its content specific information about the person to whom the tribute was addressed, about the event about which the ceremony was performed, and also expressed the attitude of the participants of the ceremony to what was happening. All this, together with the melody of the lamentation, caused the listeners a certain lyrical and emotional mood, the strength of which directly corresponded to the strength of the talent of the launcher.

Leading performers.

The high role of religious and magic elements in the family ritual of the Karelians of the late XIX – early XX centuries. determined to a large extent the composition of ranks. A characteristic feature of the Karelian family ritual was the fact that in the wedding, funeral and funeral rituals and in the main rites of the maternity and baptismal cycle, the leading ranks were usually those people who knew the corresponding religious and magical actions well. And although in the Karelian village of the period under review, almost all adults had knowledge of rituals, especially family ones (almost everyone could use elementary religious and magic tricks), it was customary to assign the most important roles to the best experts and guardians of folk traditions. At weddings such leading ranks were a little father, combining the functions of a ceremonial place and a guardian sorcerer, shuayannayni performing the functions of a matchmaker, and after giving the bride to the bridegroom – also her guardian, and weaving – the mourner (“making cry”), who accompanied the bride before serving the bridegroom and at the same time protected her. The main rite in maternity rites was the boabo – midwife, from whom, in addition to elementary obstetric knowledge and rational healing, certain knowledge and skills in the field of religious and magic ritual were also required (see p. 23, 24). In the funeral and commemoration rituals of Karelians, the lamenters (ianel itkija – letters “weeping in voice”) played an extremely important role, which at the funeral could be any number of the participants in the ritual, although the main moaner – the guardian of tradition and the mediator between the living and the dead – most often was one. Finally, one cannot fail to note the ministers of the Christian cult who performed Karelians in the family ritual in the late XIX – early XX centuries. quite noticeable religious magic function. In most cases, these are priests of the Orthodox Church, the services of which the population resorted to (often under pressure from administrative authorities) to perform the baptismal ceremonies for children, to marry marriages, to burial and commemorate the dead. In the Old Believers, these Christian rites were often performed by the leaders of sects or ordinary raiders. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, the conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. Finally, one cannot fail to note the ministers of the Christian cult who performed Karelians in the family ritual in the late XIX – early XX centuries. quite noticeable religious magic function. In most cases, these are priests of the Orthodox Church, the services of which the population resorted to (often under pressure from administrative authorities) to perform the baptismal ceremonies for children, to marry marriages, to burial and commemorate the dead. In the Old Believers, these Christian rites were often performed by the leaders of sects or ordinary raiders. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. Finally, one cannot fail to note the ministers of the Christian cult who performed Karelians in the family ritual in the late XIX – early XX centuries. quite noticeable religious magic function. In most cases, these are priests of the Orthodox Church, the services of which the population resorted to (often under pressure from administrative authorities) to perform the baptismal ceremonies for children, to marry marriages, to burial and commemorate the dead. In the Old Believers, these Christian rites were often performed by the leaders of sects or ordinary raiders. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. quite noticeable religious magic function. In most cases, these are priests of the Orthodox Church, the services of which the population resorted to (often under pressure from administrative authorities) to perform the baptismal ceremonies for children, to marry marriages, to burial and commemorate the dead. In the Old Believers’ environment, these Christian rites were often performed by sect leaders or simple tellers. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. quite noticeable religious magic function. In most cases, these are priests of the Orthodox Church, the services of which the population resorted to (often under pressure from administrative authorities) to perform the baptismal ceremonies for children, to marry marriages, to burial and commemorate the dead. In the Old Believers’ environment, these Christian rites were often performed by sect leaders or simple tellers. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. In the Old Believers’ environment, these Christian rites were often performed by sect leaders or simple tellers. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves. In the Old Believers’ environment, these Christian rites were often performed by sect leaders or simple tellers. However, in some cases, the same or corresponding rites (for example, conditional baptism of a newborn with fears for his life) could be performed by believers themselves.

In reality, the state of the religious-magic substructure in the system of the Karelian family ritual of the late XIX – early XX centuries. It was, of course, much more complex and dynamic than it looks in our schematic presentation. However, materials of previous chapters devoted to rites of maternity and funeral-funeral rituals, as well as our wedding publications [87, 88, 90, 91], can serve as a significant addition to the cursory overview of religious elements of family ritual presented in this chapter.

The high proportion of elements of pre-Christian religious-magic rituals in the family rites of the Karelians determined the corresponding distribution of traditional ritual ranks. The main roles were played, as a rule, by such people who not only knew the content of the rites and the sequence of actions well, but were also famous for certain supernatural abilities.

Unlike traditional ceremonial ranks, ministers of the Orthodox Church in family rites of Karelians were usually assigned only the most minimal roles, and they often had to perform these roles outside of the ritual: they often baptized children very late, married, for example, before or after the wedding ( sometimes even after several years), the funeral of the deceased could also not during the funeral, but more or less a long time later.

However, it should be noted that during the evolution of the Karelian family ritual in the second half of the XIX — early XX centuries. there was a marked strengthening of the position of the Christian religion in wedding and partly funeral and funeral rituals. To some extent, this is apparently explained by the ever-increasing influence of Russian family rituals.

Thus, in our time, the majority of Karelians in their family rites, as a rule, do not use the religious-magic elements of rituals or use them in a rethought, irreligious quality. Only a small part of the population (mainly the older generation) continues to adhere to traditional religious and magical, including Christian, representations and customs, mainly during funerals and memorial rites. True, there are still frequent cases when middle-aged Karelians and even young people directly participate in certain religious actions performed during a funeral or commemoration, but usually they perform these traditional actions only out of respect for older relatives [62, v. 2, p. . 359].

Russian Folk - Karelian Headgear
Karelian Folk Headdress, Russian Folk Design

Only a korele, residing on the Karelian Isthmus, is characterized by silver or copper ornaments of “schnerie”, which served to attach to the hair of a kerchief. Characterized by convex brooches for fastening the collar of the shirt. The fasteners came here from Sweden, from the island of Gotland, where they, apparently, were produced and meet in an earlier period.

The brooches (fasteners) were large, horseshoe-shaped with a vegetable pattern, in the literature such brooches were called Karelian. Another characteristic ornament is silver and copper chain holders.

Ancient Karelian jewelry

Historical Video:
https://vk.com/video-341621_456239340

Sumy Posad – one of the most ancient Pomeranian villages in Karelia. The Russian round-dance song “Oh, as on the River” sounds. Video by Ivan Zemlyakov:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe3ns73vP6k

VK Karelian page:
https://vk.com/club75701199

Sources: Photo: Akseli Gallen-Kallela (Finnish, 1865-1931) – Karelian Mother; Petrozavodsk speaks” and http://karel.su/tags/pomory/ photo from the Internet

2 Comments Add yours

  1. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx♠xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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