Polish folk beliefs

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Circles[edit]

Circles play a large part in Polish mythology. Most ancient Slavic people worshipped in natural circles and groves; and it plays a large part in all kinds of folk magic. In all traditions, circles can be made of with lighted candles, drawing circles in the soil, or with natural objects and tools. They are used to surround evil or protect oneself from it.

Crossroads[edit]

As in other European traditions, the crossroads in Polish mythology are a sacred and magical place where both divination and invocations were uttered. Talismans and amulets were hung or buried there, as well as other spell work was conducted. The crossroads were a place where all places and directions meet; and all time faded away into the present moment.

The legacy of this tradition can be seen all across present-day Poland, where tens of thousands of crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary stand next to major and minor crossroads. The Catholic Church, as with many other cultures, absorbed what was good in the symbolism of what she found there while utterly transforming its purpose. Accordingly crossroads were marked by crosses and statues, as special places where wayfarers would be under the protection of saints.

Divination[edit]

Forms of divination in Polish mythology that were practiced in Poland included the following: Candle wax dripped in a glass of water was held up to the light for interpretation; herbs thrown on the fire produced smoke that could be interpreted by the shape of patterns it made; finding pysanky patterns in the natural world would yield a prediction of fortune.

Fire Flowers[edit]

In Polish mythology, fire flowers are mystical blooms. To find this powerful plant the seeker had to enter a forest before midnight on the Eve of Kupala. The flower would climb up the stalk of the fern, and precisely at midnight it would bloom so brightly that no one could look directly at it. In order to harvest it, a circle had to be drawn around it, and the seeker had to deal with demons trying to distract him/her from doing so. It was said that if you answered the voices, or faltered during the task, it would cost you your own life. Anyone possessing this flower gained the ability to read minds, find treasure, and repel all evils.

Magic Belt of Poland[edit]

The Magic Belt of Poland is a special belt in with inscribed symbols significant in Polish folk practices which has been missing since the end of the Second World War. Replicas of some of the symbols are still sold to this day in occult shops online.[1] The same symbols are featured in the book "Talismans and Amulets" by Felicitas H. Nelson.[2]

The original belt was 2.28m (89" long) parchment scroll with the magic symbols inscribed on the outside and the prayers for them written on the inside of the Belt. The Knights of Poland used it to protect them from all possible danger. The original source of protective magic probably dates to before 1600 AD in Christian magic, however, the symbols might be from pagan antiquity. The Magic Belt was originally on exhibit by the Archeology Department of the Warsaw University in 1922, but disappeared at the end of World War II.[citation needed]

Invoking the talismans, one would take the belt off and stand in a circle with their hair loose. These belts held knives, ladanki and were wore by both women and men. It is possible in these everyday belts and magic belts were embossed with the symbols and possibly come from the origin of the Key of Solomon.

"Spoiling"[edit]

In Polish mythology, spoiling is a term used to mean a curse being on someone, or working magic against someone. One way of doing this is measuring out the exact length of someone’s footprint with a string, and then burning the string. A footprint in mud or snow was dug up and buried under the victim’s house to cause grief. Spoiling may be averted by lighting a candle if you are not face to face with the culprit, or by spitting on the ground, or by throwing dirt in the direction of the culprit walking away.

Polish tribes[edit]

The following is a list of Polish tribes—tribes which constituted the lands of Poland in the Early Middle Ages, at the beginning of the Polish state. Some of them have remained separate ethnicities while others have been assimilated into the culture of Poland.[1][2][3]

See also: Bavarian Geographer, a list of tribes in Central Europe, composed in the 870s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raymond Breton, National Survival in Dependent Societies: Social Change in Canada and Poland, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1990, p. 106,ISBN 0886291275 Google Books
  2. ^ John Blacking, Anna Czekanowska, Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage - Polish Tradition - Contemporary Trends, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 3, ISBN 0-521-02797-7 Google Books
  3. ^ Jerzy Strzelczyk [in:] The New Cambridge Medieval History, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 521-522 ISBN 0-521-36447-7 Google Books; Robert Machray, The Problem of Upper Silesia, G. Allen & Unwin ltd. 1945, p. 13 Google Books; Paul Wagret, Helga S. B. Harrison, Poland, Nagel, 1964, p. 231. Google Books

Further reading[edit]

  • Bonnerjea, B. A Dictionary of Superstitions and Mythology. London 1927
  • Chrypinski, Anna, editor. Polish Customs. Friends of Polish Art: Detroit, MI, 1977.
  • Contoski, Josepha K., editor. Treasured Polish Songs with English Translations. Polanie Publishing Co.: Minneapolis, MN, 1953.
  • Estes, Clarissa Pinkola, Ph.D. Women Who Run With the Wolves. Ballantine Books: New York, 1992.
  • Gimbutas, Marijas. The Slavs. Preager Publishers: New York, 1971.
  • Ingeman, B. S. Grundtræk til En Nord-Slavisk og Vendisk Gudelære. Copenhagen 1824.
  • Knab, Sophie Hodorowicz. Polish Customs, Traditions, & Folklore. Hippocrene Books: New York, 1993.
  • Knab, Sophie Hodorowicz. Polish Herbs, Flowers, and Folk Medicine. Hippocrene Books: New York, 1995.
  • Krasicki, Ignacy (tr by Gerard Kapolka) Polish Fables : Bilingual. 1997
  • Leland, Charles Godfrey. Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling. New York: University Books, 1962
  • Zajdler, Zoe. Polish Fairy Tales. Chicago, Ill: Follett Publishing, 1959
  • Sekalski, Anstruther J. Old Polish Legends. 1997
  • Singing Back The Sun: A Dictionary of Old Polish Customs and Beliefs, Okana, 1999
  • Szyjewski, Andrzej: Slavic Religion, WAM, Kraków, 2003
  • Nelson, Felicitas H. Talismans and Amulets, 2008