Sep 21, 2010

Snakes in Balkan Penissula magick and beliefs

This is an article that I have wrote, because I find the snakes to be fascinating creatures, and since we are all prety much well informed about snakes in Western cultures and religions I though to shed sum light on Eastern European concepts and belifs regarding them.
This is why I decided I should share the folklore about snakes originating from Balkan as it is indeed fascinating, and in my humble opinion among the richest , well in this particular theme that is.Also I wish to dedicate the article to my dear friend Ldy Gry, an amazing Root doctor and spiritual worker (
there is a link to her live journal site in one of my older posts, about Hoodoo sources ) who was interested in finding out more about Balkan witchery. Blessings dear Miss Lady Gry

Snake, One of the most respected, and in same time most feared animals among Balkan and Slavic people is snake.
Our elder people, never even name it, or at least they never use the word “snake”. Instead, they use pseudonyms, such as “unnamed one” * , “bitter one” , or also “boogey” ( not boogeyman , just boogey, though meaning is quite similar ) etc.
People also believe here that the snake actually has both legs and wings and that, snakes are dragon’s sisters, members of same draconic family alongside with “ala” ** .
This is why it’s a common saying among all Slavonic people, “He/She/It hides it like snake her legs”. Snakes hide their legs and wings by means of fascination, according to myth anyway, and folk belif. It had been believed that If mentioned too often ( snake ) will become the doom of the one that had spoke of her*** .

How did they came to be?

There are many legends among Slavonic people, varying depending on specific area, and whether or not was that particular part of Balkan Christianized, but also depending on other cultural influences ( for example Celtic or Romanic origins of the people and their cultural legacy ).
According to one of the legends the cattle keeper ( shepherd ) of St, Demetrius, slain a Dragon, and from it’s flesh came to be snakes, lizards and rodents.
Another legend however, speaks of ancient times, and how, jealous of G’d and his creation ( the world, humans, animals and plants ), the Fiend decided to make his own creation, which was snake. Here we can see the obvious influence of Christianization, and it’s tendency ( especially that of Orthodox church ) to depict the snake as malevolent creature or omen.
Slavonic folk, especially Serbian, Montenegrin and Macedonian folk, believe that snake came to be from a horse hair that touched some water surface, especially if the hair has fallen naturally**** .

Good or bad?

Well, despite all the negative propaganda, snake is still believed to be good, moody and strong-tempered, sure, but not evil. Especially among population of Vlasi***** , which have the richest folk culture among all the Slavic people, who kept both the Old Religion and their pagan pantheon even nowadyas, unedited since earlier than middle age , with all the rustic and often cruel and scary rituals, spells and practice, though in places, admitably , Christianized. They believe that snakes get out from the ground on Annunciations and go under the ground on St. John’s day.
In meanwhile they are said to drink the milk of the cattle such as goats and cows, without harming them. According to Vlasi people , the snake will bite only, and only when endangered and threatened. They have abundance of customs and folk rituals that pay respect to the snakes, so that snakes will be kind towards them. Those procedures are often done on Orthodox holidays such as St. Jeremiah’s day, or St. Lazarus Saturday,Holliday re;ated to Entering / arival of Lord Jesus into Jerusalem know as Palm Sunday These days are known as Snake Feast days. If a Young man would see a snake on
such a day, and near their respective dwellings or in their yards , he would look for a
large stone and would throw it as fare as he could behind
his back. According to the folk lore, snakes will not cross the boundary set by this stone, and wont approach the home of the one that threw the stone.
Large bonfires are lit on these days and people hit with spoons or forks on metal dishes, walking around them, to both honor the slithering creatures, and scare them away.
To protect from snake bite, people would pick a plantain or boneset on such a day and carry it.
If someone was silly enough to shave or cut hair ( in some regions even bathe !!! ) on these days would risk themselves being followed and threatened by snakes whole year long.

Snake spells and curios

Balkan peninsulla folk, have also many use of snakes in witchraft and magick.
For example the one that would kill a first snake they see on spring, using their bare heel ( by stepping on their head )to do it, was said to gain incredible strength and make his heel a healing charm for many pains and diseases.

If You wish to be protected from snakebite, lightning and poison, as well as remain Young and beautiful, all You need to do,according to Slavic folk beliefs is to find a snake shedding Your self and carry it always with You.

Snakebite cure incantations are cultural treasure of Serbian and Montenegrin, as well as Roman and Bulgarian people. People of Vlasi are said to be most skilled in such procedures. These incantations are in some ancient language, which to me seems like some archaic mixture of Celtic and Latin. People called Vlasi, that I have mentioned before, have also incantations to cure snake bites in their own language, which they hardly ever use ( mainly in magick, for incantations ).
If one would like to speak snake language and understand animals, they should catch a white ( albino snake ) and make a soup out of it. They must eat it all, and they will become able to speak the snake language and understand and communicate with animals.
The “snake tongue” ability is gained If You save life of Snake King, who will in such case reward You by spitting in Your mouths O.o thus giving You the gift of “snake tongue”.

To become able to see apparitions and demons, as well as fairies and other normally “unseen” creatures, one should decapitate snake with a sliver dime ( snake can be dead already or one must hunt it and kill it ). The Cunning folk of Balkan would then place whole garlic in snake’s mouths ( not to say jaws ) and wait until germinates, after what the garlic is collected and carried to provide clairvoyance, or ability to see supernatural entities and beings. This can be done with snake skull too.

Snakes are offered with eggs ( often those of bird, but that might be due to nomadic way of life of the Slavic people and their ancestors, that would rather eat edible/ chicken eggs ) and fresh milk, and appeased and honored in such manners they will do You a favor or allow You to dig up a treasure they guard.

Slavic Snake deity

Veles is Slavic snake deity, ruling from the bottom of the World tree or Tree of life, from it’s roots and underground. Bellow, wet and dark are his attributes and he has slithering form.

Snake kings, Snake Queens, Snake Doctors, Treasure Guards and Basilisk

Snake king is a ruler of Snakes quite similar, if not same as Basilisk. He has a large crown that he never takes off, unlike snake Queens that can remove their crown on St. Peter’s day when Cunning folk
Would place large white fabric near sprigs hoping snake queen would leave hers crown there. Such Crown is a insurance of abundance, riches and money for the one that posses it. Snake queens change each 1000 years and in appearance are considerably smaller than Snake kings, but generally less benevolent and very dangerous.
Snake doctors are snakes with ability to heal or even revive dead snakes ( that had not been dead for longer than seven days, and whose corpse was not tempered or moved in any way ). Helping snake doctor is a great way to get favors and patronage of snakes.
Treasure guards are Snakes that guard treasure, often being Aesculpian snake ( Elamphe longissima syn. Zamennis longissimus ). They can be offered with eggs and milk in order to let one dig up the treasure, otherwise, they are said to suffocate mean and greedy people or even fascinate them ( hypnotize )
Forcing them to take their own life.
Basilisk is a dangerous creature siad to be a hybrid of a rooster, snake and dragon. His very look can kill, much like that of King of Snakes, but it is said to be fable on sight of a rooster ( ironically ) especially the black one, which is very valluable in Balkan folk craft witchery.

_________________Terms explanation as marked with stars
* unnamed – meaning one that should not be named rather than nameless one
** Ala ( plural Ale ) is a Slavic serpent like demon causing hail and bad weather, in Russian folk tales it is known for insatiable appetite and cruelty. It is said to be of Dragon family alongside snakes and Dragons themselves
*** Her, because snake’s grammatical gender is female in most Slavic languages
**** Note the similarity between snake origin’s beliefs in Slavic people and living things in one, a horse hair split and
Then placed in whiskey is said to induce snakes to live inside a belly of the one that drinks the whiskey
***** Vlasi ( plural , singular is Vlah ) are group of people inhabiting the South of Serbia, with Bulgarian origins, but their ancestors were Celtic tribe called Volca by Romans and Nyahlos by Germans. They are fierce guardians of folk magick as intact as taught by “elders of their elders”
Also very skilled Cunning folk

The article is written by myself, so please refrain from copy pasting it elswhere without giving credits or Shadow of Shadows magick place

I hope You liked the post and find it informative . Many Blessings :)

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