Space mythology: horizontal semantics in traditional representations of the eastern slavs (as exemplified in spells)

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Andriy Temchenko


Introduction. The subject of the space mythology is an important part of the mythological picture of the world, which explains the existence of different concepts of interpretation of its semantics and confirms the relevance of the problem studied.

Purpose. Study of the space mythology is a difficult task, so it is advisable to divide this issue into separate parts. In this aspect, the symbols of geometric figures, particularly the “circle”, “quadrilateral” and “corner”, make a special interest.

Results. The key to the implementation of the rite is a proper organization of space, particularly establishment of its centre and identification of boundaries of the periphery. Elements of the horizontal space are integral parts of the plot of the treatment myth. The flagship of the spatial horizontal is the quadrilateral. These are fields, cities, fortifications. Horizontally-perpendicular interlacing is characteristic of fabrics, hunting rods.

Semantic opposition to the quadrilateral is the circle that reflects natural forms. For example, trees, mountains, lakes, holes, hollows, astronomical objects, anatomical openings are rounded. Hence the symbol of the circle is used in burial rites, which is considered as a way of returning to the natural state. Possibly, the ritual burning of the deceased has relation to the idea of heavenly fire / circle. That’s why the ritual use of the circle serves as the protection against aggressive natural environment.

The semantics of the corner as a joining point of perpendicular straight lines more likely have relation to a quadrangle. Concurrences of direct lines in the corners create “weak” points. This explains the tradition of putting protective objects to the corners, including towers, icons, stones, protective amulets that enhance the inviolability and static nature of the horizontal space.

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