“Bodily soul” in healing and magical practices of the Slavs

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Andriy Temchenko


Introduction. The subject of the human body and its binding with the soul makes an interestnot only to ethnographers, but is also actively studied in the writings of representatives of other humanitarian branches, indicating the acuity of the chosen problem.

Purpose. Healing and magical practices of the Slavs are the remnants of archaic myths about the human. An important component of these myths is the doctrine about the soul, the separate fragments of which can be reconstructed by studying the texts, which were read during the healing ceremonies. Evidence of the existence of a bodily soul is found in the works of K. Moshynsky and M. Popovich, who stated that in the beliefs of the Slavs, the human soul is triple. Conclusions of the scientists are supported by ethnographic, folkloric and linguistic data.

Results. Triple structure of the soul is matched with three levels of the body, which denote its top, middle and bottom parts, corresponding to the vertical structure of the mythological picture of the world, typical for the Indo-European tradition. The top of the body is personified by the face of the human; the soul itself is concentrated in the eyes and is identified as “knowing one”. The mythologization of a sight is explained by the nature of the vision as the main means of knowing reality, as well as its reciprocal function - the ability to convey nonverbal information that explains the observance of ritual regulations for the “right to have a sight”, duration and expressiveness of the sight. The middle part of the body is associated with emotions and feelings, that’s why it is located in the heart, with which the sphere of intimate life of the human is also associated. Traditionally, appealing to the “sensual” soul is found in female lyrics-love spells and charms. The lower soul - the “womb” controls the physiology of the human, therefore, respiratory, digestive, excretory and reproductive organs are compared with it. Often, the treatment of the lower soul is carried out in spells against mechanical injuries caused by hard work, and its “regulation” - in the rites of difficult childbirth. The structure of the “womb” of the human differs from the similar soul of the animal, which was associated with force –“dispute”, which is reflected in the lexical material.

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