Sun, Aug 07|
The Warriors of St. Elijah: Weather Sorcerers and Spirit Combat in Balkan Folk Magic with Katarina Pejović
Time & Location
Aug 07, 2022, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT
About the event
When the storm crests upon the horizon, the caul-born shaman will fall to the ground. Entering a deep, lifeless trance, lying still in the fields or, if lucky, in his own bed where his wife protects his empty body from intruders and possession—the sorcerer will remain away from his flesh until the enemy spirit, demon, manifestation of ill-weather, witch, or even his own rival in another village is vanquished. The clashes are nothing short of violent, the claps of thunder being the gouging of eyes, the howling of wind being the tearing of flesh, and the flashes of lightning the piercing of their magical tools: implements ranging from staves of sacred wood to household kitchenware used in sorcery. When the dust at last settles, the triumphant warrior returns to his body and sleeps for three nights, licking the wounds mirrored on his flesh that he sustained in spirit, while the defeated flee or even never return to flesh at all, perishing in the cold.
This phenomenon, first encountered by many Anglophone occultists in Carlo Ginzburg’s The Night Battles, an elucidation of the Italian caul-born benandanti, is exceedingly well-documented in the Balkans. The stories of these sorcerers are as varied as the names used for them, with documentation of their tools, methods, origins, and even guilds—army-like platoons of allied village shamans who fly out at the same time to the same mountains in order to clash with their rivals from other countries. This lecture will present a thorough examination of the Balkan folklore, legends, and magic of the caul-born weather sorcerers across their myriad instantiations, and include newly-translated historical examples, rituals, and practical techniques for weather manipulation, spiritual combat and violence, and pacts with the armies of St. Elijah the Thunderer’s legions.
This is a 120 minute foundational level lecture.
About the Presenter:
Katarina Pejović is a doctoral graduate student at the University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded research examines the legends and grimoires of the sorcerer saint Cyprian of Antioch. In addition to her work on St. Cyprian, she writes on various topics including grimoire history, folk Christianity, Western occultism, and traditions of divination, witchcraft, and magic in Eastern Europe. Her lifelong passion for the unique folklore, sorcery, and spirits of the Balkans forms the roots of her personal praxis; watered by ancestral veneration, enflamed by Quimbanda and dragon-fire, and nourished with an endless curiosity of mystery.