Across the myriad genres of sorcery, traditions of spirit-initiated witchcraft, and lineages of cunning arts found in the Balkans, those descended from encounters with fairies hold a bewitching rank in folklore: both frequently-depicted in the abstract, while also remaining secretive, distant, mysterious, and often inaccessible in practice. Initiation into these forms of fairy-craft takes place almost universally directly between spirit and human. A vila may choose to adopt a young girl on the cusp of puberty as her “sister” or “goddaughter”, bestowing upon her phenomenal gifts of mediumship, trance, premonition—and madness—in exchange for a portion of her humanity, transforming her into a veritable member of her kin. Alternatively, a marriage pact between one world and the next may be forged, with an unsuspecting shepherd becoming enraptured in a matrimonial bond that changes both his own village and the world of his otherworldly bride’s forever—assuming he is allowed to return in his corporeal form, and is not raptured entirely. In some cases still, a seer may be born with the right omens that already mark them as belonging to fairy through their parentage, and it is only after puberty that their spiritual kin come to seize them with visions and send them climbing the devil’s tree in rapturous song.This presentation—organized by good friends, godsisters, and enthusiasts of all things Balkan folklore and witchcraft, Sasha Ravitch and Katarina Pejović—will consider not only the historical and anthropological data on various forms of Balkan fairy seers from across the peninsula, but also present a wealth of newly-translated folklore and ritual charming. Drawing on Vlach, Kalderash, Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, and even Hungarian sources, this lecture will include oral charms, scholarly history, and intimate revelations on the nature of Balkan fairy lore, kinds of spirits classified as “fairies”, the nature of birth omens and spirit-led initiations, cross-cultural comparisons.This is a 120 minute, intermediate level lecture.About the Presenters: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.Sasha Ravitch is an Astrolater and Folkloric Witch working at the crossroads of stellar storytelling and spirit-lead-seership. She aspires to guide her clients, mentees, and patrons through the dark forest of their nativity's fairytale, and to help them understand the pacts they have with the Stars and Spirits in their court. While she has no client availability for the rest of 2022, you can join her and her incredible community of patrons on her Patreon, listen to her many podcast appearances, and see her present a keynote lecture for AstroMagia this October, present in-person in London for the Magickal Women’s Conference, and co-present with her dear friend Katarina Pejovic for the Salem Witchcraft & Folklore Festival.
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