Lecture & Workshop Host
LECTURE: The Great Garland of the King: Balkan Herbal Magic of St. George’s Day
By far one of the most important saint feasts of the Serbian folk calendar, St. George’s Day is not only a prominent personal slava, but also the beginning of the ritual year, marking the ascent of the summer months. Deeply tied to older oral lore of gods, spirit guardians who protect communities, and the beings of disease that are kept at bay by them, this holy feast, celebrated either April 23rd or May 6th by church calendar, preserves some of the most outwardly prominent motifs of pre-Christian traditions within its scope of folk Orthodoxy.
Drawing on anthropological scholarship across wider Balkan traditions, as well as oral lore obtained through ethnographic research (and a lifelong personal study of Serbian traditions), this presentation will cover a wide array of beliefs and practices pertaining to the herbal folk magic of the dragon-slaying, horse-riding, Green George himself. By focusing on living oral praxis, we will cover a selection of trees and herbs and their folklore, specific timings and practices for harvesting, works carried out in the early hours stretching all throughout those best done in solitude at night, and never-before-translated oral charms for protection, love, divination, financial success, fertility, and more.
WORKSHOP: The Spear and the Sight: A Rite of Augury and Protection by Way of St. George and St. Vitus
2 HOUR INTENSIVE– space is limited to 20 participants
The period between Đurđevdan (St. George’s Day on May 6) and Vidovdan (St. Vitus’ Day on June 28) is known across Serbian folklore as the time when the Seven Fairies (or Dragons) of the Pleiades are “missing” from the sky, on pilgrimage to the Mothers of the Sun, Moon, and Wind to pay homage to their guidance and protection. Much like St. George’s Day itself, the feast of St. Vitus is not only exceptionally well-known and respected throughout Serbia for its historic significance across the centuries, but is also a day marked by sorcery, divination, and rites to open and enhance the sight.
By using key ingredients collected in a traditional fashion on St. George’s Day in 2024, this workshop will bring the embers emerging in the full of springtime directly into the heat of the summer solstice. Sacred waters and herbs, traditionally cultivated by George, will be re-awakened by Vitus on his holy day together with participants, who will be taught their oral charms in their original language as well as in English translation. As a group, we will then share in traditional forms of St. Vitus’ Day divination, calling on the Pleiades to reveal the fortune and misfortune predicted for the coming season, and seize the oracular insights gleaned to capture what is fertile and ward away what brings ruin in the form of a potent protective charm. Building on existing practices for how to protect one’s health, joy, and luck from all manner of angles, we will expand upon lore of the herbs of Sts. George and Vitus (and their pre-Christian, Slavic forms of Jarilo and Svetovid) to gaze with clear sight—through the stellar crossroad of the saints, armed with their burning spears of benediction.
$45 workshop add on fee
$10 materials fee
*Materials fees paid to presenter day of workshop.
BIO: Katarina Pejovic is a PhD candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded research examines the legends and grimoires of the sorcerer saint Cyprian of Antioch, with a special focus on his presence in Eastern Orthodox traditions in the Balkans and Mediterranean. 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 both her academic studies and personal praxis; watered by ancestral veneration, enflamed by Quimbanda and dragon-fire, and nourished with an endless curiosity of mystery.
Tickets for the 9th Annual VGS are now Available!