Katarina Pejović 2024


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.

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