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The Sorcerer’s Stone: Magic of Water and Blood*

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image of Russian History

The contents of a manuscript text of Byelorussian origin dated to the mid-sixteenth century, discovered by A. Turilov, are discussed in this article. The text is a magical instruction for the invocation of rain, snow, draught, hail and storm with the help of a magical stone taken from a beast or bird, permanently moistened with fresh blood. The text is a part of Prince Semen Belskii’s archive, who re-emigrated back to Poland from Muscovy. The magical motifs of sinking a stone into water and moistening it with blood are analyzed and linked with ancient, pre-Christian customs, as well as with later practices recorded in spell books and trials of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Parallels from manuscript, folkloric and ethnographic materials are discussed. The article concludes with a translation of this unusual text into English in an appendix.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences,


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