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Pultusk Academy of Humanities

ACTA ARCHAEOLOGICA PULTUSKIENSIA


Vol. III

Studies on Religion:
Seeking Origins and Manifestations of Religion

Edited by Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska,


& Jadwiga Iwaszczuk

Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

PUTUSK 2011


Scientific Editors: Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska, Jadwiga Iwaszczuk
Proof-reading in English by Jo B. Harper & Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska
DTP by Jadwiga Iwaszczuk
Graphics by Jadwiga Iwaszczuk
Cover design by Jakub Affelski

Published with financial support


of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education

All rights reserved


Copyright 2011
by the Pultusk Academy of Humanities, 2011

Publisher:
Pultusk Academy of Humanities
ul. Daszyskiego 17, 06-100 Putusk
tel./fax (+48 23) 692 50 82
e-mail: rektorat@ah.edu.pl
Internet: www.ah.edu.pl

ISBN 978-83-7549-203-3

Realised on behalf of the publisher:


Przedsibiorstwo Poligraficzno-Wydawnicze Graf Janusz Janiszewski
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tel. 501 376 898
e-mail:janusz.graf@wp.pl


Contents

Dedication....................................................................................................................................... 7
Preface............................................................................................................................................ 9
Introduction.................................................................................................................................... 11
Marcin Czarnowicz, Origins and Manifestations of Religion in the Prehistoric Levant........... 13
Piotr Czerkwiski, Can Flames Ensure Immortality to Humans? AFew Words
on Hypocephali and Their Significance for the Dead
in the Culture of Ancient Egypt................................................. 19
Dorota Czerwik, Orality and Literacy in the Old Kingdom Tomb Inscriptions......................... 27
Wadysaw Duczko, Religious Mind of Early Scandinavians according
to Archaeological Finds............................................................. 43
sds Egilsdttir, Recognised and Potential Saints in Medieval Iceland.................................. 47
Grzegorz First, Polymorphic or Pantheistic Deities? Some Problems with Identification
and Interpretation. Contribution to the Manifestation of God
in Late Egyptian Religion and Magic........................................ 53
Jerzy Gssowski, Paganism Christianity State Formation................................................... 65
Krzysztof Jakubiak, Some Remarks on Fantastic Creatures in Urartian Art
and Their Religious Aspects...................................................... 71
Romuald Jaworski, Rev., Psychological Interpretation of the Genesis and Structure
of Religiousness......................................................................... 79
Boena Jzefw-Czerwiska, Seeking Creations and Changes in Other Worlds Beliefs
according to Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology Data..... 89
Agnieszka Kowalska, Kamil Kuraszkiewicz, Some Aspects of Purification after Death
in the Old Kingdom in Egypt..................................................... 95
Jakub Morawiec, Religious Aspects of Skaldic Poetry the Case of Hallfredar Saga................ 99
Andrzej Niwiski, The Coffin as the Universe: Cosmological Scenes on the Twenty-first
Dynasty Coffins.......................................................................... 107
Piero Pasini, Cittadinanza e famiglia: la religione dei cimiteri nel XIX secolo.
Una passeggiata nel cimitero veneziano................................... 111
Karol Piasecki, Andrzej Wierciskis Concept of Religion......................................................... 119
Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska, Say that which is, do not say that which is not, for
non-conformance of words is gods abomination
Unique Notions of Egyptian Religion in the Light
ofAnthropology of Word........................................................... 123
Andrzej Rozwaka, An Outline of the Archaeological Research on the Medieval Parish
Network in Poland with Special Regard to the Lublin Land.... 131
Aleksandra Szymku, Neo-Assyrian Prophetesses..................................................................... 137
Krzysztof Ulanowski, The Mythological and Archaeological Aspects of Religious Influences
of the Near East on Greece........................................................ 143
Dorota Wanacka, Hittite King: a God or a Human?................................................................... 163
Joanna Wawrzeniuk, The Specificity of Slavic Folk Beliefs in the Middle Ages Theoretical
Consideration............................................................................. 169


Joanna Wawrzeniuk
Department of Cultural Studies
State Higher School of Vocational Education in Ciechanow

The Specificity of Slavic Folk Beliefs


in the Middle Ages Theoretical Consideration

The cultural elements of pagan-barbarian world and the elements of Mediterranean


legacy create the medieval culture. The ancient model of life differed though from the
reality surrounding the people of the Middle Ages, their social experience and their
rhythmof life. The traditional beliefs and cult practices performed by the barbarians,
the Slavic or Germanictribes, were closely related to everyday life and the relationship
between the man and the nature. This is the way that the affiliation with the agrarian world,
which also had its influence on the shaping of social structure, developed. In the medieval
timesthe traditional magical thinking underwent some dynamic changes. This process
was influencedby Christianity, which, on the one hand introduced many new beliefs, often
recondite to acommon man, but on the other hand, accustomed former practices in order
to be able to eliminate the paganism as a system. Thus, a specific religious syncretism is
saidto haveexisted in those times. It should be emphasised that paganism lasted throughout
the ages mainly among the rural population, and the influence of Christianity may have
contributed to the growth of number of demons in the Middle Ages.1 S. Czarnowski, on the
other hand, claims that actual spread of basic Christian principles, introduction of prayers
and other fundamental cultic functions were the legacy of Counter-Reformation.2
According to J. Jagu, the official acceptance of the combination of elements of pagan
traditions and Christian beliefs by the church hierarchy was first to be observed. This
form of syncretism, not being eradicated, has survived until today. During the second
stage, at the beginning of Christianisation, the church temporarily accepted some forms of
syncretism apparent in the above-mentioned co-operation of Christian and pagan priests
or in burials of that time. This state, however, has disappeared over time, mainly because of
its incompatibility with the church doctrine, and so today it is only possible to learn about
it from written sources. And finally, in the third and last stage we come across syncretism,
which the church was not able to control, not only in the early period of Christianisation, but
later as well. This lack of control resulted from the emergence of new faith in the awareness
of recent pagans. The faith being a combination of old pagan traditions involving the myths
of the sky, the sun, the moon, stars, lightnings, demons, etc and the Christian religion. It
may be supposed that this form of syncretism has partly remained in peoples minds until
present day.3 Helena Zoll-Adamikowa in her works presents a different point of view on the
issue of belief syncretism.4


1
A. Gieysztor, Mitologia Sowian, Warszawa 1982, p. 42; S. Urbaczyk, Dawni Sowianie. Wiara
ikult, Wrocaw 1991, p. 112.
2
S. Czarnowski, Kultura religijna ludu wiejskiego polskiego, [in:] Dziea 1. Studia z teorii kultury,
Warszawa 1956, p. 107.
3
J. Jagu, Synkretyzm pogasko chrzecijaski w wietle rde pisanych i archeologicznych na
ziemiach polskich w wiekach rednich, Z Otchani Wiekw 55.3-4 (2000), pp. 109-110.
4
H. Zoll-Adamikowa presents the process of Christianisation of Polish lands in a different way.
The first stage could be called an apparent Christianity, of which the initial step was the nominal
inclusion of the whole lands into the boundaries of specific dioceses. This was not associated
with the actual conversion, but gave an excuse to territorial expansions and tribute collections.
The following step was adopting the way of life and behaviour proper for Christians (e.g. funeral)

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Joanna Wawrzeniuk

The above-mentioned views on the changes in the medieval belief system were closely
related to the specific system of magical thinking. For it is the magical world view that,
though from concealment, gives the entire shape to practice, with which it is fully integrated
and forms a system explaining the uniform natural-social order. Magic is a separate state
of social awareness, which regulates specific types of social practices. It is a syncretic kind
of culture. The subjects of magic do not perceive the dissimilarities of statuses of individual
activities, i.e. practical, communicative and philosophical.5 The background of these activities
was formed by magical thinking, the world view, which quite consistently correlated the
most essential components of the dominant spiritual vision within a culture. The diagram
below, based on the typology of M. Buchowski, presents the development cycle of magic in
the discussed period:

Development cycle of medieval magic

I. Professional Magic 1. Early stage


2. Late stage

II. Degenerated (Degraded) Magic

1. Religious Magic

Rural Courtly White


Magic Magic and black
magic

2. Degenerated actual magic

Folk Scientific
beliefs Magic

Christian Beliefs

by those pagans, who as the representatives of the ruling class, merchants, hostages or prisoners
had contact with the royal courts of baptised lands, their armies or milieu of international
trading emporia. Adopting the external ways of living promoted by the environments considered
as exemplary did not necessarily lead to the acceptance of the relevant contents of the new faith
(H. Zoll-Adamikowa, Formy konwersji Sowiaszczyzny wczesnoredniowiecznej a problem
chrystianizacji Maopolski, [in:] J.M. Maecki (ed.), Chrystianizacja Polski poudniowej.
Materiay sesji naukowej odbytej 29 czerwca 1993 roku, Krakw 1994 (hereinafter referred to
as: Zoll-Adamikowa, Formy konwersji Sowiaszczyzny wczesnoredniowiecznej), pp. 131-133).
The second stage was formal temporary Christianisation, which was characterised by the halt in
the process of systematic conversion after the formal act of baptising the whole tribe or land due
to negligence, not very ardent spread of new religions, or recurrence of paganism as the result
of violent opposition of the population. The third stage was formal permanent Christianisation,
carried out intensely, without major disruptions, which gradually led to actual Christianisation
(the final stage), i.e. dissemination and understanding of the new faith by the entire population
(Zoll-Adamikowa, Formy konwersji Sowiaszczyzny wczesnoredniowiecznej, pp. 132-133).
5
M. Buchowski, Magia. Jej funkcje i struktura, Pozna 1986 (hereinafter referred to as: Buchowski,
Magia), p. 86.

170
The Specificity of Slavic Folk Beliefs in the Middle Ages Theoretical Consideration

As shown in the diagram, according to Buchowski, the functioning of the professional


magic with the developed role of magician-fortune teller is the first to be noticed. Professional
magic accompanies the growth of productive forces, i.e. specialised production. In such
community magicians represent specific cultural beliefs, relevant to a type of magical world
view. They become teachers who spread the beliefs and make sure they are respected.6 It is
a mental formation placed halfway between primitive magic and autonomous theoretical-
-religious sphere of culture.7 Professional magic of the early medieval Slavs, however, was
more complex than M. Buchowski suggests. Most probably in a farming community (early
stage) the function of magician-fortune teller was initially entrusted to a person chosen from
a family having appropriate abilities. Nevertheless, in special circumstances any person was
likely to perform magic rituals. In later years (late stage) the priestly class appeared and
took over some other social functions, while the above-mentioned magician still enjoyed
recognition in rural environments. The following stage of magical thinking, characteristic not
only to the Middle Ages but also to the Renaissance period, was classified by M.Buchowski
as degraded or degenerated magic. It was a set of beliefs genetically deriving from
professional magic, only this time it was not the sole and decisive outlook, and so did not
regulate the only existing type of world view-forming practice. Three spheres developed
within its boundaries: technical-functional, symbolic in narrower sense and ideological.
According to the medieval vision of the world, which is possible to be reconstructed on the
basis of written sources, presenting the image of common awareness of the Christian elite,
the natural order, once formed, continued to exist in accordance with the earthly causality.
Whereas the sacrum, as if concealed, intervened only occasionally (miracles) in order to
guarantee the success of the planned course of events and to prevent the anti-sacrum from
taking over the control of situation. It is possible that this providentionalism occurred either
as a top-down initiative of numinosum, or was pleaded. Such requests were sent directly to
God or were carried out due to the intercession of saints or angels.8
It needs to be seen though, that this magical world view did not undergo a uniform
process of development. Two stages can be distinguished here: the first, conventionally
termed religious magic and the second, degenerated or degraded actual magic (the term
degenerated actual magic will be used from now on). Religious magic functioned in the
early stage of converting people into Christianity. The manner used for introducing the new
belief was far from harmonious and uniform within all social spheres. The situation was due
to the insufficient number of clergymen, who start to begin converting process from the elite
and then proceed to the lower social classes. Therefore, two forms of religious magic can be
distinguished: courtly and rural magic.
The courtly magic can be referred to the Christian world view, however, imbued with the
elements of old beliefs. It was also the crossing point of religion and science, the beliefs of the
common and the educated, of literary conventions and the reality of everyday life.9 People of
courts lived in fear of magic. They constantly sought the kings favour and aspired to rapid
advance within their social class.10 The dominant notions of magic in this environment
had their origins in numerous sources: ancient cultures,11 Germanic and Celtic practices,

6
Buchowski, Magia, p. 86.
7
M. Buchowski applied the distinction between proto-professional magic where the magician
works were on the margins of an ordinary member of his community and the magic pure
professional, its function is clearlier and independent and did not participate in the production
practice (Buchowski, Magia, pp. 75, 86).
8
Buchowski, Magia, p. 89.
9
R. Kieckhefer, Magia w redniowieczu, Krakw 2001 (hereinafter referred to as: Kieckhefer,
Magia), p. 18.
10
Kieckhefer, Magia, p. 148.
11
Magic formulas were preserved on papyri and other forms of magical knowledge transmission
among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (Kieckhefer, Magia, p. 45).

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Joanna Wawrzeniuk

the Jews or the Muslims.12 At that time scientific magic (and astrology within it) arose
and it was treated on equal terms with other fields of science. The medieval intellectuals
recognised two types of magic: natural and demonic. The former did not differ from science
dealing with the powers concealed in nature. The latter bore resemblance to religion, or
rather to its distorted version, which deserted God and turned to demons in search of their
intervention in human affairs.13
The other form of religious magic dominated among the majority of population.
Therefore, it can be described as rural magic. The characteristic feature of this world view
was a clear advantage of elements of pagan beliefs over the components of Christian ones.
The Slavs could not agree to the fact that some new religion required them to reject their old
beliefs and to adopt the belief in one God. The destruction of old temples and suppressions
of public cult resulted in moving the forbidden worship to the underground. It took a very
long time for the people to recognise Christianity as the only true religion and to begin
observing paganism as the work of Satan. Nevertheless, some pagan beliefs, ceremonies
and religious practices continued to stay in close relation to the life and traditions of
the masses.14 The rejection of the old God and the recognition of the new one could be
associated with the change of apprehension of God only with few individuals.15 The cult of
other deities, the so-called deities of lower order, was perceived as rather harmless, and
as a result not taken into consideration in the process of Christianisation. The belief in
demons was not driven out by the new veneration of saints. The adoption of Christianity
did not lead to the rejection of magical thinking which was typical not only of the then
Slavs, but also of the whole Europe.16 The Christians arriving in the medieval Poland,
including the representatives of the clergy, attached equal significance to magic as the
Slavic neophytes did.17 What is more, the Christian priests brought in the knowledge of
new magic rites deriving from pre-Christian cultures of western Europe and introduced
Christian magic. It was common to treat the objects of liturgical worship as having magic
powers and to use liturgical texts for magic incantations.18 Some magic formulas included
words and were drawn from Christian liturgy. Others did not require the use of words and
so contained nothing religious.19 Traditional cultures of northern and middle Europe (just
as the Roman Empire) did not separate religion from magic. The arguments of Rome and
Christian church were similar: pagan beliefs were not true religion but pure demonolatry,
and magic was inextricably associated with the cult of demons.20 It needs to be seen that in
some cases, the magic of the medieval Germanic and Celtic tribes also referred to ancient
deities. The critics of Christianity were willing to assume a concealed connection between
that magic and pagan cults, as they both originated from the same pre-Christian culture,
which encouraged the worship of the ancient deities. The result was that a new division
arose: black magic (harmful) and white magic (helpful).21

12
Kieckhefer, Magia, p. 19.
13
Ibidem, p. 29.
14
W. Dziewulski, Postpy chrystianizacji i proces likwidacji pogastwa w Polsce wczesnofeudalnej,
Wrocaw 1964, p. 199.
15
J. Dowiat, Pogld na wiat, [in:] J. Dowiat (ed.), Kultura Polski redniowiecznej X-XIII,
Warszawa 1985 (hereinafter referred to as: Dowiat, Pogld na wiat), p. 174.
16
S. Piekarczyk, W redniowiecznej rzeczywistoci, Warszawa 1987, p. 36.
17
Dowiat, Pogld na wiat, p. 174.
18
Ibidem, p. 175.
19
Kieckhefer, Magia, p. 22.
20
Ibidem, p. 77.
21
In ancient cultures black or low magic, deceitful, incompetent, primitive geoteia (latin: magia
nocens), pharmakeia (Latin: veneficium), stood in opposition to white or high magic (magia
naturalis, licita), (A. Wypustek, Magia antyczna, Wrocaw 2001, p. 44).

172
The Specificity of Slavic Folk Beliefs in the Middle Ages Theoretical Consideration

The second stage of medieval magical thinking, defined as degenerated actual magic,
occurred during the period of time when Christianity was getting stronger on Polish lands
(12th /13th-15th century). It also developed into several forms. The courtly magic took on
the shape similar to Christian cult, which allowed only few magic rites enter the pattern
of Christian rituals. Still the scientific magic was evolving as a part of it. The folk magic
on the other hand became similar to the so-called folk religion of the present day, which
brought few elements of the pre-Christian and Christian systems of beliefs together.
Slavic folk religiosity has always been a heterogeneous and multidimensional pheno-
menon22 so far not very precisely defined. The magical world view of peasants was closely
related to their sphere of activities, namely to their lands (soil). Their farming calendar was
of greatest importance and their practical attitude mattered a lot when performing farm
works. That, however, did not make their cult purely pragmatic. Despite the dominant idea
do, ut des, the folk beliefs were not devoid of emotions, thanksgiving, praising and adoring
the divine elements and accompanying magical gestures. The cult of land and fertility was
still present, just as if the former pagan deities were kept being worshipped.23 The specificity
of folk religion was described by W.I. Thomas and F. Zaniecki24 who distinguished four
main elements. The first was the belief in universal animism, a diverse world of spirits,
which corresponded with certain attitudes, types of ritual behaviours, as well as with the
beliefs and approaches associated with the nature itself and natural environment, which
formed the so-called naturalistic-religious system.25 The second was the belief in animated
nature, animatism and the solidarity of life in nature. The lack of distinction between
religion and magic is evident at this point. The universe was highly integrated living
organism with people being a natural part of it.26 Every single activity was performed in
order to accumulate wealth and protect life, and had areligious value. Thus the naturalistic
vision of the world had a magical character, and the knowledge of the world structures and
laws determining its dynamics were the basis of human activities directed towards their
environment. The natural order has never been expressed as averbalised doctrine in the
folk culture. Nevertheless the beliefs, imperatives or prohibitions on performing certain
activities in relation to certain objects or specific situations were a sufficient proof of its
existence.27 The third feature of the world in folk visions, beside animatism and integral
causality, was dualism, i.e. the existence of an opposing order.28 There was not any conflict
on magical ground between the God as the source of good and the devil as the source of evil
in folk visions.29 The only rule one had to follow was to run with the hare and hunt with the
hounds.
The final element of folk beliefs was the introduction of mysticism, striving for self-
-improvement and redemption. Personal contact with a deity was not very popular due to the
peasants practical approach.30 In the religion of rural communities the cult was of primary
importance. The magical element though still remained an integral component of rites, even

22
R. Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, [in:] M. Drozd-Piasecka (ed.), Etnografia Polski. Przemiany
kultury ludowej 1, Wrocaw 1981 (hereinafter referred to as: Tomicki, Religijno ludowa),
p.30.
23
J. Wach, Socjologia religii, Warszawa 1961, p. 254.
24
W.I. Thomas, T. Znaniecki, Chop polski w Europie i Ameryce 1. Organizacja grupy pierwotnej,
Warszawa 1976 (hereinafter referred to as: Thomas, Znaniecki, Chop polski), pp. 174-228.
25
Thomas, Znaniecki, Chop polski, p. 175; Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, p. 30.
26
Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, p. 30.
27
Ibidem, p. 32, see also A. Zadroyska, Powtarza czas pocztku 1. Owitowaniu dorocznych
wit w Polsce, Warszawa 1985.
28
Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, p. 32.
29
Thomas, Znaniecki, Chop polski, p. 216; Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, p. 35.
30
Thomas, Znaniecki, Chop polski, pp. 175, 227.

173
Joanna Wawrzeniuk

in the most developed forms of rural religions. The members of rural communities seldom
accepted the exclusive character of competencies of the clergy, which was exemplified by
maintaining the authority of healers, wise men, blacksmiths and others.31 This encourages
some researchers to assume that the spiritual culture of the masses has never been identical
with their faith. The differences in rituals resulting from the range of beliefs of individual
members of Christian communities were interpreted in their own way and included in the
local ritual practice.32
The above considerations prove that the mentioned magical awareness refers primarily
to the magic of rural kind and to folk religion. It is also related to specificity of settlement
of the discussed period, which showed that the number of people inhabiting rural areas
exceeded the number of town dwellers. Therefore magic immanent in the world, its blending
in the mythologised view of world, as well as the characteristic for folk world view dualistic
image of cosmic order were so visible.
The essence of actual folk magic can be presented by dividing it according to the aims
of certain actions: positive or negative in the opinion of a community. This division also
functions in folk terminology, which distinguishes between white magic (healing) and black
magic (for witchcraft and spells). Positive magic was in close relation with religious cult.33
It was grounded on procedures drawn from magic used for undoing and healing, on spells
cast to cure illnesses, wide use of gestures, objects and substances, some of which were
apotropaic. The power of magic was intensified by items of Christian origin like wafer or
crucifix. Sometimes different belongings of the deceased or even some part of their bodies
like hair or fingernails were closed in magic circles.
The magical thinking of the medieval Slavs in my opinion should be perceived as a type
of world view accompanied by emphasis put on rituals. This world view needs to be seen
as rational and coherent system of thoughts and actions, used by practical and intelligent
people. Moreover, for obvious reasons, the whole belief phenomenon is not to be judged
only by our own standards.34


31
J.S. Bystro, Studya nad zwyczajami ludowymi. Zakadziny domw, Rozprawy Akademii
Umiejtnoci w Krakowie, Wydzia Historyczno-filozoficzny, Serya II, vol. 35 (60), Krakw 1917,
p. 35; Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, p. 15.
32
S. Czarnowski, Kultura religijna ludu wiejskiego polskiego, [w:] Dziea 1. Studia z teorii kultury,
Warszawa 1956, p. 90; J. Straczuk, Cmentarz i st. Pogranicze prawosawno-katolickie
wPolsce i na Biaorusi, Wrocaw 2006, p. 88.
33
Tomicki, Religijno ludowa, pp. 49-50.
34
Ibidem, p. 16.

174