Good and evil supernatural beings are central figures in verbal charms. Involved in cultural transmission and processing, these figures exhibit continuity but also bear the traces of re-interpretation, distortion and oblivion. The lecture will present three positive and three negative supernatural agents, encountered in medieval and early modern Bulgarian verbal charms, written in Old Church Slavonic language. The lecture will also discuss the intricate connections and relations these figures have with each other, and with historical parallels. The paper will demonstrate how supernatural beings changed, while at the same time remained interconnected, in the most unexpected ways.
Svetlana Tsonkova holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the Department of Medieval Studies at CEU. Her dissertation, dealing with the medieval and early modern Bulgarian verbal charms and their roles in everyday life, is under preparation for publishing. She has worked on verbal magic, popular mythology, apotropaic amulets, crisis rites and inter-cultural processing of beliefs and motives. Her studies have been published in a number of international publications in the field. Her current research projects include medieval apotropaic Bulgarian amulets and crisis rites as well as the use of cultural heritage in today’s music.