Season Migrations of Souls in Natural and Domestic Areas as a Mythological Background of a Calendar Remembrance Rites
Authors: Maria A. Andrunina
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The article investigates the mythological background of the calendar remembrance rites – belief in the migration of souls in natural and domestic areas. In Russian, Ukranian and Belorussian sources, on which the article is based, main calendar remembrance dates are “dedy” (literally “grandfathers”, taking place several times a year and observed at home) and dedicated to dead days during Easter and Whit Sunday periods. Capital difference between these dates and corresponding rites happens to be actual place selected for them (home, cemetery, forest, crossroad et.) according to ancient beliefs where souls expected to be in different seasons. In winter and fall rites are mostly held at home (“dedy”) in shape of common ritual supper of living and dead, including “nurturing” of souls, who will provide rich harvest in payment for reverent behavior of their live relatives. Also, Christmas festivals include gift collection by carol-singers, who believed to be personifications of dead forefathers, visiting at that time their heirs. With the coming of spring, “opening” the earth, returning of birds and the growth of plants sous of dead are released from the Otherworld, they are frequent in cemeteries and masses of people are visiting their graves, giving presents and communicating with them. In Easter time souls could be present everywhere in the world, in homes of their kinfolk, who used to prepare special food for them and held to strict rules for their benefit; in cemeteries, in fields and forests, where burial keens are performed to the sounds of cuckoo, who imagined to be incarnation of late family member. In Whit period, however, remembrance rites are transferred to different group of souls – mostly to those, who died young, which indicates most ancient basic of spring dead concerning beliefs and practices. The closer to the time of harvest, the lesser rites are becoming – souls previously inhabiting plants, cereals and flowers and making them to grow are starting to retreat, leaving the world with birds. But in this time special type of remembrance rite takes place — sacrificing first fruits of the new harvest to the dead, this custom is later turned into belief of unholy spirits presence in fruits and plants, demanding the chirch blessing of them. In winter souls are believed to be in the Otherworld, from which they are ritually invited to the festive suppers in the circle of their living relatives. This way, through the “opening” and “closing” of earth, growing plants, coming and going of birds the ritual year of remembrance rites is constantly renewing.