Practical Texts in Difficult Situations: Bulgarian Medieval Charms as Apocrypha and Fachliteratur

Pp. 25-35

  • Svetlana Tsonkova
Keywords: apocrypha, apotropaic magic, daily life, medieval Bulgarian charms, medieval Fachliteratur, oral and written transmission of charms, practical magic


The objects of this article are medieval Bulgarian charms, written in Old Church Slavonic language and preserved in manuscripts. The article is focused on two issues. Firstly, it deals with the charms as specialized texts, as a specific kind of Fachliteratur, with important practical function in coping daily life challenges and problems. The main purpose of these charms was to meet and solve the crucial quotidian issues, like health problems, provision of good luck and protection against evil forces. Secondly, the article refers to the position of the charms among the canonical Orthodox Christian texts. This position is examined in the context of practicality and of the historical changes in the society. This is also a question of the relations between the content of the charms and the content of the other texts from the same manuscript. In this respect the medieval Bulgarian charms are an interesting phenomenon, as they intermingle among canonical Orthodox Christian books, as service books and books of needs.