Charmers and Charming in Gervëèiai Lithuanian Community in Belarus

Pp. 34-58

  • Daiva Vaitkeviciene
Keywords: healing charms, Lithuanian charms, transmission of charms, charmer, community, religion


The article focuses on the social functioning of verbal charms within a community. The subject of analysis is a small Lithuanian-speaking community living in the vicinity of Gervëèiai, Belarus, near the Lithuanian border. The survey covers synchronic and diachronic perspectives. The diachronic analysis is based on materials from fieldwork carried out in the vicinity of Gervëèiai in 1970, and stored in the Lithuanian Folklore Archives. Between 2010 and 2012 the author conducted fieldwork within Gervëèiai community. 
The article analyses the number and density of charmers within the area, and the social and demographic peculiarities of charming. Special attention is paid to circumstances of charm transmission and family connections that can often be observed between the charmer and his/her successor. In addition, the sacral aspects of charming are considered in the article: charming is viewed by charmers as a peculiar religious practice that has not been authorised by the church.