The Oral and Written Traditions of Latvian Charms

Pp. 81-94

  • Aigars Lielbârdis
Keywords: Latvian healing charms, oral tradition, folksongs, written tradition, Books of Heaven


This article is about the oral and written traditions of Latvian charms, analysing them in a historical and cultural context. The article examines healing charms mainly and contextualizes them by reference to similar texts from the European charm tradition. The division into oral and written traditions is based on the assumption of their functioning, dissemination and transmission through different generations, space and time. Schematically, the depiction of the influence on Latvian folklore and cultural history relating to the spread and functioning of Latvian charms and folk medicine traditions, can be divided into three clusters: 1) the pre-Christian, 2) the Early Christianity and 3) a cluster of Lutheran and Herrnhut charms. The first two clusters are associated mainly with the oral charm tradition, while the third, with written tradition.