The fear of sanctity — the cult of sacred trees in serbian traditional culture

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Key words
cult of trees, sacred trees, legends, Serbian traditional culture
Jokic J.

The paper discusses the honouring (cult) of trees in Serbian folklore tradition, or the understanding of certain trees as sacred places (the so-called sanctities), which results from widely spread beliefs in their special (magical) power. Due to that, the people’s relation to such places of cult is always full of awe, which is especially reflected in numerous local legends about specific trees (inscriptions) that grow within an area of a village community. A common motif that occupies a central place in all such legends, no matter which type of tree is in question, is forbidding its desecration (cutting a whole tree or breaking/tearing off any of its parts) and unwanted consequences for a person or a community if they disregard the prohibition.