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PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher of the Folklore Department, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article is devoted to the topic of fear (rational or irrational) in family narratives recorded from the descendants of Stolypin migrants to Eastern Siberia. These descendants live in the village of Zhiznevka in the Zalarinsky district of the Irkutsk province. The most common topic of fear is found in local bylichki about Master of Forest (leshiie), and even today, a vivid emotional reaction is caused not only by any potential communication with a supernatural character (e.g., it is very dangerous to step on the trail of a forest spirit because a person who did this will be kidnapped by the forest spirit), but also by the story itself.
Ordinary people in such stories are contrasted with a “knowledgeable person” who knows how to bring people back from the forest-spirit with the help of magic spells. The recorded folklore fabulates and memorates are cyclized around the local healer-sorcerer (a migrant from the former Bykhovsky district of Mogilev province), who, according to the narrators, had brought with him a book of black magic and was able to communicate with the forest-spirit. He passed on his "knowledge" to his daughter, about whom numerous mythological stories are still existing. People from neighboring areas have visited her in the most hopeless cases (during searches for those who committed suicide in the forest or for those who got lost, etc.).
Oral narratives recorded from the descendants of the healer included interesting, rarely encountered details of magical practices used to protect a person from the forest-spirit or overcome fear towards him.
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