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  • 1 Associate Professor, Department of Serbian and Comparative Literature, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Niš, Serbia
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Abstract

The present paper examines the relationship between incantations and belief narratives, two types of oral genres based on human contact with the supernatural. Such contact attests to a dangerous disruption of the boundary between the human and demonic worlds and to the intensive efforts to reinforce it so that participants may return to the space they belong in. For this purpose, various verbal and nonverbal tools are used in belief narratives (gestures, objects, plants, sound or light signals, certain activities – such as walking backwards, placing a cap over the forehead, etc.). In contrast, incantations, an inseparable part of vernacular magical practices, rely solely on verbal communication with impure forces.

This paper will analyse the following aspects of interconnection between these oral genres: 1) the display of a genre within a genre – the presence of incantations in belief narratives, e.g., about dispersing hailstorm clouds; 2) the types of verbal communication with the supernatural in belief narratives (swearing, cursing, command, reproach) and their equivalents in incantations; 3) various motifs of protection from demons (counting the uncountable, using bodily fluids; thorn, fire, metal, broom, etc.). The consideration of shared elements in these genres that preserve the relationship with the mythological narrative include elements of the ceremonial context in which incantations are performed. I argue that some of these elements appear also in belief narratives, where they undergo a transformation.

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