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  • Author or Editor: Aigars Lielbārdis x
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Abstract

In Latvian folklore, the Devil is a relatively common image, represented in all the genres. This paper analyses the verbal charms that mention the Devil or Thunder together with the motif of pursuing the Devil. The corpus of charms consists of texts taken from the first systematic collection of Latvian charms, published in 1881. Examples of charms are accompanied by a comparative analysis of folk legends and beliefs. There are correspondences in charms, legends and beliefs regarding the appearance and traits of the Devil as well as his activities and dwelling places. These genres also share the motif of pursuing the Devil. Texts from different genres complement each other by providing missing narrative fragments and aspects of meaning. In the legends and charms, black and red dominate in the Devil’s appearance, and the Devil can also appear in the form of animals. The Devil’s activities and presence are linked with the origins of evil and associated with a variety of diseases which, like the Devil himself, are overcome by similar techniques. These legends and beliefs help us understand the similarities expressed in the charms, deepen and expand the semantics of the images, and explain the associative links and anchoring of specific actions in the broader folklore material. The plot and length of texts in charms are determined by the specific style, structure, and function of this genre. Therefore, content is not expanded in detail; instead, only key figures or images, the foundation of the plot, and its most important elements are mentioned. The comparative material found in legends and beliefs provides more in-depth explanation of the concise messages expressed in the charms.

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