|The Mt. Sterling Advocate 10 Jan. 1899|
A Curious Pagan Superstition Still Practiced in Russia.
Loewenstimm mentions a curious superstition of pagan origin still practiced in portions of Russia and known as ‘korovya smertj‘ (cow-death) and ‘opachivaniye’ (plowing roundabout). If pestilence or murrain prevails in a village, an old woman of repute as a seeress or fortune-teller enters the confines of the village at midnight and beats a pan. Thereupon all the women of the place assemble in haste, armed with divers(e) domestic utensils-frying pans, pokers, tongs, shovels, scythes, and cudgels. After shutting the cattle in their stalls, and warning the men not to leave their houses, a procession is formed. The seeress takes off her dress and pronounces a curse upon death. She is then hitched to a plow, together with a bevy of virgins and a misshapen woman, if such a one can be found, and continuous and closed furrow is drawn round the village three times. When the procession starts, the image of some saint suitable to the occasion, that of St. Blasius, for example, in the case of murrian, is borne in front of it; this is followed by the seeress clad only in a shift, with disheveled hair and riding on a broomstick; after her come women and maidens drawing the plow, and behind them the rest of the crowd, shrieking and making a fearful din. They kill every animal they meet, and if a man is so unfortunate as to fall in with them he is mercilessly beaten, and usually put to death. In the eyes of these raging women he is not a human being, but Death himself in the form of a were-wolf, who seeks to cross their path and thus break the charm and destroy the healing virtue of the furrow. The ceremony varies in different places, and generally ends by burying alive a cat, cock, or dog. -Prof. E.P. Evans, in Popular Science Monthly.”
When I read that the women wielded kitchen items, I thought to myself, “That sounds familiar.”
Don’t ask me how I know about this clip because I don’t want to talk about it.