"Võõras" usk ja verepatt
"Strange Faith" and Blood Libel

Author(s): Aleksandr Pantshenko
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore
Published by: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum

Summary/Abstract: These notes are based on my studies of the folklore, rituals and ideology of two popular Russian religious movements in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Khristovschina (`the Faith of Christ', also known as the Khlysty sect) and Scopchestvo (`the Castrates'). In 1733-1739 and 1745-1756, two commissions were convened in Moscow. Their task was to investigate the Quaker Heresy - this was the name given by the authorities to Khristovschina, which had spread widely in the Moscow and Middle Volga regions. While the first commission had limited itself mainly to flogging during interrogations and confrontations, the majority of confessions recorded by the second commission were obtained through dyba or `fire-burning'. Materials from this trial provide the first record of the motifs that came to be associated with the followers of Khristovschina for the next 150 years, namely, accusations of group sexual intercourse (svalnyi grekh) and the ritual sacrifice of infants. An analysis of these confessions provides evidence to suggest that the following legendary motifs of ritual murder were actually applied to Russian mystical sects: 1) while rejecting marriage, sect leaders encourage free sexual interrelations called `love' which take place after sect gatherings; 2) infants conceived as a result of `love' are intended for ritual sacrifice; 3) those infants intended for sacrifice are baptised according to special rites; 4) the baptised infant is slaughtered, its heart is cut out, and its blood collected; 5) the heart, dried and ground, is mixed with meal and baked as bread; the blood is mixed with water or kvass; and 6) this bread and water is then distributed during the gatherings as communion.

  • Issue Year: 2004
  • Issue No: 26
  • Page Range: 23-38
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Estonian