Mysticism Or Performance | The Modernization Of Traditional Practices | Witchcraft, Palmistry & Spiritual Healing

Waiting for client’s call during the “Martisoare” night. The witches from Margareta Minca’s family performed rituals during the “Martisoare” period near the river on the outskirts of the city. There is a feast called “Martisoare” on March 1, in Romania and it symbolizes the celebration of victory of life over death.

 

Photographer Lucia Sekerková Bláhová is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From the project ‘Vrăjitoare’.  To see Lucia’s body of work, click on any image.

 

In the picture you can see a self-proclaimed queen of white magic Maria Campina. She is one of the most famous witches in Romania. The golden crown is a symbol of prestige for her and in general a golden object is kind of an amulet for the Wallachian Roma people who believe in its magical power to protect them against evil.

 

The sisters. This picture represent the importance of tight family relationship between Roma people. It is the same in their work as witches, they prefer family cooperation more than being individualists but only in the closest family.

 

The young witch Selena wanted to pose as the Virgin Mary, holding her tarot cards. The young girl must be a virgin until the marriage, otherwise she has no value in Wallachian Roma community.

 

In this picture, you can see witches from Ervira’s family demonstrating how they performed their magic rituals during the summer solstice period in Bucharest in Romania.

 

Vrăjitoare – witches, fortune tellers, healers…

Many Romanian Roma women identify themselves with such descriptions. In the past fortune-telling had a strong tradition within many travelling Roma groups wandering across the European area. Fortune telling abilities were primarily attributed to, in the main, older women, undoubtedly for their lifelong experiences. Their potential clients were to be found anywhere in the streets of the villages and towns where their caravans happened to have stopped.

 

The crystal ball of witch Mihaela Minca. It is used for fortune telling. The women like the effect when the crystal ball shines because it looks like something magical is happening inside, but it is just a trick with burning candle or phone light behind the ball.

 

Me and an ethnologist, Ivana Šusterová, have decided to make a fusion between photographic work and an ethnological study. For over four years, we have been researching the world of Romanian Roma women who professionally practice fortune telling and witchcraft. Before the revolutionary year 1989, their work was affected by the Communist regime which prohibited fortune telling and witching activities under the threat of imprisonment. In recent years, the popularity of their services is again on the upsurge and the topic is widely discussed, at home and in the media. On the other hand their names are mentioned in police reports, they are charged with blackmail.

 

Dolls are usually used as a magical artifact with the ability to regain client´s lost love and at the same time it is used as a toy for their children.

 

In my photographic collection I try to record the consequences of modernization, which has inherently transformed this profession, which in itself balances on the thin divide between mysticism and showmanship for the client. Today these women no longer walk the streets in search of suitable palms from which to tell their owner’s future, but the clients themselves seek them out on the basis of advertisement in the media or on social networks, subsequently visiting them in their splendid houses. Instead of palm reading or fortune telling from tea leaves, it is now sufficient to know your name, date of birth and perhaps an on-line chat on the social network. The profession has been transformed into a business, inherited across generations. Nine year old girls are already starting their promotional “vrăjitoare” profiles on the Facebook. Dolls are at one moment their toy, yet at any time they can transform themselves into a magical artifact with the ability to regain a client’s lost love.

 

Portrait of witch Sunita which was created for her promotional purposes on social networks.

 

The witches from Elena Minodora’s family performed rituals during the “Martisoare” period in her former house in Bucharest in Romania where she grew up.

 

Portrait of witch Anna Maria with her tarot cards which was created during the “Martisoare” night in Bucharest in Romania.

 

All images and text © Lucia Sekerková Bláhová

 

 

 

Vrăjitoare

Book By Lucia Sekerková Bláhová

 

 

See also:

Donum Vitae

By Lucia Sekerková Bláhová

 

 

 

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