Spindles and Superstitions in Russian Karelia

There are some superstitious prohibitions that are connected with a spindle. For example, it is not allowed to present a spindle or to lend it to somebody even for a while — it could lead to death of cattle or misfortune. The spindle is usually associated with a girl — if the parents wanted to have a daughter they used to put a spindle in the bed under the mattress. There is a special celebration in some villages on Varvara’s Day (a saint in the Orthodox Church), when you should hide all the spindles, because Varvara was killed with a spindle. If this is not done, it is believed that snakes will crawl into your house. A broken spindle, like a broken mirror, is hidden or burned as it means someone in the family will die. All spindles should be hidden on 6 May, the day when cattle herds are driven to the forest for the first time, in order not to meet snakes. These few examples prove that any technology in the past was not only a craft, but also a sphere of sacred magic knowledge — via Lecture given in 1999 by Svetlana Zhulnickova, Karelian ethnologist, when she was studying traditional techniques in Sweden

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