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Femme mythological figures in Slavic folklore

March 21, 2021

They Haunt: Edna Baud of Pomerania, Olwia Gzuy of Epping Forrest, Jakub Gliński of Żoliborz, Zhanna Gladko of Minsk, Olga Holzschuh of Rhineland, Adéla Janská of Olomouc, Kuba Falk Pilgrim, Jadwiga Król-Wilczek of Podhale, Nina Paszkowski of Lorraine, Jill Peters of Caucasus
She Haunts: Zofia Lisowska of Mokotów

For how many times, looking at the old castle crowning the top of my hometown hill with ruins, I dreamed that one day I would pour phantoms, ghosts and knights into this wreath of jagged walls; that I would rebuild the fallen halls and illuminate them through the windows with the fire of lightning nights, and that I would have the vaults repeat the old Sophoclesian 'unfortunately!' And for that, my name will be heard in the sound of the stream flowing under the mountain, and a rainbow of my thoughts will float over the ruins of the castle (...) So when you are filling the ancient statues of Romans with the volcanic soul of our age; I am creating a fantastic legend from the old Poland, bringing out prophetic choirs from the silence of the ages (…)

Juliusz Słowacki, Introduction to Balladyna, 1839


Belief in demons, idols and other mythological creatures determined many aspects of life in pre- Christian societies. They were to decide who would be successful in the harvest, who would have children, and who would have to be buried in a given year. Despite the christianization of the Slavic territories, these beliefs to some extent have survived to this day, largely in oral history. Their various themes and motifs, derived from the folk tradition and stories heard from grandparents, make up a rich, diverse and imaginative whole.

Female deities occupied a special place in the mythology of the Slavs. They were decisive for human success or misfortune. In later Christian translations of Slavic myths, the roles and characteristics of many of these beings have been distorted by Catholic morality. Eve's sin has spilled over to Kikimora, Mamuna and Rusalka as well, who bear its consequences until today.

The theory of hauntology holds that the present exists only in relation to the past. The aesthetics of the past, which we considered old-fashioned 20 years ago, are returning as 'ghosts' of the past. The fascination with the past, the mythization of times long gone and giving them new contexts also manifests itself in the return to the fascination with Slavic mythology. The revisionism of old Slavic beliefs allows us to shed the burden of patriarchal myths and to shine again for figures we know well, such as Mare or the spring Morana.

Artists co-creating the exhibition Mora Zmora. Femme mythological figures in Slavic folklore rediscover the complexity of female characters of Slavic mythology by engaging in this magical revisionism of Slavic myths. They fill in the gaps left by extremely polarizing Christian interpretations of folk tales and allow myths to be reborn anew, and in the spirit of Marzanna - the leading idol of the exhibition.


Organistówka, the main location of the event, is also undergoing a process of rebirth, inspired by the  symbolism of Morana, who heralds spring with her annual death. It is a building from 1860, located right next to the old church of St. Mary Magdalene in Rabka Zdrój, which requires a major renovation involving the dismantling of a large part of the building and rebuilding it with new or preserved materials. Before the final, ritual revival, the Organistówka in its original form will host the Mora Zmora exhibition. The exhibition connects the present with the past on a metaphysical level and preserves the last moments of the historical Organistówka in the minds of the audience.

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