Russia Culture Traditions Symbolical Ploughing

Symbolical Ploughing

The custom of ploughing the earth around a Russian village dates from an ancient pagan rite based on the belief in the magical power of the circle. Symbolical ploughing was carried out during cattle plagues or epidemics with the aim of preventing the disease from entering the area.

The ceremony was carried out in secret, at the dead of night, by women and girls. Naked or dressed only in nightshirts, they would sow sand into the furrows and chant the spell: “When the sand rises, death will come.” After the ritual ploughing of the circle, a cleansing pyre was lit by rubbing two sticks together to create a flame.

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