Movna Uliana – a Ph. D. in History, a senior research fellow, a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Ethnology of the NAS of Ukraine
Honey Code in Ukrainian Natal Rituals
Honey, as a ritual symbol, accompanied human beings through out all consecutive stages of their life scenario development. Yet, at the very beginning of life, it figured in the context of following the prescriptions of traditional natal rites. In ritual frame of maternity at the Ukrainians, honey performed several important and interrelated ritual functions. There were as follows: symbolic cleansing of a puerperal mother and her child, with their acquisition of a new living status; ensuring of subsequent fertility of a woman, being a mediator in accomplishing a contact with extra-human sacral world. Additionally, honey secured the initiation and socialization of a newborn, i. e., his / her admission, as an alien, from the extension of outland to a human community. In a folk culture, parturition was perceived as an unclean physiological act that made both a mother and a child unclean as well, while the very touch to them was considered menacing and sinister to the surrounding people and the entire life order. A woman recently confined and her child remained in a symbolic vacuum on the brink of worlds. Such an in determinate, marginal status of their common stay beyond the society, in a state of ritual death, generated a fear of them as the other worldly creatures and was attributed to the friend-or-foe semantic opposition. The task of the society was the facilitation of their transition to a new living incarnation, particularly, by releasing a new born from primordial chaos and accustoming him / her to the world of human culture via available symbolic means, specifically using honey as a mediator between the beyond and the world of living beings.
honey code, natal rituals, christening, semantics, mediator, Ukrainians.
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