MiR 080 – My Life in Russia Stories – Russian Superstitions Part 2

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga

You’re listening to the Mark in Russia broadcast # 080, and I’m Mark.

Today I’m going to continue with my Life in Russia series and I’ll talk about Russian superstitions. There is actually too much material on this topic to cover it all in one episode, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll be doing this as a two part episode.

You really should go to my website at: www.markinrussia.com to listen to this, or at least open the page to read the show notes, regardless of where you are listening to this. The reason for this is because the show notes also include several photos to help you get a better idea about what I’m talking about.

As a general rule, superstitions play a much bigger part in the life of an average Russian than what I’m used to, most of which date back to pagan times and even Christianity and Communist times were not able to eliminate most of them.


Girl sitting at the corner of a table – will not marry for 7 years


Sitting quietly for one minute before a long journey


If you forget something and have to return home, you need to look at yourself in a mirror (look yourself in the eye, stick your tongue out) the purpose is to ward off evil spirits


Don’t take anything out of the house at night; this will bring evil upon the house (talk about the garbage experience).

Birthday parties should not be celebrated early.

Black cat, stop and let someone else cross the path first

Cats have been considered good luck in Russia for centuries. Owning a cat, and especially letting one into a new house before the humans move in, is said to bring good fortune


From The NY Times April 5, 1997

At times Russia seems governed as much by superstition as by democracy.

Major national newspapers advertise the services of clairvoyants, witches and warlocks every day. Well-trained doctors at respected hospitals see nothing unusual in recommending that their patients take a trip to a ”babka,” an old woman with the power to heal.

‘We have had in this country a very long period of total absence of spiritual education, and people completely forget what religion really means,” said the Rev. Aleksandr Bulekov, from the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, explaining the power of pagan beliefs for Russians. ”People have lost their spiritual immunity to resist evil. They have become confused and they often have trouble knowing what is good and bad.”

Asked if beliefs in witchcraft were more prevalent in remote, rural areas, Father Bulekov said no.

”We witness it far more often in the cities,” he said. ”In villages the old attitudes toward the church are still alive and immunity against evil is better preserved.”

From The UK Telegraph Sept. 22, 2010

Russian MPs have backed a bill that bans anyone who calls themselves a witch or a wizard from advertising their services in the media in an effort to combat a controversial national obsession with the occult.

According to the Orthodox Church, Russia has 800,000 practitioners of the occult, many of whom advertise in newspaper small advertisements offering cures for alcoholism and spells to lift curses and return errant husbands for a fee. One report claims almost one in five Russians have consulted occult ‘healers’ but MPs have warned they are risking their health and possibly their lives by trusting in such quackery. They say it is time the country grew up.

In a tragic incident this summer, a four-year-old boy in Russia’s Far East suffocated to death during an exorcism ritual carried out by a local healer who was convinced the boy was possessed by a demon.

“Citizens, if they have the money, are even sometimes promised elevation to a new level of evolution,” MP Tatyana Yakovleva told the daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper. “Only last year in Moscow 300,000 people turned to the services of wizards and healers according to the Interior Ministry.” Cancer specialists complain that many of the patients they see have already spent their life savings and wasted precious time on trying to cure the disease with a witch or a wizard. When the money runs out, they say the mystic informs the unfortunate patient that it is “God’s will” and tells them there is nothing more that he or she can do.

According to the bill’s sponsor — many were afraid they would be cursed if they voted for it.

Baba Yaga

Baba can mean grandmother, or witch, sorceress or fortune teller


On my last broadcast I told about a new internet radio station I’m working on and hope to launch very soon. I have to say that this process, especially the technical end is more difficult than I thought and therefore is taking a bit longer, but I want to get things right before I start. Whereas I had hoped that the radio station would be ready now, I think that I’m looking more toward the middle of April before we start. The name of this radio network is “Russia Speaks” and will be full of many different English language Russian talk radio shows. The website, and the location of the player is: www.russiaspeaks.com For any of you that would like more news about this, or about my podcast in general, you should go to my website at www.markinrussia.com or the www.russiaspeaks.com website and on the right side of the main page sign up for our newsletter. This way you will also receive news in advance. Also, please visit our Russia Speaks vKontakte page and become a follower; this will also keep you up to date on coming events.


Please come back again next week, but until that time, GoodBye!


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