I was checking into www.findarticles.com (searchable full text from 300
magazines & journals) to see if the SIG group might find it helpful [The
answer is yes, the first article that comes up if you search for Medieval
Russia is the History Today article from 1995 giving excerpts from
recovered birchbark letters)
And came across a review of _The Bathhouse at Midnight: A Historical
Survey of Magic and Diviniation in Russia_ by W.F. Ryan. (University Park:
Penn State University Press, 1999). The reviewers noted that the author
did use ethnography but also worked from primary texts. So, I checked our
library and we have it. It includes interesting snippets like this one
"In Kiev Rus' this ambivalence is neatly illustrated by the juxtaposition
in the _Russian Primary Chronicle_ for the year 1064 of a long and
entirely creduluous digression on contemporary and historical portents of
disaster (celestial phenomena, monstrous births, earthquakes, behavior of
birds, etc. ) and a sermon under the year 1068 condemning as pagan the
belief in divination by chance meetings, ill-omened encounters with a monk
or a pig, or sneezing (all of which continued to be omens into modern
It is worth remembering that most natural signs and omens recorded for
Russia have exact counterparts in other parts of Europe, and many can be
shown to have been known in classical antiquity, from which, by devious
routes, they are probably derived."
The syncrenous nature of the book means that readers will have to pay
close attention to dates in the text and check the footnotes to see which
are attested in period and which are from other times. The author also
cites analogous cases attested in other cultures, so you'd have to check
that a date in the text referrs to Russia and not elsewhere.
Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne@...
disclaimer: i speak for no-one and no-one speaks for me.
"You're down as expendable. You don't get a weapon." Diana Wynne Jones