Witches, Wise People, and Werewolves

  • Elena Boudovskaia Georgetown University


This article explores the attitudes of the inhabitants of one village in the Zakarpats’ka Oblast’ of Ukraine towards the bearers of supernatural powers. On the basis of my own fieldwork, I describe several supernatural powers known to people in the village: milk-stealing, performed by women; self-protection against attacks; and turning husbands into wolves. Attitudes are shaped by one core value: fairness; the villagers strongly resent unfair usage of supernatural powers against those who cannot protect themselves. However, story characters who use such powers responsibly in self-defense and restore the status quo to punish aggressors are exonerated from blame by story-tellers and their audiences. In daily life, people do not like to be associated with supernatural forces for fear of being accused of using them unfairly.