In order to understand how was a Romanian village built and the peasants’ way of life, you need to detach yourself from everything you’ve learned before, for once you step into this world, you will find yourself standing at the gates between sacred and profane.
The more you research, the better you realize that there are many unwritten rules that originated from a deep communion with the Nature and it’s Creator. The logic doesn’t make sense anymore. Everything they physically do is projected in Sacred dimensions. Starting with their settlements and ending up with their food and garments.
Magic Rituals in Choosing the Right Place for a New Village
The place for settling a new village wasn’t randomly chosen. If domestic animals were released and they showed strange manifestations, then the place was not proper for an establishment. Otherwise, they were choosing the site by shooting a bow, or by throwing a stick.
The key moment in the village foundation was stabbing the stick into the ground, in which case it becomes the connection between Heaven and Earth, the axis mundi. The man in charge with finding the site had to be a father, without any physical defects, and healthy. The process is a magic ritual, for the person who was stabbing the stick into the ground was transferring his life on behold of the Creation. It was traditionally believed that this person won’t have a long life. In other villages, peasants used to build a cross instead doing the stick ritual.
The stick is the fundament of the new village. The houses were built around it. If the village had a good position, then everyone would bless it, otherwise everyone would curse it.
Next, they would establish the productive land, an area which had to be large enough to meet their need for food. A man would surround the settlement (Vatra Satului) by foot or on the horseback. The productive land was equal to the area that man would cross in one day and one night.
Striking the semantron was another magic practice. The Borders of the productive land (Hotar) were established where the sound faded out and one couldn’t hear it anymore. Once established, the Borders were absolute. The peasants believed that evil spirits were haunting the Borders (iele, death souls, strigoi). No one was allowed to put his house or sleep at the Border. The space inside was safe, but whoever crossed the Borders wasn’t home anymore.
An aunt is always telling us terrifying stories about the screaming creatures and wolfs she saw when she was walking at the Hotar. A generalized fear of walking at the Hotar at night still exists today.