Guest Post: Margarita–A Witch of Russian Descent


Guest post by Anna from Witchcraft and more

I have a special place in my heart for this book. Its incredible author, M. A. Bulgakov, created a genius novel, which has been of interest to many researchers for over sixty years. The Master and Margarita was introduced to me by my mum long before I studied it at school. The novel seemed strange to me because I didn’t understand it completely and couldn’t give value to its language and plot.

Later, when I read the novel with the full awareness of its contents, I started enjoying it much more, liking certain chapters and details. Then I realized that I fell in love with it forever. No wonder The Master and Margarita became one of the subjects of my final diploma project at university. This is when I started exploring the novel from a scientific point of view, discovering more and more beauty in it and getting to know new things about the world of the novel created by Bulgakov.

An illustration for the novel "The Master and Margarita"

An illustration for the novel “The Master and Margarita”

The topic I am raising today is quite broad, but interesting, and directly related to the idea of my blog, Witchcraft and more. I am going to make few posts telling the story of Margarita – a witch of Russian descent.

Margarita is the most famous witch of Russian, and perhaps world, literature. There are numerous books written about her character and I in turn would like to concentrate on her witchy side.

As soon as it is a novel I am talking about, there is a great love story in it and Margarita is a part of it. She is pictured as an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with a husband she doesn’t love. The routine life makes her to search for the wonder of love. And she finds it . . . or it finds her?

Margarita means “pearl” (derived from a Greek word margarites). The pearl is a talisman of arts, inspiration, and spiritual perfection, and also is used in witchcraft.  Margarita is a symbol of Master’s renewed belief in creation; this is she, who saves few pages of Master’s novel he intends to burn. She is also a symbol of sacrifices done in the name of love.

I used to tell in the first posts, that a witch plays a dual role in humans’ life: good and bad. Witchcraft helps people get what they want. Margarita decides to become a witch and makes a deal with the Devil in order to find her lover, Master, who is missing.

Though it seems that Margarita is chosen by Woland (the Devil in Bulgakov’s novel) randomly, it is not so. She was always meant to be someone else. Margarita has a squinting eye which is considered to be a mark of dark power, she has black hair, and she wears preferably black attire – a color associated with witchcraft; she has prophetic dreams and is very sensitive toward the meaning of the signs around her. Her intuition tells her  that something is going to happen.

Bulgakov describes how Margarita turns into a witch. But why turns? Because her very appearance changes when she applies a cream given by one of the servants of Woland, Azazello, on her face and body. She becomes twenty years old instead of thirty, her eyes turn greener and she feels like . . . laughing! She gains strength and happiness she never knew before. Here we see one of the attributes of a witch: a magical ointment. Moreover, Margarita’s initiation into a witch happens during the full moon when most of the important magical rituals are done to strengthen their result.

Margarita in modern art

Margarita in modern art

Our Russian witch is now ready to act; she is waiting for a signal to move out of her boring house. After a call Azazello gives her, she hears a strange knocking behind the door of her room. When she opens it, a floor broom comes out jumping and eager to fly away through the window. So here comes a necessary tool of a witch, a broomstick, though a bit modified. Margarita, naked, then heads to Sabbath (rus. Shabash). This once again refers to a common practice of witchcraft – gathering under the full moon to do magic, dance, and celebrate.

I have tried to explore features and attributes of a “typical” witch Margarita is bestowed by Bulgakov. Among them are magical tools like the broomstick and ointment, a ritual of initiation during a full moon, and features of Margarita which make her look like a witch before and after initiation. As soon as Margarita feels free after obtaining certain powers and seeks hope in virtue of witchcraft to find her Master, the theme of witchcraft in Bulgakov’s novel is not blamed but given a rather positive attitude.

Margarita as a witch continues her journey through many more difficulties of which I am going to tell in the next post.

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2 responses to “Guest Post: Margarita–A Witch of Russian Descent

  1. Pingback: El Maestro y Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov « Pleasure of Reading

  2. Thanks for posting it, Sita! I am happy to see t on your blog page 🙂 Hope readers will like this topic.

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