“Folk Orthodoxy”: A New Look at an Old Problem

Key words
church, magic, ritualism, ritual, dual faith, piety, paganism, mentality, synergy, canon
Kira V. Tsekhanskaya
About the Author
E-mail: kirilla2011@gmail.com Tel.: +7 (495) 938-00-19
32a, Leninsky av., Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation
Doctor in History, Leading researcher, Department of the Russian People, N. N. Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The article is published in accordance with the research plan of the N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


This article examines some controversial aspects of scholarly terminology concerning the phenomenon of so-called “folk” or “popular Orthodoxy”. Particular attention is paid to a comparative analysis of the superstitious, magical rituals of unchurched yet baptized society and traditional forms of church piety. The aim of the work is to consider the problem of Russian anti-Orthodox spirituality from an Orthodox point of view, although the harmfulness of the anti-Christian “spirituality” of extra-church mysticism and ritualism from the point of view of the church is discussed separately. The author comes to the conclusion that such terms as “folkloric, everyday, or folk Orthodoxy” presuppose not the people’s “dual faith,” but superstitious religious ideas that are outside of church life.


Druz I. (2009) Ideologiya protopresvitera Alek­sandra Shmemana [The Ideology of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmeman]. Holy Fire. 2009. No. 1. Pp. 102–112. In Russian.

Economtsev J. (1992) Pravoslavie. Vizantiya. Rossiya [Orthodoxy. Byzantium. Russia]. Moscow: Khristianskaya literatura. In Russian.

Fillipovsky G. Yu. (1991) Stoletie derzanii. Vladimirskaya Rus’ v literature XII veka [A Century of Daring: Vladimir’s Rus’ in Twelfth-Century Literature]. Moscow: Nauka. In Russian.

Kushkova A. N. (2006) Vot vykhlyastyvala vot tak — s matyukami! Vo Imya Ottsa i Syna… [She Was Dancing Like This — with Swearing! In the Name of the Father and the Son…]. In: Sny Bogoroditsy. Issledovaniya po antropologii religii [Dreams of the Virgin: Studies on the Anthropology of Religion]. St. Petersburg: EUPRESS. Pp. 150–172. In Russian.

Lavrov A. S. (2000) Koldovstvo i religiya v Rossii. 1700–1740. [Witchcraft and Religion in Russia, 1700–1740]. Moscow: Drevlekhranishche. In Russian.

Panchenko A. A. (1998) Issledovaniya v oblasti narodnogo pravoslaviya: Derevenskie svyatyni Severo-Zapada Rossii [Research in the Field of Folk Orthodoxy: Village Shrines of the North-West of Russia]. St. Petersburg: Aleteya. In Russian.

Rybakov B. A. (1981) Yazychestvo drevnikh slavyan [Paganism of the Ancient Slavs]. M.: Nauka. In Russian. Schmeman A. (1954) Istoricheskii put’ Pravoslaviya [The Historical Path of Orthodoxy]. New York: Chekhov Publishing House of the East European Fund. In Russian.

Schmeman A. (2005) Dnevniki [Diaries]. Moscow: Russkii put’. In Russian.

Shantaev A. (2004) Svyashchennik. Koldun’i. Smert’. Еtnograficheskie ocherki sel’skogo prikhoda [Priest. Sorcerers. Death. Ethnographic Essays of a Rural Parish]. Moscow: Blagoe. In Russian.

For citation

Tsekhanskaya K. V. “Folk Orthodoxy”: A New Look at an Old Problem. Traditional Culture. 2023. Vol. 24. No. 2. Pp. 153–163. In Russian.