Thursday, 6 September 2012

Margarita's First Flight and Sabbath

Margarita applying a magical ointment
 In connection with the guest post "Margarita - a witch of a Russian descent" I continue to follow the venture of Bulgakov's character.

Margarita the witch
As it had been told, a newly turned witch Margarita heads towards the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a gathering of the witches during the full moon. This event takes place in the novel somewhere on the open grounds, far from  the Moscow city (this is where the story occurs), and Margarita has to reach it by riding her floor broom (a modified broomstick). While flying above the Arbat street she finds out that she is invisible and it gives her a certain amount of confidence. Margarita in anger breaks one of the street signs as she accidentally bumps into it, then flying further and higher she notices a "mass of a eight-storeyed house perhaps a newly built one", she is reminded of something by the board on it and enters the house's premises. She destroys the apartment of a critic who was involved in failure of the Master's writing career.
We can see that Margarita's nature changes. The belonging to the world of dark art makes Margarita to free herself and do things she always wanted to do but was afraid of even attempting. She becomes bold, defiant and even vengeful. This might be considered as a characteristic of a bad witch, however won't you behave the same in order to save your beloved?
The flight of Margarita is described by Bulgakov with such energy and beauty that many times while reading it I wish to try it once in a life myself... Margarita flies above the forests, fragrant meadows, cool ponds. The full moon is escorting Margarita all the way, after a fast ride she feels the proximity of water and later on sees a river and a glimpse of bonfire with small moving figures on the other bank. She then swims in the river's warm water and continues her way to another coast - towards the bonfire of Sabbath. Though Bulgakov doesn't call it so, I think that it is what meant to be.
an image to illustrate the story - couldn't fine the one with the full moon and fire
  As soon as Margarita appears the march is being played in her honour and all the witches bow, moroever she is called the Queen Margo now. The Sabbath gathers such creatures as goat-footed who offers Maragrita champagne, the mermaids (rusalka in Russian), the singing frogs and the witches themselves. The Sabbath in the novel presented as a cheerful event, where the participants dance, consume some wine, mermaids make roundelay and overall atmosphere is quiet pleasing.
Margarita is not at all scared of the sudden change of her life, she accepts it and goes with the flow. As I had told in the previous article, she seems to be a random choice of Woland but Koroviev (from the retinue of Woland) says to her: "... because you are yourself of the royal blood..." and gives few more hints which reveal that Margarita has one of the French Queens of XVI century as her ancestor! There are actually two French Queens who it could be related to: Marguerite de Navarre and Margaret of Valois. However, the latter is considered to be the one chosen by Bulgakov.
Our heroine lived one of the necessary events of the witches' life - Sabbath. Bulgakov's focus nevertheless is not on the witchcraft. itself but on the interpretation of powers hidden within us and the way we use them (or don't). The Margarita's journey hasn't come to an end yet as she still has a task to do after which she will get her Master back.
Bulgakov certainly knew a lot about witchcraft and described so many details of the rituals conducted during the Margarita's turning into a witch and afterwards. Sabbath was one of them. Another one called the great Ball at Satan's will be a culmination and one of the best written places in the novel. You are invited there too.
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature


  1. Hi Anna! I had to stop by to say hello to a fellow Anna :) I really enjoyed reading this post, not only because it is about a witch but I love the Russian twist to it. I have always been fascinated with Russian culture and lore. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you also for adding my shoe challenge button. Looking forward to seeing your witchy shoe :)


  2. Thanks, Anna, for having a look at my blog) I am very pleased to receive your nice comment!:)