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Mysterious Healers From The Eastern Poland: Who Are Szeptuchy?

Discover the secret of Polish Podlasie and their mysterious old women

Photo: teatrnn.pl

The local healers, women who knew the remarkable powers of herbs, the mysterious chants. In Poland common in the area of Podlasie (Podlachia). Sometimes called the witches or szeptunki. Szeptuchy are like artifacts of ancient wisdom, based on the folklore beliefs. However, people still believe in their gifts. Who are they?

Some of them claim that the spirit of St Mary appeared in front of them to share some mysterious secrets. Most of them are women, but sometimes also men follow this path. They are called ”szeptun”. They usually live far away from big cities, staying more common in small villages ”at the end of the world”. If you want to meet szeptucha (singular in Polish), you should ask the local people, they will know how to guide you to her house.

Magic or knowledge?

Photo: Ilya Kuzniatsou / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Many szeptuchy are mostly the Orthodox Christians. Their activity has nothing in common with the archetype of the scary witch that could have hurt people. Szeptuchy might be connected with the powers known as ”white magic”, but their knowledge is unique. Moreover, nobody knows when did they appear in Podlasie. According to the folklore legend, when the Christ started to teach in the temple, he gave to ancestors of szeptuchy the mysterious knowledge. It gave them the power to heal. The legend mentions two aspects that must be connected to heal the people. First of all, szeptucha must know the magical formulas, sometimes called as spells. They also know sort of the rituals, but they believe that the power of healing comes from God. In their rituals, Szeptucha can use different symbols, herbs, seeds, bread, water and other things they could find in the household.

When Szeptucha decided to follow this path, they have to share it with people. Their goal is to dedicate their lives to others. They often offer their service without specific pay rate. You can ask her for help and offer what you can afford. Szeptuchy often claim that they ask angels, archangels, and God for help. They know how to make exorcisms. The gift of fortune-telling is common among szeptuchy. Are they people with incredible knowledge or their healings are based on supernatural powers? Every person might find an own answer. Apart from healing the body, they also heal the souls. We can compare them to sort of the local ”psychologists” without the degree. Szeptuchy have always been trustworthy in the local society, so they knew a lot about the people who inhabited the land around their houses.

Szeptucha follows a unique lifestyle. The daily routine is focused on serving people. According to the tradition, she cannot abandon a person in need who asks her for help. Szeptucha shouldn’t judge, but open heart to everyone in need. They also don’t ask for payment, because they believe that the power that comes from God, should be free for everyone. In the past, szeptuchy often received food or other goods as payment. They were a competition to local priests and monks, who offered similar service.

Searching for the cure


Some people come to Podlasie to meet them. Driven by curiosity, sometimes find the answers to the questions they were afraid to ask. It is uncommon to meet szeptucha easily, but they are still very busy. Modern medicine doesn’t find the answers to many problems, so people still search for the help of mysterious healers.

The wise women from Podlasie have sisters in the other Slavic countries. All of them have different names, a little bit different history and speak various languages. Have you ever meet szeptucha? Do you know similar stories from the other Slavic countries? Please, share your story!

What do you think?

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