Folk beliefs. A fundamentally religious interpretation of the world that determines the conduct and the attitude of the common people towards the forces of nature and the events of ordinary life. These beliefs are passed on by tradition or spring from an animistic view of natural phenomena, spiritual life (eg, the souls of the dead), and inanimate objects, or from such psychic experiences as illusions, hallucinations, and dreams.
Ukrainian folk beliefs encompass almost all events and objects of the external world, which are held to have a determining influence on individual destiny. There is a rich body of beliefs connected with the sun, moon, and stars. There are many different beliefs about atmospheric phenomena—clouds, storms, thunder, winds, rainbows—and about the actions of fire, water, earth, stones, plants, animals, and birds as well as man-made objects. A special cycle of beliefs deals with one's personal appearance—one's way of seeing, speaking, and breathing—and with the main events in life—birth, marriage, and death. Folk beliefs about wandering lights, fern flowers, werewolves, witches, sorcerers, and so on have served as sources of themes for many Ukrainian and other Slavic writers. (See also Demonology and Mythology.)