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Moving at the Speed of Folklore: The Sunflower Curse

The war in Ukraine is a fast-changing affair, but one event from two days ago has already spawn a meme that has folklore scholars (like my friend Sabina Magliocco) shouting, “Folklore rules.

It started with a video (there are two versions) of a confrontation between a Ukranian woman and a Russian soldier in or near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

She starts right out with “What the fuck are you doing here?”

The soldier tries to downplay it, saying that he is part of an “exercise.” She won’t have it. And she death-curses him, telling him, “You’re occupants, you’re fascists! What the fuck are you doing on our land with all those guns? Take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.”  (Sunflowers are a national symbol in Ukraine and quite popular in decorative arts.)

Her video, with her phone slightly hidden, is here (Twitter).

An accomplice across the street was also recording — the sound quality is so good that I wonder if it was not mixed in from the first video.

WIthin 24 hours I saw this on Twitter:

Shortly after, there were other versions, such as this:

This conflict has no common name yet, but some are already calling it The Sunflower War.

Only hours later, Sabina Magliocco posted on Facebook a new meme, for magical work against President Putin. On it, the words of the curse:There you are, war and magic at the speed of social media. But there might be more to say about putting your magical intentions out on the internet. I will have more to say about that in a short time.

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