Waxing Away Illness

A Study of the Ukrainian Wax Healing Ceremony in Western Canada

The Ukrainian Wax Healing Ceremony is a magico-religious healing ritual that is popular amongst Ukrainians in Ukraine and Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

The ritual within the wax ceremony can look very different from healer to healer, but there is a general structure around which most are centred. Beeswax is melted on the stove and poured into… water in a bowl or dish held over the patient’s head while reciting an incantation or prayer. The sign of the cross is made over the dish of water containing the wax. As the wax solidifies, it forms a shape in the water of what has frightened the patient, causing them to feel ill. The patient drinks some of the water, often three small sips and wash their face and hands with it. The person is thought to then be healed.

(From Klymasz, Andrea Karen. 1991. Folk Medicine: A Ukrainian Canadian Experience . MA Thesis, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.)