Hello my dear eRepublikans,
While back, I spoke with an Italian player about different traditions and customs of our nations.
Regarding that I am orthodox and celebrating, to the Italians, familiar Christian holidays and saints but in a different manner and with a different calendar, he suggested it would be interesting if I would write an article about it.
The topic is pretty wide, so I will separate it into a few articles.
This is the first one and the title is self-explanatory to a certain extent.
Unlike the old testament, from where I borrowed my title, this is not a tale of the Christian origins but one of Orthodox religion and old Slavic religion and Gods that got incorporated into Christianity and our current customs.
Who are we today are determined by our actions and choices but also by our history.
Great nations remember their history and embrace all aspects of it. Religious, cultural or military traditions and history should be preserved and a nation must strive to defend at least some aspects of its identity in the face of globalization.
Diversity is the key, not isolation or one mindedness.
“THE BOOK OF ORIGINS”
“The old Gods”
Old Slavic religion and mythology leaves a lot to the imagination of the people today. Because of all the migrations, wars and clashes with Christianity (that took a negative stance towards old Slavic religion) sources are scarce, and we must rely heavily on few sources available, sometimes taken with a pinch of salt, folk tales passed from generation to generation and the present day customs (unique to the Slavic peoples).
The old Gods — Arch God :
The arch God is called “Rod” or “Prabog”.
The one from whom all else became, the oldest God.
Word Pra translates to “Ancient, old, predecessor” Bog (God) can be deeply translated to wealth but also to “the one who gives” and this should give a clear idea of the concept. Other name “Rod” is still in use in Serbia and many other Slavic nations and translates to origin, kinship or birth.
Rod was the creator. He actually was all there was. He was born by himself.
In the beginning, there was only darkness, and Rod was like a bud, trapped in the egg. When he gave life to the goddess of love, Rodjenica, the shell was broken and love was spilled out (This way of creation of the Universe is very similar to the Big Bang).
Rod cut the umbilical cord and separated celestial waters from the waters of the ocean, putting the land between them. When freed from the egg, Rod continued with the creation. Then he created a Mother Earth that entered the ocean. Rod is the creator of all Gods. At the end of creation, Rod made celestial bodies, nature, and natural phenomena. The sun was made from his cheeks, the moon from his breasts, the star from his eyes, the sunrise and sunset from his forehead, dark night from his thoughts, the wind, rain, snow from his breath and the city from his tears, and thunder and lightning from his voice.
Rod then became the principle of the universe.
There is a strong possibility that the Slavic people use to be monotheistic and then moved to polytheism only to switch back to monotheism with accepting Christianity. Other possibility is that the existence of Prabog or Rod was simultaneous with other Gods and is more in the sense of explaining the origins like the tale of Kronos for an example.
Rod is a primordial God and creator of all things. Lord of the 4 elements (water, earth, air, universe) and supreme ruler of birth and all growth.
Old Gods — duality of Gods:
Slavic people love their dualities and it is represented in the cosmic duality of Gods.
“Belobog” (White God) and “Crnobog” (Black God).
Light and Darkness, good and evil, heaven and earth, male and female are the basic concepts behind this division.
Female is usually connected to earth elements and Crnobog (Black God) while masculine is heavenly and belongs to Belobog (White God). Both are opposite but also complementary and cannot exist without one another.
All Gods are manifestations of Belobog or Crnobog and all originate from Prabog or Rod.
Perfect example of this concept is the female deity called Rodjenica (female kinship) or Devica (young lady).
Many names have been in use for this Goddess, the female polarity of Prabog or Rod.
In later stages of Slavic society, the importance of this Goddess has grown along with the growth of recognition and importance of mothers to the birth and care for newborns.
Devica (Rodjenica) is often interpreted as one of whom the manifestations of 3 different Goddesses or simply the female Goddess that has many images and forms (lesser female Goddesses).
Devica is the giver of all faith and destiny to mankind and eternal companion of Prabog.
Sud (the Judge) and Sudjenica (Destiny) are male and female pair of Gods, the ones who judge mankind for its actions (male God) and hand out men's destiny while still being a newborn (female God).
This old concept was used heavily in popular culture with 3 ladies present at child birth (sometimes one is evil and represented as an old lady, while others are young and good).
The supreme male-female polarity, mostly among South Slavs, is Vid (Svetovid) and Vida (both translate as holy sight, vision).
This pair is considered to be the emperor and empress of heaven, bringing in rain and reason(sight) to mankind.
Veles is at times considered to be a manifestation of Svetovid.
For eastern Slavs the largest polarity is with Shibog (Life God) and Shiva (she that lives).
Male God Shibog is the giver of all life, while Shiva is the Goddess of fertility and love.
This pair of life givers has its opposites in great Goddess Morana or Baba Yaga where the male God is connected with the dying Sun, while the Goddess is connected to winter and death.
Sreca (fortune) and Nesreca (misfortune) is a duality of Goddesses where young and beautiful Sreca spins a golden thread bringing good fortune and blessings to the person she is assigned to.
Nesreca is depicted as an old woman with bloodshot eyes, bringing misfortune and calamity to a human.
Sun God and Moon God, are the final duality of Gods.
Dajbog (Sun God) is the son of Svarog, winner of darkness, bringer of justice and well-being of mankind.
He shifts from a young man to an old man as he travels the sky, has two daughters Zvezda (morning and evening star) and a brother Jutrobog (Moon God).
Jutrobog is the Moon God but his name translates from Serbian as Morning God (Jutro-morning) so he is considered as the morning light of the Moon at daybreak.
Son of Svarog, the Jutrobog, is a very important God for Slavic people. He is considered to be the provider of health and abundance and a benefactor of all mankind.
Old Gods — Trinity and fire:
Three headed God or Triglav (a mountain peek in Slovenia has its name) is a God made of 3 different Gods.
Three worlds that exist are earth, heaven and the underworld. The present, the future and the past.
3 dimensions in space and in time.
Triglav is made of Svetovid, Svarog and Perun.
We have already learned about Vid or Svetovid (Veles) by now, the lord of light and power but also a God of war.
Svarog (heaven) is the God of sun, fire and time. In Slavic mythology he is the dragon slayer (sounds familiar?), protector of men and bringer of light and fire. Sometimes Svetovid is considered to be nothing but a pure manifestation of Svarog.
Perun (Thunder, oak) is the ultimate God of war and son of Svarog.
Force of nature that crushes and destroys all in its path is one of his manifestations, yet he is considered a God of light and both the striking force (thunder) and the natural element being struck (oak). He is represented having the face of a human but on the other side is the lion's face.
“His other attributes were mountains, fire, iris, eagle, the oak, firmament, horses and carts, weapons (the hammer, Axe of Perun, and golden arrows), and of course war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal, such as most popular Axe of Perun.”
“Perun is described as a strong muscular rugged man with a golden-copper beard. He rides in a fiery chariot pulled by a goat buck and wields a mighty axe of Perun. The axe in battle is hurled at evil people and spirits and will always return to his hand.”
Oganjbog, the fire God, is sometimes considered a God but most of the times only a manifestation of Svarog.
Oganjbog is the personification of the both the celestial and terrestrial fire, and of the sacrificial flame.
Old Gods — Great Goddesses:
Dodola (Thundering) is the Goddess of rain and wife of Perun.
She is also considered to be a manifestation of Devica at times, since this rain bringer and provider is also Goddess of love and fertility and a protector of infants.
Kupalnica (to wash, to make something wet) or Sunce (the Sun when translated from Serbian) is the Goddess of joy, water and summer solstice.
Celebrated, like all other Gods, in many rituals and celebrations, hers are specific since they bring purification through water and fire.
John the Baptist was merged in Christianity with this Goddess, just like all of these ancient Gods live to this very day in various Christian saints.
Lada is a Goddess of earth, joy and harmony. She symbolizes youth, beauty, spring and love. She is often considered to be a manifestation of Devica (Rodjenica) or a divine entity of its own, female companion of Svarog.
Zemlja (mother Earth) is the Goddess of wet fertile earth, corn, land works and the harvest.
When connected to Perun she becomes dry and fiery, Ognjena, faithful and elevated.
If connected to Shibog she is the personification of unfaithful and low morals all dry and frozen, frigid.
In Christianity, she became the black Madonna and Saint Paraskeva.
Morana (ruin, death) or Baba Yaga (grandma death) the Goddess of death and winter was already mentioned above. She is often symbolized by a snake (familiar?).
Zvezda (star) or the planet Venus are actually sisters having the same name. One of them is Zvezda Danica (morning star) while the other is Vecernja zvezda (evening star) representing different positions of Venus in the sky.
Zora is the third sister (Aurora) and can be a morning, evening but also midnight light.
The sisters are Goddesses of beauty, virgins but associated with war and Perun.
They are widely respected and incorporated in folklore of south Slavs to this very day.
Old Gods — lesser Goddesses:
Vesna is the Goddess of spring, rebirth and resurrection.
Veliona Is the Goddess of ancestors, keeper of the dead and protector of souls.
Ursula is the Moon Goddess, connected with Ursa Minor constellation.
Uroda is the Goddess of agriculture, protector of farmers and peasants.
Baba Zlata (Golden grandma) or Gvozdenzuba (iron teeth) is the Goddess of skill and knowledge, of sorcery and witchcraft.
Ozviena is the Goddess of echo and all vocal communication among humans.
Ognjena Marija is the Goddess of celestial fire, and she is the sister of Perun.
Her character has been merged with virgin Mary and Margaret the virgin.
Matergabia is a fire Mother, when translated, Goddess of the heart.
Lelia is the Goddess of mercy, daughter of Lada. She is connected to the Ursa Major constellation.
Kostroma is the Goddess of grain, spring and fertility. Once Christianity was accepted she got incorporated to the summer celebration of Saint Peter and Paul.
Karna is the Goddess of tears and funerals, personification of sorrow.
Zislobog (number giver) is a Goddess of calculations, numbers and of the lunar calendar.
Moon is her symbol, and she is also considered to be the protector of crops.
Old Gods — Great Gods:
Veles is a deity mentioned in many aspects. Although considered to be a manifestation of Vid (Svetovid) mostly because of its name, whose basic translation would be “sight”, he is much more and is given a variety of attributes.
Veles is the God of cattle, crops, wisdom, art, wealth, property, magic, trade, fortune telling, virtues and also guardian of the souls of the dead. Protector of contracts and agreements, old Slavs would give their word and swear in the name of Veles and Perun.
The book of Veles is in his honour.
Jarovit is another God who is considered to be the aspect of Svetovid. He is the God of peace, fertility and sexuality but also considered to be a war God. His name can be translated to the “Lord of bright”.
Stribog (wealth spreader) is a deity connected to Dajbog (the Giver).
He is the God of storm and wind, spreading across the world.
Simarg is the protector of sailors, God of drinking, abundance and fortune.
Rudjevit (to roar) is a powerful warrior God. This seven headed God is an aspect of Svetovid (Vid) the symbol of east and autumn.
Radegast is the God of hospitality, honour and strength.
His symbols are a bull (on his chest) and a lion (half of his face), and he is often depicted holding a halberd in his right hand.
Pozvizd also known as the “Russian star” is the God of the wind. Translated meaning of his name is “The whistler”.
Porevit (Lord of power) is at times seen as manifestation of Perun but at other times as one of Svetovid. This God has five faces, one facing each side of the world while the fifth is on his chest.
He is the deity of masculine power and a summer God.
Paklenbog (Hell God, the devil) is the Lord of the underworld. He guides souls to the underworld, controls earthquakes, fires and snakes.
After accepting Christianity he simply became the Devil and his name became the word for hell (Pakao, Pakleni).
Nemizia is the God of doom and calamity but also the God of new chances. He cuts the thread of life and brings death to humans but also introduces them to a new life beyond this realm.
Tsar (emperor) is the God of the seas, Slavic version of Neptune or Poseidon.
Krsnik is a solar hero, warrior God of the sun. Benevolent, beautiful and young, this God brings fertility and rebirth (resurrection).
Koleda (circle) is a young God, representing shy winter Sun after solstice.
Ipabog (movement giver) is the God of hunting. He represents constant motion, movement and is depicted as having deer horns.
Chur is the God of boundaries and termination.
Old Gods — Gods of many things:
“In Slavic religion, everything has a spirit or soul, including houses, lakes, mountains, forests, animals and men. These spirits are generally called by various terms, including for instance zduh or zduhacz (“spirit”) by the Serbs, or sjen or sjenovik (“shadow”) by the Montenegrins. These spirits are considered able to leave the body during the sleep, wandering about the world, the skies and the underworld.”
Slavic people have Gods for waters, woods and fields. Gods for animals, plants or even crafts.
Spirits that wonder the earth, creatures that roam the night, visitors from the underworld.
Next article will be about Slavic mythology and nature. But also of creatures like vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters or fairies, among other things. Most people know about these creatures from popular culture but what they don't know is their true origin.
Final and third article will be about Christianity, customs and traditions that exist today.
This way you will be able to see how old Slavic Gods live today, not only with Slavic people but also in some aspects with western traditions where they got accepted and incorporated into Christianity.
Until our next reading,
Kind regards from Backoovan
Click here to read the italian version of the article.