The multi-faced so-called miniature idols from the Baltic Sea area

The multi-faced so-called miniature idols from the Baltic Sea areaThe aim of this text is to present early medieval miniature figurines discovered in the Baltic Sea region. The authors review interpretations of this archaeological finds from literature and offer a new perspective for their functions. The next problem dealt with is the ethno-cultural membership of the users of the objects.

We would consider those figurines as symbols or perhaps fetishes referring to a particular sacral power, perhaps associated with the four-faced god Svantevit(?), or as ritual requisites connected with magic practices (especially in the form of vegetation magic and love magic). The representations of four faces or four heads on these objects may have legitimized the creative power of these objects, i.e. a power sanctioned by the authority of a deity with particular competence. Consequently, in our view, the multi-faced figures found in different locations within the Baltic Sea area would suggest a Slavic presence.

Pan-Slavism

Святослав / ПокотиловPan-Slavism was a movement in the mid-19th century aimed at unity of all the Slavic peoples. The main focus was in the Balkans where the South Slavs had been ruled for centuries by other empires, Byzantine Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Venice. It was also used as a political tool by both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, which gained political-military influence and control over all Slavic-majority nations between 1945 and 1948.

Origins

Extensive Pan-Slavism began much like Pan-Germanism, both of which grew from the sense of unity and nationalism experienced within ethnic groups under the domination of France during the Napoleonic Wars. Like other Romantic nationalist movements, Slavic intellectuals and scholars in the developing fields of history, philology, and folklore actively encouraged the passion of their shared identity and ancestry. Pan-Slavism also co-existed with the Southern Slavic independence.

Paganism – Mari El

Чудская гора / А.В. Мошев Oshmarii-Chimarii (Mari El Republic, Russia)

Mari El is an autonomous republic of Russia located approximately seven hundred kilometers from Moscow. The ethnic Mari, formerly known as the Chermiss, who speak a Finno-Ugrian language, represent 43.3 percent of the republic’s population. Beyond Mari El, the Mari peoples are found also in Bashkortostan, Tatarstan and Udmurtia as well as in the areas of Nijny Novgorod, Kirov and Sverdlovsk.

Upon the rediscovery of its indigenous pagan traditions at the end of the 1980s, the Mari El Republic underwent a nationalist reawakening. By granting legal status to longstanding religious traditions, the 1997 Russian law concerning freedom of religion promoted Mari Paganism as well. Nevertheless, the Mari have encountered difficulties.

Early Slavs

N.BukanovaThe early Slavs were a diverse group of tribal societies in Migration period and early medieval Europe (ca. 5th to 10th centuries) whose tribal organizations indirectly created the foundations for today’s Slavic nations (via the Slavic states of the High Middle Ages).

The first mention of the name Slavs dates to the 6th century, by which time the Slavic tribes inhabited a vast area of central-eastern Europe. Over the following two centuries, the Slavs expanded further, towards the Balkans and the Alps in the south and west, and the Volga in the north and east.[1]

From the 9th century, the Slavs were gradually Christianized, and by the 12th century, they formed the population within a number of medieval Christian states, the East Slavs in the Kievan Rus' and Lithuania, the South Slavs in Bulgaria and Serbia, and the West Slavs in Poland and the Holy Roman Empire (Pomerania, Bohemia).

Supernatural beings in Slavic folklore

Аука / ПокотиловSupernatural beings in Slavic folklore come in several forms and their names are spelled differently based on the specific language. Among the ones listed below there were also khovanets (as domovoi), dolia (fate), polyovyk or polevoi (field spirit), perelesnyk (spirit of seduction), lesovyk or leshyi (woodland spirit), blud (wanderer), mara (specter, spirit of confusion), chuhaister (forest giant), mavka or niavka (forest nymphs), potoplenytsia (drowned maiden, wife of vodianyk), vodianyk or vodyanoy (water spirit, aka potoplenyk), bolotianyk (swamp spirit), bisytsia (she-devil), potercha (spirit of dead, unbaptized child), nichnytsia (night spirit), mamuna (demoness), nechysta syla (evil power), scheznyk (vanisher), didko, antypko, antsybolot, aridnyk (other names for evil spirits), and many, many others. Those spirits or fairies are mostly out of the Ukrainian mythology, which have derived out of the general Slavic folklore.

Slavic names

Asgard / A. UglanovGiven names originating from the Slavic languages are most popular in Slavic countries such as Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and others.

History of Slavic names

In pre-Christian traditions, a child younger than 7 - 10 years old would bear a "subtitutional name" (e.g. Niemój "not mine", Nielub "not loved"), whose purpose was to decrease the apparent importance of a child and protect him or her from the curiosity of evil powers. This practice probably derived from the existence of a high fatality rate for young children at that time. A child who survived 7 - 10 years was worthy of care and was granted adult status and a new adult name during the ritual of a first haircut.

Generally traditional names were dominant until Slavic nations converted to Christianity (e.g. the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church). For instance, the Council of Trent (1545 - 63) decided that every Catholic should have a Christian name instead of native one.

Stonehenge Triangle

Stonehenge TriangleThis paper describes a sacred triangle in a landscape of prehistoric England that was constructed around 2400 BC. The triangle consists of three henges: Stonehenge, Woodhenge and Bluestonehenge. In form, it is a right isosceles triangle lined in respect to E-W and N-S lines.

This paper approaches the most well-known sacred landscape structure of prehistoric England with the background of the recent research of analogue structures of pre-Christian Slavs. The ancient Slavs positioned their sacred sites in a tripartite structures (Pleterski 1996) that were related to the central Slavic myth of a divine battle between a thunder god and his underworld opponent (Katičić 2003-2011). A substantial number of sacred triangles has already been described in Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany (Pleterski 1996; Belaj 2007, Đermek 2010). These triangles probably give enough evidence to support the claim that the ancient Slavs positioned their sacred sites in a way that the angles between lines connecting pairs of sites have astronomical significance (usually refer the zenith and azimuth angles which the sun takes through the annual cycle). Very often in the observed triangles among some of the sides appears the ratio of 1:√2. There exist some indications that the distances between sacred sites were also important. They might have been measured using the projections of right isosceles triangles on the horizontal plane (Đermek 2012, 2013).

World tree

World treeThe world tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, particularly Indo-European religions, Siberian religions, and Native American religions. The world tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the world, and, through its roots, the underworld. It may also be strongly connected to the motif of the tree of life.

Specific world trees include világfa in Hungarian mythology, Yggdrasil (or Irminsul) in Germanic (including Norse) mythology, the Oak in Slavic and Finnish mythology, and in Hindu mythology the Ashvattha (a Sacred Fig).

Norse mythology

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the world tree. Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The Æsir go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the harts Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór, an unnamed eagle, the squirrel Ratatoskr and the wyrm Níðhöggr. Scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasil, the potential relation to the trees Mímameiðr and Læraðr, and the sacred tree at Uppsala.

Slavic mythology

Okrutniki PokotilovSlavic mythology is the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practiced by the Slavs before Christianization. The religion possesses many common traits with other religions descended from the Proto-Indo-European religion.

Sources of information

Unlike Greek or Egyptian mythology, there are no first-hand records for the study of Slavic mythology. Despite some arguable theories (for instance, the Book of Veles), it cannot be proven that the Slavs had any sort of writing system before the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Slavic lands in 862. Therefore, all their original religious beliefs and traditions were likely passed down orally over the generations, and basically forgotten over the centuries following their rapid conversion into Christianity (which began with conversion of Bulgaria in 864 and was largely complete by the late 11th century.) Before that, sparse records of Slavic religion were mostly written by non-Slavic Christian missionaries who were uninterested in accurately portraying pagan beliefs. Archaeological remains of old Slavic cult images and shrines have been found, though little can be yielded from them without legitimate knowledge of their contexts, other than confirming existing historical records. Fragments of old mythological beliefs and pagan festivals survive up to this day in folk customs, songs, and stories of all the Slavic nations.

Zbruch Idol

Zbruch IdolThe Zbruch Idol (Polish: Światowid ze Zbrucza; Ukrainian: Збручанський ідол, Russian: Збручский идол) is a 9th century sculpture,[1] and one of the rarest monuments of pre-Christian Slavic beliefs. The pillar is commonly associated with the Slavic deity Svantevit, although opinions on the exact meaning of all the bas-reliefs and their symbols differ. Some argue that the three tiers of bas-reliefs represent the three levels of the world, from the bottom underworld, to the middle mortal world and the uppermost, largest, world of heavenly gods.

It is believed that the sculpture was disposed of in a pit some time after the baptism of Kievan Rus, like the idols in Kiev and Novgorod. In 19th century, when the Zbruch River (a tributary of the Dniester) changed its bed, the area where the pillar was buried became submerged.[2] It was discovered during a drought near the village called Liczkowce under Polish rule, now Lychkivtsi (Личківці), Ukraine, just north of Husiatyn, in 1848. The statue is now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, Poland, with exact copies located in a number of museums, including the State Historical Museum in Moscow.

Russian Paganism

Russian PaganismA pantheon of pagan gods, deities, and spirits ruled over Slavs’ souls in Kievan Rus (the political ancestor of today’s Russia) up until the 11th century A.D. Water had its own deities, most of whom were ruled by spirits known as rusalki (mermaids) or Vodanoi (water-spirits).

Fire was personified by the god Svarozhich, and it was considered nearly criminal to spit into a fire.