Monday, April 7, 2008

Slavic Pagan Gods and Beliefs

Slavic Paganism is an oral tradition that began over 3000 years ago, and was influenced by the Greek mythologies of the time. Unlike the Greek mythologies however, there was a main god Perun, the thunder god, who was worshipped above all, but there were many sub-gods or followers as well. Veles is one of these followers, though he is normally associated with the Devil. Going along with this theme, there are a few evil gods, such as Marowit who is the god of nightmares, and Berstuk the evil god of the forest. Other gods are seen as good, or neutral, to explain nature and other aspects of human life. These include Dazhbog the sun god, Juthrbog the moon god, and many many others applicable to almost ever aspect of life.
What is extremely interesting to me is the neutrality those who follow these traditions take when dealing with religion, or gods in general. There is a Ukrainian proverb that tells the story of an old woman going into a church and lighting two candles, one for God and one for the Devil. When questioned about why she did this, she replies that she is old, and it is nice to have friends on both sides. This duality of pleasing God, but not angering the Devil is something totally foreign to me, perhaps a result of my western catholic upbringing. It is very fascinating to see a different perspective of the afterlife.
While a deep part of Kievan Rus traditon, pagan superstitions and rituals still exist even today. There is evena neo-pagan movement in Ukraine today, and these people are called the Ridna Vira in Ukrainian.

This is a picture of Perun fighting Veles.

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S Gliske said...

The concept of "pleasing God, but not angering the Devil" seems to be around. For instance, consider Herman Hesse's novel "The Steppenwolf," where he states there are three kinds of people: those who are good and want to be good, those who are bad and want to be bad, and "the steppenwolves" who want to be good but not too good, and bad but not too bad and are not content.

This third catagory sounds a little like the "pleasing God, but not angering the Devil." Arguably, there are some differences, but it seems related.

Scott Bury said...

I wrote a book based in ancient Ukraine (today), but in the 6th century, so long before there were Rus' or Volodymr - but there were proto-slavs. It features a lot of ancient Slavic mythology. I invite anyone interested to check out The Bones of the Earth.