Russia’s first pagans were largely wiped out by the Russian Christian church 1,000 years ago. But a modern iteration of the movement was reborn during the collapse of the Soviet Union. “The collapse of the communist system in Eastern Europe enabled the few small Pagan movements in the region to surface in the public sphere,” political scientist Kaarina Aitamurto wrote in the journal E-International Relations. “At the beginning of the 1990s, they gained momentum in virtually all ex-socialist countries.”
Followers say their polytheistic faith honors Russia’s Slavic roots and allows them to maintain a distinct national identity. Today, there are thousands of self-described rodnovers in Siberia, Volga, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The group defines its faith loosely, pulling traditions and beliefs from ancient Slavic tribes. Though customs vary from place to place, many rodnovers celebrate the “solar holidays” that mark the change of the season by dressing in costume and performing short plays. At some ceremonies, there are sacrifices, dances and communal meals. Rodnovers often worship in Slavic-style temples that feature images of the gods.
Rodnoverie (the Slavic native faith) refers to a characteristic variety of neo-paganism, typical of Russia, aimed at the reconstruction of pre-Christian beliefs of ancient Slavs. Rodnovers reject Christianity which, in their view, was imposed on the ancient Rus’, and worship Slavic gods traceable today only thanks to data provided by historians and archeologists. Despite their small number (several tens of thousands, according to researchers), Rodnovers, who widely celebrate the respective holidays, are firmly established on the religious map of Russia.
The Peryn peninsula is at the confluence of Lake Ilmen and the River Volhov, 6km (04miles) south of the city of Veliky Novgorod. In the Dark Ages, the city was developed not far from Peryn, at Ruerikovo Gorodische also known as Holmgård, but its business and social activities were later moved to form today's city center. The area south of Novgorod, including Peryn, is therefore considered part of the historic surroundings of Veliky Novgorod.
Historically, Peryn was an island formed by the River Volkhov and two small rivers called Rakomka and Prost. It could only be reached by boat. The conditions changed significantly after a dam was constructed in the 1960s to provide access for vehicles. After the 1960s Peryn looked like a peninsula but now it looks more like a hill which only becomes a peninsula when floods arrive in the spring.
Slavs are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group, who speak various Slavic languages of the Balto-Slavic language group. They are native to Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe, Northeastern Europe, North Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. From the early VI century they spread to inhabit most of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
Jarylo (Cyrillic: Ярило or Ярила; Polish: Jaryło; Croatian: Jura or Juraj; Serbian: Јарило; Slavic: Jarovit), Jaryla (Belarusian: Ярыла), alternatively Yarylo, Iarilo, or Gerovit, is a Slavic god of vegetation, fertility and springtime.
The Slavic root jar or yar means spring or summer or strong.
The only historic source that mentions this deity is a 12th-century biography of the proselytizing German bishop Otto of Bamberg, who, during his expeditions to convert the pagan tribes of Wendish and Polabian Slavs, encountered festivals in honor of the war-god Gerovit in the cities of Wolgast and Havelberg. Gerovit is most likely a German corruption of the original Slavic name Jarovit.
Cyrillic Serbian: Велес;
Polish: Weles; Велес;
Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian: Veles;
Ruthenian and Old Church Slavonic: Велесъ;
Belarusian: Вялес (''Vialies'')), also known as Volos (Russian: Волос, listed as a Christian saint in Old Russian texts), is a major Slavic god of earth, waters, forests and the underworld.
His attributes are wet, wooly, hairy (bearded), dark and he is associated with cattle, the harvest, wealth, music, magic and trickery. Believed to be related to the Indo-European deity of Mitra, as well as Norse deity of Loki. According to reconstruction by some researchers he is the opponent of the Supreme thunder-god Perun. As such he probably has been imagined as a dragon, which in the belief of the pagan Slavs is a chimeric being, a serpent with a bear's head and drooping hairy ears.
His tree is the willow, like god Perun's tree is the oak. No direct accounts survive, but reconstructions speculate that he may directly continue aspects of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon.
In 1874 in Belgrade, and in 1881 in St. Petersburg, the two volumes of "Veda Slovena" were published - "Bulgarian folk songs of the pre-historical and pre-Christian age". Compiled by the Bosnian Serb Stephen Verkovich, "Veda Slovena" created a furore among the scholarly world ranging from Russia to France, and went down in history as the biggest folklore mystery, the debates over which are still going on.
Koliada or koleda (Cyrillic: коляда, коледа, колада, коледе) is an ancient pre-Christian Slavic winter festival. It was later incorporated into Christmas.
The word is still used in modern Ukrainian ("Коляда", Kolyadá), Belarusian (Каляда, Kalada, Kalyada), Russian (Коляда, Kolyada), Polish (Szczodre Gody kolęda), Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian (Коледа, Коледе) Lithuanian (Kalėdos, Kalėda) and Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Slovene (koleda). The word used in Old Church Slavonic language (Колѧда) sounds closest to the current Polish language pronunciation, as Polish is the only Slavic language which retains the nasal vowels of the Proto-Slavic language. One theory states that Koliada is the name of a cycle of winter rituals stemming from the ancient calendae.
Marzanna (in Polish), Morė (in Lithuanian), Morana (in Czech, Bulgarian, Slovene, Serbian, Bosnian, and Croatian),or Morena (in Slovak and Macedonian), Maslenitsa (in Russia)and also Mara (in Belarusian and Ukrainian), Maržena, Moréna, Mora or Marmora is a Baltic and Slavic goddess associated with seasonal rites based on the idea of death and rebirth of nature. She is an ancient goddess associated with winter's death and rebirth and dreams. In Slavic rites the death of the Goddess Marzanna at the end winter, becomes the rebirth of Spring of the Goddess Kostroma (Russian), Lada, Vesna representing the coming of Spring.
Mokosh (Мокошь) is a Slavic goddess mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, protector of women's work and women's destiny. She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. Mokosh is the Great Mother, Mat Zemlya.
Mokosh was the only female deity whose idol was erected by Vladimir the Great in his Kiev sanctuary along with statues of other major gods (Perun, Hors, Dazbog, Stribog, and Simargl).