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Eariy slavs in the southwest baltic region: initial investigations in dobropole pyrzyckie (Poland)

Eariy slavs in the southwest baltic region: initial investigations in dobropole pyrzyckie (Poland) Sebastian Messal, Bartłomiej Rogalski

Abstract

Important but up to now more or less unsolved questions of early Medieval archaeology focus on the date and the process of Slavonisation in the southwest Baltic area. The state of knowledge in various regions of northeast Germany and Poland lead to partly different research reviews, which in some cases even expressed opposing opinions. There are only a few absolute dates available indicating that the beginning of the Slavonic settlement can be dated to the late seventh and early eighth centuries, but how this process of slavonisation can be explained is still unknown. Did a new Slavonic community migrate into a devastated landscape, or was there a change of identity into a Slavonic way of life connected with continuous Germanic settlement?

Russian neopagans move their faith from the fringes

The burning of a ritual dummy on the Kupalo holiday. It symbolizes the death and rebirth of the sun. (Pavel Volkov)For centuries, Russia’s pagans practiced their faith on the fringes. But lately, the community of rodnovers, or neopagans, is growing — and finding a home in the country’s biggest cities.

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.

Ethnic nationalism

Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethno-nationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity.
The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that «nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry». It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group, and with their ancestors. However, it is different from a purely cultural definition of «the nation», which allows people to become members of a nation by cultural assimilation; and from a purely linguistic definition, according to which «the nation» consists of all speakers of a specific language.

The Church against neo-paganism

The Church against neo-paganismHierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and representatives of the secular structure of the Holy Synod are paying closer attention to the spread of neo-paganism in Russia

Neo-paganism in the post-Soviet space

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.

Peryn

Peryn (pronunciation Perуn, Russian Перынь)Peryn (pronunciation Perуn, Russian Перынь) is a peninsula near Veliky Novgorod (Russia), noted for its medieval pagan shrine complex, and for its later well-preserved monastery.

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

SlavsSlavs 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.

Jarilo

JariloJarylo (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.

Veles

VelesCyrillic 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.

The «Veda Slovena» mystery

The «Veda Slovena» mysteryIn 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.

Koleduvane

KoleduvaneKoliada 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.

Morena

 MorenaMarzanna (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

MokoshMokosh (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).

Rod

Rod is a Slavic deityRod (Polish, Slovenian, Croatian: Rod, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian Cyrillic: Род, Ukrainian: Рід) is a Slavic deity, often mentioned in the Old Church Slavonic didactic literature which was directed against pagans.

Rod is usually accompanied by Rozhanitsy (singular rozhanitsa), female deities or demigodesses who are his companions. The name «Rod», as well as the word «rozhanitsa», is derived from the Common Slavonic root meaning «birth», «origin», «kin» (compare Greekgenesis and its cognates, such as genealogy). In modern Russian, the word «rod» means «kin», and «rozhenitsa» is «a woman in childbirth».

PERUN

PerunIn Slavic mythology, Perun (Cyrillic: Перун) is the highest God of the pantheon and the God of thunder and lightning. His other attributes were fire, mountains, wind, the oak, iris, eagle, firmament (in Indo-European languages, this was joined with the notion of the sky of stone), horses and carts, weapons (the hammer, axe (Axe of Perun), and arrow), and war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.
Perun is described as a rugged man with a copper beard. He rides in a chariot pulled by a goat buck and carries a mighty axe, or sometimes a hammer. The axe is hurled at evil people and spirits and will always return to his hand.

Summer Solstice Traditions

Summer Solstice TraditionsFor many bygone civilizations, the summer solstice - the longest day of the year - was endowed with great significance. People celebrated this special day, which falls in June in the northern hemisphere and is also known as midsummer, with festivals, celebrations and other observances, some of which still survive or have experienced a revival in modern times.
Though a connection between the Celtic high priests and England's Stonehenge has never been reliably established, many people who identify as modern-day Druids still gather at the mighty monument every midsummer.

Pre-Christian Eastern Slavic Reflections on Nature

Волхова с радугой. Ольшанский Борис МихайловичWhat follows is a simple account of how, in earlier times, the Eastern Slavs, particularly the pre-Christian Russians, interacted with nature. Pre-Christian slavic religion was mainly based on nature worship. Fire, Earth and Water figured prominently in its beliefs and ritual practices. The forces of nature were personified, feared, and revered, and the Slavs developed a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses. However, the three main gods of their pantheon were linked together not in a hierarchical way, but in a mutually complementary way, where each was incomplete without the other. A whole cycle of rituals revolved around various forces of nature and their personified images. The arrival of Christianity as the official religion and the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church culminated in the banning of many folk ritual practices which were pre-Christian in origin, and in the persecution of those who practised them. Yet, a complete annihilation of earlier beliefs and practices could never be accomplished. Pre-Christian beliefs and gods exerted such a strong influence upon the Russian mind that the only way to come to terms with them was through incorporating them in the mainstream of the Christian order. Water, Fire, and the Mother Earth Goddess were, and have remained, the most powerful images of Russian religious beliefs and practices, and folk memory has remained loyal to the personified and non-personified images of these elements.

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