My Russian Heathen friend lets me know about other Pagans in Russia and the surrounding Countries. So far the Pagan/Heathen movement has proven to be very interesting. This time my friend Yggeld brought Belojar, a Slavic Priest, deputy head of the Union of Slavic Communities of Slavic Native Belief and editor in chief of the first Russian magazine about Paganism, "Rodnoverie," to my attention. Fortunately for my sake he knows English, as I don't know a word of Russian.
Christopher: Could you give us a bit of back ground about yourself?
Belojar: I am turning 40 this summer, I was born in the Far East. My parents taught in various high schools. I have two college degrees. I work, I am fond of sport tourism, and together with my fellow members I am resurrecting the Tradition.
Christopher: What led you to Slavic Paganism?
Belojar: It's not a simple question. I have always been a nationalist at heart. By nationalism I mean love for one's nation, one's people, culture and traditions of the Ancestors. I love Nature – this is our temple. I do care for the path we are following, what we will leave to our children, whether we are a strong and free nation or we are going to perish. I have never had another faith but Paganism and I respect the rights of other nations to their unique identity and culture. I am against any universal phenomenon that destroys peoples' traditions and national identities.
Christopher: How long has the Union of Slavic Communities of Slavic Native Belief existed. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Belojar: The USC is the oldest organization of this kind in Russia. It was founded in 1997. Currently, the Union consists of 20 communities, spread through many regions of Russia. We have a centralized structure with several departments where some members of communities work. Our head and original founder is Vadim Kazakov. We own a land lot where now we are constructing a Heathen temple.
Our union also undertook the publishing of the first Russian illustrated magazine "Rodnoverie" wholly dedicated to Paganism and Tradition. Here we collaborate with two other big Pagan organizations: the Circle of Pagan/ Heathen Traditions and the "Circle of Veles" Union.
Christopher: How long have you been a member of it? What is you position in it?
Belojar: I have been a member of the USC for almost 9 years, in 2008 I was elected its deputy head. I am also the editor-in-chief for the "Rodnoverie" magazine.
Christopher: How did you come to be a priest? Are you dedicated to any god or goddess, or do you practice for all of them?
Belojar: It was the way of internal realization and desire to resurrect the traditions of our Ancestors. I was deemed trustworthy and I went through the rite of initiation into priesthood. In the USC we do not dedicate ourselves to a certain God or Goddess, we practice for all of them.
Christopher: How many ceremonies a year do you perform? Are there any particular holy days?
Belojar: In our calendar there are 14 holy days in the course of the year, 8 of them are major, including 4 connected with the Sun. The day of the God Perun is a special holy day in the USC, on this day we hold the assembly of the union where we solve the main organizational issues and elect our Head and the members of the Priests counsel.
Christopher: Do most Slavic Heathens practice in their family or alone? How often can they get together to practice with other Slavic Heathens? Are there any large gatherings during the year?
Belojar: Every community celebrates its own holy days. It's the choice of every person how to celebrate one or another holy day – in the family or together in the community. As I have already mentioned we have 14 holy days. For the major holy days, such as Kolyada (winter solstice),
Komoeditsa (spring equinox), Kupalo (summer solstice) the day of Perun, many communities try to get together and practice.
Christopher: How long has "Rodnoverie" been published? How large of a readership do you have? How long have you been editor-in-chief?
Belojar: The magazine has been published since 2009 in 2000 copies. Since the first issue I have been coordinating the project and in 2010 I became the editor-in-chief.
Christopher: Do you have regular writers for the magazine? Where do you find your writers?
Belojar: We have some authors that write regularly for the magazine but we also publish works sent to us by ordinary people. Most authors are our fellow members or members of friendly organizations. We regularly publish interviews with music bands, painters, artists working in our tradition.
Christopher: How often is "Rodnoverie" published during the year?
Belojar: The magazine is published two times a year.
Christopher: How do you find the time and energy to take part in your multiple roles in the Slavic Heathen community?
Belojar: I believe in what I am doing. I feel support of my fellow members and the help of the Gods and Ancestors.
Christopher: Where could people learn more about your religion, association and magazine? Do you have any web pages in languages other than Russian?
Belojar: We are enlightening people, spreading information on the Internet. Unfortunately, we don't have a site in English but we are working on it.
Christopher: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Belojar: I would like to thank you for the interview. All of us are working for the common cause: preserving and resurrecting traditions of our peoples, our Ancestors. Without memory of our roots, of culture of our people our nation has no future. We should understand it and remember it.
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