Slavic Mythology

Discussion in 'Historian's House' started by Blackness, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. Blackness

    Blackness Well-Known Member

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    The purpose of creating this thread is because, next to worldwide popular mythologies such as the greek, norse and egyptian, there are others at least equally as intriguing ;)
    I find one of them to be slavic.

    Since i'll assume most of you don't know much about it, i'll post a synopsys.

    Unlike Greek or Egyptian mythology, there are no first-hand records for the study of Slavic mythology. Despite some controversial theories (for instance, the Book of Veles), it cannot be proven that the Slavs had any sort of writing system prior to Christianisation; therefore, all their original religious beliefs and traditions were likely passed down orally over generations, and potentially forgotten over the centuries following the arrival of Christianity. Prior to that, sparse records of Slavic religion were mostly written by non-Slavic Christian missionaries who were disinterested in accurately portraying pagan beliefs. Archaeological remains of old Slavic idols and shrines have been found, though little can be yielded from them without proper 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.

    A fairly typical cosmological concept among speakers of Indo-European languages, that of the World Tree, is also present in Slavic mythology. It is either an oak tree, or some sort of pine tree. The mythological symbol of the World Tree was a very strong one, and survived throughout the Slavic folklore for many centuries after Christianisation. Three levels of the universe were located on the tree. Its crown represented the sky, the realm of heavenly deities and celestial bodies, whilst the trunk was the realm of mortals. They were sometimes combined together in opposition to the roots of the tree, which represented the underworld, the realm of the dead. Contrary to the popular ideas, it seems the world of the dead in Slavic mythology was actually quite a lovely place, a green and wet world of grassy plains and eternal spring. In folklore, this land is sometimes referred to as Virey or Iriy.

    Ivanov and Toporov reconstructed the ancient myth involving the two major gods of the Proto-Slavic pantheon, Perun and Veles. The two of them stand in opposition in almost every way. Perun is a heavenly god of thunder and lightning, fiery and dry, who rules the living world from his citadel high above, located on the top of the highest branch of the World Tree. Veles is a chthonic god associated with waters, earthly and wet, lord of the underworld, who rules the realm of the dead from down in the roots of the World Tree. Perun is a giver of rain to farmers, god of war and weapons, invoked by fighters. Veles is a god of cattle, protector of shepherds, associated with magic and commerce.

    A cosmic battle fought between two of them echoes the ancient Indo-European myth of a fight between a storm god and a dragon. Attacking with his lightning bolts from sky, Perun pursues his serpentine enemy Veles who slithers down over earth. Veles taunts Perun and flees, transforming himself into various animals, hiding behind trees, houses, or people. In the end, he is killed by Perun, or he flees into the water, into the underworld. This is basically the same thing; by killing Veles, Perun does not actually destroy him, but simply returns him to his place in the world of the dead. Thus the order of the world, disrupted by Veles's mischief, is established once again by Perun. The idea that storms and thunder are actually a divine battle between the supreme god and his arch-enemy was extremely important to Slavs, and continued to thrive long after Perun and Veles were replaced by the Сhristian God and Devil. A lightning bolt striking down a tree or burning down a peasant's house was always explained through the belief of a raging heavenly deity bashing down on his earthly, underworldly, enemy.

    It's important to understand that neither of these god are 'good' or 'evil', death is an integral aspect of life to slavs, and the underworld is in no way connected to the christian idea of hell.
    These two gods also aren't all the 'major' gods, slavic religion was polytheistic in nature, with many 'major' deities and even more 'lesser' ones, even though Perun and Veles are often seen as the center of it.

    Svantevit and Triglav:
    It is somewhat ironic that for now we cannot clearly determine the position of these two gods in Proto-Slavic pantheon, yet we have the most extensive historic accounts written about them. That they were important to all pagan Slavs is indicated by a significant number of toponyms whose names can be associated with them and by discoveries of multi-headed statues in various Slavic lands. Both of these gods were considered supreme in various locations; they were associated with divination and symbolized by the horse. A possibly significant difference is that Svantevit had a white horse whilst Triglav a black one

    It is claimed that Slovenian highest mountain Triglav is named after god Triglav.

    Anothers claim that Triglav is a concept that consists of the three forms of existence: Yav, Nav, and Prav. Yav is being the world of life, Nav - the world of death, and Prav - the world that balance the other two. Compare to Russian yavlennie which means appearance or yavnyi - obvious; navernoe - perhaps; and pravo - law, right.


    The lowest level of development of Slavic mythology includes various groups of home or nature spirits and magical creatures, which vary greatly amongst different Slavic nations. Mythic structure on this level is practically incomprehensible, but some of the beliefs nevertheless have a great antiquity. As early as the 5th century, Procopius mentioned that Slavs worshipped river and nature spirits, and traces of such beliefs can still be recognised in the tales about vilas, vampires, witches, and werewolves.



    It's like some magical fairy tale o_O Too bad there's not much info.
     
  2. Normf

    Normf Death 'n' Roll

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    Cheers for putting this up, i have allways been interested in Slavic Mythology.
     
  3. Auracle

    Auracle New Member

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    Yeah man, thanks. I've been recently speaking with someone else about the Slavic oral tradition...I also prefer investigating what I feel are less discovered cultures, like Celtic and native American.
     
  4. Mem

    Mem Mosh Warrior

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    triglav <3

    well,yeah,slavic mythology is rather interesting, slavic gods are just awesome :p
     
  5. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    Interesting! :)
     
  6. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    Whoa, I've never really thought about this before. I'm shocked. I'll immediately ask Wikipedia to help me close this knowledge gap. :D
    I'm pretty curious if there are any aspects in Slavic mythology that could somehow survive and still exist in modern times, for example in customs.
     
  7. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    Especially Russian Slavic mythology I think is very interesting.
     
  8. Blackness

    Blackness Well-Known Member

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    Yup, some aspects still survive, mostly in isolated villages through folk stories and songs, as well as patterns in cloth (?).
    Slavs also probably had a limited letter system, used just for personal names, which I forgot to mention.
    It's funny how slavic nations have so much in common, not just the language, yet they fight each other all the time :/ Like brethren I guess lol

    Here is a song dedicated to Dodola, a godess of rain and harvest, it survived in a few different areas, and was sung in times of drought.
    Granted, there are variations to it which came to exist over the years (millennia even ;)), but its core is intact.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaXakoI2B-E

    Also Firi, I'd like you to note any similarities between the Germanic myths and Slavic ones.
    There is a theory that we were, not so long ago, the same people, germano-baltic-slavic, and it'd be nice to know just how much of it survived if it's true ^^ Even though the germans supposedly fragmented first. I guess that if we delve even further than that we'll get to indoeuropean :rolleyes:
     
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