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GreenmansGod

Resurgence of Pre-Christian Beliefs in Poland

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Posted (edited)

At the end of August, the first National Congress of Native Faith Believers will be held in Lodz', organized by the four biggest ‘native faith’ groups in Poland. It is a clear sign that native faith is a growing social force in a country that has a reputation as mono-faith, Catholic state.

‘Native faith’ is the literal English translation of ‘rodzimowierstwo’ – a Polish term derived from the words ‘rodzimy’ (native) and ‘wiara’ (faith) – that refers to a belief system based on ethnic Slavic traditions. Native faithers reject the labels ‘paganism’ and ‘neo-paganism’ as both pejorative and not capturing the ethnic Slavic elements of their beliefs. Some scholars refer to these as ‘ethnic religions.’

There has been a marked upturn in interest in pre-Christian religious traditions across Europe in the past two decades, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. This has been reflected in the creation of international organisations such as the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, founded in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1998, with members from Latvia, Poland, Iceland, Germany, Denmark and Greece.

http://www.krakowpost.com/article/6956

I met a guy who was part of this a while back at a festival. I was surprised at how close their rituals were to Wiccan rituals. Made me think it is where Gardener might have got some of what he was using. Either way the more the merrier.

Edited by GreenmansGod
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Fascinating information, GG. I spent some time (2004-2006) in Sweden, where the renaissance of pre-Christian religion was becoming common among young (under 40) people. It is much more surprising, and interesting, that predominantly Roman Catholic Poland (as opposed to post-Lutheran Sweden) in experiencing this rebirth. Keep us advised, if you please.

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The old belief never ceased to exist in Slavic lands. Our traditions are continuous, not reconstructed.

Sure, a lot was disguised or merged with Christianity, but a lot was simply continued in (relative) silence, parallel with Christianity.

And a lot was lost, but never the connection. There’s never shortage of people interested in taking part in ancient rituals, even though most don’t ponder about the meaning, they just feel that’s something they want to do.

Personally, I don’t mind the term paganism, though Polish “rodzimowierstwo” or “rodnovjerje” in my own language sound a lot closer. Call it what you will, it would be stupid to build our own dogma after seeing how destructive dogmatism is.

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Posted (edited)

The old belief never ceased to exist in Slavic lands. Our traditions are continuous, not reconstructed.

Sure, a lot was disguised or merged with Christianity, but a lot was simply continued in (relative) silence, parallel with Christianity.

And a lot was lost, but never the connection. There’s never shortage of people interested in taking part in ancient rituals, even though most don’t ponder about the meaning, they just feel that’s something they want to do.

Personally, I don’t mind the term paganism, though Polish “rodzimowierstwo” or “rodnovjerje” in my own language sound a lot closer. Call it what you will, it would be stupid to build our own dogma after seeing how destructive dogmatism is.

Thanks for this. Part of the renewal of pre-Christian traditions in Sweden is, actually, the fact that they never disappeared--as you note. I remember especially how important the Walpurgis-night bonfires were (are) to people of all ages. It's been said that Iceland never was truly Christianized, but political expediency allowed for the peaceful co-existence of the new religion alongside the old.

Edited by DeWitz
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So, what are you telling me....time for another Baltic Crusade? The last one did not turn out well, however, I am sure it will be fine this time around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_crusades

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Thanks for this. Part of the renewal of pre-Christian traditions in Sweden is, actually, the fact that they never disappeared--as you note. I remember especially how important the Walpurgis-night bonfires were (are) to people of all ages. It's been said that Iceland never was truly Christianized, but political expediency allowed for the peaceful co-existence of the new religion alongside the old.

You're welcome. And thank you for good news from Sweden. Well, not exactly news, but turns out our traditions are new again :D

Ah, the Catholic conundrum. My grandmother, for example, never saw any problem in believing both in Jesus and vile. Of course she could never actually believe the pope would be infallible or something. So, according to strict definitions, my grandma wasn't Catholic at all, with all the folk belief she would practice and transfer so gently, so naturally.

Dogmatic Christians couldn’t go that far, but for her it was completely normal to have the God who knows all the stuff we don’t, like why he created vile too. Or why that what is called one God today preferred to manifest itself differently in the past. Why he still responds to traditional rituals.

She wasn’t into Slavic pantheon, but I think she felt that when she’s asking for rain, it’s not exactly a Christian saint that is listening.

I remember she used to tell me, upon hearing the thunder: “St.Elijah is driving his chariot across the sky.” When I started growing up, I’d respond with: “Are you sure a guy from Middle East is the one that thunders in our sky?” She’d smile and say: “God knows. But you can hear the chariot.”

I can hear it. And I want our Perun to stop using Christian stage name. There’s nothing wrong in his true identity.

Luckily for me, I believe higher power couldn’t be limited to one religion only.

Since I never felt Christianity and since it would be hypocrisy to claim you’re something you don’t feel you are, I’m not Christian. I like honest, actual Christians a lot and some of them truly inspire me. I don’t doubt their path was the right one for them.

But when it was time for me to take a look inside myself and it made me rediscover the old paths, physically, when I was literally greeted by nature upon arriving to the ancient sacred sites, when I felt it, I knew that’s what’s right for me. That’s my true spiritual identity. No geographically and culturally strange details. No imported make-up over my archetypes.

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Any of these Slavic neo-pagan traditions involve animal sacrifice? I mean, if you're hard core, that would seem the way to go, no?

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Any of these Slavic neo-pagan traditions involve animal sacrifice? I mean, if you're hard core, that would seem the way to go, no?

No, Slavs always sacrificed only arrogant trolls.

On a more serious note, Slavic sacrifice is a feast offered to gods and goddesses, who are always so kind to bless the food and drink with their touch and it would be ungrateful not to consume it all, now when it’s blessed.

Of course, the feast contains a lot of meat, if possible. Because we were made with teeth and intestines of omnivores, not herbivores, so veganism is not natural, therefore is a form of hypocrisy and on top of it all was discovered by Europeans only recently.

Happy now?

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Any of these Slavic neo-pagan traditions involve animal sacrifice? I mean, if you're hard core, that would seem the way to go, no?

We call that a BBQ or cook out. :rofl:

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No, Slavs always sacrificed only arrogant trolls.

On a more serious note, Slavic sacrifice is a feast offered to gods and goddesses, who are always so kind to bless the food and drink with their touch and it would be ungrateful not to consume it all, now when it’s blessed.

Of course, the feast contains a lot of meat, if possible. Because we were made with teeth and intestines of omnivores, not herbivores, so veganism is not natural, therefore is a form of hypocrisy and on top of it all was discovered by Europeans only recently.

Happy now?

Ha! Prove it! I dare you to make anymore sense! XP

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How many Gods do they have? It's hard to keep up with all the Gods out there.

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Thank you Helen. May I ask couple of questions? What are your rituals like? When do you do them? Is there a link I could learn more?

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Posted (edited)

Thank you Helen. May I ask couple of questions? What are your rituals like? When do you do them? Is there a link I could learn more?

The most important ritual I do is visiting Perun. It's most important for me, because it reinforces my connection to the other branches and the roots of the Life Tree. Yes, that part is the same in all European cosmogonies.

Perun is Slavic god of thunder and lightning and keeper of the balance, probably the most popular among numerous Slavic gods. Not the most important, they are all the most important, but most people choose him as their favourite deity. His holy tree is the oak, so my husband and me were very happy when two oaks sprouted on their own in our garden. They are growing entwined and when there’s emergency I tie ribbons to their branches to let vile, Slavic fairies, know that I need their assistance. (My great-grandma was abducted by vile and they returned her - don't laugh! :lol: they didn't return her because she was that impossible, they returned her with gifts of knowledge and second sight. I'm dead serious. But that's long story for some other time.)

There are a lot of similarities between Irish sidhe and our vile and the ways to treat their holy sites and suck up to them are completely the same. Obvious Celtic connection, so when I call my tradition Slavic I do it with great affection and pride, but realistically, our tradition should be recognized as fusion of Celtic and Slavic.

I digressed. Back to Perun. His bird is the eagle, since he is the Eagle that keeps balance with Volos, the Snake. The balance is seen through water. Volos is the keeper of the underground and the water in and under the ground, while Perun is the one that releases that water and lets it rain out of the sky that is his to keep.

None of them is evil, both are essential and generous (Volos is also god of cattle and agriculture, quite logically, since he’s in charge of moist earth and according to Slavic cosmogony all that is in this world came from Mother Moist Earth). Yet they fight and it is their struggle that puts our existence in motion.

So when there’s a hill with an old oak, an eagle’s nest and a river or a creek spring, such hill top bears the name of Perun and the spring of Volos.

Perun I’m visiting is within Ucka Nature Park and I love the way the paths was marked, with Perun’s seal (similar to the one in my signature) along with classic mountaineer markings and discreet info-panels, so the amateurs can enjoy it too without ruining the atmosphere of old paths, Slavic centuries and probably Celtic thousands of years old paths.

Each time we visited Volos and Perun, we were given a sign, a welcome. I know, it’s easy to explain it with coincidence, assigning meaning to the meaningless etc. but as far as I’m concerned, these were not coincidences and I was greeted by my ancestors and my gods through the Nature’s greetings.

Volos is relatively easy to reach, but it’s medium challenging climb up to Perun. So I admit it could be excess oxygen in my blood doing funny stuff with my smoker’s metabolism and therefore my brain, but when we arrive up there it is literally spiritual experience for me.

I don’t take parts in mass rituals, such as bonfires, spring welcoming, rain calling or winter banishing, because I’m annoyed with common merry people ( :D) but we often make small private bonfires around appropriate dates.

Rituals are not the most important to me, since I see them only as help to focus. I believe it's us, our connection, not the ritual that matters. But I do follow certain traditions so my hiking stick is raw hazel branch, for example, and I tap on living trees not out of superstition, but in completely serious conviction the spirit in/of the tree will notice and like it.

Water is the most powerful medium in Slavic rituals and you can't do any mistakes there. Unless you drown yourself ritually. No, seriously, drowning was popular method of suicide because of spiritual nature of water, it made your way to the other world easier. On less morbid side, water can be used for cleansing and divination. Exposed to the full Moon if you like it more complicated, and with gifts left at the bank of the river or creek from where the water was taken, but in my own experience, it's just water that "hears" you and works with and for you. Simple watering the plants is a kind of ritual and it's playing with water at the same time.

So, where to start exploring living Slavic tradition... anywhere, say, from random YT video. It will lead you further.

Randomly, here’s how the rain is invoked in Slavonia, Croatian province. Notice the guy bearing cross and woman making the sign of the cross. It was slapped into the ritual so the priests calm down and let the folk invoke the rain.

and here’s how kids want to do it in the future

I love both versions. The modern one feels older than the old one, so I think kids are on the right path.

Here’s how the last winter was successfully scared away from the villages near Rijeka, Croatia. Notice that’s the same tradition found in all Alpine regions, so it’s older than Slavs, this is the Celtic root.

Uh, this was long and incoherent. Sorry about that :D

Edited by Helen of Annoy
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Very interesting, Helen. I looked into my Celtic background, but never the religious aspect of it. Native American religions have always fascinated me and I feel they aligned with my own kinship with the earth. They seem very similar and you've peaked my interest to look further into it.

Thank you.

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I've always liked the native american concept of The Great Spirit or The Great Mystery. My great grandma was native america and my wife is half native american and hebrew. So I guess deep down I feel more connected to that kind of belief structure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Spirit

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Hail, the return of the Celts. I knew this stuff was coming from some place and filtering down from people still doing the old ways. :clap: Thank you, Helen. You made this Celtic Druid very happy. We are basically doing a lot of the same things for the same reasons. The spirits of the trees do hear you, I know that for sure.

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I consider this the circle. All things that have gone come around again, as power fades from the dominant paradigms.

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Hail, the return of the Celts. I knew this stuff was coming from some place and filtering down from people still doing the old ways. :clap: Thank you, Helen. You made this Celtic Druid very happy. We are basically doing a lot of the same things for the same reasons. The spirits of the trees do hear you, I know that for sure.

Thank you, now I have an excuse to post a little more... just a tiny bit more, promise :D

We’re real and our tradition is real, but there’s this phenomenon with invisibility of Slavic world. You hear about us only if some of our perpetual wars goes into active phase or some of our emigrants does something disgusting in the West.

The way we don’t exist for the outside world is almost paranormal or at least conspirative (conspiratorial?). Anyway...

We have a saying:

Bolje da se zatre selo nego običaji.

(It would be) better (to have) the village perish than the customs (to perish).

So the tradition was saved. Sometimes renamed, but saved.

To this day, Slavic nations are either throwing water at each other on Jari God (Spring Equinox), either have people dressed in leaves tour the villages, or burn Morana, or all of the above. It was suppressed – to no avail. Then it was renamed and assigned to Easter, St.George and whatnot, but who was colouring eggs in Judea 2,000 years ago? No one.

We coloured them thousands of years ago.

It’s great to see and hear all these young people singing the oldest songs.

Speaking of the oldest songs, here’s how Croats from Moslavina region greet Jure Zeleni (Jure the Green). Supposedly they’re greeting Christian St.George (Juraj), but the guy dressed like a green bush is clearly Jarilo, welcomed by the folk, accepting their gifts. The song welcomes Jure Zeleni and instructs the folk to give him gifts so he can give them gift of fertility in return.

Now hold on to your chair:

Jarilo is god of green, son of sky god Perun and fertility goddess Mokosh. She spends only half a year with Perun, the other half she’s in the underworld with Volos. Slavic underworld is not Hell, there are roots of the Tree of Life. Anyway, as soon as Jarilo was born to Mokosh and Perun he was abducted and taken to the underworld, to Volos.

So Jarilo grows up in the underworld, fights his step-father Volos and emerges to the surface of the Earth in form of young, handsome, strong man, dressed in green, riding a horse that sparks lightning with one hoof and the other drips with rain. His arrival makes buds swell, and then he makes love to Lada, goddess of love. As they love each other, so the flowers bloom.

But then he goes further up the Tree of Life, because believing he’s the son of Volos, he wants to marry a daughter of Perun. But as you remember, he’s actually the son of Perun.

Perun’s daughters were called Ljelje. In Slavonia, girls that represent them in spring rituals are called Kraljice (queens). From their song it’s clear they’re bridesmaids on royal wedding.

So Jarilo unknowingly fell in love with his own sister, beautiful Mara, goddess of green, lifebringer such as Jarilo is himself too. Their wedding is held on top of Life Tree, on Summer Solstice. These bonfires are called Ivanjske (after St.John) today, the same scheme with name and date change that couldn’t hide the true joyous nature of this celebration that should be called Kupala. That night is dedicated to those in love.

They live and love each other and their union brings lush life to the Tree, but in the autumn, Perun finds out the truth and kills Jarilo. Mara feels such horrible sadness it makes her grow old and turn into Morana, the Winter. She moves down into the underworld to complete the balance.

But the wheel keeps turning. Soon Jarilo will be born again, abducted again only to ascend again. And again.

And krijesovi (bonfires) will burn again and again, because water is sacred, but so is fire.

Ah.

:D

The revival of the tradition is not accidental. Nothing is. Modern times made communication easier and faster than ever. The latest technology brought back the oldest traditions. Contradictory only at first glance, because there’s nothing more natural than returning to your own true identity.

Slava tebi, druide! (No, don't even try the translator :lol: It means: Glory to you, druid!)

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M'Lady, the names of Gods and Goddess maybe different but we are dancing to the same tune of the turning of the wheel. This story is so familiar to me. I heard its like every year at Samhain, Yule, Beltaine, Litha, Lughnassa, and Mabon. One story is Oak King and the Holly King. In it the Goddess gives birth to Oak King who becomes the Holly King of winter then battles the Oak King at Yule. The Oak King is the father of the Holly King. The stories vary by tradition, but they are essentially the same and about the turning of the wheel of time.

Here is a really good variation by Damh the Bard. http://www.paganmusic.co.uk/colloquy-of-the-oak-and-holly-king/

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Posted (edited)

What sad news.

I have no idea why anyone would want to go backwards.

We should be embracing the 21st century, not forging into the past.

Edited by psyche101
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I don't see it as going backwards it is reclaiming of a connection with the natural world, which IMO is sorely need. There is no book with these religions that I know of, so in reality they actually do change and grow over time as culture changes. In this case it never really went away and was kept alive by those who continued to practice it.

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Posted (edited)

M'Lady, the names of Gods and Goddess maybe different but we are dancing to the same tune of the turning of the wheel. This story is so familiar to me. I heard its like every year at Samhain, Yule, Beltaine, Litha, Lughnassa, and Mabon. One story is Oak King and the Holly King. In it the Goddess gives birth to Oak King who becomes the Holly King of winter then battles the Oak King at Yule. The Oak King is the father of the Holly King. The stories vary by tradition, but they are essentially the same and about the turning of the wheel of time.

Here is a really good variation by Damh the Bard. http://www.paganmusi...and-holly-king/

Wonderful, thank you.

One more thing that we share:

2a5kwtv.jpg

Hrvatski pleter or Croatian interlace. Of course, there are many other traditional patterns but for some unexplainable reason we love this one so much it’s everywhere, from official documents to my signature.

What sad news.

I have no idea why anyone would want to go backwards.

We should be embracing the 21st century, not forging into the past.

We’re not going backwards, we’re picking up from where we were almost stopped by the strangest dogma. Gaining speed to go forward, there where we could have been few centuries earlier if it wasn’t so important to hoard gold instead of sharing knowledge.

Christianity has wonderful core – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Perfect. Because it’s in perfect accordance with natural moral, the one majority of people feel. Unfortunately, those that feel no natural moral are always those found in power, rewriting scriptures among other things.

So instead of doing unto my grandmothers as they would have grandmas do unto them, clergy called them evil, destructive, ugly, soulless... not just spirituality of my ancestors, but also their wisdom was declared sin. Both were saved through centuries because wise folk is... well, wise :D So there are plenty of born zrec left, only most of them don’t know who they are.

Old belief was made for us and it was part of every aspect of life, holding it all together naturally. Religions we imported had no tolerance for our true belief, our culture or even for our very souls.

Here’s an example that will explain it:

My, nominally Christian, folk worships Mary so much. They pray to her more than to God, because fathers tend to be introverted while mother will always find some time to listen to you and will hug you in the end, no matter what stupidity you did this time.

It’s also just so natural for my people that god that had a son must have a wife too. The archetype of family hasn’t changed, not even after centuries of preaching the strangest concept of lonely male god and a woman that only bore godly child. She had nothing to do with this, according to Christians.

Well, it just doesn’t work for European brain. Most people will say they’re Christian, but I bet absolute majority of them imagine that if there is god after all, there must be Mary around too, vacuuming the cloud floor. She turns the vacuum cleaner off and says: “You know, Yahweh, I still don’t get how you could... just how you could... my son, our son, crucified like Odin... isn’t one set of runes enough?”

No, wait, sorry, that’s what goes on in my brain when I entertain the idea of Christian god.

My countrymen mostly don’t even want to think about their nominal Christian religion because it’s too confusing for them. One of the most puzzling parts is the fact that everything that is natural is for some reason forbidden. You can’t help but to wonder if that god who made you prone to joy and then forbade any fun has something against you. But what? What have we done to him?

Old gods don’t forbid. They lead. They take responsibility instead of handing out the blame.

When I say old gods, I mean old gods and goddesses, of course. And their occasional emanations with no gender, such as Snop (bunch of wheat). The old faith values every being and their role because the old faith is the part of our culture that was not perverted before Christianity brought awkward segregation customs from regions where something went horribly wrong with family life.

In short, the old faith can help us drop the hypocrisy and restore our natural, healthy moral.

It can make us less obedient and more constructive. Less afraid and more compassionate.

I believe sane people would welcome that, even if our imagery is not to their taste.

But who wouldn’t like our imagery? :D

I don't see it as going backwards it is reclaiming of a connection with the natural world, which IMO is sorely need. There is no book with these religions that I know of, so in reality they actually do change and grow over time as culture changes. In this case it never really went away and was kept alive by those who continued to practice it.

True.

The Book of Volos, by the way, is fake. I translated it to English because I was intrigued so I read it and as I was reading it I said, well, I might as well translate it too... it’s somewhere in the depths of UM archives. Not worth searching for, definitely fake. Text gives itself as fake, no need to even see the “original” that conveniently doesn’t exist anymore.

Doesn't matter, we still have archaeology, ethnography and our own experiences.

Edited by Helen of Annoy
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To this day, Slavic nations are either throwing water at each other on Jari God (Spring Equinox), either have people dressed in leaves tour the villages, or burn Morana, or all of the above. It was suppressed – to no avail. Then it was renamed and assigned to Easter, St.George and whatnot, but who was colouring eggs in Judea 2,000 years ago? No one.

Interesting. There is a children's book called The Good Master by Kate Seredy which takes place in Hungary before WWI. In it, there is a chapter on Easter and how the boys would chase the girls and sprinkle water on them. Along with, of course, coloring the eggs.

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Interesting. There is a children's book called The Good Master by Kate Seredy which takes place in Hungary before WWI. In it, there is a chapter on Easter and how the boys would chase the girls and sprinkle water on them. Along with, of course, coloring the eggs.

:yes:

Not just sprinkling, water can be and is thrown by buckets. Spring water throwing, that goes with Easter instead of Jari God today, is the most popular in Poland, Czech, Slovakia and Hungary.

Hungary is not even Slavic, though DNA shows significant genetic Slavic presence. Exactly the opposite of what you’d expect, my country is hardly genetically Slavic, but I won’t digress, I won’t... Poles have been told the water-throwing custom comes from baptism of certain count or someone, important in Christianization.

But the water was thrown before Christianity became politically influential religion and ritual spring-cleaning of everything and everyone is certainly older than Slavic migrations too.

There are also rituals where cleansing is done with smoke and jumping over fire, but they are more popular in winter and summer.

Speaking of children’s books, our Ivana Brlic Mazuranic wrote Price iz davnine (Croatian Tales of Long Ago). For generations her stories are the first literary contact our children have with actual, original characters and beings, named by their actual names.

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