Slavic Deities and Shaman-Pagan Traditions:

There is also, along with these others listed below, the most ancient Slavic concept of the Chernobog, or Chernaya Bog - the Black God. This deity is very similar to Mahakala - it is not a Central Deity, it has no offspring or extentions. It is the Boundless Darkness. This concept, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1975 edition article on their indigenous deities, bears no resemblence to anything Indo-European or Semitic. It is very Shamanistic.

From Encyclopedia Britannica, 1975, page 874, Slavic Religion - paraphrase.

....Since patria potestas, paternal power in the form of absolute authority, was absent from their family structure and monarchical government from their civil society, the Slavs' pantheon of deities was without a center or a hierarchy of divinities As in Baltic religions each supernatural being was active in its own particular sphere without contact with other deities. Although contacts with the Indo-European world are evident as for example in the their concepts of a celestial god and a god of lightening, the Slavic religious atmosphere was substantially different from that of other Indo European peoples.

Socially the Slavs were organized as exogamous clans, based on marriages outside blood relationship. The elected chief did not have executive powers. The world had been created, in the Slavic view, once and for all and no new law ought to modify the way of life transmitted by their ancestors. Since the social group was not homogenous, validity and executive power were attributed only to decisions taken unanimously in the assembly and the deliberations in each instance concerned only the question of conformity to tradition.

Many of their varieties of spirits and practices evidence the preagrarian origin of these beliefs. A myth known to all Slavs tells how God ordered a handful of sand to be brought up from the bottom of the sea and created the land from it. This myth is diffused throughout practically all of Eurasia and is found in ancient India as well.

A 12th century German missionary, Helmold, left a record of his surprise in encountering among the Slavs on the Baltic a belief in a single God who ignored the affairs of this world, having delegated the governance of it to certain various spirits begotten by this God. This is the only instance in which the sources allude to a hierarchy of divinities, but its center is empty. The divinity mentioned by Helmold is a deus otiosus, i.e., an inactive god, unique (not common) in the mythology of the Indo European peoples. However, such a deity is found among the Volga Finns, the Ugrians and the Uralians. Common to this Eurasian area is another divinity called by Helmold and in the Knytlinga saga (Danish legend that recounts the conquest of Arkona through the efforts of King Valdemar I of Denmark against the pagan Slavs). The Deity is Zcerneboch or Chernobog, the Black God, and Tiarnoglofi, the Black Head. The Black God now survives in numerous Slavic curses and in a White God whose aid is sought to obtain protection or mercy in Bulgaria, Serbia and Pomerania. This religious dualism of white and black gods is common to practically all the peoples of Eurasia.

See also the Kievan Chronicle also called the Chronicle of Nestor, a 12th-13th century account of events and life in the Kievan state; this enumerates pagan divinities. See also in this document.

The only celestial body which was an object of Slavic veneration was the moon. The name of the moon is of masculine gender; and the word for sun is feminine gender. The Sun is always the bride or the maiden.

The Slavs did not record genealogies; exogamous societies have no need of them and the founders of their clans were mainly legendary.

Slavs, Eastern Finns and Ugrians venerated their dead in the same way, similar to the use of totems. It is ancestor worship.

Look up reference for full text.

This is presented for educational purposes.

From: Society of the Ukrainian Native Faith "PRAVOSLAVYA" Kyiv, Ukraine (See also the Declaration dated 25th August 1998.)

The society was founded in Kyiv in 1993 and was registered in 1997 (certificate No. 829)

The name Ukrainian heathenism is a generic term referring to the national religion of our Ukrainian ancestors 1000 years ago, prior to Christianity, and which is now enjoying a revival in Ukraine.

We reject the term Paganism imposed by the Christian priests, as the Latin paganus has a negative connotation in the Ukrainian language, suggesting bad, in Ukrainian pohany. In the English language, we use the transcription Yazychnystvo and the full name Confession of the Ukrainian Native Faith Pravo -

The name Pravoslavya, originally an ancient heathen term, was adopted by the Christian Orthodox church to deceive the faithful during the first centuries following conversion to the Christian religion. Prav means peace of Gods and the Divine Law.

Slavya is a ceremonial divine heathen service, as well as the name of the Godess Slava. Thus, the term means the laudation of the Gods.

Holy Scriptures The Ukrainian heathens have the ancient Ukrainian chronicle (oaken boards) The Book of Veles, written in V-IX centuries. This document contains various historical mythological and perspective sources of Ukrainian Native Faith, as well as the approaches to:

God Understanding different prayers and holidays. Volkhovnyck ... are the presentations of the main approaches of heathen Faith, written in the modern Ukrainian language. Pravoslov The prayers to Native Gods - Proceedings of prayers and religious songs presented in The Book of Veles and people's memory. Scientific Investigations Prof. Volodymyr Shayan (1908 - 1974) - Ukrainian philosopher, Sanskritist, poet and publicist, began the Renaissance of Ukrainian Native Faith in 1934.

In 1943, the Knightly Order of the Sun God was founded in Ukraine. The fundamental works are presented in the book The Faith of our Ancestors (Hamilton, Canada, 1987, V.I). Halyna LOZKO is the Chairwoman of the society (Confession) of the Ukrainian Native Faith Pravoslavya, a scientific member and author of many publications on Ukrainian heathenism.

The dissertation Ukrainian Heathenism as a Source of Everyday Religious Syncretism proves the possibility of a reconstruction of the ancient Ukrainian religion.

Mission and Vision Statement of the Ukrainian Native Faith Society Pravoslavya 1. The collection and systematisation of Ukrainian national faith sources. 2. The scientific and theological treatment and revival of ancient traditions, prayers, songs and religious artifacts. 3. The education and cultivation of respect towards the religious heritage of the Ukrainian people, the nature and the development of ecological mentality and behaviour.

Knowledge of God The ancient God of our faith is Svaroh, the main God of the Universe, the heavenly Zodiac. His sons are Dazhboh, Perun, Veles, Sryboh, Yarylo, Khors, Lado, Kupajlo, Symarhl, Pozvizd, Pereplut and others. His daughters are Lada, Leiya, Kupala, Dana, Perunystya, Mokosha, Kolyada and others.

All of them with their various names, as God is immortal, polyfacial and polynamed. Our faith is genotheical.

Trinity of existence ... reflected in the idea of the sacred Tree of Life:

The roots of this tree reach to underground depth (the universe of the ancestors) - Nav, i.e. the roots of our Family.

The trunk and branches symbolize the manifestation of Life (the Universe of living people) - Yav.

Nature The main idea of our Faith is to obtain a better knowledge of Nature and the Universe and to praise our Gods for the happiness in our lives.

This Feeling is an essential condition of human happiness. Our holidays help us cultivate a feeling of being part of Cosmic life, a cell of the great Cosmic ocean, to obtain a positive solar Energy from our God's love. Thus, there is a conception of Sacredness as the Creative Strength of God in our Native Faith.

There seems to be a God of Light and Darkness in this tale, which means there is a dualism here corresponding to agrarian seasons as shown in the text. This differs from the account in the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Dazhbog's Tale

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, tell about the birth of Dazhdbog the

Kind, the son of Mighty Perun and beautiful mermaid Ros. And about the

combat with father of him, as they fought and fraternized, tell about

Dazhdbog's victory..."

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

In the ancient Russian mythology Dazhdbog appears as a son of the Almighty Perun and a mermaid named Ros. Perun is a son of Svarog (Vedic Isvara) who is a top God in Russian pagan beliefs, a kind of an analogue of Cronos of the Greeks, although he did not actually create the World, he only created the living Universe but... this is the different story of cosmological beliefs of Russians. Perun symbolizes a victory (not the war as he is not Mars, and ancient Russians did not have this kind of god) over enemies, lightnings and things of that sort (looks like Zeus of Greeks but not exactly as he shares some other functions). Basically, Perun is a male God, God of warriers, those who protect the Land. His day is July, 20th, if I remember this right. So, you see that Dazhdbog is a grandson of Svarog, and we all, Russians, are his grandchildren. This kind of relationship makes Dazhdbog similar to Vedic Indra if you will, although I can not give a 100% for such a correspondence. I should also make a note that mermaids in Russian mythology are not the ones with a fish tail, as in many other European pagan religions, though. These are just beautiful girls that dance on celebrations, before harvesting, etc. Ros is also a name of the river which is still alive and doing well. It is in Ukraine, and it is one of the many branches of the river Dnepr. Look for the town called Belaya Tserkov (White Church) on the map and you will immediately see the river. One brunch of Slavs that lived near Ros called themselves rosichi or later rusichi that finally gave a name to the state of Rus, its Peter the Great's modification Rossiya (Russia) and to all Russkie (Russians). This explanation seems to be close to the truth because it has a very strong religious and mythological underlay -- a thing of the extreme, if not the first, importance when one is trying to analyze an ancient civilization. This explanation also seem to be connected with another name, Ruskolan, an ancient name for the state. It is a conjunction of two words: Rus and Kol. In this context Kol does not mean a stick (there is such a meaning of this word in Russian language) but a solar turn-around, equinox. Russian mythology teaches that on this very day the fight between the God of Light, Belobog, and the God of Darkness, Chernobog, turns around. After the winter equinox day becomes longer -- Belobog wins, and after the summer equinox it shortens -- Chernobog wins. Each equinox has a celebration associated with it: the winter equinox is celebrated on Koliada's Day, and the summer on Kupala's Day. You see, this sequence of events represents a seasonal change, and it was of the great importance for ancient Russians who were mostly farmers.

Unfortunately, many Western scholars still make the largest mistake on this matter: they get the word Rus from some Scandinavian or German roots. God blesses them, though, for everybody wants to belong to a nation that originated everything -- pride is one of those seven deadly sins of mankind! These issues are fully covered and very extensively discussed in the literature.

But... where does the word Dazhdbog come from, anyway? All right, here is one version of Yuri Miroliubov that I personally support. The word is a complex conglomerate of the two. Listen: Dazhdbog --> Dazhdbo --> Dai Bo --> Dai Bog. The final two are in English Give me, God. However, let's go back to Dazhdbog's story.

Once Perun went by a bank of the Dnepr river and, on the other side, he saw several girls dancing and singing. He felt in love with one of them, Ros, and tried to get to that other bank but Dnepr did not allow him to swim across. Then Perun took his golden arrow and made a shot towards the bank where Ros was standing. The arrow flew as lightning and struck into a big stone that started to shine when the arrow hit it. A fire image of a man appeared on that stone, and Perun screamed to Ros: "Call out for Svarog, and He will help you".

Ros called out for Svarog, he came and helped her out to create a man from the stone. That man was Dazhdbog. He happened to be really mighty (anyway, he was a son of Perun) but he never saw his father. When he grew up he studied books, ancient wisdom, and an art of a battle. The glory about him was spreading over the Land. At that time his father Perun was walking over that all the sky and lands recognized who was going. Ros also recognized him and told him:

"Grettings, Mighty Perun, Svarog's son".

"So, you know my father as well"!

"Do not be angry, mighty Perun, but walk to the clean field and see your son, Dazhdbog, but be graceful as Dazhdbog is still young".

So, he did. Perun went to the field and saw his son playing with a cudgel. Then Perun told Dazhdbog:

"Stop boasting, and show how mighty you really are".

And the two, father and son, started to fight. They fought for three days and three nights, fought that lands, woods and sea screamed, and finally Perun weakened and fell down. Dazhdbog asked him then:

"Tell me your name and name of your father, oh warrier"!

"I am Perun, son of Svarog and came from the shining Iriy".

Then Dazhdbog said:

"Sorry, father! I did not know that this is you because I never saw you before! Rise, my dear father"!

After this fight they both got together and Dazhdbog asked his mother to allow him to go with his father to the shining Iriy (the World where the Gods live). Ros allowed him to go and Dazhdbog joined other Gods.

Roll 11

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, as Dazhdbog, son of Perun married young

Zlatogorka Vievna..."

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

Once at a time, Dazhdbog was going through a big and wide field. He saw a warrior-girl riding a horse. The blood boiled up in his heart and the God has decided to try her. He took his sword and hit the girl but she didn't show any sign of weakness. He did it once more and one more time but only got injured.

"Who are you?", asked Dazhdbog.

And the girl answered:

"Hmmm... I thought these were flies stinging me but you look like a warrior".

So, she grabbed him, put into a crystal casket and locked this casket with a silver key. Then the girl got her horse and went away. She was riding the whole day and the whole night, three days in a raw but her brave horse got tired and started to implore:

"Oh, you brave and mighty Zlatogorka, daughter of Vij, you excuse me, please, my dear, but I can't carry two great warriors anymore!"

Zlatogorka recalled that she carries a warrior and released him:

"Oh, the brave young warrior! I want you to marry me, and if you won't I'll slay you"!

"Release me, Zlatogorka, I agree to be your husband".

They got together and went to mountains where they met Svarog and mother Lada who blessed them to become husband and wife. So, that was the deal. There was a wonderful bride on Heavens and everybody was happy.

This happiness did not last for a long time, and here is why. Once Dazhdbog and Zlatogorka were riding horses in deep mountains of Armenia and found a strange tomb. There were the following words on it: "The one who lays in here will stay there by a will of the Fate". Zlatogorka asked Dazhdbog to give it a try (oh, these women were always the same!!). He tried, and the tomb was too small. Then his wife tried and the tomb was just of the right size. She asked Dazhdbog:

"My amiable husband, you put the cover on, for I want to lay here for a while and look around".

He put the cover on as his wife asked him to do and... yes it happened exactly as you expected: it was a deadly move, the cover could not be removed anymore. Dazhdbog tried to hit it with his cudgel and his sword but... Then Zlatogorka said:

"You, my husband, go to my father Vij, give him my last bow and ask him to forgive me as I must stay here in this tomb forever".

Dazhdbog went to Vij and told him about what happened:

"She asked to give you her last bow and asked for the forgiveness. Probably Rod himself wishes this to happen".

Vij got really angry. He thought that Dazhdbog killed his daughter, so he tried to through him away from his Kingdom. Vij asked to give him a hand but Dazhdbog made his cudgel red-hot and gave it to the King. As Vij cried out that Dazhdbog brings light to his world, so he gave his daughter the forgiveness. Dazhdbog went back to the tomb and told Zlatogorka her father's forgiveness, so she rested forever. He then wrote on that tomb: "Zlatogorka Vievna rests here by the wish of mother Mokosh and the will of the Divine Rod".

The only thing left for me is to explain a couple of new names. Zlatogorka can be translated into English as Golden Hill, and Lada is Svarog's wife. The name is still in use in Russia and basically means love: when a married couple lives in love people say that they live ladno (it is an adverb). The expression is a little bit old fashioned but it is OK. You see that Svarog, the forces and laws of the Universe, is married with love, and this union gave the birth to everything. Vij is a representative of the Underground Kingdom (what a nice abbreviation -- UK), a story of which is a totally different one. If you read Gogol's "Night before Christmas" you should remember Vij from there. Mokosh is actually the Fate. The very important and special character is Divine Rod. This is the heart of all pagan religion of ancient Russians. He created everything, he is the only one who really rules the World, he created Lada and with her help broke the Darkness. By the way, the word divine, I believe, comes from Sanskrit, as Deva () means the God in this language. The spelling in Sanskri is not entirely correct but this is a problem of my typesetting system: I still can't quite teach it the conventions. Sorry!

Roll 14

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, as Dazhdbog married Marena"

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

As we can see Dazhdbog lived alone not for a long. He had found Marena. This name is in use even now and even in English. As far as I remember, one of the supermodels has this name but I bet she doesn't even realize what her name means. There are very good reasons for the name to be spread that far, and they are connected with Celtic culture. I'm not going to discuss this here because, you won't believe me, only this name is a topic for the whole PhD thesis. I will limit myself only to the meaning of it. Marena (Celtic Mara) is a synonym of either winter or death in Russian folklore, depending on a situation it is used in.

Once at a time, a big feast happened in Irij. All the Gods came there and Svarog and Lada met them all. Dazhdbog had been there also, and on the middle of the joy he had decided to take a walk in Irij. Walking along he discovered a nice palace, music was playing there as golden strings. He wondered : "What might that be?" and found the answer: this was a palace of Marena Svarogovna. So, Dazhdbog entered the palace and got to Marena's halls. She was sitting there on a high throne, she invited him to eat with her and all her guests but Dazhdbog refused this invitation thinking that Marena was quite known sorcerers and could poison him. When the dinner was finished she tried to get him into her rooms but young man refused and got out of the palace quite fast. That made Marena really mad, and she started to conjure on Dazhdbog...

Marena's guests were coming back home and on their way they met Perun who asked what they were up to. The guests told God that they had a nice dinner in Marena's palace and that they saw Dazhdbog there as well. This was quite striking for Perun, so he decided to get in a hurry and teach his son not to visit such suspicious places as Marena's palace:

"You, my son, should think where you are going. I advise you to break with Marena and forget this whole story."

Dazhdbog got really offended and asked his mother Ros:

"Mom, why is dad so angry? I have been in this palace only once and spent there just an hour."

"Your father was really worried about what happened because Marena is a terrible sorcerers. You should keep your feet far from her palace. Do not look that she is beautiful."

As any child Dazhdbog got mad towards his mother because he thought she started to teach him how to live. His blood boiled up, and, as you expected, he went to Marena's palace. As Dazhdbog entered the palace, he made a shot with his golden arrow. Marena's guests asked him why he did that. Dazhdbog was really angry and said that he will make pieces out of the guests if they won't shut up. Then Marena suggested to turn Dazhdbog into an ox. Everybody agreed and so was it. They threw him away from the palace. Next day shepherds found this ox and recognized Dazhdbog in him. They grabbed the ox and delivered to Ros. The mother called for Perun and asked him to get Marena and force her to turn Dazhdbog back to a man. Perun found Marena and said a couple of "nice" words to her. She found the ox and promised that she will turn Dazhdbog back to a man if he agrees to marry her. There was nothing anybody could do, and the wedding happened.

Roll 15

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, as Kashchej stole Marena from Dazhdbog,

and as Dazhdbog was looking for her, and as Zhiva saved Dazhdbog..."

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

The news about Dazhdbog's bride was so great that Kashchej himself got jealous and decided to abduct Marena. He called for a great amount of evil spirits that flooded the Land. Unfortunately, only Dazhdbog alone was there, no other Gods, so he himself fought all these spirits. He fought them for three days and three nights, and finally finished them all. Then he got back home and felt asleep. Kashchej entered Dazhdbog's home and started to persuade Marena to come with him because Dazhdbog, as he told her, was only a natural son of Perun, so was only a half-god. This trick worked, Marena turned into a bird and disappeared together with Kashchej. When Dazhdbog woke up he, obviously, did not find his wife, so he asked his father to go with him and look for her but Mighty Perun said that this is his son's duty, so Dazhdbog left alone.

Let's now clarify some things. First of all Kashchej is a representative of the Underground World, son of Vij. However, another thing seems to be of the great importance here -- a general subject of the ancient song. All Russian fairy tales follow this line: Kashchej abducts a beautiful wife, so a husband gets sad and goes to look for the Kashchej's death and for his wife. Further development of this line leads a reader to cosmological beliefs of pagan Russians, about creation of the World by Rod. This subject is a bit complicated, so I will not discuss it here, this is not a proper place for it. I will only mention that these cosmological descriptions are very similar to the Vedic ones. A little picture at the end of this essay represents just what I said: a search for the death of Kashchej.

...So, Dazhdbog was heading towards Kashchej and Marena and shortly he recognized them. However, Marena poured a goblet of wine and said:

"Oh, my husband, Kashchej took me with the force. Drink this wine for a great grief!"

Dazhdbog finished it all and fell down. "What a great power the Hop has!", said Marena and asked Kashchej to kill her husband but the former refused to do this because Dazhdbog once saved his life and Kashchej promised to forgive him three times. "This will be the first time", said Kashchej and they threw Dazhdbog to a deep well that led to the Underground World...

After a while Dazhdbog woke up and found himself in a deep cave. God whistled calling for his horse. The horse came and dropped his tail to the cave that Dazhdbog used to climb up. They continued their journey and found Marena and Kashchej two more times. Two more times Dazhdbog drank the wine and two more times Marena was trying to force Kashchej to kill her husband but he refused. Finally, Marena nailed Dazhdbog to the rocks in Caucasus mountains in the hope that nobody will find him there.

I think now you recall Greek mythological story about Prometeos. See the parallels? That will be a food for your brain for the rest of the day. If you are really interested in ancient civilizations you will think about it for long enough time. I promise!

Let's get back to our story... At that time Zhiva (means Life in many Slavic languages), a daughter of Svarog asked her father to go for a walk outside the Gardens. He allowed, she turned into a dove and flew away from Irij. During this airing she discovered Dazhdbog nailed in the mountains and felt in love with him. She asked him to turn away from Marena as the former was actually death and wouldn't give anything to him. He agreed, and the Dove took Dazhdbog away from the mountains to Irij and healed.

Roll 16

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, tell us about the death of Kashchej

Immortal, tell about the Great Flood..."

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

When Dazhdbog recovered he decided to find Kashchej and kill him. Zhiva told Dazhdbog that there is no way to kill Kashchej because he is Immortal God and Marena's friend. They are both deaths.

"It can't be that", answered Dazhdbog, "It is not possible that Rod made the World this way. His death must be hidden somewhere!".

So, our God went to Makosh the Fate and asked her. She told Dazhdbog that the death he is looking for is hidden in the Egg, the Egg is in the Duck, the Duck is in the Rabbit, the Rabbit is in the Chest, the Chest is under the Oak on the Island. So, Dazhdbog left to look for Kashchej's death. On his way he met the Eagle, Wolf who promised to help Dazhdbog if he will need them. When the God came to the coast the great Snake helped him to get to the Island. Then Perun helped to get a Chest, Wolf grabbed the Rabbit, and Eagle-Rarog caught the Duck. So, Dazhdbog found this Egg.

When ancient tales and stories describe the creation on the World by Rod this Egg has a very big meaning as a source of the Fire that created everything, and Rarog is a small part of this Fire.

Our hero took the Egg and went to Kashchej's palace. Marena was trying to give him wine using her old trick but Zhiva appeared again as a dove and spilled the wine. Nothing could stop Dazhdbog anymore, and he broke the Egg. As he did it, the Voice from Rod came and said that a Celestial Fire will appear from the broken Egg, and the Fire will kill everything as the end of the World will occur. So, that was it! All the Gods got together in Irij in order to protect it from the Fire because Irij represents Good, and the Fire is a wild and powerful Nature that only wants to destroy everything.

At this point the manuscript is sort of fuzzy. It looks like either a person who copied it from the ancient source got a real mess in his head or we have a very interesting theory here. The thing is that further events are described in a mixed pagan-plus-old-testament way. The text describes the Great Flood and Gods who survived it. Anyway, let's get to the end of our story.

Roll 17

"Tell, Gamayun, prophetic bird, about the birth of the Kin of Russians,

about Laws given by Svarog..."

"Of what that know, hide nothing I will..."

So, after the first era finished, Dazhdbog and Zhiva started to create the new world. They planted woods, released fish into the sea. Dazhdbog had set Prav, separated Nav and Yav. These are the parts of the natural life flow, as Russians believed in. Dazhdbog and Zhiva accepted golden wreaths from Svarog and got married. So, that's how Russians appeared, and that's why they are called his grandchildren. Just because we really are...

See also

Slavic Spells • Divinations • Remedies • Superstitions

• Prosperity and Domestic Tranquility

To Attract a Domovoi: Go outside of your home wearing your finest clothing and say aloud "Dedushka Dobrokhot, Please come into my house and tend the flocks."

To rid yourself of a rival Domovoi: Sometimes a home may have one too many Domoviki. In this case poltergeist-like activity may occur. Beat the walls of your home with a broom shouting "Grandfather Domovoi, help me chase away this intruder."

•To Gain Magickal Knowledge

Calling a Leshii: Cut down an Aspen tree so that it's top falls facing the East. Bend over and look through your legs saying "Leshi, Forest Lord, Come to me now; not as a grey wolf, not as a black raven, not as a flaming fir tree, but as a man."

The leshii will teach the arts of magick to any whom he befriends.

(from Ivanits - Russian Folk Lore)

•For Love

a zagorovui, or runespell, to capture the one you love:

In the ocean sea, on the island of Buyan, there live three brothers, three winds: the first Northern, the second Eastern and the third Western. Waft, O winds, bring on (lover's name) sorrow and dreariness so that without me s/he may not be able to spend a day nor pass an hour!

and yet another...

I, (conjuror's name), stand still, uttering a blessing.

I go from the room to the door, from the courtyard to the gates.

I go out into the open field to the Eastern side. On the Eastern side stands an izba (cottage). In the middle of the izba lies a plank, under the plank is the longing.

The longing weeps. The longing sobs, waiting to get at the white light. The white light, the fair sun, waits, enjoys itself, and rejoices.

So may s/he wait, longing to get to me, and having done so, may he enjoy himself and rejoice! And without me let it not be possible for him to live, nor to be, nor to eat, nor to drink; neither by the morning dawn, nor by the evening glow.

As a fish without water, as a babe without its mother, without its mother's milk, cannot live, so may s/he, without me, not be able to live, nor to be, nor to eat, nor to drink, nor by the evening glow; neither every day, not at mid-day, nor under the many stars, nor together with the stormy winds. Neither under the sun by day, nor under the moon by night.

Plunge thyself, O longing, gnaw thy way, O longing, into his/her breast, into his/her heart; grow and increase in all his/her veins, in all his bones, with pain and thirst for me!

- from "Songs of the Russian People", William Ralston

•For Protection

Prayer: Recite the following prayer to Zorya:

Oh Virgin, unsheath your father's sacred sword.

Take up the breastplate of your ancestors.

Take up your powerful helmet.

Bring forth your steed of black.

Fly forth to the open field,

There, where the great army with countless weapons is found.

Oh, Virgin, cover me with your veil.

Protect me against the power of the enemy

Against guns and arrows, warriors and weapons;

Weapons of wood, of bone, of copper, of iron and steel.

(from The New Larousse Encyc. of Mythology)

• For Happiness

Recite the following to a flame:

"Dear Father, tsar fire,

Be gentle and kind to me.

Burn away all my aches & pains, tears & worries."

• To Have Lost Animals Return

The following letter is written on three pieces of birchbark:

I am writing to the forest tsar and forest tsaritsa with their small children; to the earth tsar and earth tsaritsa with their small children; to the water tsar and water tsartitsa with their small children. I inform you that (name of owner inserted) has lost a (color mentioned) horse (or cow, or other animal - distinctive marks should be given). If you have it send it back without delaying an hour, a minute, a second. If you do not comply with my wish, I shall pray against you to the great God, Weles and tsaritsa Alexandra.

One letter is fastened to a tree in the forest, the second buried in the earth and the third thrown with a stone into water. After this, the lost animal is supposed to return by itself.

• To Bring the Rain

If rain was needed a virgin girl was chose, one not yet old enough to conceive whose mother was no longer able to conceive. Naked, yet draped all over with flowers, she would whirl around and around while singing invocations to Perun. All the while she would be "watered" by the surrounding women.

• To Win a Fist Fight

Recite while holding a stone from a gravesite:

"I summon to my aid the forest spirits from the forest and the water spirits from the water: and you, forest spirits of the forest, water spirits of the water, come to my aid against my opponent fist-fighter, and enable me to defeat my opponent fist-fighter with my own fists. And you, forest spirits from the forest and water spirits of the water, take the rock from this corpse and place it on the hands, or head, or feet of my opponent fist-fighter...and just as this dead man is heavy from the earth and rock, so too may my opponent fist-fighter be heavy to lift his hand against me, and may my opponent become weak in the arms and the legs, and blind in the eyes from my verdict until the time I remove it."

• To Guard against Slander

A zagovorui, or runespell, against Slander:

O righteous Sun! Do thou in my foes, my rivals, my opposers, in the powers that be, and public officials, and in all people of good mouth and heart, parch up evil thoughts and deeds, so that they may not rise up, may not utter words baleful for me!

• Spoiling

"Spoiling" is a Slavic term for cursing. The following spells are posted here only for research purposes:

• To Cause One to Wither

Dirt from the victim's footprint was collected and placed in a little bag, or a lock of the victim's hair was coated with clay. Either of these were hung inside the chimney. As the dirt or clay dried out, so, supposedly, did the victim.

• To Cause Death

Bareheaded and wearing only an undergarment, the magick user would circle the property of his or her victim's yard with a burning candle. The candle was then broken in two and turned upside-down.

Eggs (termed "white swans" for this purpose) and/or bread were brought to the gravesite of a known criminal in exchange for some soil from their grave which was removed while saying "As this corpse has died unrepentant, so may you too die, unrepentant."


Tatyana curiously gazes

At the prophetic waxen mold,

All eager in its wondrous mazes

A wonderous future to behold.

Then from the basin someone dredges,

Ring after ring, the player's pledges,

And comes her ringlet, they rehearse

The immemorial little verse:

"There all the serfs are wealthy yeomen,

They shovel silver with a spade;

To whom we sing, he shall be made

Famous and rich!" But for ill omen

They take this plaintive ditty's voice;

Koshurka (kitten) is the maiden's choice

- Pushkin, from Eugene Onegin V.8, translated by Walter Arndt.

Podbljudnaja - (Pohd-blyood-NIE-ya) - "Under the Plate"

This form of divination should be done on Koliada and New Year's only. Each person takes a ring off their finger and places it into a bowl filled with water. A plate covers the bowl and songs are sung over it. At the end of each song, a ring is pulled out and the fate that the song is believed to apply to the owner of that ring.

Some traditional Podbljudnaja:

Podbljudnaja that fortell a wedding:

The ring was rolling

Along the velvet

The ring rolled up

To the ruby.

For one who takes it out

For her it will come true,

For her it will come true,

She will not escape

A Maple entwined with a birch

It did not untwine - Lada, Lada

Whoever takes it out

For her it will come true,

All will be well.

A little cat is sitting

In a wicker basket

She is sewing a towel.

She will marry the tom

For whom we are singing

All will be well.

Podbljudnaja that fortell wealth:

A rooster was digging

on a little mound of Earth

The rooster dug up

A little pearl.

For whoever gets it

All will be well.

A calyx is floating from somewhere beyond the sea.

To wherever it floats, there it will blossom.

Whoever takes it out - For her will it come true.

She will not escape - glory!

To predict a journey:

The sleigh stands, ready to go - Glory!

In it the cushions are all arranged - Glory!

It stands near the forest, waiting to go for a ride - Glory!

To whom we sing this song, all will be well.

It will come true, she will not escape - Glory.

To predict widowhood:

I sat - by a window

I waited - for my beloved

I could no longer wait

I fell asleep.

In the morning - I awoke

I suddenly - realized

I am a widow.

To whom we sing, all will come true.

To fortell death:

Death is walking down the street

Carrying blini* on a plate

Whoever takes the ring out

For her it will come true.

She will not escape - Glory.

(*blini is a traditional food offering to the dead)

This podbljudnaja is traditionally sung at midnight on New Year's eve and also predicts death.

A dandy once took a very sharp axe - Lileju

The dandy went out - into the wide courtyard.

The dandy began - to hew some boards

To nail the wood - into an oaken coffin

Whomever this song reaches,

For her it will come true

She will not escape

If you choose to write your own songs for this divination ritual, you may want to use some traditional symbolism. Bread, grain, millet or rye symbolize harvest, fulfillment and material security. Gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fur and expensive cloth symbolize luxury and wealth. Doing things together like eating, drinking, working, standing or sitting together symbolize love and happy marriages. The songs are usually short as one song quickly follows another and traditionally, each refrain ends with a praise word such as glory.

Songs taken from Reeder: Russian Folk Lyrics. See Resource Page.

A Russian flower divination resembles the "He loves me" rhyme. They say:

Lyubit, Ne lyubit, Plyunit, Potseluyet, K sertsu prizhmet, K chertu poshlet, Dorogoj nazovet

(S/He loves, doesn't love me, Spits on me, Kisses me, Hugs me to his/her heart, Sends me to the devil, Calls me his/her dear one.)

If a thread was hanging from one's clothing, they would wrap it around the finger while reciting the alphabet. Whatever letter you stop on when the thread is fully wrapped is the initial of the future spouse. The color of the thread is also important. If the thread is pale, the spouse will be blonde, if dark, the spouse will be a brunette.

Wax Divinations - before Koljada, wax was melted and after it cooled, or was dropped into water, special attention was given to its shape. A coffin meant death to the inquirer, a ring meant marriage, etc. Sometimes this method was used by dropping molten lead into the water instead of wax.

New Year's Divinations -

Divination rituals that occurred on New Year's Eve were considered especially powerful if one followed certain rules. No crosses or belts could be worn and no blessings could be asked.

It was customary on New Year's Eve for a girl to back up to the bathhouse door with her hem over the back of her head (rear-end exposed) and ask a question of the Bannik. If a cold touch or scratch from his claw was felt, it meant no. If a warm touch or caress was felt, it meant yes.

This same divination could be used if one put their hand in-between the wood of the bathhouse.

If you looked into the mirror in the steam bath on New Years eve, you would see the face of your future husband, or if you slept on a log, you would see his face in a dream.

If you caught the moons reflection in a mirror, your future spouses name would also be revealed there.


These are actual remedies that were used, taken from various sources. Whether or not they work, I could not tell you.

• Alcoholism:

a zagovorui, or rune spell, for alcoholism:

Dost thou hear O Sky (Svarog)? Dost thou see, O Sky? O ye bright Stars! Descend into the marriage-cup, and in my cup let there be water from a mountain spring. O thou fair Moon! Bow down to my klyet (store-room). O thou free Sun! Dawn upon my homestead. O ye Stars! Deliver me,(insert name here), from drink! O Sun, draw me from drink!

• Colds:

I think Babci was just trying to keep me quiet with this one when I was little!

Into a cup of hot tea add fresh lemon juice, honey and a shot of jezynowka (Polish cherry brandy). Sip. Have no more than 2 cups, unless you WANT to get drunk.

• Coughs:

Upon retiring, have a glass of hot beer.

Add some honey to a grated radish and eat along with any of the radish juices.

• Crankiness:

"When your child is mysteriously cranky, has a strange unyielding headache, or can't sleep after a day out or around people, either the child has been jinxed or exposed to negative energy/forces

The child's mother should take the lower left corner of her skirt, apron, or shirt with her right hand and wipe the childs face several times in a clockwise direction. Afterwards, give the child some water and put it to bed.

This spell is normally used for young children but it works at any age. My 70 year old grandma did it to my 50 year old mother a little while ago and it worked."

(Thanks to Vika for this Ukranian remedy)

• Fever:

Rub vodka on your chest and feet, put some mustard powder in a pair of woollen socks and put them on. Drink a mixture of milk, honey, baking soda, and vodka and go to sleep.

Before bed, stand naked, wearing only a woolen hat, with your feet up to the ankles in hot water and drink a large mug of tea with honey, jam, and at least 100g (about 2 1/2 shots) of vodka.

• Hemmorhoids:

Put two liters of milk and four large onions in a large covered clay pot and slowly heat it in the oven. Remove the pot from the oven, replace the cover with a toilet seat or similar object and sit on it. Steam yourself for a while and then rub the afflicted area with vaseline.

• Hiccups:

Rub a mixture of vinegar and mustard on your tongue. Hold for two minutes and then rinse.

• Illness, general:

a zagorvorui, or runespell, for healing:

Mother Zorya of morning and evening and midnight! as ye quietly fade away and disappear, so may both sicknesses and sorrows in me, (insert name), quietly fade and disappear - those of the morning, and of the evening, and of midnight!

• Pain:

"For unexplainable pain in the arm, hand, or wrist which nothing seems effective on....

Take a piece of thread (red is best...I don't know why but I can ask if you like) and tie it around your wrist. It should ease the pain if it doesn't get rid of it all together."

- From Vika.

• Sore Throat:

Mix one cup vodka, one cup oil and the juice of one lemon. Gargle with it and then drink.

Make a juice of mashed onion and water. Gargle.

Breathe heavily on a frog for about 8 to 10 minutes. The frog's heart should start beating rapidly and the sickness should pass entirely to the frog. You should feel instant relief. The less faint of heart should put the frog directly into the mouth and hold it for a couple of minutes.

• Stuffy nose:

Mash several cloves of garlic and put them in a pot of boiling water. Stand over the pot and breathe through your nose for five minutes.

•Tickling, To proof a child against:

Roll dough over the child's back, then bake a flat cake of that dough and feed it to the dog.

• Toothache:

Place a piece of salo (a slab of fat) in the opposite side of the mouth from the painful region. Hold for about 20 minutes.

A zagovorui, runespell, for a toothache:

O thou young Moon! Test the dead and the living: the teeth of one who is dead, do they ache? Not at all ache the teeth of one dead, whose bones are tanned, whose teeth are mute....Grant, O Lord, that the teeth of me, _______, may become mute and never ache.

This zagovorui must be recited three times while biting the stone doorway of a church:

As this stone is firm, so may my teeth also become stony - harder than stone

This supposedly goes back to pre-Christian times and the stone was originally the stone of an axe or hammer, symbols of Perun.

• Ulcer:

Mix two raw eggs with a shot of vodka and drink 20 minutes before breakfast.

• Upset stomach:

Add salt and pepper to two shots of vodka and drink.

• Warts: My grandmother's remedy -

Cut a piece from a potato (be careful that it does not include an "eye") rub the cut part on the wart and then bury the piece of potato. As the potato dissolves, so will the wart.

Omens & Superstitions

Never touch a person or shake their hand over the threshold. If you don't wait until they are inside, you will not see them again for seven years and risk angering the Domovoi to boot.

It is unlucky to sit at the corner of a table.

If the cat is cleaning herself it means that company is coming.

If you whistle inside, you risk losing all your money.

Never begin a new project on a Friday.

If you compliment a person on their appearance or their baby's health, you must either knock unpolished wood or spit three times over the left shoulder lest the fairy's take them.

Never shave or cut your hair when a family member is in danger.

Never cut your hair while pregnant or the unbilical cord will wrap around ur baby's neck - From Vika.

When giving flowers, give only odd numbers of flowers. Even numbers are for the dead.

If a bird hits the window, someone will die.

If you accidently step in poop or a bird poops on you, you will win money. - From Vika.

If you break a mirror, you can run the pieces under water to counteract the bad luck.

Never show a newborn baby to a stranger until it is at least 40 days old.

Do not put keys on a table. You'll lose money - From Vika.

Tatyana, in her heart obeying

The simple folkways of the past,

Believed in dreams and in soothsaying

And heeded what the moon forecast.

Weird apparitions would distress her,

And any object could impress her

With some occult significance

Or dire foreboding of mischance.

A preening pussycat, relaxing

Upon the stove with lick and purr,

Was an unfailing sign to her

That guests were coming; or a waxing

Twin-horned young moon that she saw ride

Across the sky on her left side

Would make her tremble and change color;

Each time a shooting star might flash

In the dark firmament, grow duller

And burst asunder into ash:

All flustered, Tanya would be seeking,

While yet the fiery spark was streaking,

To whisper it her heart's desire.

But if she met a black-robed friar

At any place or any season,

Or if from out the meadow swath

A fleeing hare should cross her path,

She would be frightened out of reason,

And filled with superstitious dread,

See some calamity ahead.

- Pushkin - from Eugene Onegin V.5 & V.6 - translated by Walter Arndt.

Slavic Pagan Holidays

Winter (Kohl-YAH-da) - The Winter Solstice.

Most agree that the word comes from the Roman word "calendae" which meant the first 10 days of any month. Some, however, believe the word is derived from the word "Kolo" or wheel - much like the word "Yule" is an Anglo-Saxon word for wheel. The holiday's original name may have been "Ovsen". The holiday was filled with revelry. Processions of people masked like animals and cross-dressers roamed the village. Often they were accompanied by a "goat"- a goat's head, either real or (usually) made and stuffed on a stick. The person holding the "goat" would be covered by a blanket to play the part. Sometimes a child on horseback - symbol of the reborn sun - would accompany them; the horse was often played by two young men in horses costumes. One of the wenders would carry a spinning solar symbol, internally lit by a candle, on a stick. Later, after Christianity entered the scene, the spinning "sun" became a star.

This unusual group would stop and sing Koljada songs from house to house. These songs usually included invocations to "Koljada", the god or goddess of the holiday, praises and good wishes,requests for handouts and threats for refusal. The handouts, also called "koljada", usually took the form of little pastries or "korovki" shaped like cows or goats. The were sometimes just in the shape of the animals head, but often were described as having "horns and tails and everything." The korovki were traditionally baked by the old people in the house, the grandmothers and grandfathers.

The "tricks" played by those who were not rewarded could be brutal: Garbage might be brought from all over the village and piled in front of the offending host's gate, their gate might be torn off and thrown in the nearest water or livestock could be led off.

In Poland one "caroller" would carry a bundle of hazel twigs and after receing koljada, would gently hit his host/ess with a small stick loudly wishing "Na shchestia, na zdravia, na tot Noviy Reek" (happiness, health, in the coming New Year). A small twig was left with the farmer who nailed it above his door for wealth and protection.

Bonfires were sometimes lit and the dead ancestors asked inside to warm themselves. Mock funerals were held where a person pretending to be dead was carried into the house amidst both laughter and wailing. Sometimes even a real corpse was used. One young girl would be chosen and tradition made her kiss the "corpse" on the lips. If a pretend corpse was used, the person would leap up after being kissed - a symbol of rebirth.

Holiday foods included kut'ia, a traditional funeral food consisting of whole grains and pork. The whole grain is a universal symbol - "the seed as the mysterious container of new life" (J A Propp p.8)

On the last day of the koljada season in Poland, all the unmarried men of the village would get together to "wend" for oats. It was impossible to get rid of them with a scoop of oats; it took at least 7 liters. The farmer would keep a sharp eye on his grain that night, because otherwise the carollers would steal it as part of the evening's custom. With the money from the sold oats the men would hire musicians and organize a large dance party in the village during the pre-Spring festival period.

If you don't give us a tart - We'll take your cow by the horns.

If you don't give us a sausage - We'll grab your pig by the head.

If you don't give us a bliny - We'll give the host a kick.

- Reeder, p.85

New Year's Day - originally on the Winter Solstice, New years was considered the most powerful time for divination. A traditional New Year's divination was called podbljunaja (powd-blyew-NIE-ya) or "under the plate". Details of this divinatory system may be found on the Slavic Magick page. Pork was traditionally eaten at this time.


Strinennia - Mar 9th. Clay images of larks were made, their heads smeared with honey and stuck with tinsel. They were carried around the village amidst the singing of vesnjanki, invocations to Spring. Birds were thought to bring the Spring with them upon their return. Children were given pastries shaped like birds to toss into the air while saying "The rooks have come.". Sometimes the pastries were tied to poles in the garden. The baking of these pastries was to ensure that the birds would return.

Oh little bee, Ardent bee!

Fly out beyond the sea.

Get out the keys, the golden keys.

Lock up winter, cold winter

Unlock summer, warm summer.

Warm summer -

A summer fertile in grain.

- Reeder, p 92

Maslenica (Mah-sweh-NEET-sa) "Butter woman" from the word Maslo which means butter. Originally it was practiced at the Vernal Equinox but later was celebrated the week before lent. Maslenica (mah-sweh-NEET-sa), sometimes called Shrovetide, was a celebration of the returning light, a time of games and contests, especially horse racing, fist fights, sliding and mock battles. It was a time for protection and purification rituals and a time of gluttony, obscenity and dissolution.

At the beginning of the festivities a life-sized corn doll would be made as a personification of the holiday. The doll would be invoked and welcomed by the name Maslenica. Sometimes a drunken peasant was chosen, instead, to represent Maslenica. He would either be dressed in woman's clothing or in a costume sewn all over with bells. His face would be smeared with soot and he would be seated on a wheel resting on a pole within a sledge. Wine and pastries would surround him and as many as could would accompany him in other sledges. Crowds would follow on foot, laughing, dancing and singing ritualsongs. Corn "Maslenitsas" were also driven around in barrows, wagons or sleighs accompanied by crowds of celebrants.

Many customs honoring the sun were included in the festivities such as the lighting of bonfires, pushing a wheel whose axel pole was a flaming torch about or circling the village on horseback with torches. Farmsteads were also circled at this time, either with a religious icon or with brooms, sweeping around the entire property three times to create a magickal circle which protected against illness and evil spirits.

Traditionally, the house and barn were cleaned and decorated and holiday foods such as bliny (pancakes), kulich (sweet bread) and paskha (pyramid shaped cottage-cheese bread) were prepared. Special loaves were baked and fed to the cattle to guard them from unclean spirits. Kozuli, pastries shaped like cattle, goats, etc. were prepared and eaten to bring on the multiplication of the herds. Eggs were decorated and rolled along the ground in order to transfer the fertility of the egg to the earth. The customary "swinging" which occured at this time was believed to strengthen the stock and fertility of the villagers as well.

Maslenitsa was considered to be a time for purification. All salt was prepared for the coming year, as salt was used for cleansing and curative purposes. Ritual baths to prepare for the oncoming work in the fields were also taken before sunrise and followed with fumigation in the smoke of the juniper.

Another important part of Slavic ritual is the funeral meal. A huge feast was prepared and brought to the cemetary where it was eaten amidst much wailing and laughter. Food was always left for the dead. In Eastern European ritual, funeral and fertility rites are intertwined. Volos, a god of the herds, is believed by many to be the same god as Veles, an underworld deity.

At the end of the week the Maslenitsa (if a doll was used) was taken to a field outside the village, usually where the winter crops were planted. There it was destroyed, either by being torn apart and thrown into the field or burned. This was the remnant of an earlier cult of a dying and resurected God, Volos perhaps, whose death brought life to the fields. The "God" was always destroyed with laughter as such a "death" was seen to bring life. Smaller dolls were also made for individual households which were also torn apart at the week's end and fed to the livestock. This was believed to ensure their fertility and the customary willow branch they were fed was thought to protect them for the entire year to come.

Our Dear Maslenica, dear, leli, dear

Came for a while, for a while, leli, for a while

We thought for seven weeks, seven weeks, leli, seven weeks

But Maslenica stayed only seven days, seven days, leli, seven days

And Maslenica deceived us, deceived us, leli, deceived us

To lent she offered a seat, offered a seat, leli, offered a seat

Bitter horseradish she put out, put out, leli, put out

And that horseradish is more bitter than xren, more bitter than xren,

leli, more bitter than xren.

(Traditional Maslenica song - Zemcovskij - xren is a form of horseradish also)

It is interesting to note that in this song, the singer laments that he is betrayed by Maslenica because she gives up her seat to Lent and gives him bitter things (to eat). In the Slavic traditions, The periods directly before and after Easter were filled with customs, rituals and celebrations although Easter itself came and went without much ado. This is supposedly due to the Orthodox Priest's successful efforts to keep the day of Easter, itself free of pagan influence.The holiday of Maslenitsa lasted a week and marked the beginning of the Slavic Spring Festivals which continue through to the Summer Solstice, Kupalo.

Krasnaja Gorka - "beautiful" or "red" hillock - the Sunday after Easter. In Russia, a woman holding a red egg and round loaf of bread would face East and sing a spring song which the chorus then took up. Afterward, a doll representing Marzena, grandmother Winter, was carried to the edge of the village and thrown out or destroyed. Xorovods, Russian circle dances, started on this day as well as were Spring game songs; A female performer would enter the center of a circle and mime the sowing, pulling, spreading, etc..of the flax all the way up to the spinning. She and all those in the circle would sing:

Turn out well, turn out well, my flax.

Turn out well, my white flax. *

This is a form of sympathetic magic to ensure a bountiful flax harvest.

(* - Reeder - Russian Folk lyrics)

Radunica - (Rah-doo-NEET-sa) The second Tuesday after Easter. This holiday was originally known as Nav Dien (Day of the Dead) and was a bi-annual holiday to celebrate the ancestors. The original dates of these two holidays were probably May eve and November eve - cross-quarter dates. Usually feasting and celebrating occured in the cemetaries among much ritual wailing. Offerings, often of eggs, were left to the dead.

Ascension - 40 days after Easter. This holiday may have originally fallen on May eve and been tied in with the holiday of Nav Dien. On this day, lark pastries were again baked. After supper, all would rest a while and then take their lark pastries into the rye fields. A prayer would be offered at each side of the field while the larks were tossed into the air and people cried "So that my rye may grow as high". The larks were then eaten.

Village girls customarily imitated the spring bird's song. Songs were sung on opposite ends of the village with one chorus answering the other. When finished, another song would begin in the distance and in this fashion the songs would travel from village to village.

St. Egorij (George) Day - April 23 - George is Greek for "farmer". The first day the flocks are taken to the fields. They were driven out using pussy willows that had been blessed on Palm Sunday. The energy of the willow was thought to be transferred to the animal, or person, being whipped by it. According to an old song;

The pussy willow has brought health

The pussy willow whip beats you to tears

The pussy willow does not beat in vain.

People walk around the fields singing invocations to Egorij begging him to protect the flock from wild animals in the fields and beyond them. These invocations probably originated as prayers to the god Weles, ruler of horned animals, wealth and the underworld. After the flocks left, the entire village would gather together for one solemn moment. Some of the pussy willows were then stuck in the rye fields to give them strength, others were brought home to ensure the flock's return.

St. Egorij is a holiday predominated by men. One ritual for this day consisted of the old village men going down to the river and gathering a stone for every animal in their family's flock. They would then put them in a bag and hang the bag in the courtyard saying

Tsar of the fields, Tsarina of the fields,

Tsar of the forest, Tsarina of the forest,

Tsar of the water, Tsarina of the water,

Protect my flocks, from the evil eye,

From wicked people, from wild beasts,

And from all others.

On the eve of this holiday, young boys and men do a form of trick-or-treating by singing from house to house for food and bestowing blessings upon those who are generous and curses upon those who are not. This door-to-door singing was called "The Labor of St. George."

Cows, give birth to calves. Pigs, give birth to sucklings.

Roosters, stamp your feet. Hens, hatch chickens.

Hostes be good to us. Host, don't be stingy.

If the host and hostess were generous, the singers would usually wish for the hosts and for themselves 200 cows and 150 bulls each. If the host was stingy, he might hear:

Neither a farm, nor a courtyard

Not any chicken feathers

May God grant you cockroaches and bedbugs

Rusal'naia Week - (Roo-sahl-NIE-ya) originally just after May eve, this holiday was later celebrated on the 7th or 8th week after Easter. The holiday was possibly named after the Roman holiday Rosalia. During this week the Rusalki, female water spirits, were said to leave the rivers and go to the forests and fields. Birches were considered a source of vegetative power and homes were decorated with birch branches, both inside and out.

On the Wednesday of this week, girls would go into the forests and choose and mark the birches. The following day, Semik, bringing fried eggs (omelettes) & beer, they would decorate the chosen trees with flowers. One special birch would be chosed and "curled". That is, the ends of the twigs would be knotted and twisted to form wreaths. The fried eggs would be placed around it while Semickajas (songs sung only at Semik) were sung. Then the kumit'sja ceremony would be held: The girls would kiss each other through wreaths on the birch tree and swear an oath of friendship. This spell was believed to ensure that they would be friends for life or, "kumas".

This tree was sometimes left in the forest, and sometimes cut down and brought into the village. No males were allowed to touch the tree. The tree might be dressed in woman's clothing and/or stripped of its lower branches. Sometimes this tree was set up in a home as a guest. If left in the forest, its tip might be bent down and tied to the grass, ensuring that its sacred energy would return to the earth. Girls would sing and dance the xorovod around the tree.

Banishings of the Rusalki were performed during Rusal'naia. Dolls of them were made and ritually torn apart in the grain fields.

On the Sunday of this week, girls would perform memorial rites on the graves of their parents and afterward divide eggs among their family members. Then the sacred birch tree was removed from the village and tossed into a local river or stream. Girls would take wreaths from their heads and toss them in after the birch. If their wreath floated off, love was to come from the direction the wreath floated toward. If the wreath sunk, the girl was supposed to die within the following year. If it circled, misfortune would come.

I, a young girl, am going to the quiet meadow, the quiet meadow.

To the quiet meadow, to a little birch.

I, a young girl, will pick a blue cornflower,

A little blue cornflower, a cornflower.

I, a young girl, will weave a wreath.

I, a young girl, will go to the river.

I will throw the wreath down the river.

I will think about my sweetheart

My wreath is drowning, drowning.

My heart is aching, aching.

My wreath will drown.

My sweetheart will abandon me.

- Reeder, p.101

Semik - (Seh-MEEK) the Thursday of Rusal'naia Week. This was the day to perform funerals for all those who had not yet been properly buried.

Semik songs (Semikjas):

While selecting the birch:

Don't rejoice oak trees. Don't rejoice green ones.

Not to you are the girls coming. Not to you, the pretty ones.

Not to you are they bringing pies, pastries, omelettes.

Yo, Yo Semik and Trinity!

Rejoice birches! Rejoice green ones!

To you the girls are coming!

To you they are bringing pies, pastries, omelettes.

Yo, yo Semik and Trininty.

While curling the birch:

Oh birch, so curly, curly and young,

Under you, little birch, no poppy is blooming.

Under you, little birch, no fire is burning -

No poppy is blooming -

Pretty maids are dancing a xorovod,

about you little birch, they are singing songs.


Kupalo - (Coo-PAH-loh) - the Celebration of the summer solstice. Kupalo comes from the verb kupati which means "to bathe" and mass baths were taken on the morning of this holiday. On this holiday, the sun supposedly bathed by dipping into the waters at the horizon. This imbued all water with his power and therefore, those who bathed on this day would absorb some of that power.

Fire was sacred to the ancient Slavs and fires were never allowed to go out. In the sanctuaries, fires were tended by the priests and in the home, guarded by the mother. On the eve of Kupalo, however, all fires were extinquished and rekindled with "new fire". New fire was created by friction. A peg was rotated within a hole in a block of wood made especially for this purpose. In some areas, animals were sacrificed on Kupalo's eve and a feast prepared of them entirely by men was shared as a communal meal. Bonfires were lit and couples jumped over them. It was considered a good omen and prediction of marriage if a young couple could jump the flame without letting go of each other's hand. Cattle was chased through the fires in order to ensure their fertility.

At the beginning of the celebration, a straw image of "Kupalo" was made of straw, dressed like a woman and placed under a sacred tree. At the end of the festival, the effigy was ritually destroyed by burning, "drowning" or being ripped apart. Afterward, elaborate mock funerals were held. Two people pretending to be a priest and deacon would cense the figure, with a mixture of dung and old shoes burning over coals in a clay pot. The funeral was carried out among much wailing and laughter.

Kupalo was considered the most powerful time to gather both magical and medicinal plants. It was considered the only time to gather the magical fire-fern. On Kupalo's eve, the flower of the fern was said to climb up the plant and burst into bloom. Anyone who obtained it would gain magical powers including the ability to find treasures. To gather the herb, one must draw a magic circle around the plant and ignore the taunts of the demons who would try to frighten them off. Kupalo marked the end of the "Spring festival" period which started in the beginning of March.

Perun's Day - July 20th. On this day a human sacrifice was chosen by ballot. There is record of a viking's son being chosen and the viking refusing to give him up. Both father and son were killed as a result. This day was considered a "Terrible" holiday. The sacrifice was seen as necessary to placate the God and keep him from destroying the crops with late summer storms. According to Dr. Buhler in De Diis Samogitarum, the prayer uttered by the officiating priest went as follows:

Perkons! Father! Thy children lead this faultless victim to thy altar. Bestow, O Father, they blessing on the plough and on the corn. May golden straw with great well-filled ears rise abundantly as rushes. Drive away all black haily clouds to the great moors, forests, and large deserts, where they will not frighten mankind; and give sunshine and rain, gentle falling rain, in order that the crops may thrive!"

A bull was also sacrificed and it was eaten as a communal meal.


St. Ilia's Day - August 2nd. In the Ukraine, this day marked the beginning of autumn. It was said "Until dinner, it's summer. After dinner, it's autumn." Ilia is closely related to Perun and this was most probably one of Perun's holy days. After this day, no swimming was allowed as Ilia will curse anyone he finds swimming after his feast day.

Harvest - Harvest Holidays occured anywhere from Aug 2 to the autumn equinox and lasted from 4 days to a week. Various rituals center around the reaping and threshing of the sheaths.The Harvest Holidays of the Slavs were far more practical than ritual. The songs sung at this time are almost completely concerned with the work at hand or praises for the host and hostess or the one who brought the cup. Work parties called tolo'ka or pomoi' were formed and these travelled from farm to farm until all the work was done. The host was obligated to provide the day's food and entertainment.

Yablochnyi/Medovoy Spas - or "Apple/Honey Saviour. This is a crossquarter holiday between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. It celebrates the wealth of the harvest when fruit and honey are ready to be gathered. The first fruits and honey picked on this day and the bee hives were blessed.

Zaziuki - on or around Aug 7, might be the same holiday as Spas. Particular attention was paid to the first sheaf (zazhinochnyi or zazhinnyi) which was usually brought into the house and threshed separately. Sometimes it was blessed and then mixed back in with the seed. The end of the harvest celebration was called Dozinki. The last sheaf (the dozhinochnyi orotzhinnyi) was also brought in the house where it was either decorated with flowers and ribbons or dressed in woman's clothing. It was then placed in the entrance corner of the home or near any religious icons until Oct 1, when it was fed to the cattle. Sometimes the last sheaf ceremony was merged with the ritual surrounding a small patch of field that was left uncut. The spirit of the harvest was said to precede the reapers and hide in the uncut grain. This small patch was referred to as the "beard" of Volos, the God of animals and wealth. The uncut sheaves of wheat in "Volos' beard" were decorated with ribbons and the heads were bent toward the ground in a ritual called "The curling ofthe beard". This was believed to send the spirit of the harvest back to the Earth. Salt and bread, traditional symbols of hospitality were left as offerings to Volos' beard.

Mokosh Day - Mokosh was honored on the Friday between Oct 25 and Nov 1. She was given offerings of vegetables. One reference fixes this date on Oct 28.

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