Slavic pagan environment or Slavic-Russian paganism

Slavic pagan environment or Slavic-Russian paganism

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The pagan environment

Note 1

by Aldo C. Marturano

Pages1-2- 3

In Russian "ecclesiastical jargon" the forest is called desert (Pusc’ja) which is also the meaning of Wildnis used by the Teutonic Knights (armed Christian monks), although they added a negative coloration of a wild place inhabited by even more savage men. It is also noteworthy that the Slavic word has remained in the Hungarian puszta - read pusta - which indicates the last strip of steppe in Europe on the borders of the Carpathian forests (Transylvania, in Hungarian Erdély) in which the Ugros evidently last. finnians had continued to see magical-divine characteristics, as in the days they lived in the north of the Volga!

Note 2

In short, for Christians it was a forbidden place and ruled by the Devil, accessible only to those who practiced black magic when evil spirits came here to make friends. These servants of the Devil could no longer be considered men made in the image and likeness of God, but beasts and it was right to hunt and kill them like any prey. These ideas were answered by the murderous policy of the Teutonic Knights who exterminated an entire people: The Prussians! For Orthodoxy still in the fourteenth century, at the time of St. Sergius of Radonezh, going to the desert (in this alluding to the Sinai where the first monks lived) meant being a hermit detached from the rest of the world, but close to the divinity since the demonic temptations that arose here, if they could be overcome with God's help, strengthened the soul.

This is also more or less the concept that the Slavic-Russian mythological world has of the forest: a place reserved for those who have given up on being with others. Hence a fairly rational habit, but cruel in a certain sense and involving both sexes, was therefore the spontaneous withdrawal of the disconsolate elderly and now useless to the productive economy of the mir in the forest. We greet everyone and go into the thick of it and the current (partly Christianized) myth says that here we do not die and the soul of those who did not die "according to the rules" passes directly into the trees and its presence is easy to hear. in the voices of the branches crunching in the wind! This is why a fearful reverence is due to all the inhabitants of the forest and, if you meet a living being, visible or invisible, at the crossroads of the paths, it is necessary to try to recognize them because if they have come on our path, they have to transmit important news to us. . So respect every being, if we see him coming out of the forest, because ... he could be a relative of ours (Russian nav ') passed away!

Note 3

Is this whole speech important? Certainly yes, since it starts from real and plausible experiences! In fact, the environment greatly conditions beliefs and sensations and world views and we are interested here if they give us the ease of understanding the perceptual differences of the medieval pagan instead of attributing to him a supposed scientific backwardness of his. For example: If there are no mountains from which one can contemplate the forest "from above" and have a vision of it as the birds had, it was perhaps not logical to think that the trees, without ever being able to see the top, could actually touch the sky? Likewise, could a tree (or other plant) that remained alive for generations not be thought of as eternal as the oak or the beech?

And yet the brightness in the forest where the sunlight usually reigns moderate and with almost constant intensity throughout the day before it becomes dark immediately after sunset or in the cold season, perhaps does not justify those fears for the unusual noises that come from the thick or for the sudden appearances of strange or luminescent figures that remind us of indescribable monsters ready to sneak up on us? Even the moonlight is missing in the forest, which reverberates spectacularly in winter on the snow-covered expanses, but at the edge of the dense trees ...

Note 4

It's still. Europe today boasts large expanses of cultivated fields and is proud of its intensive agriculture on land stolen from the primeval forest before and during the Middle Ages. The sun reigns supreme here, and as soon as the clouds gather over an endless countryside, darkness is never complete in this landscape. The lack of trees in fact leaves a diffuse light perceptible along the horizon, even if the storm breaks out in broad daylight. In the thick of the trees, on the contrary, it is quite another thing. A stormy cloud suddenly makes darkness fall on those who move among the trees! We leave the floor to a genuine inhabitant of the Belarusian forest, the folklorist A.E. Bogdanovic '(from the 19th century) when he speaks of Ljescii: "And this is understandable (that) in the nature of the ... country, apart from the storms, the forest represented (something) more grandiose and more mysterious. More than anything else, the imagination was struck (for example) by the melancholy noise generated by a simple breeze or by the crackling of falling trees or by penetrating sighs and moans. (They are all) strange sounds (sometimes resembling) wild laughter when (outside the forest) there is a storm or a hurricane. "

And what other phenomenon is more frightening than the striking of a bolt of lightning that tears the piece of black sky visible up there in the thick foliage of leaves and falls on a nearby tree, splitting it or setting it on fire? For the reader who loves Russian literature we have translated the following passage from Anna Karenina by Tolstoi in which the terrible scene experienced by the character Levin is described as a lightning strike and knocks down an oak not far from him.

"Suddenly there was a flash of light. The whole earth seemed to ignite as the vault of heaven reverberated over Levin's head. Reopening his dazzled eyes, the first thing he saw through the thick curtain of rain between him and the forest was the unexpected change to the picture of a denser grove where there had been an old and familiar oak in the middle. Is it possible that the oak had been hit? This thought barely had time to cross Levin's mind that the oak was seen by him disappearing faster and faster behind the other trees while the roar of the fall of the great being could be heard crashing down on the fellow trees. " And we would add that, if Levin had remembered that in his mythological culture the lightning was the divine weapon of Perun, owner of the oak, he would have understood that the god had the right to perform such an action since the purpose of throwing lightning (said the Christians) was to kill the devils who sheltered from the rain under his plants ...

Lightning (today it is better known) causes in the boreal forestis periodic fires (ca. every 50-100 years) which destroy large portions of it, without irritating Perun or the Ljescii, but rather regenerating it. The circumstances favorable to fires are quite understandable when it is known that the ground of the clearings exposed to the very intense summer sun of the north dries up in certain places (usually on the border with the tundra) and, if it does not moisten with the rains, it becomes so sensitive to temperature that the flame from a tree set on fire by lightning can very quickly attack the nearby dry grass. Man contributes to the fire if he gets his fields with the cut-and-burn method because in doing so he lets the wind blow without any obstacles since the tall trees have been cut away.

In the taiga, on the one hand, this is useful because it renews the fertility of the soil, but woe betide if it happens in the vicinity of the town, as often happened to the cities of Novgorod or Pskov in the past. In such cases the fire is catastrophic and, although interpreted by the Christian authorities as divine intervention on the pagan sins of the respective inhabitants, it represents the revenge of the offended Ljescii.

All these things (and others that we will gradually say later) make this place a truly magical environment, but closed in sacredly precise boundaries. The pagan came here to implore his gods and knew how to avoid the guardians of the forest from whose presence it is necessary to flee, on pain of death. The gods in the forest are sometimes recognizable in the features carved into the trunks or by their voices and rustles. They moved without being noticed, taking with them the tree where they temporarily live and the plant seen just an hour earlier in a certain place reappears in another. So be careful not to damage any tree, but above all the aforementioned Oak, a plant sacred to the greatest gods and pillar tree of the world! In the documents it is written that whoever had attacked, trying to saw or damage the life of this tree in particular, was quartered starting from the navel and, tied with his own entrails to the offended tree, had to wait for the occurrence of just death!

Animals are sometimes considered more powerful than man and are involved in divine roles when the gods take on their appearance and therefore it is possible that by attacking a beast we incur a sacrilegious act! However, animals help humans, not only by giving them their bodies to eat, but because, for example, they foresee the future. Many signs on the seasons for the farmer come precisely from the observation of their behavior and among these in particular the birds who are the closest ... to the divine heavenly forces!

The Cuckoo announces when the good season arrives and when it ends, no longer singing. The Nightingale sees the first sun of the equinox and the Crane leaves the ponds about twenty days before the winter frosts ...

Note 5

The most notable, however, is the Bear, a sacred being (it is often the totem pole of many northern human communities as its veneration is spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific) and absolute master of certain places in the forest where it has its home. He lives more or less like a man (or maybe he is a man in disguise?) Gathering berries and insects or small rodents to feed on while in winter he goes away to sleep until the following spring. When he prepares his lair as much as possible it is advisable to observe where he does it to regulate what the next frost will be like… they say in Belarus! Unfortunately, it is rare to see him because he is very reserved, unless he is called by saying his name aloud. He is the only one who knows where the honey is and just follow it, if you are lucky, downwind and quietly to find a hollow trunk full of sweet nectar. The honey hunter naturally carries a bow and arrows with him in defense because the bear is curious and irascible and if he realizes the presence of man he could attack him with dire consequences.

Note 5

There is the wolf , the lynx and the small carnivores for fur that it is forbidden to kill only for food and must be captured with snares and traps so as not to damage or dirty the fur. It was an art well known by the Finno-Ugri in particular who captured thousands of them with the permission of the gods and, once killed and skinned, consumed them exclusively in sacred banquets offering the scent of roast to the gods who have no stomach and intestines and the smoke is enough for them to appreciate the due homage!

Animals to be avoided, again for religious reasons, are also large mammals such as the aurochs, the European bison, the wild boar or the reindeer and the moose which are sacred to certain gods and can only be captured if they serve as a sacrifice to their god-master ...

There is the Lithuanian pony or European tarpan that sometimes lets itself be lured into the house to help out in the fields, but it is quarrelsome and stubborn and, if on the one hand it predicts the future, on the other it announces death! Titmaro of Merseburg in this regard tells of the following ceremony for having seen it performed in Rethra: "... in secret (the priests) murmur (so as not to be understood) while trembling they dig into the earth (of the Sanctuary) where they will bury the lots (wooden tablets of oak with special signs or Slavic runes) that they have cast and thus try to obtain certain answers on the problems (proposed to them).

Note 2

Immediately afterwards they cover the fortunes with turf and two crossed spear points. Then with great composure they choose the largest of the horses among all those considered sacred (to the god Triglav) and make him go to the meadow. From the place and in the way in which the horse stops, they draw the hope, but for safety the event must be repeated the same at least twice. Only then do they declare that what they have decided to do will be successful (or not). " As an "animal close to death" let us remember its role in the legend of the Russian prince Oleg who gave up riding since he was predicted that he would die precisely because of his horse, as in fact happened!

For apotropaic purposes, the Slavs carved a horse's head on top of the roof of their house! And not only! To keep away a deceased, not dead according to the rules, he had the ground around the place where he died by a horse trampled ...

Note 5

And what about the fish? This is the main food of the inhabitants of the north and is found in abundance in rivers and lakes of species and very large size, if you think of the sturgeon which in the Dnieper and Volga reaches truly gigantic dimensions, or the salmon, equally monumental. .

The catfish in particular reached half a ton in weight and it is known that, as a good carnivore, it even ate ... live children! In 1613 in his capable stomach the body of a child of ca. 7 years that the torpedo had swallowed in the Danube, near Bratislava, proving that at that time the local Slavs were still making human sacrifices! It was also said that the Torpedo announced the earthquakes a few days in advance and in this case the pond would be seen continuously rippling due to the agitation of the animal waiting for the event.

Apart from that, in winter, when you pierce the ice of fish, you will find many of them and therefore it is a "forest" food guaranteed at any time of the year! During the short summer some species can even be captured with the hands, when the pregnant females struggle to go up the Nevà river to go to the great lakes. But which Slav would allow himself to capture them, if he had not asked the permission of the "divine master" of the river or lake, the Vodjanoi or his consort the Vodjaniza? And do you know which animal can be sacrificed better than others to these gods of the waters for their favors? A black male horse that placed on a barge in the center of the pond with his legs tied up is left to drown.

And finally, there is an infinity of edible plants and mushrooms. Among the latter, widespread in the Russian Lands is the use of Amanita muscaria or Little Red Riding Hood mushroom because it helps pagan priests (volhvy) in "psychic journeys" when they have to treat a sick person. Dry and in measured doses, however, it serves many other psychotropic uses.

One of the most frequent trees in the taigà is the birch which by varying the color of its leaves indicates the good and bad weather and from which, waiting for the right period (March, which was called in Belarus Sakavik or more or less Juicy) extract its refreshing and ... pain-relieving lymph!

The undergrowth plants are even watches for those who can read them. For example, the Chicory opens its leaves around 5 in the morning and closes them around 3 in the afternoon and the same regime follows the Poppy ...

And what about a particular mushroom from the boreal forest that emits a special greenish bioluminescence on old rotting trunks (Onphalotus olearius) at night, indicating the way forward to penetrate the dense trees towards the matoc'ka? Those who followed it on the night of Kupala would reach the "fern in bloom", the arhilin, and picking it up would find their luck ...

More or less in this world Slavic-Russian Paganism fits and develops better.

Pages1-2- 3

Recommended literature

  • A.Afanas'ev
  • Slavyanskaja Mifologija, Sankt-Peterburg 2008 A.Burovskii
  • Nesbyvsc’jajasja Rossija, Moskva 2007 K.-H. Deschner
  • Historia criminal of Christianism. Siglo X, Barcelona 1998 K. Dowden
  • Paganism in Europe, Genoa 2008 R.B. Ekelund jr. et al.
  • Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church ..., New York 1996 A.Ferrari
  • Dictionary of Mythology, Novara 2006 R.Fletcher - The Barbarian Conversion, New York 1998 B.N. Florija (red.)
  • Hristijanstvo v stranah vostoc’noi ..., Moskva 2002 B. Hamilton
  • Die Christliche Welt des Mittelalters, Düsseldorf 2004 G.S.Kirk
  • El mito, Buenos Aires 2006 E.H.Lenneberg
  • Biologische Grundlagen der Sprache, Frankfurt / Main 1972 E.Levkevskaja
  • Mify Russkogo Naroda, Moskva 2000 A.Montagu / F.Matson
  • The languages ​​of human communication, Florence 1981 N.J. Pounds
  • An Economic History of Medieval Europe, New York 1983 V.Propp
  • The historical roots of magic tales, Rome 2006 J.Puhvel
  • Comparative Mythology, Baltimore 1989 J. Richards
  • The Consul of God, Florence 1984 S.A.Tokarev (red.)
  • Mify Narodov Mira, Minsk 1994 W. Ullmann
  • The papacy in the Middle Ages, Bari 1999 VV.AA.
  • Mirovozzrenie i kul’tura severnorusskogo naselenija, Moskva 2006 A. Watts
  • Mif i Ritual v Hristjanstve, Kiev 2003 V.D.Baranov / G.V.Ustimenko (red.)
  • Mir kul’turnyh rastenii, Moskva 1994 R. Bechmann
  • Des Arbres et des Hommes, Paris 1984 W. Behringer
  • Kulturgeschichte des Klimas, München 2007 R.Biasutti
  • The Terrestrial Landscape, Turin 1962 J.C. Bologna
  • Du flambeau au bûcher, Paris 1993 F. Conte
  • Les Slaves, Paris 1996 F. Conte
  • L’héritage païen de la Russie, Paris 1997 A.Demandt
  • Über allen Wipfeln, Düsseldorf 2005 P. Dinzelbacher
  • Menschen und Tiere in der Geschichte Europas, Stuttgart 2000 J.V.A. Fine jr.
  • The Early Medieval Balkans, Michigan 1997 N.I.Grikevic '/ A.A.Sorokina
  • Legendy i byl ’o lekarstvennyh rastenijah, Moskva 1988 F. Hageneder
  • Geist der Bäume, Saarbrücken 1998 A.Huxley
  • Plant and Planet, London 1974 G.Karpov
  • Belovezhskaja Pusc'c'a 1382-1902, Sankt-Peterburg 1903 H.-J.Küster
  • Geschichte des Waldes, München 1998 E. Perroy
  • The Middle Ages, Florence 1977 S. Runciman
  • Istorija pervogo bolgarskogo Carstva, Sankt-Peterburg 2009 P-Tompkins / C. Bird
  • The Secret Life of Plants, New Delhi 1973 VV.AA.
  • Istorija Krest'janstva SSSR, Moskva 1987


  1. Original photograph courtesy by Gary Kramer / Natural Resources Conservation Service
  2. Original photograph courtesy of by Hillebrand Steve / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  3. Original photograph courtesy of by Spencer, David / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. Original photograph courtesy National Park Service
  5. Original photograph courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Video: RISE OF THE SLAVS. History and Mythology of the Slavs


  1. Kevinn

    The important answer :)

  2. Lucky

    There are also other shortcomings

  3. Ronit

    the bright

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