The Slovenia Times

the Slavic pantheon part 1



s that many of its traits were irrevocably lost. However, some characteristics of these fascinating religions can still be gleaned from the writings of Roman and Byzantine historians, from folk rituals, and from fables and myths that trace their origins back to various Slavic countries. Reconstructing common Slavic beliefs is thus to some extent speculation, nonetheless, a rough sketch of the Slavic pantheon can be made. A characteristic feature of the ancient Slavic view of the world is that they perceived reality as a constant battle between the light and darkness. This dualism is encapsulated by Belibog (White God), who represents all that is good and fair, and Cernibog (Black God), who stands for all things dark and evil. This characteristic might be a bit stereotypical, but the centrality of morality espoused in this tale is typical of the Slavic imagination. Religion of Nature - Fire, Water, Wind and Earth Most early Slavic gods reflected the primary elements, which is not surprising since the Slavs were mainly forest dwellers. When an ancient Slav said his prayers, his first intention was to address the sky. Later on, when the gods became personified they addressed Svarog - the father of the gods. The root of the word Svarog comes from Sanscrit (the Slavs are, after all, an Indo-European people) and means bright and pure. Svarog (sky) gave life to his sons: Svarogic, who represents fire and Dažbog - the god of the sun. They were Svarog's gifts to humanity. There are several tales involving Dažbog. Some of them present him as the king of the sky who travels in his chariot from the East to the West, a concept identical to that of the Greek god Helios. Others, however, offer a more unique plot. A Russian story describes Dažbog as a king that lives on the solar disk. His path across the sky represents a natural ageing cycle. In the morning, he is a child, at noon he is at full strength and in the evening he dies an old man. Early Slav mythology also had a special place for the gods of wind and water (such as Vodanoj and Rusalke, who are the Slavic equivalent of elves and ferries). A goddess of much greater importance, however, was Mati Zemlja (Mother Earth). The Earth was supposed to be a superior being, whose attributes were generosity, emotion and justice. He that understood her secret language could foretell the future, but woe betide those that dared deceive her. Mother Earth represented such an authority that generations of Slavic nations regarded her as a sufficient protector of treaties.


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