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Slavic Myths

Updated on July 15, 2017

Myths and legends are often road-maps that tell us the route a particular society or community has taken in its evolutionary process. Similarities between myths and legends reaffirm age old cultural ties while dissimilarities make each and every community unique.

The Chronica Slavorum written by the twelfth century Saxon historian Helmold tells us something about the early Slavs. It lists down a series of lesser known Slavic deities worshiped principally in Western Slavia.

Chief among these deities is Belobog the Sun God who represents the light of the dazzling sun and underlines the importance of the solar entity in Slavic circles. The affinity to the sun clearly tells us that a majority of the early Slavs belonged to farming communities whose mainstream economic activity was agriculture.

These communities have a higher propensity than others to settle down and establish an agrarian routine and engage in religious activities - another facet of early farming communities.

Divinity in early Slavic settlements was represented by the color white and is reflective of the healing powers or properties of the sun. A manifestation of this positively radiant energy is the Sun God or Belobog.

The importance of agriculture in early Slavic communities is further reinforced by the simple fact that they also had a winter Sun God, Hors and as legend would have it, he is the reincarnation of Belobog, sometimes known as Dazbog, following his defeat to his arch enemy (Chernobog).

Hors is often depicted as the winter sun. In addition to symbolizing the importance of the sun throughout the year, Belobog and Hors also represent the seasonal cycle.

We can to some degree deduce from the importance that is attached to Hors that early Slav communities might have also cultivated winter crops.

Belobog’s arch enemy or the sum collective of all evil to the early Slavs is Chernobog or the accursed and where he resides crops and life wither.

The light or the solar entity illuminates the path to longevity and prosperity while darkness or the night denies academic knowledge and spiritual liberation.

This interpretation of good and evil is dominant in many agrarian communities or societies because of the importance that is attached to the sun. Without the sun crops would fail and famine would sweep through the land. It is a simple concept that has far reaching implications.

That however does not mean that the Dark Gods were not worshiped. Among certain Slavic tribes the Dark Gods and their emissaries were worshiped just as ardently or as fervently as the Sun God and to these tribes they were the principle source of alternate magic or black magic.

From the above, it is clearly evident that the early Slavs placed a huge emphasis on farming and like most agrarian cultures or communities were reliant on the sun.

A century or two after the birth of Christ, Slavic communities incorporated a new element in many of their settlements and that was the appointment of a warlord or voivode, who was elected during times of war.

Leadership of the respective settlements changed hands during these precarious times and power was placed in the hands of a war leader selected by the people.

Thus we can surmise to some degree that the early Slavs were an agrarian community who had to militarize or mobilize, despite their agrarian nature, at the turn of the last century possibly because they were under threat from repeated invasions or marauders.

One of the most interesting or intriguing facets or aspects of Slavic myths are Rusalkas or the returning spirits of women who die prematurely. In short, Rusalkas are the returning spirits of women who have died under suspicious, unnatural or mysterious circumstance like murders, suicides and accidents.

This part of the myth is not unusual and it is prevalent in many other cultures, especially if the dead women were maidens, but what is unique to Slavic tradition is that Rusalkas return to haunt waterways. Now, if we were to use Max Heindel’s classification, Rusalkas would be classed or categorized as water spirits.

They appear in the form of lonely, desolate women and this aspect of the myth gives it a romantic twist or turn that moves or stirs the imagination.

There is nothing to suggest that Rusalkas are evil or malicious and they are normally depicted as enchanting young ladies. A lot however is dependent on the narrator.

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© 2016 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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