• Zmey

The Slavic Pantheon

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

Here is my growing list of gods and goddesses of the Slavs. Information across books and the internet is jumbled and each source of information contradicts something from the last. This list is what I've read and filtered through in my own faith journey. I will continue to add more deities and info as I work through it all




Mokosh


Mokosh is the Slavic goddess known as The Great Mother. She is a protector of women and their work. She protects us in childbirth, watches over spinning and weaving, sheep shearing and all other works that women do. She is depicted often in poses of weaving and spinning, and is a weaver of fate. She was so revered that she is the only goddess statue in Kiev, the others being slavic gods.


Mokosh statue I made with my rudementary skills.

Her name is from the same root word that 'wet' comes from, which easily links into her fertility and her representation of being part of the earth. One of the traditional offerings was to throw hemp into the water. The hemp, or mokrica (mokar means wet, you can see the connection). She was also offered things to do with her weaving: scissors and wool put at her feet to ask her to protect the lambs. The festival dedicated to Mokosh is held between October 25th and November 1st, depending on which day is a friday. She is mother of twin gods Jarilo and Morana.



Perun


Hand carved altar statue of perun

Perun is the god of thunder and lightening, and the sky. He is a protector and seen as the punisher of evil. He uses his lightening to punish or strike down evil people. In antient times he was used as the guarantor of peace negotiations and contracts. If the peace accord was broken, Perun himself was said to strike down the aggressor. His idol is one of the statues in Kiev and is is part of the slavic trinity, called the Triglav, together with Svarog and Svetovid. He is depicted as having a silver head and golden mustaches. He is physically very large and carries a battle axe, which returns to his hand after he's thrown it, and a bow, which he looses arrows of thunder and lightening from. Perun was usually shown riding in a fiery chariot pulled by a goat buck. Necklace pendants in the shape of ax heads have been unearthed in archeological digs, dating back to b.c. times. He is also represented by oak trees, iris, eagles, and horses.


Painting of a Perun statue in Russia.

He has his own holiday on July 20th, called Perun's day. To celebrate, men would dress up as Perun and Veles, have mock battles to represent the two warring gods, and make offerings to Perun. Traditional offerings were cockerels (castrated roosters) and goats. Bulls and even bears were offered up in sacrifice during the largest rituals and ceremonies. (Since those kind of offerings aren't exactly practical in modern times, I opt for things like goat horns or leather, or chicken feet.) He and the god of the underworld, Veles, are mortal enemies, despite sharing the same consort; Mokosh. Originally Svarog was seen as the 'head honcho' of the slavic gods but later Perun, Svarog's son, took over and is still worshiped as the supreme god of the slavs.



Veles

Veles is the god of the underworld and the forest, fields, the animals contained there in, and water (note the overlap with Mokosh, whom is his shared consort with Perun). He is known as a shape-shifter and often depicted in bear form, when not shown as a virile horned young man, or an old man with a white beard and shepherd's crook. Son of a cow named Zemun and the god Rod, he is in charge of the farmer's fields, crops, and domestic animals, as well as the animals of the forest. He's also the shepherd of the dead, being god of the watery underworld. Veles is one of the seven statues erected in Kiev, although his statue is kept separate from the other statues, since it is extremely unwise to have Perun and Veles on the same altar or in the same worshiping area. Perun's statue and place of worship was up on top of the hill, and Veles kept down in the lowlands. Much like in Norse and Baltic mythologies, the world is represented as a giant oak tree. Perun ruling over the branches and the trunk, and Veles ruling over the underworld; i.e. the roots under the ground. The war between the two gods is largely because of Veles stealing the cattle, and sometimes the children and consort of Perun. There was a final battle between the two and Perun vanquished Veles in the end, banishing him to the watery underworld. In this, he cemented his place as supreme god and returned order to the chaos that had been caused by Veles. He then returned to the top of the World tree and proudly informed his opponent down in the roots: Ну, там твое место, там сабе будь! (Nu, tam tvoje mjesto, tam sabje bud’! “Well, there is your place, remain there!” This myth is cyclical, repeating each year and is representative of the wheel of the year. Veles comes up and brings winter, is defeated by Perun that brings about spring and summer. This is why Veles is honored during the winter solstice, known as Koliada. During Koliada, prayers and offerings are made to Veles in askance of his mercy and protection. People wore stylized bear masks in his honor. Veles is represented by the willow tree, and one way to send offering to him is to pour wine around the roots of a willow (this is apparently mirrored in modern day wedding customs in the slavic areas. The toast can't be made until wine is poured on the roots of a near by tree).


Rod

Rod is the god of the cosmos and the creator of the universe. There was nothing but chaos. The myth says he came to earth in a “golden egg” and once he created Lada, the goddess of love and fertility, the shell was broken and he was free. First he separated darkness from light by creating the sun, and then the moon. He created water and then land, which grew trees and animals sprung forth. Etc, etc. It's easy to see where that goes. All the other gods and goddesses were created by Rod after he divided the earth into three realms (heavens, earth, and the underworld). He represents a kind of monotheism in the polytheism of Slavic religion. Once he created all the other gods, and set the natural order of the universe running, he left. Since he created the universe out of himself, he is here in everything, although he is gone

Lada

Lada is the Slavic goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Rain and warmth are Lada's domain and she is represented by deer, cherry, lime, dandelion and peony. She is prayed to for beauty and for fertility of people and crops. Her realm of influence is overlapped by Vesna, the spring goddess, and it can be difficult to seperate their functions from each other. Lada is depicted as a young, beautiful woman, usually pregnant and full of vitality. She shares a place beside Mokosh, who is depicted as older and more crone-like. Her symbol is a white swan, to represent her purity. She lives in the underworld, Irij, with Veles until the spring equinox when she is released by Gerovit and goes forth to bring spring and fertility back to the frozen earth. She remains free until the end of summer, after which she returns to Irij for the winter. Ostara is the time to celebrate and make offerings to both of the spring goddesses. Traditionally a white rooster was sacrificed to Lada, or offerings were made of lovely flowers, honey or ripe berries.

Lada has a male counterpoint named Lado. Sometimes they are referred to as divine twins and other as a goddess and her son. As she was created by Rod first, I tend to think Goddess and child fits better. She is Svarog's wife and together they helped to create the world, once Rod left.

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The full moon through the trees. ._.jpg
 

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