Monthly Archives: July 2014

Ognjena Marija

In my post about stone circles on mountaing Devica, i mentioned the solar observatory called Bogovo Gumno. I would like to continue talking about this stone circle complex and explain why it is so significant.

The most important thing about Bogovo Gumno complex is not that it is a group of stone circles aligned with the summer solstice and used for determining the beginning of the solar calendar. Many other stone circles in Europe were built for the same purpose, although admittedly few are as big as Bogovo Gumno circles. The most important thing about Bogovo Gumno complex is that it gives us proof that a stone circle originally built as a solar observatory in an unknown distant past, was still recognized as a holy place and an astronomical observatory and was used as such by the local peasant population until the end of the 19th and the the beginning of the 20th century. 

Remember what I said about rondel enclosures

When you read about central European rondel enclosures, you are always told that

But, by contrast to the long lifetime of the “Megalithic” culture, the time window during which the neolithic ”Roundels” were in use is surprisingly narrow, lasting only for about 200–300 years (roughly 49th to 47th centuries BC).

How is this usage period determined? It seems that what people mistake as usage period is actually build period. But once the henge is built and aligned, further usage of the henge will leave no traces. To determine the day of the solstice all you need is to stand in the center or in any other predetermined cardinal point of the henge every morning and evening and note where the sun is rising and setting. Thus the henges could have been used as solar observatories thousands of years after they were built without any trace of usage being left behind. 

It is exactly the same with aligned solar stone circles or any other astronomically aligned structure. 

With Bogovo Gumno circles we now have a proof for the above theory of a long term continuous usage of aligned stone structures long after they were originally built.

We know that the stone circles on Bogovo Gumno had been maintained and used as a solar observatory until about 50 years ago. The shrubs and trees now growing on the outside of the wall of the circle are all younger than 50 years. There is a possibility that this was due to the presence of sheep flocks or cow herds in the area up until 50 years ago, which would eat the new offshoots and thus prevent their growth into shrubs and trees. But there is also another indicator that people new how to use this sun circle and did use it until very recently and which could indicate that the stone circles were deliberately kept clear by people because their function depended on maintenance of a clear and unobstructed view from the center of the circles.

The large main sun stone circle contains an anthropomorphic baba, solar cross.

Originally it was thought that the cross marked the center of the circle. But the closer examination showed that the cross stands 15 meters off the center. The stone has an engraving on it which reads “For the glory of Ognjena Marija (Fiery Mary) for the health of people, bountiful harvests and multiplying and health of cattle, this cross erects Rosa with her sons”. The local villagers from the nearest village of Scrobnica told the investigators that Rosa was a very smart and respected woman, so much so that her descendants are still in the area known as Rosići, meaning the descendants of Rosa, even though they have another patrilinear surname. This is extremely rare in Serbia. Rosa was famous for her knowledge of traditional medicine and medicinal herbs. She erected the cross after her house compound caught fire which was successfully extinguished without loss of life. Local people consider the whole complex but particularly the cross dedicated to Ognjena Marija a holy place and regularly visit it and bring offerings to it.

In Slavic mythology, Ognjena Marija or the “Fiery Mary” is considered to be the sister of St Ilija, the thundering sun and (or) wife of the thunder god Perun. She is also known as Perunika, Perena, Ljeljuja, Leluja, Ljelja, Gorka, Veronika. Later, under Christianity, her importance was degraded and she was regarded as an evil goddess, described as an evil and ugly woman named Irudika (who was in turn a daughter of Poganica).
She was the goddess of lightning, weddings, motherhood, and protector of marriage and justice on earth. Perunika wears a rainbow as her belt. In some parts of Croatian people still call rainbow “the mother of god” reffering to Ognjena Marija. Onjena Marija, Perunika uses a heavy sledge hammer to punish people, and controls lightning. Gromovnik (God of Thunder) Perun, helped by his wife Perunika Ognjena Marija, ”loads” the thunderbolts and shoots them at thieves, liars, and immoral people in general.

In Serbo Croatian flower Iris is also called Perunika, Ljeljuja, Leluja, Ljelja, Sabljarka, Bogiša (bogiša, this name originates from the region around Dubrovnik town, southern Croatia and means God’s flower). 

The flower is dedicated to the goddess Perunika. According to a legend, this flower grows at the place where Perun’s spark, lightning, hits the fertile soil. In the same way, a place hit by lightning was considered sacred and objects, like a stone or tree, from such a place were consecrated. This represents a divine sexual act: Perun, the thunder giant, penetrates the earth with his penis (lightning),  inseminating the earth with heavenly semen, rain. In Serbian Perunika could mean the place where the seed of perun sprouted. Perunika = Perun + nika = Perun + sprouted.

Considering that Perunika, Ognjena Marija, is directly linked with fertility of the land, it sounds logical that Perun’s female companion punishes immoral and dishonest women by the ”white plague” (sterility).

In Medjimurje (northern Croatia), one greeting used on the feast day of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) mentions God with lelulja (ljeljuja), i.e. perunika, in his hand. This is the most probable origin of the alternative Perunika’s name Ljelja. But also this could indicate that the true meaning of Perunika is actually lightning, electricity, the spark of life. Perun holding Perunika is Shiva holding Trishula, Lightning.

This Russian “Christian” icon depicts Ognjena Marija or the “Fiery Mary” surrounded with fiery wheels of Perun, inside the burning flame.

The fiery wheels of Perun are actually burning sun wheels of Svetovid, the sun god. In South Slavic folk tradition the day of Perun is the 2nd of August, the Crom Dubh day in Ireland. But this day is also the day of St Ilija the Thunderer. St Ilija the Thunderer is Ilios, the thundering sun, the sun at its hottest, the sun that burns with its fiery eye. In Serbian tradition the rolling thunders which can be heard around the 2nd of August are said to be made by the fiery wheels of St Ilia’s chariots thundering over the tops of the clouds, and the lightning that is seen flashing in the clouds are the sparks created by those same fiery chariot wheels.

Serbian folk tradition says that if it wasn’t for Ognjena Marija, St Ilija, Perun, Thundering fiery sun would burn the whole world. The the period three days before and the three days after the 2nd of August, the day of the thundering sun, is in South Slavic tradition called Kresovi meaning Fires. These are the dog days, the days of the burning heat when the dog star Sirius is in the sky with the sun. This is also the Irish Domhnach Crom Dubh, the week of Crom Dubh.

In Serbian folk mythology, Ognjena Marija has been transformed into two female christian characters: St Marina, known also as St Margaret and St Mary Magdalene.

30th of July. St Marina, St Margaret, Ognjena Marija
2nd of August. St Ilija the thunderer
4th of August. St Marija Magdalena, Blaga (kind, benign, mild, gentle) Marija

You can see that Serbian tradition Kresovi, the week of fire, starts with the fiery Marija and Ends with kind, benign, mild, gentle Marija. In the Irish tradition, Domhnach Crom Dubh used to start on the 31 of July, but now starts on the last Sunday in July. The 2nd of August, Perun day, Crom Dubh day, the day of Ilios the thundering sun, is actually the hottest day of the year in the Balkans. All summer the sun has been burning in the sky. This is the time of wild fires and drought. Everyone is praying for the first big thunderstorms to arrive and save the land from being burnt to cinder. And this is what Ognjena Marija delivers. In Serbia there is a saying: “Od svetog Ilije sunce sve milije” which means “From St Ilija the sun starts getting kinder, milder, gentler”. The first part of the 2nd of August is considered summer and the second is considered to be Autumn. And this is what the transformation of Marija from Ognjena (Fiery) to Blaga (kind, benign, mild, gentle) represents, The end of summer and beginning of autumn.

So back to our Bogovo gumno sun circle on mountain Devica and the anthropomorphic cross erected inside of it by a local medicine woman Rosa. Our good old Rosa erected the cross to thank Ognjena Marija, the tamer of fire, for saving her and her family from fire. But why was the cross erected inside the sun circle on Bogovo gumno?

Being the solar observatory designed to determine, mark, the summer solstice, the big stone circle in Bogovo Gumno was also dedicated to the Sun, also known as Višnji bog (the high god). In Serbian tradition, Sun, the “Višnji Bog”, the High God, is perceived as a living being, which is born every year in the winter. He then grows into a young man Jarilo on the 6th of May the day of the strongest vegetative, reproductive power of the sun. This day marks the beginning of the heating of the world. Then he becomes the powerful ruler Vid at the summer solstice, 21st of June the longest day of the year. He then becomes the terrible warrior Perun on the 2nd of August the hottest day of the year. This day marks the beginning of the cooling of the world. 

Summer solstice, the day of Svetovid is exactly in the middle of the summer period marked by the day of Jarilo and the day of Perun. Jarilo (heat, fire), Svetovid (light, sun) and Perun (lightning, electricity, energy) are together forming Triglav, Dabog, Hromi Daba the main god of the Serbs. They are also forming Triglav, Crom Dubh, the main god of the Irish. The Thundering Burning Sun, Ilios, Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba, Grom Div is Three in one, Trinity, Trimurti, Agni. He is three in one, as he contains the heat of Jarilo, the light of Svetovid and he adds thunder and lightning. He is the sun at its most powerful and terrifying, the sun that contains the cumulative power of the whole summer. 

Being the wife of Perun, Fiery Sun Ilios, Ognjena Marija is also the wife of the three headed Sun, Dabog, Triglav, Trimurti Agni. So placing her cross inside the Sun circle is very appropriate. What is amazing is that Rosa new the meaning, the importance and the intended use of the Bogovo Gumno sun circle. She didn’t pick the place where she erected the cross within the circle randomly. The cross was erected in such a place and oriented in such a way that when you look directly over it towards the sun circle, you see the point where sun rises on the day of Ognjena Marija, the Fiery Marija, the Wife of the Thundering Fiery Sun, Hromi Daba, Crom Dubh, Grom Div. The Cross marks the day of the beginning of the Kresovi, the fire week, Domhnach Crom Dubh, Lughnasadh.

Now let us have a look at these two Marys who stand on each side of St Ilija.

If we have a look at the hagiography of St Marina also known as St Margaret, who is in Serbia known as Ognjena Marija, the burning, firy Mary, we see some very strange things indeed. According to the version of the story in Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch, and she was the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. In some sources the name of her father is Theodosius. When she was 15, Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her but with the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal she was cruelly tortured. During her torture various miraculous incidents occurred.

One of them is that while she was praying “then appeared a horrible dragon and assailed her, and would have devoured her, but she made the sign of the cross, and anon he vanished away. And in another place it is said that he swallowed her into his belly, she making the sign of the cross. And the belly brake asunder, and so she issued out all whole and sound.” This links St Marina aka as St Margaret to the dragon, the fire breathing beast. The dragon is no other but the Devil himself. “The Devil, having seen how Olybrius could not force St Marina to prostrate herself before the false gods, came to her cell in a shape of black dragon, wanting to scare her. But she was fearless and she grabbed him by his horns and beat him with a hammer and defeated him completely”.

St Marina aka St Margaret uses a hammer, which is with axe, the weapon of Slavic and Germanic thunder gods to defeat a dragon. This makes St Marina aka St Margaret, just a thinly disguised Ognjena Marija, Perunika, the thundering fiery goddess, the wife of a thunder god Perun. Perun defeats Veles who is the dragon.

St Marina (Margaret) is depicted with a red fiery veil to emphasize her true identity: Ognjena Marija, Fiery Mary.

Another miracle occurred when her captors “having beaten her fiercely, fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents”. But all along she prayed to god. And the Archangel came and healed all her wounds and told her that she will have place in heaven. This is a very interesting story because it too connects St Marina aka St Margaret to a thunder god, but this time to Shiva whose weapon is Trident, Trishula. In my post about Triglav, you could read that in the old Serbian religion, Triglav consisted of Vishnji (Svetovid, Sun), Branjanj (Svarog, fire) and Siva Živa (Perun, thunder and lightning). And St Marina aka St Margaret, for whom Serbian tradition says that she is Ognjena Marija, Perunika, the wife of Perun, was tortured using weapon of Shiva, Živa who is according to Serbian tradition part of Serbian Triglav and the equivalent of Perun. This is the picture of Shiva with his trident, trishula.

The Angel who comes to heal the wounds of St Marina aka St Margaret, and to promise her a place in heaven, is no other than Archangel Michael, the angel who brandishes a flaming sword, who stands between Heaven and Earth. He is also the dragon slayer just like Perun, and he is the one who controls the rain, fire, thunder, lightning and who punished the wrong-doers exactly like Perun does. Remember that in Medjimurje (northern Croatia), one greeting used on the feast day of St. Stephen (Dec. 26) mentions God with lelulja (ljeljuja), i.e. Perunika, Ognjena Marija in his hand. Also remember that one of the names of Perunika is “sablja” meaning curved sword. Is this a description of Perun, Lightning head of Triglav, and his flaming sword? This is the picture of Archangel Michael killing the dragon.


So St Marina aka St Margaret aka Ognjena Marija, aka Perunika the sister of Thundering Sun Ilios and the wife of Thunder god Perun was protected by Archangel Michael who looks very much like Thundering Sun Ilios, Perun. They are both dragon slayers, they both stand between heaven and earth and they both contoll the rain and thunder.

I will have to dedicate a whole separate post to Archangel Michael as I believe that finding out the true identity of Archangel Michael is a key to finding out the identity of God our Lord.

The name of St Marina aka St Margaret is also very interesting. We don’t know what the actual meaning of the name is. Let me propose this etymology.

In Serbian the word “gori” means burns, “goret(i)” means to burn, “goreća” means “burning (feminine)”. Margareta = Mar + goret(ja) = Marija + Goreća = Mary + Burning = Ognjena Marija, Fiery, Burning Mary of Serbian Tradition. This is astonishing. The confirmation that this is indeed true etymology of the name Margaret we find in the German version of the name: Annegret. It is said that it comes from short form of Johanna Margareta. But it could also have this etymology: Annegret = Ann + e + gret = Ona + je + goret(ja) = She + is + burning = Ognjena Marija. The version of the name Greta comes from goret(ja) which literally means “she who is burning”. Is this just a coincidence?

So Ognjena Marija stands on the 30th of July, before Ilios, the thundering fiery sun, stopping him from burning the world to ashes. And she does every year. On the 2nd of August every year the summer ends and autumn begins. The dragon is defeated, the sky opens and the waters of heaven are released on the barren burned earth making it moist and fertile again. The marriage of heaven and earth takes place and at the end of Kresovi, the week of Fire, on the 4th of August, St Marina aka St Margaret aka Ognjena Marija, aka Perunika becomes St Mary Magdalen, Blaga Marija, kind, benign, mild, gentle Marija, the wife of Perun, the wife of the Thundering Sun Ilios. I love that the name of the woman who erected the votive cross in Bogovo Gumno dedicated to Ognjena Marija was Rosa which means dew but also light rain in Serbian. Light rain and dew really do look like tear drops. How appropriate. People who are trying to decode the longest inscription dedicated to Lug, the Galic equivalent of Perun might be intereseted in word “orositi” meaning to sprinkle with water, to irrigate, to water .. 🙂

The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is the name given to a papyrus fragment with writing in Coptic that includes the words, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife…'”. The text on the fragment is alleged to be a fourth-century Coptic translation of what is said to be “a gospel probably written in Greek in the second half of the second century.” So based on this gospel, Jesus was married. To whom?

Mary Magdalen is famous for being a disciple (sister) of Christ the Son (Sun). But also she is famous for washing Christs feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The gospel of Luke 7:36-50 says:

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

In villages of Serbia, up until mid 20th century, there was still a wedding custom which required the bride, deva, devojka, devica to wash the grooms feat. In the morning she had to bake a bread to prove that she is able to produce food and feed her children.

Marija Magdalena washes the feat of the Son the Lord with her tears. Remember the Grom Div, the thunder giant, the giant with a sun as a head and lightning as his weapon, flaming sword or spear? Where would his feet be? On earth. Ognjena Marija, Perunika is said to calm the heat of the Sun, the fury of the Sun the Lord. Perun kills the dragon and releases the waters of heaven, rain on earth and brings moisture and fertility to earth. 

As we go from the 30th of July to the 4th of August, we see the transformation of Marija. Marija was transformed from Ognjena Marija, Burning Marija, Marija who burns the land to Blaga Marija, Kind Marija, Marija who rains her tears on earth, on the feet of Thundering Sun, Thunder Giant, Grom Div. She is the wife of the Sun the Lord. 

But during that time Marija was also transformed from Virgin St Marina aka St Margaret to Harlot St Mary Magdalene. Desire is said to be “burning” and it is burning the most in the bodies of Virgins. In Serbian slang someone who did not have sex for a long time or ever is said to be “zagoreo” meaning to be burnt. It is the spilling of bodily waters that extinguishes this fire.

During the first night, Deva, Devica, (Virgin, Girl) is transformed into Žena (Wife, Woman the giver of Life). What Deva (Virgin, Girl) gives to her Muž (Husband but also Farmer) is her Virginity. In the four Gospels, Mary Magdalene is nearly always distinguished from other women named Mary by adding “the Magdalene” (ἡ Μαγδαληνή) to her name. This has been interpreted to mean “the woman from Magdala”, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Luke 8:2 says that she was actually “called Magdalene”. But what if Magdalene comes from Mu + Ga + Dala + Ona = Him + It (Virginity) + Gave + Her = The one who gave her virginity to him, The one who is not a virgin any more, a woman, mother, but also a whore, a harlote, as you can not become a mother without engaging in a sexual act, human or divine. We still say that a girl “gave herself to a man”. Ognjena Marija, Perunika gives herself to Perun, Ilios, she marries Perun, Ilios, the thundering Sun and becomes Blaga marija. Margaret the virgin becomes Mary the woman “Magdalen”. In Serbian bride is called “nevesta”. The word nevesta comes from ne + ve + šta = not + knows + anything = the inocent, the virgin. On her wedding night she gets to “know” her husband, she becomes the one who knows, the one who “ve + šta”, wife.  And one of the main duties of a wife is to tend to the fire hearth, the center of the household. Is this where  Vesta, the goddess of the hearth comes from? In Serbian word vešt means skillful, full of knowledge and words veštac and veštica mean warlock and witch. Vestal Virgins were specially trained to be skilled in sacred art of fire tending. Is this all also just a coincidence?

In the end I would like to look at the name of the mountain Devica.

In Slavic mythology, Ognjena Marija or the “Fiery Mary” is a goddess who assists, the thunder God Perun. She is the wife (and) or sister of the thunder god Perun. If we know that in Serbian tradition Perun is also Shiva, Živa, then Ognjena Marija, Perunika is Shakti

Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism. She most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Mahadevi or Parvati. The rural people in India believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village. So exactly like Ognjena Marija, Perunika in Serbian mythology who punishes the evil people and who gives welfare to the people. The inscription on the votive cross from Bogovo Bumno says: “For the glory of Ognjena Marija (Fiery Mary) for the health of people, bountiful harvests and multiplying and health of cattle…”.

The origin of Shakti is goddess Shachi. In Hinduism (specifically, early Vedic accounts), Shachi also known as Indrani (queen of Indra), is the goddess of wrath. She is associated with lions. She has a significance in Vedic lietrature in developing the idea of Shakti which denotes power, the feminine personified might, as described in later Hindu mythology. She gave origin to the concept that female consort, whether she s parvati or kali. She is the role model for all the goddesses in later period. Its is said that unlike other goddesses, she possess an independent character of her own. Unlike most of the goddess wives who are known by their husbands name like Rudrani, Varuni (wife of Varun), Saranya (wife of Sun), Indra is probably the only god who is known to be named after his wife’s name, hence he was often referred as Shachipati – meaning master of shakti/power, or ShachiVat (possessor of Shachi). Indra controls, uses, wields Indrani. In the earlier Vedic accounts, Shachi was depicted as a female shadow of Indra.She is basically his feminine essence, the source of his power, in the same way Shakti is feminine essence and the source of power of Shiva. In the same way Perunika is probably the feminine essence and the source of power of Perun. This fits perfectly with the description of the role of Peruinka as being in the hand of god as his weapon, lightning, flaming sword, flaming spear, flaming trident, vayra. And here is Indrani sitting on a lion, under the tree of life with a child. 

Goddess Shakti, the consort of the thunder god Shiva, Živa, has an incarnation called Durga. She is the terrible war goddess, the goddess of wrath as well. And she too is sitting on a lion.

Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Adi – Parashakti, the Great Goddess, Devi herself. She is the goddess of victory of good over evil, exactly like Perunika. She has many weapons and all of them are weapons found used by Thunder gods: trident, scimitar, mace, bow and arrow, spear, sword (longsword), battle-axe, thunderbolt, snake, rod, spade, vajra, hammer weapon, iron weapon, weapon made out of thorns, javelin, dagger. But the two that is wielding most often are trident (vajra) and long blade curved sword. In Serbo Croatian the word for rainbow is “duga”. In some parts of Croatia people call rainbow “Bogorodica” meaning the “mother of god”. Remember that Indrani was the devine mother but also the power of Indra. The name of the mother of God is Marija. So rainbow is Ognjena Marija. Serbian tradition says that Ognjena Marija, Perunika helps Perun to shoot his lightning arrows. In Vedic tradition rainbow was known as “the bow of Indra“. Was the original name of Durga “Duga” meaning rainbow?

Goddess Durga, in her benevolent form is known as Parvati, the consort of Shiva, Živa. Parvati Parvati is considered to be a complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, with all other Goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu just like of Ognjena Marija who is the sister of Ilios who is Triglav and therefore Vishnu as well.

Shakti – Durga – Parvati is said to be the source of all the powers and weapons. It is believed that without her, Shiva is Shava or Corpse, for she is the ultimate source of power for all beings, gods and Devas. Remamber that Indrani, the original power goddess was the same. Without her Indra would have no power. So Shakti – Durga – Parvati-Indrani is truly Živa, meaning the alive one in Serbian, the one that gives life and is really Jiva. Indian mythology even says that she is most powerful of all gods. When her anger reaches its peak, she can destroy the whole universe in just seconds. Even Trinity, Trimurty i.e. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, never try to make her angry at any cost. 

The Durga and Parvati are Ognjena Marija and Blaga Marija. In Sanskrit Durga and Parvati are two opposite faces of the same goddess Shakti. In Serbian they even have the same name with opposite attributes, to indicate that it is one goddess with two faces. They stand on both sides of the thundering sun Ilios, Perun. And Perun day falls on the 2nd of August, the middle of the period when the sun is in the constellation of Leo. This is why Marija, Durga – Parvati – Shakti and Indrani all stand on a lion.

Leo.svg Leo The Lion July 23 to August 22 Fire Fixed

Look at these divine couples:

Indra – Indrani
Shiva – Shakti (Živa).
Perun – Perunika

These divine couples are all said to be inseparable. The male can not exist without a female who gives the power to the male. So much so that in the first century CE we find Ardhanarishvara a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati (also known as Devi, Shakti and Uma in this icon). Ardhanarishvara is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. The right half is usually the male Shiva, illustrating his traditional attributes. The earliest Ardhanarishvara images are dated to the Kushan period, starting from the first century CE. 

If we think of Earth as female and Sky as male, then lightning would not exist without both Earth and Sky. Life would not exist without both Earth and Sky, without mother and father. This is why the river of life flows from Ardhanarishvara, from the place of connection of Shiva and Shakti. Ardhanarishvara stands at the root of the tree of life because only the union of Male and Female, Sky and Earth produces life.

It is very interesting that in Serbian tradition, Triglav consists of Vishnji, Branjanj and S(h)iva Živa. Does Siva Živa mean Shiva Shakti?

And why is Ardhanarishvara standing between the bull and the lion? Because bull and lion are the beginning and the end of the main vegetative season, Summer.

Taurus Taurus 21 April – 21 May

Leo Leo 23 July – 22 August

In Serbian tradition, Sun, the “Višnji Bog”, the High God, the Creator, is perceived as a living being, which is born every year in the winter. He then grows into a young man Jarilo on the 6th of May the day of the strongest vegetative, reproductive power of the sun, the beginning of the Summer, the middle of Taurus, the bull. Then he becomes a fully grown man, the powerful ruler Vid at the summer solstice, 21st of June the longest day of the year. He then becomes the terrible old warrior Perun on the 2nd of August the hottest day of the year, The end of the Summer, the middle of Leo, the lion.

All the above religious system is related to vegetative agricultural cycle. It is extremely important to farmers in continental Europe, but it is almost irrelevant to the steppe nomads, and it is completely wrong in Indian climate which is governed by a monsoon. The hottest month for the western and southern regions of India is April; for most of North India, it is May. So where did this religious system originate? I would suggest Europe. I believe that Vedic Solar Religion was brought to India by farmers from Europe, not by Steppe nomads from central Asia. But that is another story for another time….

So lets go back to the name of mountain Devica.

In Serbian word “deva”, “devica” means Girl, virgin. Deva, Devica Marija is Virgin Mary. Mountain Devica is believed to have been named after Deva Marija, Virgin Mary. But did mountain Devica get its name after Devi Ognjena Marija, Goddess Fiery Marija, Perunika, Shakti (Živa), Indrana, the Great Goddess Devi? Is mountain Devica ancient religious complex dedicated to the Great Goddess, Devi, and if so when was it established and by whom? We might never find this out. But we know that local Serbian people still use this ancient religious complex to celebrate the Great Goddess even today under the name of Ognjena Marija, Perunika. 

This posts answered few questions but opened up so many new ones. Looking for answers  was and still is a lot of fun.

Triglav , Trojan, Trinity, Trimurti, Agni

The book of Veles has this riddle:

Jer tajna je velika, kako to Svarog biva u isto vreme i Perun i Svetovid.

Translated into English it means: 

Because it is a great secret how come Svarog (hevenly and earthly fire) is at the same time Perun (thunder) and Svetovid (Sun).

The answer to this riddle is Triglav (three headed), trojan (triple), Hromi daba, Crom Dubh – Lugh, Grom Div, The Thunder Giant, The Sky Father. 


According to Branibor (now Brandenburg ) chronicles written in 1136 ad, the ruler of the area, Prince Pribislav destroyed a statue of Triglav after he was baptized. This statue of Triglav has previously been highly respected. No detailed description of the statue survived, and there is no description of rituals related to the veneration of this Statue. The only information that the chronicle gives us is that the God had three heads.

In the biographies of the Bishop Otto fon Bramburg, who converted Western Slavs (Sorbs) in the South Baltic, in Pomerania we can find more information about the god Triglav (Dabog, Hromi Daba). All three biographers ( Ebo , Herbord and an unnamed monk from the monastery of Priflinger ) have witnessed the existence of a three-headed idol in Volyn and Šćećin. Ebo said that the city of Volin is situated on the slopes of three hills, and that it has a temple dedicated to a deity with three heads, which was called God Triglav („…deo Triglavo dicitus, tricapitum habebat…“). According to Ebo, Triglav is the highest Slavic God ( ” summus Deus ” ), the ruler of the three worlds (heaven , earth and the underworld). The statue was made of wood, that it’s three heads were encrusted in silver, and that it’s heads were covered with the “tiara” or some kind of a hat made of gold, which covered the idol’s eyes.

In the town of Stettin were three hills, the central one being dedicated to Triglav, the chief local deity. This idol was of gold and had three heads, while its eyes and lips were covered with a golden veil. The pagan priests declared that Triglav (“Three-Heads”) was tricephalous because he wished to make it known that he ruled over three realms, i. e., heaven, earth, and the underworld; and he covered his face because he would not see the sins of men. The temple of Triglav was built with wonderful skill. On the inner and outer sides of the walls were various embossed figures of men, birds, and animals, so well made that they seemed to live and breathe. Their colour was always fresh and durable, and could be damaged neither by rain nor by snow. According to the custom of the ancestors one tenth of all booty was stored in the treasury of the temple, and there was, moreover, an abundance of gold and silver vessels used by the chieftains on festive occasions, as well as daggers, knives, and other rare, costly, and beautiful objects. In honour of and in homage to the gods colossal horns of wild bulls, gilded and adorned with precious stones, were kept there, some serving for drinking vessels, and some for musical instruments.

Otto von Bamberg destroyed the idols, by chopping the heads off with an axe. He then sent the three silver coated heads to the pope Calixto II in Rome, as evidence that his mission of converting Polabian Slavs (Sorbs) was successful.  In Szczecin Bishop Otto fon Bamberg did manage to destroy the temple dedicated to Triglav, but the priests removed the statue of God which was entirely made of gold and managed to hide it in a hollow tree near the city. It is said that the Bishop did not manage to find this statue. 

Same authors ( Ebo , Herbord and monk from Priflinger) tell us that the animal dedicated to god Triglav was a black horse , which was used for divination. Triglav was also associated with spear and sword and was considered to be one of Slavic war gods. Some reports say that Triglav had three goats heads.

Among thousands of Serbian folk songs and ceremonial prayer songs collected by ethnologists during 19th century, we find many which talk about Triglav. The description of god Triglav from Serbian folk tradition corresponds closely to references to Triglav which we find in the Book of Veles. They both identify Triglav as main deity and the oldest deity that there is. 

From the book: “Триглав у старим српским народним песмама и молитвама“:

… Ti junaci mladi hrabri,
Velji vojni Triglavovi,
Triglavovi silna Boga,
Silna Boga najvećega,
Boga stara Pra Pra Boga…

Translated into English this means:

…Those heroes young and brave
great solders of Triglav
Triglav, the mighty god
Triglav the greatest god
Triglav the “pra pra” (oldest) god…

Book of Veles:

…Molimo se i klanjamo se prvom Triglavu i njemu veliku slavu pojemo…To je suština Triglava jer svi od njega potiču i njemu se opet vraćaju… 

Translated into English this means:

We are praying to and we are bowing in front the first Triglav and we are singing great praises to him…This is the essence of Triglav, because all there is comes from him and all to him returns…

The following excerpts are from the book called “Pesme i obicaji ukupnog naroda srpskog” meaning Songs and Customs of all Serbian people. This is a collection of ceremonial songs collected throughout the Balkans in the 19th century by ethnographer M.S.Milojevic. Serbian folk tradition tells us that Triglav is the ruler of all space and all time. He is the god of three worlds: the sky , the earth and the underworld.  

…Sa njegove tri velike glave,
Sa tri glave velikim Triglavom,
Što mi drma svetom tim prebelim,
Na sve strane i ta sva vremena…

Translated into English this means:

…With his great three heads
With three heads the great Triglav
shakes (rules) this white world
In all directions and in all times…

This next song tells us that Triglav is also the god of the past the present and future. 

…Silen bora Triglavomu,
Što mi sedit, ni zboruva,
Dlgo mnogo što minuva,
Dlgo mnogo što ća bidne,
Dlgo mnogo što živue,
De im imat do tri sili,
Prva sila na nebesa,
Druga sila na pod zemje,
A treća mi na ta zemja…

Translated into English this means:

Mighty god Triglav
Who decides
What happened
What will happen
what is happening
And who has three forces
First in the sky
Second under the ground
And third on the ground…

Serbian folk tradition tells us that Triglav is the holy trinity. This means that for Serbs, Triglav is “the holy god, father, son and holy spirit”. 

This next song, talks about the passing of the flower wreath, from St George (Yarilo, 6th of May, young sun, beginning of summer), to St John (21 of Jun, the summer solstice, middle of summer), to St peter (July), to Triglav (2nd of August, end of summer). The flower wreath represents the sun during spring and summer months. Triglav here is actually St Elijah. His feast day (2nd of August) falls at the end of Summer when sun’s heat is at its maximum. St Elijah is known i Serbia as Sveti Ilija (Sveti can mean saint but also shining) the thunderer, which shows that in Serbian tradition the Sun is associated with the thunde. St Elijah is actually Svetli Ilios, Shining Thundering Sun, Perun and his day is 2nd of August, Crom dubh – Lugh day, Perun day.

…Ivanjsko cveće petranjsko,
Petrovsko cveće ivanjsko!
Ivan ga bere te bere.
Petar ga plete te plete.
Daje ga silnu Triglavu,
Triglavu svetoj trojici…

Translated into English this means:

St John’s flowers to St Petar’s flowers
St John picks the flowers
St Petar makes wreath from them
And gives the wreath to mighty Triglav
Triglav the holy trinity…

This is another song which refers to Triglav as the holy trinity:

…Ko prevari svoga druga,
Svoga druga pobratima 
Satreo ga silni Ljelju:
Svojim ocem strašnim Bogom.
Strašnim Bogom Triglav Bogom, 
Triglavom svetom Trojicom…

Translated into English this means:

…Who betrays a friend
A friend or a blood brother
May mighty Ljelju (Perun) destroy him
With his father terible god
Terible god Triglav
Triglav the holy trinity…

This next song tells us that Triglav is the Creator, the Protector and the Destroyer of everything that there was, there is and that there will be:

…Naš gospodar Trigljav velji, 
Naš Stvoritelj i Držitelj 
I veliki Umoritelj…

Translated into English this means:

…Our lord Triglav the great
Our creator, our protector (upholder, maintainer) 
and our great destroyer…

And this song tells us that Triglav is the highest god, the greatest god and that he is the three headed trinity, at the same time the Creator, the Protector and the Destroyer: 

…Veliča smo Višnjega!
Previšnjega i jasnjega! 
Triglav Boga najvećeg. 
Svetu Trojcu najjasnu. 
Stvoriteljicu najjaču. 
Održateljicu najkrepku. 
Rušiteljicu najstrašnu….

Translated into English this means:

…We celebrated Višnjega (The high god, the sky god)
The highest and the brightest
God Triglav the greatest
Holy trinity the shiniest
Creator, the strongest
protector (upholder, maintainer), the most robust
Destroyer, the most terrible…

This next ceremonial song (prayer) actually identifies, gives names to the three faces of Triglav:

…Da nam stoka bude zdrava
Ta goveda i te ovce
Ti jarići i jaganjci.
Doratasti velji konji
Što no nose te junake
Mile borce Triglav bora5
Triglav bora te Troice
Višnjeg boga Stvoritelja
Jakog Žive rušitelja
I Branjanja Branitelja…

Translated into English this means:

…May our cattle be healthy
All the cows and all the sheep
All the kids and all the lambs
All the great big horses
Which carry our heroes
Dear solders of the god Triglav
god Triglav the holy trinity
Vishnji god, the creator
Strong Živa the destrojer

and Branjanj the protector…

In Indian mythology, Trimurti consists of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. In Serbian mythology, Triglav consists of Višnji, Živa, Branjanj.

In Serbian the meanings of the names of the holy trinity (Trimurti, Triglav) members (Višnji, Živa, Branjanj) actually correspond to their role in Serbian Trinity:

Vishnji (meaning “one who is up high”, from vis “high”), the sun.
Branjanj (meaning the protector, supporter, from bran “protection”, braniti “to protect”), the fire.
Živa (meaning alive, living from Živ “alive, life”), the giver and taker of life.

Serbian folk tradition also tells us that Triglav lives in India and that India was the home of the Serbs, which Serbs had to leave because of a huge political or religious upheaval of some kind, probably a religious civil war which plunged India into chaos. 

How old is this folk memory? What time and what migration from India to Europe does it describe? We don’t know for sure. The racial memory these folk songs preserve could either be the memory of the original migration of the “Indo Europeans” to Europe, or the Skythian migration to Europe or any other one in between. Either way they are thousands of years old. Could they be older than the 4th century bc? Why 4th century bc? Because in the 4th century bc Alexander Karan (later known as Alexander the great), said in one of his speeches that he was going to India, to reconquer the land of his forefathers. So he was aware of the story of the exodus from India. The fact that Serbs have preserved, in their folk tradition, the memory of the migration from India through all these millenniums, is astounding, and another proof that culture and language are a lot more resistant then most people think. The fact that some of the songs recorded by ethnographers are actually prayers to Triglav, is even more amazing. This means that Serbs have managed to preserve the actual Agni (Triglav) cult for thousands of years outside of India. 

Here is one of the folk songs which tells the story about the Serbian exodus from India. The song is called “The saints are dividing the treasure” and in it Ognjena Marija (Fiery Mary) sister of St Petar, St Nicolas, St John, St Ilia and St Pantelija tells her brothers why she is crying:

Al’ govori Blažena Marija:

A moj brate, Gromovnik Ilija!

Kako ne ću suze proljevati,

Kad ja idem iz zemlje Inđije,

Iz Inđije iz zemlje proklete?

U Inđiji teško bezakonje:
Ne poštuje mlađi starijega,
Ne slušaju đeca roditelja;
Roditelji porod pogazili,
Crn im bio obraz na divanu
Pred samijem Bogom istinijem!
Kum svog kuma na sudove ćera,
I dovede lažljive svjedoke
I bez vjere i bez čiste duše,
I oglobi kuma vjenčanoga,
Vjenčanoga ili krštenoga;
A brat brata na mejdan zaziva;
Đever snasi o sramoti radi,
A brat sestru sestrom ne doziva.
Translated into English this means:
…And kind Mary (Holy Mary) replies:
O my brother, Thunder god Ilija
how can i not cry
when i am coming from country of India
from India the accursed country.
In India there is complete lawlessness:
young are not respecting the old,
children are not respecting parents,
they have black cheeks before the god of truth,
a godfather is betraying godson,
brother is fighting brother,
brother in law is sleeping with sister in law,
and brother does not call his sister a sister…
And here is another song, which is actual Christmas time ceremonial prayer song (Winter solstice, the birth of young sun). This is one of the songs collected by Vuk Stef. Karadžić. Srpske narodne pesme, Knjiga druga, u kojoj su pjesme junačke najstarije.

Siva Živa siva silna,

Siva silna golubice!

da kuda si putovala?

Odgovara Siva Živa

Siva silna golubica:

„Ja sam tamo putovala
U Inđiju našu zemlju.
Prolećela Hindušana
I tu Globu Tartariju
Crni Hinduš i Tartaru.
Letila sam Gospodaru
Našem silnom Triglav boru
Te gledala što nam čini
Što nam čini zapoveda.”
Što činjaše naš gospodar,
Naš gospodar Triglav velji,
Naš Stvoritelj i Držitelj
I veliki Umoritelj?
Odgovori Siva Živa
Bela silna golubica:
„Naš gospodar lepo čini
Trima kola u zučinje
I četvrto zlato meri.
Da pravimo zlatne čaše
Zlatne čaše i srebrne
Da molimo mladog Boga
I Božića Svarožića
Da nam dade svako dobro
Ponajveće dugi život.
Dugi život dobro zdravlje
I bogatstvo što ga nosi.
Božić poje po svu zemlju
Ne boji se Hindušana
Niti crnog Tatarana
Ni goleme te pustare
A proklete Globe crne
Globe crne Tartarije,
I te gadne Mandžurije.
Slava mu je do nebesa,
Do prestola Triglav Boga.
Brada mu je do pojasa,
Do pojasa sredi zemlje
Srpske zemlje Raške svetle.
Da se rode muška deca
Ljuti vojni Davorovi
Davorovi i Jarila
Translated into English this means:
…gray Živa, mighty gray,
mighty gray dove!
where did you travel?
and gray Živa, mighty gray dove, answers:
“I traveled all the way
To India our country.
I flew over Hindustan
And over Tatarstan
Black Hindus and Tatarus.
I flew to our Master
Our mighty God Triglav
And I watched what he was doing
What he was doing and ordering.”
What did our lord do
Our master Great Triglav,
Our Creator and Maintainer
And Great Destroyer?
Replies gray Živa, 
White mighty dove: 
“Our Lord is doing good…
He is weighing gold
for us to make the gold cups
Gold and silver cups
So we can pray to the young God
Young God Svarožić (Winter solstice sun, baby sun, Dabog, the Giving god)
To give us everything good
Most of all long life.
Long life good health
And wealth that God Dabog carries with him.
Young god Svarožić (Dabog) sings in all the land
He is not afraid of Hindustan
Neither is he afraid of black Tataria
Nor the immense wasteland
A bloody black Globa
black Globa Tataria (I don’t know what Globa means, but it could be Gobi desert),
And that nasty Manchuria.
His Glory (Dabog’s) rises to the skies,
All the way to the throne of God Triglav.
His beard is down to his waist,
To his waist which is in the center of the land
The Serbian bright land of Ras.
May it (Serbia, Ras) give birth to male children
Great solders of Davor
Of Davor (God of War) and of Yarilo (God o youth and war)…
It is incredible to think that Serbs managed to preserve the memory of their life in India and the belief in Triglav, Trimurti and to preserve its worship in the middle of Europe until 20th century. 

There were some subtle differences though between Indian Trimurti and Serbian Triglav. In Indian mythology, Brahma is the creator whereas that role in Serbian Triglav is played by Vishnji bog (Vishnu). Both Shiva and Živa seemed to have the same role in both Trinities. 

I decided to go and investigate the whole thing more. Why was there a difference? Who got it right and who got it wrong? And who brought Crom Dubh – Lugh, the three headed god to Ireland? I will talk about this in one of my next posts.

Spreg, Spreag

In Irish there is a word spreag meaning to “arouse, inspire; prompt, encourage” but also to to “rebuke, reprove“.  This is what you find in Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla for word spreag:

spreag, v.t. (pp. ~tha). 1. Urge, incite; arouse, inspire; prompt, encourage. Duine a ~adh le rud a dhéanamh, to inspire s.o. to do sth. An pobal a ~adh, to rouse the people. ~ sé na fir, he encouraged the men. D’intinn a ~adh, to stimulate one’s mind. An chuimhne a ~adh, to jog the memory. ~ smaoineamh mé, a thought occurred to me. ~ sé mé (go), it occurred to me (that). Ba é Dia a ~ thú, God inspired you. Cad é a ~ iad le sin a dhéanamh? What prompted them to do that? Mianta a ~adh, to excite passions. ~ an tsaint iad, greed drove them on. ~ an Diabhal é, the Devil tempted him. Ná ~ é, don’t provoke him. Ní bhfuair mé le ~adh é, I couldn’t prevail on him. Ceol a ~adh, to inspire music; to play, sing, with spirit. Ag ~adh na dtéad, twanging the strings. Ag ~adh Béarla, rattling away in English. 2. Lit: Rebuke, reprove. An peacach a ~adh, to admonish the sinner. Ag ~adh a choireanna dó, reproaching him for his transgressions.

McBain’s etymological dictionary doesn’t mention word spreag but it has this to say about word spreig

spreig, blame, reprove, incite, Irish spreagaim; founded on Middle English spraechen, now speak, German sprechen.

Spreach – a herd of cattle stolen and driven off in a raid, especially by Highlanders from Lowlanders. 

Spreag – Very uncommon Irish surname. Potentially of Old Norse origin, and is one of the variant forms of the more familiar surname Spragg.

In Welsh “sbragu” can mean to push someone forward. “Sbardino” means the same, sbardyn meaning spur, as in horses spur. viz. to accelarate. Spurt in English may come from the same source possibly. “Spragu” can also mean putting a spoke in someone’s wheels. viz. to spoil their plans. Spragging a wheel is an old mining term, used underground band on surface tramroads. It involved putting an iron bar, wooden pole in between the spokes of a wheel to act as a brake.

So we again have both opposite meanings present in the same word.

This very strange word which can have two completely opposite meanings actually has a full etymology in Serbian, and in a particular south Serbian dialect from the Serbian Bulgarian border, the area where people still use standing “Celtic” crosses as village crosses.

In Serbo Croatian we have this set of words based on the root preg:

pregalac – zealous, hard-working person, someone who leads, who pulls, who moves things forward, who is ahead, before, in front
sprega – mutually supporting connection between two things
spregnuti – connect two things in order to support each other
zaprega – cart pulled by oxen, horses, team
upregnuti – to harness, to connect animals together in order to pull the cart
napregnuti – pull or push, exert pressure, create tension, strain, put hard work, pull hard. Like when oxen pull the cart
pregati, prezati – harness, restrict, pull back, hesitate, shrink, discourage
preglica – clasp, something which keeps things together, connected.

All these words come from the root preg meaning before it, in front of it.

In Serbo Croatian pre means before, in front. The same word is found as pred, pered in other Slavic languages, which is a composite of pre + to = before that. Pre also exists in Latin as prae.

In Serbian there is also word pra which means the same, before, old, in front. 

pradeda – great grand father
pradavno – very long time ago
prastar – very old

In south Serbian dialect go, gu, go, gi mean him, her, it, them.

pre g = pre ga, pre go, pre gu, pre gi means before, in front of him, her, it, them

In Slavic languages g changes to ž and z. So we can get:

pregni –> preži
pregati –> prezati

Also pre can become pra, and with kgh being interchangeable consonants we can get:

pregni –> pragni –> prahni

This is how you build all the above words:

preg – pre + ga = before, in front + it, him
spregnuti – s + pre + ga + nuti = with + before, in front + it, him + ending = to put two oxen together to pull the plow or cart. From this we have to team up, to support each other, to connect, to encourage, to excite…
pregalac – pre + ga + lazi = before, in front + it, him + goes = leader
upreg – u + pre + ga = into + before, in front + it, him = harness cows, horses to pull cart together…
zaprega – za + pre + ga = for + before, in front + it, him = what we put in front of carts to pull them, a team of animals supporting each other, working together
napregnuti – na + pre + ga + nuti = on + before, in front + it, him + ending = tension, what is achieved by using coordinated “spregnute” forces 
preglica – pre + ga + lica = before, in front + it, him clasp + diminutive ending = something small which connects

You can see how spreg, being yoked can mean both support, encouragement and restriction, restraint due to the fact that yoke allows oxen to synchronize their movement, work together and support each other, but it also restricts their movement.

We find these words in other Slavic languages as well.

From all this I believe that the Irish word spreag is a borrowing from a Slavic language. I also believe that the word is very old, probably dating to the time when the first yokes, carts and ploughs were constructed, which would make this word another linguistic fossil. How and when did this word arrive in Ireland? With the first Fomorian farmers who also brought Crom Dubh? With the first wheeled vehicles and first toghers, tochers? Or much later? 

I could not find any other cognates of these words in other European languages. I would appreciate if anyone could point me to the ones i missed.

I have found these potential cognates in Sanskrit:

spRz – coming in contact with, acting upon, affect. 

praga – going before, preceding, from pre, pra + ga = before it. 
pragA – go, go forward, advance, move, from pre, pra + ga = before it. 

Stone circles on mountain Devica

Karst is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterised by underground drainage systems with sinkholes, dolines, and caves.

The English word karst was borrowed from German Karst in the late 19th century.[4] The German word came into use before the 19th century.[5] According to the prevalent interpretation, the term is derived from the German name for the Kras region (Italian: Carso), a limestone plateau surrounding the city of Trieste in the northern Adriatic (nowadays, located on the border between Slovenia and Italy, in the 19th century part of the Austrian Littoral).[6] Scholars however disagree on whether the German word (which shows no metathesis) was borrowed from Slovene. The Slovene common noun kras was first attested in the 18th century, and the adjective form kraški in the 16th century.[9] As a proper noun, the Slovene form Grast was first attested in 1177,[10] referring to the Karst Plateau—a region in Slovenia partially extending into Italy, where the first research on karst topography was carried out. The Slovene words arose through metathesis from the reconstructed form *korsъ,[9] borrowed from Dalmatian Romance carsus. Ultimately, the word is of Mediterranean origin, believed to derive from some Romanized Illyrian base. It has been suggested that the word may derive from the Proto-Indo-European root karra- ‘rock’. The name may also be connected to the oronym Kar(u)sádios oros cited by Ptolemy, and perhaps also to Latin Carusardius.

You can see that wiki says that “Ultimately, the word is of Mediterranean origin, believed to derive from some Romanized Illyrian base.” However the word has full etymology in SerboCroatian. In SerboCroatian we have following words:

Rezati, Rizati, Risati – to cut, to gouge with a toothed implement
Krš – something broken
Kršiti – to break
Kresati – to break off, to chip
Krzav – something which is jagged, toothed
Krezav – someone with missing teeth, with gaped teeth
Krist, Kras – Karst 

Krist, Karst = ka + r(i)s + t(o) = like + cut, chiseled, gouged + it 

Related to karsts are dolinas.The dolina is the most representative landform of the karst surface. The name derives from the word dolina, a Slavic term indicating any depression in the topographical surface. For nearly a century, this name acquired widespread use and a well defined meaning in the international literature; as a result it is not possible to substitute it with another term such as “vrtača” or “kraška dolina”, for example, as proposed by some authors(Gams, 1973, 1974). The use of sinkhole as a synonym for doline in the American literature has also created some ambiguity, because sinkhole is mostly applied in the sense of collapse doline or of cover doline.

English Etymological dictionary says this about the English word dale:

dale (n.) – Old English dæl “dale, valley, gorge,” from Proto-Germanic *dalan “valley” (cognates: Old Saxon, Dutch, Gothic dal, Old Norse dalr, Old High German tal, German Tal “valley”), from PIE *dhel- “a hollow” (cognates: Old Church Slavonic dolu “pit,” Russian dol “valley”). Preserved by Norse influence in north of England. 

dell (n.1) – Old English dell “dell, hollow, dale” (perhaps lost and then borrowed in Middle English from cognate Middle Dutch/Middle Low German delle), from Proto-Germanic *daljo (cognates: German Delle “dent, depression,” Gothic ib-dalja “slope of a mountain”); related to dale (q.v.).

Slavic word dole means down, depressed, hollowed out below the surface level, something below the place where we stand. Is this the root for all the above words. Proto-Germanic *dalan “valley” is identical with Slavic dolina “valley”…

The Slavic word dole comes from do + le = to + ground, horizontal, level…Le is another ancient root word. It is the root of the word level. I will talk about this word in one of my next posts. 

Here is another example of a natural dolina, vrtača from central Serbia:

What is interesting about these landscape formations is that from their center all you can see is the edge of the hole and the sky. This makes them ideal solar observatories as I already explained in my article about rondel enclosures. There are thousands of these circular vrtača sink hole valleys strewn across Balkan peninsula.

In Slovak and Czech word vrt means to drill, a hole, a well. In SerboCroatian word “vrteti” means to spin, to turn but also to drill. This is what you do with a drill when you drill a hole, you spin it you turn it. Vrtača valleys sometimes appear suddenly and do look as if they have been drilled into the ground like this one which recently appeared in Bosnia.

Eventually the edges get smoothed up and covered with vegetation. This one looks exactly like the one I used to play in when I was a kid:

Quite often wells and lakes are found at the bottom of vrtača sink holes.

In particularly eroded karst areas vrtača sink holes accumulate the eroded soil and are the most fertile peaces of land around. This is why they are in these areas used as gardens.

SerboCroatian and Slovenian word “vrt” means garden and it probably comes from the same root as vrtača.

All this makes the areas around vrtača sink holes ideal places for human habitation in karst areas where water and arable land is scarce.

There are particular types of vrtača like depressions which are mostly perfectly circular and very shallow. They look very much like a shallow pan. These vrtačas all have stone walls built at their edges and it is very difficult to determine whether they are natural vrtača sink holes cleared and walled up by people or whether they are completely artificial man made structures. Here is one from Slovenia:

Now I would like to talk about one particular Karst region of Serbia and some of its shallow pan shaped walled vrtača structures.

Devica (Virgin) is a mountain in eastern Serbia, near the town of Sokobanja. Its highest peak, Čapljinac (also called Manjin Kamen) has an elevation of 1,187 m (3,894 ft) above sea level. It belongs to the boundary of Carpatian and Balkan mountain ranges, which meet in eastern Serbia.

On mountain Devica there are hundreds of vrtača sink holes and many of them belong to the above pan shaped shallow ones with stone circles built around them. These stone circles are of unknown origin and age as none of them was ever excavated or investigated by archaeologists. The stone circles were located very recently using Google maps after someone overheard a local forest warden telling his friends about strange stone formations he had seen on the mountain.

Here are the pictures of the two of these pan shaped shallow vrtača sink hole with the surrounding stone circle where you can clearly see the stone wall.

The first one is located on the hill called Gvozdinski  Kamen (Iron stone).

The second one is located on the hill called Busarnik.

Both of these are could be natural circular depressions which people cleared of stones and then built stone walls around them or could be completely artificial. Both of them are ideal for solar observation, and could have been used for it at some stage.

But there are two more stone circles on the mountain Devica (Virgin) which are definitely completely artificial and were definitely used as solar observatories. These two stone circles are located on a plateau called “Bogovo gumno”. The circles are built as walls of what looks like a pair of of natural shallow pan shaped vrtača sink hole depressions. The bigger circle is 150 meters in diameter and the smaller one is 80 – 90 meters in diameter. The depressions are perfectly circular with perfectly flat bottom and are 50 – 60 cm lower than the surrounding therein. The stone walls which define the sides of both depressions are one meter wide and is at the moment one meter high, but originally the wall could have been  much higher. This is the picture of these two stone circles from Google maps with the pointer pointing at the bigger one:

What makes these two stone circles from Bogovo Gumno special, and what makes it absolutely clear that they were built and used as a solar observatory is their alignment. If you look at the alignment of the two linked stone circles on the picture below, you will see that the line connecting the centers of the two circles has azimuth 57 degrees, which means that it is aligned to the sunrise at the summer solstice. Azimuth is the angle of the sun at sunrise and sunset which may be expressed as degrees deviation from North (with East at 90 degrees). It varies by about 66 degrees over the year, from 57 degrees at the summer solstice to 122 degrees at the winter solstice. (That is, East +/- 33 degrees).

In the excellent film called “Circles on mountain Devica”, Dr Aleksandra Bajić there is a great scene (starting at 6:48) taken from a helicopter flying over the Bogovo Gumno in a circle. In these scene you can see how that particular location has completely unobstructed 360 degrees view of the sky, and is therefore ideal for solar observation. Here are some stills from the film showing the location of the Bogovo Gumno complex and the four directional view from the large circle.

You can have a look at the Bogovo Gumno circles on Google maps yourself at this coordinates here.

In my article about henges and calendars I explained how henges were used for calendar calculation. In order to determine the beginning of the year, you need to determine the day of the solstice. To do that you need a sun circle, a large circle which is permanently marked on the ground. How can you permanently mark a circle on the ground? You start by marking the centre of the circle by either a stake or a standing stone. You then draw a circle on the ground using a rope and a stick. To mark the circle edge permanently, you can build a henge if the soil is soft and easy to dig deep. But if the therein is rocky, if the soil is hard stony and unsuitable for deep digging, or if there are a lot of boulders lying around, then it is much easier to just use stones, place them along the line that defines the circle and create a permanent marking by making a circular wall.

Now that you have your permanently marked sun circle, you can start observing the sunrise and sunset from the center of the sun circle. What you are actually observing is the shadow made by the central stake or a standing stone. At the sunrise and sunset the shadow will be long enough to cut the circle at the oposite end. This is extremely precise way of marking the sunrise point. This stake is in Serbian known as “stožer”. This is a very interesting word which means pivot, central standing pole. The sun literally pivots around it both daily and yearly. This is a very ancient word built from stoj, staj + ga, gar, ger = standing, upright + stick, pole, stake, spear = pillar. Greeks called it “gnomon” meaning the one which knows. This was because the central stake “new” the time and date.

As you observe the sunrise through the year, you will notice that during the first half of the year, the sunrise point will move further and further to the left and the point where the first shaddow cuts the circle further and further to the right. When the sunrise point stops moving to the left or when the point where the first shaddow cuts the circle stops moving to the right and starts moving back you have found the point of the summer solstice. You mark that point in some permanent way, like with a stone which is higher than the rest of the stones which form the edge of the circle.

Now you can easily determine the day of the summer solstice every year. It is the day when the sun, observed from the center of the sun circle, rises behind  the large solstice marker stone. If you mark both summer and winter solstice turning points then the point exactly in the middle between these two points marks true east. This is the point of the spring and autumn equinox sunrise. Once you have this point and the center of the circle, you can precisely mark all four cardinal directions without use of a compass.

You can read in more about how the ancient sun circles were used for calendar creation in my article about rondel enclosures and my article about calendars. Once the sun circle is built and marked it can be used basically for ever. As long as the main markers are still present the observatory is functional. All we need is the two main aligned stones, the central pillar stone and the large sun stone from the edge of the circle.

In Bogovo Gumno observatory, the summer solstice turning point, was marked with a large white stone placed in the stone wall. Observer standing in the center of the large stone circle on the morning of the summer solstice would see the sun rise behind this large white sun stone. However in Bogovo Gumno  the observatory builders added another stake lying outside of the sun circle in line with the center of the large sun circle and the sun stone marking the summer solstice turning point. Then the observatory builders used this second solstice turning point marker, as a central point, stožer,  around which they built another smaller stone circle. The fact that we have two stone circles linked in such a way makes it impossible for them to be built around natural vrtača sink hole depressions. The chance that two perfectly circular natural vrtača sink hole depressions would naturally appear aligned in such a way is less than zero.

Several strange observation columns built form flat stones exist around the Bogovo Gumno circles looking at the main sun stone circle. This one is aligned exactly east – west. When you look through the little opening at the top of the column you look westward across Bogovo Gumno Circle. 

This is another stone viewing point aligned east – west and looking at Bogobo Gumno:

I like these next two stone “statues” viewing points because of their weirdness. I don’t know if they are aligned and with what. 

The astronomical complex at Bogovo Gumno is not the only man made and aligned complex of stone circles on mountain Devica. 

Have a look at these three aligned stone circles on location Krst (Cross):

This very odd looking rock outcrop is called  Oštra čuka:

Below this rock outcrop on its western side there are remains, part of the foundation stone wall,  of what people believe is an ancient church which local people call the Vidovdan church, meaning the church of the summer solstice, the church of Svetovid. People from local villages still come to the place, light candle and being flowers considering the place holy and preserving the tradition. I don’t have the pictures of the actual remains and would be grateful to anyone who can send them to me. But I have Google map picture of the area and what you can see on it is truly impressive. At least three aligned circles can be seen here.  I have outlined the circles here just to emphasise their relationship. I didn’t do drawing precisely and alignment is not exact. But it is still very obvious that the circles were man made and aligned and the whole area is definitely worth exploring. 

In the end have a look at this stone circle with a small church built in its center:

Mountain Devica could be a huge ancient astronomical and religious center with dozens of aligned stone circles.  But at the moment we just don’t know. 

As I said already, none of these stone circles has ever been excavated or investigated by archaeologists. 

Also we might never be able to determine when they were built even if we do conduct archaeological investigation in the are, because they remained in use until very recently. We know that at least Bogovo Gumno complex was recognized as an astronomical observatory and was used as such by the local peasant population until the end of the 19th and the the beginning of the 20th century . This is when the last aligned stone, an anthropomorphic cross with a votive inscription was added to the Bogovo Gumno complex. 

I will talk about this cross and its significance in my next post. This small stone cross links the Bogovo Gumno stone circles with another complex of stone circles built thousands of miles away in Ireland: the Grange circles near Lough Gur…