Tag Archives: Mythology

Pendant

This is a pendant with an image of a bull and and what looks like seven bees or seven women. It was found in Ryazan area of Russia, and is attributed to Vyatichi, an early medieval Slavic tribe. Pendant, one of many found in Radimich kurgans, is dated to 11th – 12th century AD.  

What does this pendant represent?

The constellation of Pleiades (also known as seven sisters or seven maidens) lies on the neck of the constellation Taurus (bull)…

According to old writers, for instance Virgil book 4, bees only collect honey between the helical rising and setting of Pleiades (May to November). Funnily this period spans 7 months, the same number as the number of stars (bees or maiden sisters) of the constellation of Pleiades…

Snowdrops

Its this time of the year again. The time when first snowdrops appear out of the snow. In Serbia they are called “visibaba” meaning “hanging granny”. They appear at the end of January, beginning of Febrary, which is the coldest part of the year. This is the part of the year ruled by the old white-headed hag, old earth, winter earth, Morana. And they actually look like a bent old hag with long white hair. The appearance of snowdrops at the time when Morana is most powerful signals that her power is beginning to wane. The old white-headed hag, winter earth, is soon going to die and will be replaced by the beautiful young maiden, spring earth, Vesna. 

I have just discovered a very interesting thing. Snowdrops bulbs are poisonous!! They contain galantamine, which is lethal in large quantities but in a small amount is used as a medicine against early Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia…

Let me know when you spot the first snowdrop. 

Flower girls

Cvetonosnice, Lazarice – flower girls

Palm Sunday, the last Sunday before Easter, is in Serbia called “Cveti, Cvetna nedelja”, meaning “Flower Sunday”. Originally this was the last week before Jarilo day, the 6th of May, which was the last week of Spring. The week which ends with the Flower Sunday is in Serbia called “Cvetna Nedelja” meaning “flower week” or “Lazareva nedelja” meaning “Lazarus week”. 

During this week, young girls in Serbia, who came of age (got their first period), would undergo an initiation ceremony which would turn them from children into young women ready to be married. The girls taking part in this ceremony were called Lazarice. In Serbia it was believed that every girl had to take part in Lazarice ceremony or “some misfortune will befall her”. It was also believed that every girl had to take part in Lazarice ceremony at least three times. This was probably the way to protect young girls from getting married too early. 

As part of this initiation ceremony, young girls would get up before dawn. They would form a group of at least 6 girls. The oldest, tallest and the most beautiful girl in the group was called Lazar. The second oldest was called Lazarica. The next two were called the front girls and the last two were called the back girls. Lazar and Lazarica were girls who were taking part in the ceremony for the third and the last time. The front girls were girls which were taking part in the ceremony for the second time. And the back girls were girls which were taking part in the ceremony for the first time. The girls would gather in the house of the oldest girl in the group, Lazar, where they would be dressed into their best clothes. In their preparation they would be helped by the Lazar’s mother. They would then go to a spring where they would sing and dance and would then wish good morning to the spring water. Spring water is in Serbia called “živa voda” (live water, water of life) and is believed to have magic properties. Spring is seen as a place where fertile Mother Earth releases her “water of life” in the same way that a fertile woman releases her menstrual blood, female “water of life”. In this way the spring water is magically linked with the menstrual blood. So no wonder that the spring is the first stop of the Lazarice group, the group of girls whose “water of life has started to run” (who got their period).  After this ritual, the girls would go to meadows to pick wild flowers. They would use these flowers to make wreaths which they would wear on their heads during their initiation procession through the village land and the village. They would first walk through the fields, forests, meadows belonging to the village, and would sing fertility songs wishing nature to be fertile and bountiful. After walking through all the village land, they Lazarice girls would return to the house of the oldest girl, Lazar. There, they would be greeted by the Lazar’s mother, who would shower them with wheat, symbol of fertility and rebirth, in the same way a bride is showered with wheat as she enters the grooms house. The girls would then kiss Lazar’s mother’s hand and would enter the house, where they would have breakfast. Lazar’s mother would then give them money and hard boiled eggs, another symbol of fertility and rebirth. After this Lazarice would go on a procession through the village. During the procession, they would sing fertility songs and dance. They would stop in front of every house, and would wish the people in the house fertile, bountiful and happy year. In return the hosts would give them small presents and food for gratitude. 

This ceremony is the celebration of Vesna, the young Earth, one of the three heads of Troglava, Dajbaba, Mother Earth, the other two being Mokoš and Morana. Vesna, young Earth is in April “coming of age”. The snow and ice has melted and the springs are gushing with fresh spring water of life. The meadows are blooming and the earth is decorated with flowers. It is getting ready for marriage with young sun, Jarilo, who arrives on the 6th of May, Jarilo day, which is today known as St Georges day. On that day, the Young Earth, Vesna, and the Young Sun, Jarilo, are married. Just like a girl, a young woman, a bride, is deflowered on her wedding night by her husband, and becomes a woman, a mother, so is Vesna, the Young Earth, the Girl Earth, the Young Woman Earth, deflowered at the end of Spring by her husband Jarilo, the Young Sun and she becomes Mokoš, the Woman Earth, the Mother Earth and the summer, the fertile part of the year begins….

Documentary showing the reenactment of the Lazarice ceremony in Serbia.

Shepherd's chapels from Velebit

In my post about the Indian Summer, which is in Central Europe called Babje Leto (Grandmother’s summer), I showed that the beliefs related to Babje Leto (Grandmother’s summer), show that the old Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, Baba, was with the arrival of Christianity replaced with Mary, the Holy Mother of Christianity. 
In this post I will talk about the shepherd’s chapels from Mount Velebit in Croatia. They offer us even more direct proof of the replacement of the Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, Baba with Mary, the Holy Mother.
Alpine transhumance is a seasonal droving of grazing livestock between the valleys in winter and the high mountain pastures in summer. Transhumance is a traditional practice that has shaped much of the landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 2,000 m would be forests. The exactly the same type of practice existed once on Dinaric Alps
This is the highland pasture area called Jezera (Lakes) on mountain Velebit in Croatia. This is the area where in the past people living around the mountain used to bring flocks of sheep and goats and herds of  cows to spend the hot summers grazing on a good green highland grass. 
Jezera plateau
Jezera plateau
Each large grazing area had pre Christian shepherd’s temples with sacrificial altar. These pagan temples were later turned into Christian churches, locally known as “stočarske kapelice” (shepherd’s chapels). The oldest one is the shepherd’s chapel in Jezera (Lakes) plateau grazing area. There on top of the “Goli hrbat” (Naked back), at the height of 1470 m above the sea level, lie in complete isolation ruins of an ancient sacral building with dimension 10 x 5 meters. The stone walls, which were built using dry wall building technique, were 1.3 meters thick. The most unusual thing about this chapel is the altar stone. The altar is actually bedrock, which existed there before the church was built. Bedrock is in the Balkans known as “kamen živac, živi kamen, živa stena” (living stone, living rock) and is venerated as sacred. They are called so, because they are believed to be still part of the living body of the Mother Earth. These types of stones are also known as “baba” stones. The fact that the altar stone was carved out of bedrock shows that this was an ancient pre Christian altar stone which was later encased inside of the Christian church, surrounded by the thick church walls in order to have it’s “evil” power contained.
Remains of the old shepherd’s chapel

There is something very interesting about this church though. In his article: “Nekateri topografski vidiki obrednih mest [Some Topographic Aspects of Ritual Places ]” Andrej Pleterski says:
“One of the diagonals of the church is aligned exactly to the east west line. The longitudinal axis of the church has azimuth of 123,5° (angle from geographic north). This means that the church is oriented towards the local point of the Christmas sunrise. Therefore, it is very likely that the original orientation of the pagan temple which was replaced with the church, was towards the winter solstice sunrise.”

Was this an ancient solar observatory used for determining the beginning of the solar year? In order to carve the shepherd’s solar year calendars that I wrote about in this post….

The church which is now the only visible structure in the area was once surrounded by a large summer shepherd’s settlement which is in the Balkans called “stan” or “katun” or “tor”. This settlement even had an artificial lake made from a converted sink hole. The bottom of the sink hole was paved with large stone plates and a stone wall was built along the perimeter, turning the sink hole into a giant cistern. This is why the area was known as Jezera (Lakes). Every year on the 15th of August, on the day of the Assumption of Mary, shepherd’s had a large festival with a fair which was organized in the area around the holy Baba stone and later the church dedicated to Holy Mary. On that day, all the sheep, goats and cattle had to be gathered and brought to the pens and corals before 10 am in the morning, because that was the time when the holy mass started. After the mass, a special meal was prepared. Every family would kill (sacrifice) a lamb or a young goat, which was then cooked in a broth. This soup was then brought to the church where a communal meal would take place.

The shepherd’s chapel in Jezera (Lakes) area is not the only Christian chapel built around an ancient bedrock altar stone. There used to be another one on “Veliko Rujno” (Big Rujno) plateau.

Veliko Rujno

But today the only thing left is the original bedrock altar – Baba. The stones from the old church which once encased this old pagan altar were used to build a new church dedicated to Holy Mary in 1930 and which stands 50 meters away from the old altar stone.

Veliko Rujno chapel

Next to old bedrock altar lies a large stone slab. The locals say that this slab marks “the grave of an innocent child”. Every year on the 15th of August, on the day of the Assumption of Mary the shepherd’s used to drive their flocks over this slab in order to cleanse them from decease and evil.

Near by is another highland plateau called “Malo Rujno” (Little Rujno).

Malo Rujno

On it there is a similar stone block which local shepherd’s called “Baba”. On the arrival, shepherd women used to bring food offerings and leave them on the stone. They also used to lite candles on the stone on various holy days. The stone was also known as “the altar”.

According to the local informer Dara Babac 🙂 , who was 80 years old when she was interviewed, Baba stone on Malo Rujno was blessed by a priest from Lika region, and this is why this stone is also called Babin kuk (Baba’s stone, kuk being another word for rock, boulder) or Popov kuk (Priest’s stone). Women who couldn’t have children were praying to the Baba stone to help them to stay pregnant and give birth to a healthy child. During this prayer they were kissing the stone. After the second world war, the stone lost it’s cultic importance, but the act of kissing the Baba stone was transferred to kissing any old woman. Young girls which were earlier urged to kiss the Baba stone “for their own good” were urged to kiss any old woman that they see, also “for their own good”. The kissing ritual was also transferred from the Baba stone to its Christian replacement, the statue of the Holy Mary. During the prayer in the chapel on Veliko Rujno, women circled the altar on their knees. At the end of the prayer they would kiss the feet and the dress of the statue. They were also kissing the picture of the Holy Mary during the procession which circled the church.

Another ancient shepherd’s chapel on Velebit mountain lies at the end of the “Grabov dol” (hornbeam valley) on the edge of the “Mala Paklenica” (Small hell) gorge.

Mala Paklenica

The chapel was dedicated to the shepherd’s saint, Saint Jacob. Today the chapel lies in ruins. Please note the statue of Mary placed inside the church ruins.

Saint Jacob chapel

Another shepherd’s chapel used to stand in the near by Libinje plateau, under Sveto brdo (Holy hill).

Libinje plateau

The chapel was dedicated to st Antun, but about 20 years ago the last trace of this chapel have disappeared. This is another place where shepherd’s used to have their gathering, mass and fair immediately after the arrival on the mountain in the spring. The chapel was surrounded with stone sheep pens where the flocks were kept during the ceremonies. The sheep pens were made using the same dry wall building technique used to build the chapel.

I actually believe that both of these last two chapels, the one dedicated to St Jacob and the other one dedicated to St Antun, were originally dedicated to Holy Mary and were only later “rechristened”. The same was done with the chapel on Jezera, which is today called the chapel of St Antun, even though it is known from interviews with the locals, that the church was originally dedicated to the Holy Mary…Is this being done to remove the link between the original Baba worship and its Christian replacement, the worship of the Holy Mary? I believe so. 

The fact that Baba (stone, mountain, earth) was specially venerated on Velebit can be seen from a large number of toponyms with the root Baba which are found in immediate vicinity (20 km radius)

Babin kuk (Baba’s hip or baba’s rock), Bobički kuk (Baba’s hip or baba’s rock), Babin kamen (žrtvenik), Babino jezero (Baba’s lake), 3 mountain tops called Babin vrh (Baba’s peak), Babino brdo (Baba’s hill), Babin dolac (Baba’s valley), Babino vrelo (Baba’s well), Babac, Babica,

So what happened after the local population was Christianized? The same area became the most important center of the Marian cult. Coincidence?

Conclusion:

It seems that the shepherd’s from south Velebit, both Orthodox and Catholic, preserved many pre-Christian traditions, customs and ceremonies until the mid 20th century. The most important set of these pagan rituals is linked to the veneration of the Mother Goddess, the female symbol of fertility and wealth – Baba, Mother Earth. These rituals were performed on and around protruding amorphous lumps of bedrock which are in this region, as well as in many other parts of the Balkans, known as Baba stones, like this one.  

The fact that the same type of veneration was directed towards these stones by both Catholics on Veliko Rujno plateau and by Orthodox Christians and Muslims on Malo Rujno plateau, shows that this custom predates the arrival of Christianity and Islam.

What is interesting is that with the arrival of Christianity, the veneration of Baba, Mother Goddess, Mother Earth was replaced with the veneration of the Holy Mary…

References:

Mitske predaje i legende južnovelebitskog Podgorja” by Mirjana Trošelj

Nekateri topografski vidiki obrednih mest [Some Topographic Aspects of Ritual Places” by  Pleterski, Andrej

Deruralizacija južnog Velebita – aspekti života velebitskih Podgoraca u prvoj polovini XX. stoljeća” by Anita Bušljeta

Riddle

Srbska zagonetka: Pitanje: Visok otac, široka majka Odgovor: nebo i zemlja Serbian riddle: Question: Tall (high) father, wide mother Answer: sky and earth The ancient belief in Father Sky and Mother Earth, preserved in Serbian tradition. Father Sky and Mother Earth are at the core of the old European belief system. In Serbian tradition the Father Sky and Mother Earth are known as: Father Sky: Dajbog – giving god Djed – grandfather, male ancestor Mother Earth: Dajbaba – giving goddess Baba – grandmother, female ancestor The Father Sky was seen as three headed (Triglav, Troglav) or three faced, triple (Trojan) Sun god. He consisted of Jarilo (sun as a young man), Vid (sun as an adult, husband), Perun (sun as an old man, grandfather). 
The Mother Earth was seen as three headed (Triglava, Troglava) or three faced, triple (Trojana) earth goddess. She consisted of Vesna (earth as young girl), Mokoš (earth as an adult woman, wife), Morana (earth as an old woman, witch).

It is the dynamic interplay between the Sky and the Earth, the intercourse between the Father Sky and Mother Earth, which creates all life.

Babje leto – Grandmother's summer

Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn, from mid September to late November, in the Northern Hemisphere. This warm period in autumn has many different names in Europe but they all seem to fall into these main categories:

Poor people’s summer, Gipsy summer

Bulgaria: “Циганско лято” – gypsy summer
Makedonija: “Циганско лето” – gypsy summer
Sweden: “Fattigmanssommar” – Poor man’s summer

It is believed that these names are derived from the fact that the good weather at the end of autumn allows poor people to collect whatever is left of the cultivated and forest crops and so survive the winter.

Summer of of one of the autumn saints

Serbia: St Miholj’s summer (Officially after Prepodobni Kirijak Otšelnik better known as Sveti Miholj (29th of September), but really Saint Michael’s day celebrated in Catholic church as Michelemas and which is celebrated on the 29th – 30th of September)
Spain: Veranillo de San Miguel – Saint Michael’s small summer, Veranillo de San Martín – Saint Martin’s small summer, Veranillo – small summer
Sweden: Brittsommar – Saint Birgitta’s summer
Finland: Pärttylin pikkukesä – Saint Pärttyli’s (Bartholomew’s) little summer
Italy: l’estate di San Martino – Saint Martin’s summer
England: Saint Luke’s little summer, Saint Martin’s summer
Holand: “Sint-Michiels zomer” – Saint Michael’s summer
Catalonia: “Estiuet de Sant Martí” – St. Martin’s lil’ summer
Portugal: “Verão de São Martinho” – St. Martin’s summer

The indian summer period fall between these two dates:
autumn equinox (21 of September, mid point of the climatic autumn) converted to the St Michael’s day celebrated on the 29th of September.
5th of November (the mid point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, the beginning of the climatic winter) converted to St Martin’s day celebrated on the 11th of Novemeber.

Basically this is the second part of the climatic autumn, when the weather is supposed to deteriorate. So good warm weather at this time is “unseasonable”. If the warm period is closer to the beginning of this period then it is called “The summer of St Michael” and if it falls closer to the end of this period it is called “The summer of St Martin”.

Various

Sweden: “Grävlingssommar” – Badger summer
Finland: “akkain kesä” – summer of hags
Brittany: An hanv c’hraden – the summer of ferns, bracken
Latvia: “atvasara” – resummer, summer again
Holand: “Nazomer” – late summer, after summer

These names are either linked to a particular animal or plant whose behavior is influenced by this warm spell or it just means late summer, or another summer

Old woman’s summer, Grandmother’s summer

Many Slavic countries, for example, in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Poland, Czech republic…some variation of “Babje leto” meaning grandmother’s summer.
German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland): “Altweibersommer” meaning old women’s, grandmother’s summer
Holand: “oudewijvenzomer” – meaning old women’s, grandmother’s summer
Hungary: “vénasszonyok nyara” meaning old woman’s summer.
Lithuania: “bobų vasara” – Grandmother’s summer

This particular name for the indian summer is what I would like to talk about in this article. 

There are several theories about the origin of the name “Babje leto” (Grandmother’s summer).

One theory says that the name comes from the meaning “second youth in women”. The “second youth” is contemptuously viewed as short-lived and ill-timed. If this was the origin of the name, then “Babje leto” (Grandmother’s summer) would also have been seen as something bad and out of place. But that is not the case. “Babje leto” (Grandmother’s summer) is seen as something good, as a precious gift. And the name “Babje leto”  (Grandmother’s summer) tells us clearly who the people believed this gift of the good weather was from: Baba, the great goddess. In Slavic tradition apart from being mother Earth, Baba also controlled the waters, the cold and ruled the winter. She was the complementing opposite to the Father Sky, who controlled the sun, the heat and ruled the summer. So it is quite possible that the expression “Babje leto”  (Grandmother’s summer)  was originally Slavic in origin and comes from the Slavic belief system. It then spread into the countries, which once had large Slavic population, and were strongly influenced by the Slavic culture, such as  Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Hungary, Finland.

Another proposed reason why the late summer is called “babje leto” (Grandmother’s summer) is that this is the time of the year when young males of a certain type of spiders, Linyphiidae, produce long strands of spiderweb on which they then fly through the air.

In English this flying spider web is known as gossamer. The English Etymological Dictionary says that this word was first recorded around 1300 AD, meaning “filmy substance (actually spider threads) found in fields of stubble in late fall”. It is not known where does this word come from. One theory says that it comes from gos “goose” + sumer “summer” and that the word probably comes from an original sense of “late fall; Indian summer” because geese are in season then. However it is much more likely that the word comes from go + summer = going away, end of summer. Compare obsolete Scottish go-summer “period of summer-like weather in late autumn.”.

Swedish and Dutch names for these spider threads clearly show that the word gossamer has to do with the end of the summer: Swedish “sommartrad” meaning “summer thread”, Dutch “zommerdraden” meaning “summer tread”. It is interesting that in Slavic languages the word “konac” means both “thread” and “end”. So the expression “konac leta” would mean both the summer thread and the summer’s end. So is it possible that all of this is somehow related, and that the Germanic names for this type of spider threads are direct translations of the Slavic expression “konac leta” meaning summer’s end. It is very poetic in a way that the shiny silvery spider threads (konac) which appears at the end (konac) of the white, hot part of the year (summer, autumn).

As I already said in German Babje leto is called “Altweibersommer” which literally means “the old woman’s summer”. The word weib is an archaic German word meaning woman, wife. This word is very close to an old Germanic root word “web” meaning net, something woven, like spider net which is related to an old Germanic root verb “weben” meaning to weave. So we can see here clear link between web (made of thread) and wife, woman. However it seems that in Germany, the expression “Altweibersommer” has only been in use since the 17th century, which points to an old cultural import. I would like to confirm this however, so if anyone has any more info about the history of this expression in German, I would be more than grateful if you send it to me, so I can update this post.

Babje leto (Grandmother’s summer) is in Germany also called “Madchensommer” meaning young girl summer (maiden’s summer, virgin’s summer).

So no wonder that that in German this type of flying spider tread was once called “Marien garn, Marien faden“. There is a folk belief that these threads are remnants of the cloth used to wrap the body of the Virgin Mary, and which unraveled into the threads and dropped from the sky during her ascension.

In most Slavic languages these strands of spiderweb are called “bapske vlasi”, “babina kosa” meaning baba’s hair, grandmother’s hair, or witch’s hair. Folk belief is that this is the time when new witches are inaugurated and that the flying strands of spiderweb are their hair. People also believed that this spiderweb was tow, unprocessed wool, used by fairies, witches and Virgin Mary for making thread.  and that a girl will soon get married if this flying spiderweb got entangled into her hair.

What is interesting is that on the 1st of October, during the period of “Babje Leto” (Grandmother’s summer), we find a very interesting Othodox Christian holiday: Intercession of the Theotokos. No remember, this is the time when silver spider threads fall from the sky, silver spider threads which Slavs call grandmother’s hair.

Theotokos literally means “God-bearer”, “Birth-Giver of God” and “the one who gives birth to God.” Less accurate translations include the primarily Western title “Mother of God” (Latin: Mater Dei). It is funny that the Nativity of the Theotokos, which is in Serbian called “Mala Gospojina“, and which is celebrating the birth of Mary, is celebrated, according to the old Julian calendar on the 8th of September. This day falls in the middle of the Virgo zodiac sign: 23 August – 23 September. Strange don’t you think? According to the new Gregorian calendar this day falls on the 21st of September, autumn equinox. It is the date when the night becomes longer than the day. The we enter the part of the year dominated by the destructive female principle the Goddess, Baba. The period dominated by darkness, dampness and cold. No wonder that the good warm and dry weather during this period is seen as the gift from Baba. This is why it is called “Babje leto”, Grandmother’s summer. The normal summer is gift from god, Dabog, Grandfather. 

Anyway, the Intercession of the Theotokos celebrates the protection afforded the faithful through the intercessions (actions of intervening on behalf of another) of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary). In the Russian Orthodox Church it is celebrated as the most important solemnity after the Twelve Great Feasts. The feast is commemorated in Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole, but by no means as fervently as it is in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Interestingly this religious celebration is in Slavic languages also known as “Pokrov” and in Greek as “Skepe”. 

The Slavic word Pokrov, like the Greek Skepe has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos. It is often translated as Feast of the Intercession. 

According to Eastern Orthodox Sacred Tradition, the apparition of Mary the Theotokos occurred during the 10th century at the Blachernae church in Constantinople where several of her relics (her robe, veil, and part of her belt) were kept. On Sunday, October the 1st at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ, who was a Slav by birth, saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. The Virgin Mary asked Her Son, Jesus Christ, to accept the prayers of all the people entreating Him and looking for Her protection. Once Her prayer was completed, She walked to the altar and continued to pray. Afterwards, She spread Her veil over all the people in the church as a protection.

Have a look at the above icon. Do you see the “glowing” threads shimmering in the air? Do you see how Mary’s “pokrov”, the veil, turns into “glowing” threads which are then covering the faithful? Do you remember what Germans once called the spider treads which fly during the “Babje leto”? They called them “Marien garn, Marien faden” meaning “Mary’s yarn, Mary’s threads”? Do you see how the “porkov”, the veil looks like hair? Do you remember how Slavs call the spider treads which fly during the “Babje leto”? They called them “Babina kosa” meaning “Baba’s hair”. The Mary’s veil is Baba’s hair.  

It is interesting that it was a Slavic mystic monk who saw “the Virgin Mary wearing a shroud, cloak, moving in the air above him, glowing”. What he saw were the spider treads which fly during the “Babje leto”. The same threads which are by Slavs called “Babina kosa” meaning “Baba’s hair”. Baba was the old great Mother Goddess of the Slavs. Mary was the new Christian Mother Goddess. If we know this then the description “the Virgin Mary wearing a shroud, cloak, moving in the air above, glowing” can be translated as “Great Goddess with long silver hair, moving in the air above him, glowing”. 

So it is most likely that originally Slavs saw the  spider treads which fly during the “Babje leto” as Baba’s, Great Goddess’ hair falling from the sky symbolically covering and protecting her people. I believe that the white silvery shining spider web threads, Baba’s hair, were symbols of snow and ice of winter, when Old Mother Earth becomes gray white. There is a belief in Slavic countries that if we have Babje leto the following winter will be long, showy and cold.

The Pokrov icon may be related to the Western Virgin of Mercy image, in which the Virgin spreads wide her cloak to cover and protect a group of kneeling supplicants. 

The first known examples of this type of icons date from Italy at about 1280 and were probably influenced by Slavic Christian art from the Balkans, which we say was influenced by the old pagan Slavic beliefs.

The fact that these spider threads are linked to both Baba (old woman, but also young woman Mother Earth) and Virgin Mary are another proof that in Europe the worship of Mother Earth, Baba, Dajbaba was replaced with the worship of Virgin Mary, in the same way that the worship of the Father Sky, Djed, Dajbog was replaced with worship of god the father.

But if Mother Earth was replaced with Mary the mother, Theotokos, the Birth giver, and if the Father Earth is replaced with God the father, who is then Christ the son of the Mother Earth and the Father Sky? I will talk about this in my future posts. 

I want to thank my friend Jože Kotnik for helping me with translation of some articles from Slovenian.

Keep smiling, stay happy.

Owls

These first six pictures are prosopomorphic (face like) lids from Vinča culture (6th – 5th millennium BC). 

National Museum of Serbia has this to say about these artifacts: 

“Prosopomorphic lids are common in the entire territory of the Vinča culture and are all very similar. Most are of cylindrical shape and have prominent horn-like lugs, a molded nose, conspicuously marked eyes and varied decoration. This type of vessels represents a specific form of Vinča ware and had a double function. It was used as a cover for amphorae with a cylindrical neck. Its other and much more important function was to protect the contents of the vessel from evil spells and unknown powers. The most expressive details on the face are the eyes, which attract particular attention. They are associated with the so-called “mystical eyes”, to which special significance was attached. It is a widespread belief that the eyes are “the mirror of the human soul”, and that they can also be wicked and capable of casting evil spells. They often have the power to avert negative magic power from the individual or the community, so that they assume an apotropaic function. In addition, the eyes possess the power of constant observation, wakefulness, control, surveillance of the behavior of people, and in this way they have an influence on their magic beliefs and religion. Finally, prosopomorphic lids may represent a mask which has the magic power to protect the ordinary human being or the priest-wizard from the unbounded energy of the deity before which he appears. As such, they cannot be considered in isolation from the other Vinča sculptures, altars and cult objects, for they are all associated with the religious rituals and beliefs of prehistoric communities.”

Basically no one knows what these things are and what they represent. This is how they were used: 

This next picture is a picture of the Eurasian eagle-owl

Do you see any similarity?

Owls are one of the oldest species of vertebrate animal in existence, fossils have been found dating back 60 million years, showing the bird to have changed very little in that time. 

Throughout the history of mankind, the owl has featured significantly in mythology & folklore. They are one of the few birds that have been found in prehistoric cave paintings. This is an engraving of an owl from the the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. The cave has the earliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings. The dates of the paintings have been a matter of dispute but a study published in 2012 supports placing the art in the Aurignacian period, approximately 32,000–30,000 BP. 

The Owl has been engraved by using a tool on the soft surface of the rock, once this surface had been prepared and scraped clean.

The intriguing aspect of the Owl is that it is depicted with its head seen from the front but its body from the back. It may well be the earliest representation of the birds unique ability to turn its head through 180 degrees, an ability which many cultures associate with supernatural powers.

Owls have been both revered & feared throughout many civilizations from ancient to more recent times. It is probably their ability to see in the darkness that inspired people to associate owls with both prophetic wisdom and particularly the visions of doom and death. In most parts of the world the owl cry heard in or near a home usually meant impending death, sickness, or other misfortune. They are also widely believed to represent the souls of people who have died or that they carry the souls of people to the underworld. 

So, what do you think? Are the above lids representations of owl heads? And if so, what did these lids cover? What did Vinčans associate owls with? 

The power of the Thunder Giant

In Serbian the expression “On vedri i oblači” means “he rules”, “he has absolute control, absolute power”. Literally this expression means “he makes the sky clear and cloudy”…

This expression was obviously originally applied to the sky god, The God, The Lord of the early agricultural societies and the peasants, particularly the wheat farmers, whose lives depend on the climate…

Having the right weather at the right time is most important during the vegetative season from May to November. Having the right weather at the right time is in the north of Europe most critical right in the middle of the vegetative season. This is the period around the beginning of August. The period from just before the end of the ripening season to just after the beginning of the harvest season.

At this time, too much clear sunny sky and the wheat will burn. 

 
Too much cloudy rainy sky and the wheat will not ripen properly or it will fall down and rot. 

Either one of these extremes will result in the destruction of the harvest and famine. 
And so the wheat farmers, the world over, have since the time immemorial been turning their eyes to heaven (sky) at this time of the year, and praying to the same Sky God. They would pray to the one who “vedri i oblači”, the one who can make the sky clear and cloudy, The Lord in heaven (sky). They would pray to him, the Giving God (Dabog in Serbian) to give them just the right amount of sunshine and rain, and by doing so to give them the good harvest.

And interestingly right there, on the 2nd of August, on the day that marks the border between the summer and autumn, growing and harvesting, we find In Ireland the day of Crom Dubh. I believe, as I said many times before, that this god is the same god which is in Serbia known as Hromi Daba, Dabog. And that both Chorm Dubh and Hromi Daba are just corruptions of Grom Div, The Thunder Giant, The Thunder God. That this is indeed so can be seen from the fact that the 2nd of August is in Serbia known as the day of Perun, the Thunder God, the one who “vedri i oblači”, the one who can make the sky clear and cloudy, the Lord….

Fireflies

Fireflies light up the Midsummer night. This is just one of many amazing photos of fireflies taken by the Japanese photographer Yuki Karo. You can find them on his photo blog here

In the Balkans, fireflies come out around the time of the summer solstice. South Slavic words for firefly are “svitac”, “svitnjak”, “svijetnjak”, “svitaljka”, “cvitnjak”, “kris”, “krijes”, “kres”, “kresnica”…These are also the names used for fires and torches which are lit up on the shortest night of the year, as part of the Slavic summer solstice celebrations…

Happy Summer Solstice

The horseman

This is a medieval standing stone “Stećak” from Boljuni, Near Stolac, Bosnia. The stone has an engraving of a “man” sitting on a white horse. He is sitting between two sets of two clovers or shamrocks. What does this image represent?

His head is a disc with 12 rays. I believe that this disc represents a solar year with each ray representing one of the 12 months of the solar year. The clovers or shamrocks are often found on the top border of the stećak stone monuments. I wander if in this case, because of their arrangement, they have a special meaning. I believe that in this case, each clover or shamrock represents one season of three months. This means that this picture represents  the day in the middle of the solar year:

6 months (2 clovers, shamrocks X 3 leaves) after the previous winter solstice morning (the birth of the new sun god, the beginning of the new solar year) 

and 

6 months (2 clovers, shamrocks X 3 leaves) before the next winter solstice eve (the death of the old sun god, the end of the old solar year). 

This means that this engraving represents the summer solstice day. In Serbian tradition the Summer solstice the day is called Vidovdan, the day of Sveti Vid, Svetovid.

Svetovid is the Slavic sun god whose name comes from Svet + Vid = Light + Sight. Interestingly the word “svet” also means world, which does’t exist until it is lit up by the light (“svet”) of the sun. 

Also the word “cvet”, pronounced “tsvet” means flower but also color. Sun’s light (svet) is white (bel). But that white light contains inside of itself all the other colors (cvet). A color (cvet) is just a part of the frequency specter contained within the light (svet) of the sun. Material things which make up the world (svet) absorb most of the sun’s light (svet). The frequencies which are not absorbed are reflected back to our eyes and we see (vid) them as color (cvet). 
  

Color (“cvet”) also does not exist until the world (“svet”) is lit up by the light (“svet”) of the Sun. 

Interestingly in Sanskrit, the word “श्वेत” zveta means white, and white is the color that contains all other colors (cvet)…

Have you ever been outside in the late evening watching the sun go down? The west is bursting with color and then the sun disappears. What happens when the sun goes behind the horizon? The color disappears too. The world becomes gray and then black. And when does the color return to the world? In the morning, when the sun reappears. I don’t think that it took our ancestors too long to link the sun light (svet) with color cvet (pronounced tsvet and probably coming from to + svet = that + light, world) and to derive the word for color from the word for light? 

We can’t see (“vid”) the world (“svet”) and colors (“cvet”) until the light (“svet”) of the Sun falls on them. This is why the Slavic Sun god is called Svetovid. The  holy animal of Svetovid was a white horse. A white horse was kept in Svetovid temples and was used for divination. 

So does the engraving on this standing stone represent Vidovdan, the day of Svetovid, Summer solstice, the middle of the solar year???

Svetovid is also known as Beli Vid, Belbog.

Beli, Bel, Belenos, was the Celtic sun god. 

Is the horseman from the standing stone the same horseman which was depicted on the reverse of so many Celtic coins, like this one?

In Sanskrit the word “राग” (rAga) means “sun, color, beauty, prince…”

In Serbian the word for a very old, almost dead horse is raga. 

Is this why the sun rides on a horse in Serbian and Celtic mythology? 

Maybe the word “raga” once meant solar horse. And maybe it acquired its negative meaning through the influence of Christianity? Who knows, but it is definitely and interesting “coincidence”…