Tag Archives: Slavic mythology

Partridge

“On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

On the Third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

…”

This is the beginning of the well known English Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas“. 

It enumerates in the manner of a cumulative song a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas, starting with a partridge which was given on the first day. The song, published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be French in origin, but really no one knows where the song comes from. 

There are those who believe that the song has a hidden Christian meaning. 

According to Ann Ball in her book, HANDBOOK OF CATHOLIC SACRAMENTALS:

“The “True Love” is Jesus Christ, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day. 

The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.
The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings rerepresented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit—–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—–Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity].
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.”

Neat…

But, there is another possible origin and meaning of this song. The song could originate in an ancient Pre-Christian system of beliefs and could be linked to fertility rituals related to both female and earth fertility. 

And the key for understanding this other possible (and I believe true) meaning of this song lies in the first verse:

“On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me a Partridge in a Pear Tree”

Here it goes:

The grey partridge is a native, non migratory bird of Eurasian shrub lands, grass lands and cultivated areas. The adult is a plump bird. The upper parts are chestnut-brown and grey, but the color is very variable. The hind neck is grey-brown. The wings are mottled brown and darker brown.

Gray partridges begin the slow process of courtship in late winter, as soon as the snow starts to melt. Both sexes perform numerous dramatic displays, including circling, neck-stretching and running with head lowered. In March, the males in a covey begin crowing with their “rusty gate” call, to advertise their presence, especially in the morning and evening. Crowing then leads to ritualized fighting between the males, which fly and peck at each other. Eventually, one male leaves the area, and the victorious bird remains to try and attract a female. The actual mating happens in late April. The female then builds the nest while the male stands guard nearby. The nest is usually located in grasses in open country or along roadsides, fences, hedgerows, ditches and banks. Shortly after the nest is complete, at the beginning of May, the female starts laying eggs. She continues laying one egg per day until her clutch of 9-20 olive-colored eggs is complete. This is one of the largest known clutches produced by any bird.

The partridge mating habits didn’t stay unnoticed by our ancestors. At least in the Balkans. The word for partridge in South Slavic languages is “jarebica” pronounced yarebitsa. The word has no known etymology. I would like to propose one:

In South Slavic languages we have these two interesting words: 

The word “jar” means “green, spring, youth, fire, heat, rage”. 
The word “jeb” means “to fuck”.

jarbica = jar + jebica = spring, fiery, hot, passionate + fuck 🙂 

In South Slavic languages nouns have genders. The word “jarebica” is a feminine noun meaning that Slavs attributed feminine characteristics to partridge. So the meaning of the word “jarebica” is actually “young, hot (female) you fuck”.

I think that this is quite a fitting name for a bird whose loud passionate mating covers the whole of spring. 

There is someone else who goes through the same passionate courtship ritual at the same time as partridge. Young earth Vesna. She is born on the 4th of February, the first day of spring. She gets more and more beautiful as the spring progresses. During this time she is courted by the young sun Jarilo, her twin brother. Their courtship during the spring is nothing else but “jarjeb” meaning “youthful fucking”, the “union” of the young sky (the father) and young earth (the mother). It is this union that produces all life and all the bounty of summer and autumn. 

Jarilo, the young sun, marries Vesna the young earth on 6th of May, the day of Jarilo. The day of Jarilo, the 6th of May, is the day which in old Celtic and Serbian calendar marked the beginning of Summer. This is old Beltane, the festival of fire. The fire of the sun. And this is exactly the time when partridge starts laying its eggs. Eggs which are the result of its mating season, of “jarjeb”. Eggs which are symbol of rebirth. The “rebirth” of nature after winter “death”. The rebirth which is the result of the “jarjeb” between Vesna and Jarilo.

Slavic god Jarilo is the young sun, the youthful face of Djed (Grandfather), Triglav (Three headed) Sky God. His name means the young one, the fiery one, the blazing one, the raging one. In his positive aspect, Jarilo was the symbol of youthful male sexual energy, male reproductive fire. In his negative aspect, Jarilo was the symbol of youthful male rage and senseless male destructive fire. This is why he was the Slavic god of spring, vegetation, fertility and war. 

Christianity replaced Jarilo with St George, and the day of Jarilo is still today celebrated as the St Georges day (Djurdjevdan or Jurjevo in the Balkans). 

South Slavic goddess Vesna is the young earth, the youthful face of Baba (Grandmother), Troglava (Three headed) Earth Goddess. Her name literally means Spring. She is the goddess of youth and female fertility and only has a positive aspect.

I believe that Partridge was in the Balkans associated with Jarilo’s bride, Vesna and was possibly even her holy bird. Here is why I believe that this is the case. 

This wedding song recorded in Poljci in Croatia describes the wedding feast. Here is just the beginning:

“Ja dovedo nevisticu pa joj dado večericu.
Prvu večer’ večerala Sitnu ticu jarebicu.
Drugu večer’ večerala:
Dva goluba, sitnu ticu prepelicu.
Treću večer’ večerala:
Tri grlice, dva goluba, sitnu ticu prepelicu.
Četvrtu večer večerala:
Četri patke, tri grlice, dva goluba, sitnu ticu prepelicu.
Petu večer večerala:
Pet gusaka, četri patke, tri grlice, dva goluba, sitnu ticuprepelicu. Šestu večer večerala:
Šest ovaca, pet gusaka, četri patke, tri grlice, dva goluba, sitnu ticu prepelicu…”

Here is the translation:

I brought my bride home and gave her dinner
First evening she ate partridge
Second evening she ate two pigeons and a quail
Third evening she ate three doves, two pigeons and a quail
Fouth evening she ate four ducks, three doves, two pigeons and a quail
Fifth evening she ate five gees, four ducks, three doves, two pigeons and a quail
Sixth evening she ate six sheep, five gees, four ducks, three doves, two pigeons and a quail…”

This is obviously a ritual song performed during a ritual feast. The marriage was supposed to result in many children as the wealth of the family was judged by the number of children and number of cattle they possessed. So this song ritually associates the fertility of Mother Earth with the fertility of the new bride. The fact that the bride eats partridge, the most fertile bird, first, is the sign that this song is part of a fertility ritual. Basically through this act, the fertility of partridge is supposed to be passed onto the bride. The fact that the bride then continues to eat all the children produced by the young Mother Earth shows the desire to pass the fertility of the young Mother Earth to the bride too. This is not surprising because woman’s fertility and the Mother Earth’s fertility is very strongly linked in Balkan Slavic belief system.

Another thing that shows that partridge was regarded as a symbol of fertility by the Balkan Slavs is the Croatian ceremonial wedding game called “traženje jarebice” (looking for partridge) which was first recorded in 17th century. The ritual was performed like this: 

When groom’s retinue arrived at the bride’s house to take her away, bride’s father would ask them who they were and what they came for. The leader of the groom’s party would answer that they were looking for a partridge. The bride’s father would then say that he hasn’t seen any partridge. The groom’s party would then insist on checking for themselves that the bride’s father was telling the truth. The bride’s father then let’s the groom’s party in. He then brings out the oldest woman in the house who is holding a sieve on her head and asks the groom’s party if that is the partridge they were looking for? When the groom’s party say that it wasn’t the bride is brought out and the groom’s party exclaim that it is her they were looking for…The groom’s party then takes the bride to the church to get married. 

You can see that this ritual is directly linked to fertility. The groom is looking for a fertile young wife, and this is what partridge represents. The fact that the old woman which was brought out firs hold a sieve on her head shows that she is Baba, the Mother Earth, the mother of grain…Again we see linking of woman’s fertility and the Mother Earth’s fertility.

The same custom is found in other parts of Croatia and Bosnia except that partridge is replaced with dove or a lamb, but the ritual is the same…

Sources: 

Akcija za sakupljanje gradje o folklornoj drami u XIX. stoljeću” by Nikola Bonifačić Rožin
Usmena narodna dramaturgija – vazna komponenta u Hrvatskoj dramskoj knjizevnosti” by Tvrtko Čubelić

Finally in “Годишњи обичаји у Пироту и околини” (Anual customs and rituals in Pirot and surrounding area), by Sofija Kostic, we find a Serbian ritual song which describes the ritual feast held during the celebration of St Mitar (Martin) (Mitrovdan), and which used to last for 7 days: 

Једну вечер вечерали: Једну тицу јаребицу, Мало вурду у паницу. Планино, зла рано! 

Седму вечер вечера’мо: седам вола бивола, шес овна јалова, четри гусће пердушће, два голуба пролетња, једну тицу јаребицу, мало вурду у паницу, планино, зла рано!

Here is the translation:
First evening we ate one partridge, cheese and bred. O mountain you evil mother (literally food giver)!
Seventh evening we ate seven bulls, six rams, four gees, two pigeons, one partridge, cheese and bred. O mountain you evil mother!

Again the first thing eaten on the first day of the feast is roasted Partridge. Mitrovdan was the day, which in the old Celtic and Serbian calendar marked the end of Summer and the beginning of winter. This is old Samhain. You can read more about this old calendar in my post “Two crosses“. If the mating season of partridge marks the beginning of hot part of the year, summer and autumn, the bountiful part of the year, it is symbolically fitting that the end of this period is marked by the death of partridge. He is roasted (death by fire and death of fire of the sun) and ritually eaten to represent the end of the harvest. 

What is also interesting is that the song then proceeds to cumulatively add the same birds and animals listed in the Croatian wedding song. This shows that both ritual songs come from the same belief system and are directly linked to fertility of the Mother Earth…

I believe that these customs show that Partridge was once regarded by South Slavs as the symbol of fertility. 

O and here is another proof: 

This is rock partridge (Alectoris graeca). 

This bird, native in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, including Balkans, is in South Slavic languages known as “kamenjarka” (stone, rock bird). Kamenjarka, which is also a feminine noun, is also a archaic slang word for a whore, “young, hot (female) you fuck”…

I have seen somewhere long time ago that in Celtic parts of Iberia, loose women are called partridge, but unfortunately I can’t remember where I saw this. If anyone has any info about this please let me know. Also if you know of any other folk belief system where partridge has the meaning linked to female promiscuity and fertility and with fertility of Mother Earth please let me know so that I can update my article. 

So there you have it. The true love the song originally talked about was far from spiritual love. It was physical, fruitful love, the love that produces offspring. And the symbol of that fruitful love was partridge. 

Also in Celtic and Serbian calendar, Samhain feast (held in the past by Baltic Serbs at the beginning of November) was the thanksgiving feast which people celebrated to thank their god for providing for them during the previous vegetative season. Listing all the animals people want to multiply, starting with partridge, the symbol of fertility, could be a kind of a magic spell, a way to symbolically ensure accumulation of riches…

But how old could this link between partridge and female fertility be? I believe very very old. I will talk about this in my next post. 

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…

Leto

Serbian word “leto” means both “summer” and “year”. The word comes from Proto-Slavic *lěto, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *leh₁tom. Cognate with Ukrainian “літо” ‎(lito) meaning “summer”, Belarusian “слецiць” ‎(sljecicʹ) meaning “to warm” and “слетный” ‎(sljetnyj) meaning “warmish”, Bulgarian “лято” ‎(ljato) meaning “summer”, Russian “лето” (leto) meaning “summer, year”, Slovene “poletje” meaning “summer”, Czech “léto” meaning “summer”, Slovak “leto” meaning “summer”, Polish “lato” meaning “summer”, and Upper and Lower Sorbian “lěto” meaning “year”.

Possibly also cognate with Old Gutnish “ladigh” meaning “spring” and dialectal Swedish “låding, låing” meaning “spring”, and with Irish “lá” ‎meaning “day”.

The etymology of this word is unknown. So let me propose one. Is it possible that the word “leto” comes from the word “let” meaning “flight”? The word “let” comes from Proto Slavic verb “letěti” meaning “to fly”.  So why would you derive the word meaning “summer, year” from the verb “to fly”? Because of the migratory birds. Every year, starting from the second half of February, right after the climatic start of the spring, 4th of February,  migratory birds start arriving from their wintering sites. The bulk of the migratory birds return by the end of April, just before the climatic start of the summer, 6th of May.

So every year, during spring, which is in Serbian called “proleće”, which can mean both “before summer” and “flying by, migrating”, migratory birds arrive back home, signalling the end of the cold part of the year and the beginning of the warm part of the year. 

Equally the end of the warm period of the year, which normally coincides with the end of October, the end of the climatic end of autumn, is signaled by the flight of the migratory birds, this time in the opposite direction, flying away to their wintering sites.

In the old Celtic and Serbian calendar, year only had two parts: the warm, white part, summer (6th of May to 5th of November), and cold, dark part, winter (6th of November, 5th of May).

So the period between these two “let” (flights) of migratory birds, between their arrival and their departure, is “leto” (summer). This beginning of the new “summer” is the beginning of the new period of vegetative growth and abundance, the “important” part of the year. I believe that this is why Serbian word for “summer” and “year” is the same: “leto”…

I was just made aware of the existence of a Macedonian folk festival called Letnik. The following is excerpt translated from Makedonians in Albania by Dragoslav Budimovski. Original title: “Будимовски К, Драгослав. „Македонците во Албанија“. Студентски збор, Скопје, 1983. стр. 151”:

Letnik, which is celebrated every year on March 1 in the old calendar and is associated with the return of migratory birds from southern regions to Macedonia. The return of the migratory birds is celebrated as the beginning of spring or summer, the period of growth and the beginning of agricultural work. Therefore this feast is often considered to be a celebration of the beginning of the year in terms of the active period of the year. 

Holiday is mostly celebrated in Western Macedonia, in Galichnik, Golo Brdo, Pustec, Debar, Prespa, Ohrid and Struga. That this celebration has ancient pagan roots can be seen by the fact that in the areas where we have mixed population Orthodox and Muslim, like in Golo Brdo and Reka area, Letnik is celebrated by both Orthodox Christians and Muslims. However in mixed Macedonian Albanian areas only Macedonians celebrate Letnik. 

According to the testimonies of the local people, Letnik celebrations start in the early morning of the 1st of March. The first thing everyone does in the morning when they wake up is to look for a chicken (bird) so that you can be as light as a bird all year round. My comment: Originally people probably looked for return of migratory birds in flight. Then people look into their pockets so that they will have money and success (prosperity) all year round. People then go out in the forests and mountains and from there they bring home boughs made from blossoming cornel branches and they would put them over the fireplace. Alternately they would bring a cornel branch with which they would touch verige (the chain holding the cauldron over the fireplace), and then they would eat cornel blossom, so that they are healthy as cornel and as solid and strong as iron. My comment: Cornel is probably chosen because it has bright yellow flowers, like the summer sun everyone is awaiting…

Young children would pick dry branches and would go from house to house throwing them into house fires saying: How many sparks so many children (similar to Christmas Eve ceremony my comment: ceremony which is related to rekindling of the sun’s fire). During Letnik day it was mandatory to bring a branch of cornel if you visited anyone’s house, and in return the hosts would give the guests nuts, boiled grain and sweet. If the year turns out to be good for the host, the person who entered the house on first on Letnik morning is asked to do the same next year as he is believed to have brought luck to the family. my comment: Similar to the Christmas Položajnik (first footer) ceremony

This pretty much confirms my theory that the word leto comes from let. But there is more. 

In Slavic mythology, Jarilo was the son of the supreme Slavic god of thunder, Perun, his lost, missing, tenth son, born during Velja Noć (Great Night), the pagan Slavic celebration of the New Year. We don’t really know what the “Great Night” means, but I believe that this Great Night was originally the night before the beginning of winter which in the Irish calendar is marked by Samhain, the 31st of October, and in the Serbian calendar by St Mitar day (Mitrovdan) the 8th of November. I believe that this night was originally the night of the 5th of November, the mid point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. 

I also believe that the expression Great Night was also an euphemism for Winter, the time of cold and death. Right in the middle of the winter is the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is also the middle of the winter, the middle of the darkest part of the year. This is the night when new fires are rekindled, to symbolize rekindling of sun’s fire, the birth of the new sun, new solar year. This new sun is Jarilo, whose name means the young one, but also the hot one.

However, on the same night when he was born, according to the Slavic tradition, Jarilo was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, where he was adopted and raised by Veles, Perun’s enemy, Slavic god of the underworld and cattle. The Slavs believed the underworld to be an ever-green world of eternal spring and wet, grassy plains, where Jarilo grew up guarding the cattle of his stepfather. In the mythical geography of ancient Slavs, the land of the dead was assumed to lie across the sea, where migrating birds would fly every winter. This land of the dead was by Slavs known as Iriy, Irij or Vyriy (Russian: ирий, ирей, вырий). And when do the migrating birds leave the land of the living? By the beginning of the winter, which is marked by Samhain (Mitrovdan).

With the advent of spring, Jarilo returned from the underworld, that is, bringing spring and fertility to the land. Spring festivals, actually more precisely summer festivals of Jurjevo/Jarilo, St Georges day,  that survived in the Slavic folklore celebrate Jarilo’s return, the return of the summer heat. This is also the time when in Irish folklore we find Beltane, the day of bonfires…

And when does Jarilo return from the land of the dead? When the migratory birds return from Irij, the land of the dead where they spend winter, the period between Samhain (Mitrovdan) and Beltane (Djurdjevdan)…So again we have the link between the migrating birds and the beginning and the end of the year…

And there is more:

Remember my post about Radegast – Welcome guest?

In it I talked about a group of bronze idols which was discovered in mid 18th century in the lake Tollensesee near Prillwitz in Mecklenburg, South Baltic. Many of them bear Slavic inscriptions in runic letters. A significant number of the figures shows the characters with lion heads and lush manes. 

Baltic Slavs who lived in Pomerania, Pomorje, Fomorie and other Western Slavs had a god called Radegast of which we have many medieval records but of which we know very little. What is interesting is that the lion headed idol with the duck on his head from the Prillwickie idols group has inscription on identifying it as Radegast. 

Radegast, who has a lion’s head, has bull’s head on his chest. Why? Summer, starts in Bull (Taurus) and ends in Lion (Leo). The Lion headed figure has bull on his chest because the Leo sun, the old sun at the end of the summer contains Taurus sun, the young sun at the beginning of the summer. The old Sun is the young sun at heart 🙂 

Slavs also had god Belbog of whom we know even less. I would like to propose that Radegast and Belbog are one and the same deity and they were represented as the man with the lion’s head. 

Belbog means white god. This god is the equivalent of the Celtic god Belenos and Welsh god Beli. This is the god of day, summer, light. The white part of the year and the white part of the day. The name of the Celtic god Belenos comes form bel + nos. In Slavic languages bel, beli, beo means white, and nos means carries, brings. So belenos = bel + nos = white + brings = the bringer of the white. Belbog comes from bel + bog = white + god.

Why is this god represented as a man with the lion’s head? This is a representation of an anthropomorphic sun. Sun is the strongest in the middle of Leo. And the middle of Leo is also the middle of the white part of the year, which as I said, in Serbian and Celtic calendar starts on the 6th of May Beltane (Djurdjevdan, St Georges day) and ends on the 5th of November Samhain (Mitrovdan, St Martin’s day). This is the day of Thundering sun, Grom Div, Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba.

You can read more about this calendar in my post “Two crosses“.

And what is the duck doing on Belbog’s head. He has a duck on his head, as ducks, and other migratory birds return by the end of April just before Beltane (Djurdjevdan, St Georges day), announcing the beginning of the summer, the white (bel) part of the year. It is the duck who is the “welcome guest” = Rad Gost, Radegos. Radegast. This is basically an euphemism for the long awaited beginning of the new summer…The beginning of the new Leto.

I wish it was summer now…I hope the welcome guests start arriving soon 🙂

Zlatorog – Goldhorn

In my post “Goat” I showed that the beginning of the Capricorn zodiac sigh falls right in the middle of the mating season of the Alpine ibex wild goats. Alpine ibex mating season starts in December, and ends in January typically lasting around six weeks. Winter Solstice, 21st of December falls right in the middle of this period and the day after the Winter solstice is the beginning of the Capricorn (goat) period, which last from December 22 – January 20…

This information is the key that allows us to finally unlock the true meaning of one of the most interesting legends preserved in Europe. The legend of Zlatorog, the Goldhorn. 

This is Triglav. With an elevation of 2,864 metres, height is the highest mountain in Slovenia and the highest peak of the Julian Alps.
Just below Triglav mountain lies The valley of Triglav Lakes.
The Valley of Triglav Lakes is a karstic, high mountain valley in the heart of Julian Alps with many small lakes dotted among the rocks. The lowest lake is Black Lake (Črno jezero) at an elevation of 1,294 metres above sea level. The highest is Podstenje Lake (Jezero v Podstenju), which is located at an elevation of 1,993 m.
The valley and the surrounding peaks are incredibly rugged and rough and incredibly beautiful. Here are some pictures of the valley that might give you better idea of what kind of place this is. 

The valley is located under the mount Triglav. In Serbian mythology we have two main deities: Triglav (Three headed god), Dabog (giving god), Djed (Grandfather), the sky father. and his wife Troglava (Three head goddess), Dajbaba (giving goddess), Baba (Grandmother), the earth mother. It is their constant interplay that produces all life on earth. 

This valley is the location of the story of Zlatorog (Goldhorn), magic Ibex goat with golden horns. 

Here is the full text of the legend of Zlatorog:

The Valley of Triglav lakes and Komna plateau were once a green heaven. It was inhabited by White women, good fairies who kept the mountain pastures green. They also visited the lower valleys and helped humans whenever they found them in need. They also helped women at childbirth. A child who was delivered into the world by them, was protected by the White Ladies for the rest of his life. They never asked for thanks or payment. But they didn’t allow anyone to enter their Lake Valey. If anyone accidentally or because of arrogance got close to their homes, they would hurl down rocks and stones and avalanches, or cause terrible storms of snow and hail and would force people to return to the valley. The Lake valley was also home to a heard of white goats whose leader was Zlatorog (Goldhorn). He was indestructible. If it got hurt, from his blood a miraculous flower, called Triglav rose would spring. 

Triglav rose, Latin name “Potentilla nitida”, is a species of cinquefoil in the Rosaceae family that is endemic to the Alps where it grows on elevation of 3,200 metres


If Goldhorn ate a single leaf or petal from this flower, he would instantly recover.  His golden horns were the key to unlocking a big treasure, which was hidden on Bogatin (Rich) mountain. The treasure was guarded by a multi-headed snake, dragon. 


The only mortal, who was allowed to climb on the highest summits of the Lake Valley, was the son of a beautiful widow – the Trenta Hunter. He was delivered by the White women, so he was under their special protection. 

The Trenta Hunter had a girlfriend, a daughter of an inn keeper who owned a tavern on the confluence of Koritnica and Soča river. One day innkeeper’s daughter caught an eye of a rich Venetian merchant. He gave her lots of expensive jewelry and promised her life in great luxury if she married him. When Trenta Hunter came next time to the tavern to see his girlfriend, the girl’s mother demanded from him to produce a treasure that will match the wealth of the Venetian merchant, or he will never be allowed to see her daughter again. Alternatively he could bring back a bunch of Triglav roses in mid-winter to prove his fidelity – an impossible task.

The young hunter, desperate and hurt left the tavern. On his way out, he was joined by the Green Hunter, who was known in the valley to bring into troubles many decent young guys. It was the Green hunter, who proposed to the Trenta Hunter to kill Goldhorn, take his golden horns and with their help take all the treasures of Bogatin (Rich) mountain. Once he brings Bogatin treasure to his girlfriend’s mother, she was surely going to let him have his sweetheart back. 

They started climbing the mountain the very same night, and in the morning as the sun rose they spotted the Goldhorn. Trenta Hunter took aim and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Goldhorn. The blood gushing from Zlatorog’s wound melted the snow and up sprang a magical Triglav rose. The dying Goldhorn nibbled on a few petals and was instantly healed. It jumped up and leaped away. Wherever he touched the ground, snow melted and Triglav roses sprang up from under his hooves, luring the Trienta hunter onto higher and higher ground. But as they climbed, the sun caught Zlatorog’s shiny horns. The hunter was blinded, lost his footing and plunged into a gorge.

The once kind and trusting Goldhorn was enraged that he was treated in such a manner. In his fury he gored his way through the Triglav Lakes Valley, leaving it much as it looks today. He left the area with the White Ladies, never to return.

The innkeeper’s daughter waited in vain for her lover to return home. As spring approached, the snow began to melt, swelling the Soca River. One day it brought her a sad gift: the body of Trienta hunter, his lifeless hand still clutching a Triglav rose.” 
That’s it. 
Now how are we to understand this story? 
Well this story has several levels. 
Firstly it is a story about how greed can destroy people. And this is the level most people stop at. 
Secondly it is a great environmental warning. The destruction of the Lake Valley and its transformation from the lush green paradise to barren karst plateau was caused by Goldhorn, who disappeared afterwords. The Alpine ibex historically ranged through France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia. Starting in the early 16th century and with firearms becoming common, the overall population declined due to over-exploitation and poaching. The ibex became extinct in Switzerland and Germany by the 18th century, and was extinct in Austria and northeastern Italy by the 19th century. This is why in most versions of the Legend, Goldhorn is legendary white chamois buck. Only in some Slovenian versions, which I believe are the older ones, he is an Ibex buck. Basically by he time the story was recorded, Alpine ibex was extinct and local people replaced the now gone ibex with still present chamois. The fact that the story says that Goldhorn disappeared after the destruction of its habitat, proves that originally Goldhorn was Alpine ibex.
It is also interesting that when alpine ibex left, the “white ladies” also left never to return. Who were these mysterious “white ladies” who kept the mountain pastures green and who also helped women at childbirth?

In my series of articles about Baba, the Mother Goddess, I explained that in Serbian the word “baba” means mother, grandmother and midwife, basically anyone who gave birth or helped giving birth. It also means stone, rock, mountain and mother Earth, the Great Mother who gave birth to us all. The word baba also has many meanings in Slovenian: an old woman, hag, demon spirit or witch, dry, barren river bed or ravine, rock or a crag.

Many stony mountain peaks in the Balkans have the name whose root is the word “baba” and there are quite a few of these in Slovenia. This is one of them, Velika Baba in Jezersko region

Also many isolated stone crags in the Balkans also have names whose root is the word baba. This one from Slovenia is called “Poljanska baba” and is located on the eastern slope of Mt. Mežakla.

Shepherd’s in Slovenia still believe today that these “baba” stones are linked to weather, water, humidity, mud, soil and fertility and pasture abundance. Until recently, during their spring ascend to Great Mountain above Kamnik, shepherds would leave a few coins or a loaf of bread at a place called “Babji trebuh” meaning “Baba’s belly”. The offering was left for “baba” so that she doesn’t “walk around the mountain bringing cold and hail“. It is interesting that in the Balkan folklore a dark cloud that brings the storm with hail or sleet is also called “baba” and that the direction from which the storm clouds usually arrive over the hill or a mountain is called “babja” meaning baba’s domain. 

Now “baba”, grandmother, hag, an old lady has a white hair so an old lady is also a “white lady”. As I already explained in my post “Baba’s day“, baba is also a word for midwife, the one who delivers babies. And she is also the one who controls earth, water, darkness and cold, the domains of the Mother Goddess. So I believe that the white ladies are memories of the old Earth Goddess, Baba, the Great Mother Goddess. My research shows that the reverence of the Great Mother was only very recently suppressed in the Balkans. I believe that the departure of the “white ladies” and the turning of the lush green pastures into desolate rocky desert, describes the belief of the local people that the abandonment of the old beliefs and the respect for the Great Mother Earth is what has brought the destruction of the environment…

But there is another, and to me the most interesting layer to this story. The astrological one. And this is the layer which only becomes accessible when we know the link between the ibex goat and the Capricorn sign. The Zlatorog story describes the succession of three winter astrological signs, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius. 

Sagittarius 23 November – 21 December
Capricorn 22 December – 20 January
Aquarius 21 January – 19 February

The story shows the inevitability of the passing of winter and the arrival of spring.

Here is the story again with the translation of the used symbols:

The only mortal, who is allowed to climb on the highest summits of the Lake Valley, is the Trenta Hunter. 

This hunter is Sagittarius. Sagittarius is the time of the year when all farm work is finished and all animals have already finished growing their winter fur. It is the time of the first snow and the beginning of the winter fur hunting season. This is why this is where we find Sagittarius, the hunter.

He is the son of a beautiful widow. He was delivered by the White women, so he is under their special protection. 

Sagittarius is the son of Virgo. Virgo is the lady who stands on the lion (Leo), the sign that comes after Leo. Virgo is the sign when Baba, the Mother Earth, starts taking over from the Father Sky. This is the time when weather starts getting cooler and wetter. By the time Sagittarius is born, Mother Earth is a widow. The agricultural year is over, the killing of the bull is finished and Scorpio has already cut his balls off (I will explain what this means exactly in on of my future posts). And the winter, the season in which Mother goddess is the sole ruler, has began on the 8th of November. 

The young hunter is joined by the Green Hunter, who is known in the valley to bring into troubles many decent young guys. It was the Green hunter, who proposes to the Trenta Hunter to kill Goldhorn. His golden horns were the key to unlocking a big treasure, which was hidden on Bogatin (Rich) mountain. 

Green Hunter is Jarilo, the young sun. Jar in Slavic languages means both hot, young and green. Jarilo is the the representation of young male passion. Considered a bad thing in Christianity. He is the mysterious “Green Man” who brings new vegetative cycle. In Celtic and Serbian calendar, the year is divided into two parts: summer which starts with Celtic Beltane (1st of May) or Serbian Jarilo day, St Georges day (5th of May) and Celtic Samhain (31st of October) or Serbian Mitrov dan (8th of November). I wrote about this in detail in my post “Two crosses“. In Serbian mythology Mitar and Jarilo are represented as mounted hunters. Jarilo encourages Mitar to go after the goat of Winter solstice, which is mid point between them and so speed up the passing of winter.  Only if Mitar, The Hunter, Sagittarius catches the Goat, Capricorn, will the new solar year start.  

The treasure was guarded by a multi-headed snake. 

The treasure is plentiful of food during summer and autumn. The beginning of summer is marked by Jarilo day, which in Christianity became St Georges day. Jarilo, the fire head of Triglav, is the Snake king, the multi-headed snake, the Dragon, the fire and heat of the sun. Christian missionaries showed a great sense of humor when they turned Jarilo, the dragon into St George – the dragon killer…But this was time and time again used recipe of destroying old religious beliefs: turn them into their opposites…

The hunters start climbing the mountain in the evening. 


This is the evening of the winter solstice. 

In the morning as the sun rose the Hunter spots the Goldhorn. He takes aim and pulls the trigger. The bullet hits Goldhorn. 

The moment when the hunter hits the goat, when Sagittarius meets the Capricorn, is the Winter solstice day. The day when the new sun, the new solar year is born, when the days start getting longer again. The Capricorn is the true Goldhorn, who brings the new sun between his horns. This sun is the key to the great treasure, the new vegetative year which will start soon when Capricorn dies…

But the hunter gets blinded by the sunlight reflecting from Zlatorog’s golden horns, slips on a cliff and falls to his death. 

The hunter dies on Winter Solstice day, the last day of Sagittarius. The day when the new sun is born and the sun’s blazing fire is rekindled. This is the end of Sagittarius and beginning of Capricorn. 

The blood gushing from dying Zlatorog’s wound melts the snow. 


The dying Capricorn’s blood which melts the snow is the first snow melt which occurs in Aquarius, after Capricorn ends. The water which Aquarius pours is this first snow melt which swells the rivers and breaks the ice. It is during Aquarius that we find Celtic Imbolc (1st of February) and St Sava (27th of January, but originally probably 4th of February), the beginning of Spring. 

From the place where snow has melted springs a magical Triglav rose. The dying Goldhorn nibbles on a few petals and is instantly healed. 

The death and resurrection of a goat is a common scene reenacted during Coleda ceremonies in Slavic countries. These ceremonies are, I believe, the origin of Christmas carols. I will talk about this more in one of my future posts. 

The once kind and trusting Goldhorn, enraged that he was treated in such a manner, leaves with the White Ladies, never to return.


Well until next winter and the next big Goldhorn hunt…

This legend once and for all confirms that zodiac signs were markers used to describe important natural events in Europe. This means that zodiac signs had to be invented in Europe, not in Babilonia. The fact that the true meaning of this story had stayed hidden for so long is solely because no one saw the link between the ibex goat and the Capricorn before.

Baba's day

Little Christmas is one of the traditional names in Ireland for 6 January, which is also widely known in the rest of the world as the Feast of the Epiphany. Little Christmas is also called Women’s Christmas (Irish: Nollaig na mBan), and sometimes Women’s Little Christmas or Little women’s Christmas. The tradition, still very strong in Cork and Kerry is so called because of the Irish men taking on household duties for the day. Most women hold parties or go out to celebrate the day with their friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts. Bars and restaurants serve mostly women and girls on this night. Children often buy presents for their mothers and grandmothers.

What is the origin of this custom?

In Serbian the word “baba” means mother, grandmother and midwife, basically anyone who gave birth or helped giving birth. It also means stone, rock, mountain and mother Earth, the Great Mother who gave birth to us all. Originally midwifes were the oldest women in the village, the ones who gave many births themselves and knew what is involved in giving and more importantly surviving birth. Hence they were the ones most qualified to help others give birth. No wonder then that in South Slavic languages the word for midwife (baba, babica) also means grandmother, old woman.

Babinden (Baba’s day) is a holiday celebrated annually in Bulgaria and parts of Serbia. It is celebrated on the 8th of January according to the old Calendar (today 21st of January). It is dedicated to “babice” (literally little grandmothers, little mothers) – midwives or any women who help at birth, and newly wedded women and women who have given birth during the previous year. The holiday has pagan origin and many fertility related rituals are performed on the day.

What follows is a description of rituals performed on Babinden in Bulgaria. Customs performed on Babindan in Serbia were very similar.

Even before sunrise mothers with children one to three years of age go to the tap to get fresh water. In the pot with water they place sprig of basil or geranium. 

Dried basil

Both basil and geranium oils are antibacterial, so placing of these plants in the water effectively makes the water sterile. This is why basil is placed in holy water….They then take bar of soap and a new towel and head to the home of the woman who delivered their children to “wash her”. The ritual bathing of the midwife used to be performed under a fruit tree in the garden or on the chopping block in front of the house or on the house stairs or the doorstep.

Infections caught at childbirth was the main cause of death in women in the past. It is interesting that the main ritual performed during Babinden is ritual washing of hands of the midwife with antiseptic water…Did our ancestors know about the link between the dirt, bacteria and infections???

Anyway, every woman gives the midwife the bar of soap, pours water that she has brought with here over midwife’s hands so that she can wash herself, and then gives the midwife the towel to dry herself. Soap and towel are kept by the midwife as presents. However the midwife does not dry her hands with the towel. Instead she dries her hands using each woman’s skirt so that she can get pregnant easily and so that she can carry her pregnancy safely and so that she can deliver the baby easily and safely. The midwife then decorates the woman with a bunch of geraniums, which is in Serbian and Bulgarian known as “zdravac” meaning “healthy”.

Geranium

Geranium, apart from being used as an antiseptic, is also used to increase fertility and to ease menstrual and menopausal problems. Officially the name Geranium is said to be derived from the Greek “γέρανος” (géranos) or γερανός (geranós) meaning “crane” plus the Latin ending “ium”. However Latin word “gero” means, among other things, to bear, to give birth. Knowing that Geranium was used extensively in fertility treatments and at childbirth is it possible that the name Geranium is derived from gero meaning to be pregnant to give birth? Also in Bulgarian Geranium is known as Babino vince (Baba’s vine). In Ancient Greek the word for old is “γέρων” (geron). The Serbian word “baba” means an old woman and geranium is baba’s wine, old woman’s wine…Is geranium then derived from geron old?

Anyway, the bunch of geraniums is tied with “martenitsa”, a bracelet made of red and white thread. This is the symbol of the holy union of the young sun Jarilo (red) and the young earth Vesna (white) which makes the earth fertile (pregnant)…

While washing, the midwife takes a handful of water, throws it into the air, bounces three times up and down and says: “May children hop like this and may then become white and red! As many drops, so much prosperity and health!”.

After the ritual washing women give the midwife shirts, socks, cloths which which they place on her right shoulder. In return, the midwife decorates the children which she has delivered the previous year with “martenitsa” with a silver coin attached to it, which she ties around their right wrist. She also gives them socks and undershirts as presents. Then she washes the children’s faces, because it is believed that on Babinden water passing through midwife’s hands has a purifying, healing effect.

This belief in the healing property of the “midwife’s water” can be seen from another ritual performed right after the birth of a child. The midwife fills a pitcher with water, puts a bunch of basil in it and takes it to the church. The priest consecrates the water and blesses the midwife. She then returns the “prayer water” to the mother who washes her face and pours a little of it in the bed of the child at each bathing until it’s 40 days old, the purification period after the birth.

After the ritual washing of the midwife and the children, the ritual feast for young brides which is held in the house of the midwife. All young brides, who were assisted at childbirth by the midwife in the past year are invited. They bring bread, pie, roast chicken and wine. They kiss midwife’s hand and give her the food. Daughters and daughter’s in law of the midwife arrange the feasting table and everyone sits around it. 
The east is cheerful and boisterous, accompanied by songs, dances and sometimes rood and lewd jokes and scenes. And songs have mostly sexual symbolic meanings. The midwife often places wreath of dried red peppers around her neck then places hot brick under the skirts of women so that they will have more children. After the women have finished the feast, men are invited to join them at the table.
Climactic moment of the day is the ritual bathing of the midwife in the river or a well. It is performed after the feast. Women and men would sit the midwife on the oxen cart or a sleigh and drive her to the river or the well, where she would perform ritual bathing. Men pull the cart or the sleigh. They are sometimes dressed as oxen, with leather masks and horns.

Sometimes the midwife is taken to the river or the well in a large wicker basket. This is very interesting because it corresponds to the similar “old woman in a wicker basket” images found in Slovenia, about which I wrote in my post “Babji mlin – Grandmother’s mill“. These images are linked to Mother Earth rejuvenation rituals. 

The procession is accompanied by musicians. Everyone is dressed up and women are decorated with martenitsas, red peppers and wool. They sing ritual songs with erotic motifs, dance, drink and generally misbehave.

If during their trip to the river or the well they meet an unknown man, women take their hat off and ask for a ransom. Once they reach the river or the well, they overturn the cart or the sleigh or the wicker basket and throw the midwife into the water. As I said already the word “baba” means baby, mother, grandmother, midwife, basically anyone who gave birth or helped giving birth. It also means mother Earth, the great mother. Originally midwifes were the oldest women in the village, the ones who gave many births themselves. No wonder then that the word for midwife (baba, babica) also means grandmother, old woman. In January when Babinden is celebrated, mother Earth is at her extreme power, as Baba, the Old Earth, the Hag, the Goddess of death. This ritual bathing of baba, babica (midwife, old woman) in actually ritual drowning of the Old Earth. It represents the snow melt, the end of the winter, the death of the Hag and the birth of the new young earth. The snow melt represents the first menstruation of the young earth, the sign that she is ready to be fertilized by the young sun…

That this indeed is ritual killing of the Winter Earth can be seen from the custom which was until the 1980s preserved in the village of Dikanci, in Gora region in South of Serbia. On Babindan young men would make a straw, corn stalk effigy of an old woman called “Guđa” (probably Gđa, short of Gospođa meaning Lady) which personified Baba, the old Earth. I wrote about how “Baba”, the old Mother Earth became “the Lady”, the mother of Christ in my post “Babje leto – Grandmother’s summer“. Anyway, the young men would chase “Guđa” out of the village with sticks all the way to the river. There they would throw the effigy into the water and then they would break and throw the sticks into the water too with shouts: “May winter not return!!!”. Similar customs are preserved in other Slavic countries and in Ireland. I will talk about this in detail in one of my future posts…

After this ritual bathing of the midwife, a dance is held on the village square where a ritual circular dance kolo is danced by everyone. This dance represents the never-ending cycle of life, the spinning of the circle of the solar and climatic year.

The day ends when kolo winds through the village and ends at the midwife’s house. Everyone kisses her hands and gives her more gifts. This expresses gratitude and love for this woman who helps the new life to be born. Again you can see how veneration of the baba (midwife, old woman) is connected with the veneration of baba (mother Earth). 

Having children was by our ancestors regarded as the most important purpose in life. A proverb says “Q: Who is more important than the king? A: A child”. This is why women who helped deliver children were so highly respected.

Is this custom of celebrating midwives which are in the Balkans known as “babice” (little women) the origin of the “Little women’s Christmas” which is today celebrated in some parts of Ireland?

Cockerel and Lion

Cockerel standing on (or above) a lion. Painting on wood. Kirovsky Regional Museum, from ethnographic material collected in Vologda region.

Middle of Leo, 2nd of August, is when Slavs used to celebrate the day of Perun, the the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. The sacred bird of Perun, the storm god, was the fire cockerel. When Christianity replaced the old Slavic pagan religion, in Serbia Perun was replaced with Sveti Ilija Gromovnik (St Ilios the Thunderer, the Thundering Sun) and the cockerel became associated with this “Thundering” saint. The cockerel, the sacred bird of the thunder god is slaughtered, cooked and eaten on the day of St Ilios the Thunderer “so that the sun would not burn the grain”. This is a clear sacrifice to the Storm god for rain…Interestingly it has to be “the oldest” cockerel. Remember Perun is the the old sky god, old sun, the old head of Triglav, two other heads being Jarilo (young sky god, young sun) and Svetovid (adult sky god, adult sun)…This again confirms the link between the cockerel and Perun.

I believe that the fact that cockerel is the sacred bird of Perun, the Storm god, is why the weather-vanes placed on top of churches are in the shape of a cockerel. Weather-vanes like this one from 19th century Russia:

However the official theory is that cockerel shaped weather-vanes or weathercocks are placed on top of church steeples because of St Peter. 

In “Encyclopedia of Religions” by John G. R. Forlong we read that  “Pope Gregory I in the 6th century said that ‘the cock (rooster) was the most suitable emblem of Christianity, being the emblem of St Peter‘” Some say that it was as a result of this that the cock began gradually to be used as a weather vane on church steeples. Pope Leo IV had a figure of a cockerel placed on the Old St. Peter’s Basilica. And in the 9th century Pope Nicholas I ordered the figure of a cockerel to be placed on every church steeple, as a symbol of Jesus’ prophecy of Peter’s betrayal (Luke 22:34), that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed on the morning following the Last Supper.

So it seems that the placing of the cockerel weather-vanes on Christian church steeples has nothing to do with Perun and everything to do with St Peter. However in Slavic folk tradition St Peter seems to have acquired a lot of characteristics of Perun. He is the Saint who Eastern Slavs pray to for rain, as we can read in the “Songs of the Russian People” by W. R. S. Ralston. 

In “Slovenska mitologija – enciklopedijski recnik” by Svetlana M. Tolstoj, Ljubinko Radenkovic we can read that Bulgarians and Russians considered 29th of Jun, Petrovdan, the day of St Peter, to be the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Just like Serbs considered 2nd of August, Ilindan, the day of St Ilija the Thunderer, the Thundering Sun, old Perundan, the day of Perun,  to be the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn. In “Перуника – цвет небеског или хтонског света?” by Ljubinko Radenkovic we read that in Dubrovnik region people used to celebrate St Petar Bogišar (St Peter of the Iris flower). Iris is in the Balkans known as Perunika, Perun’s flower. I wrote about the link between Iris and Perun in my post about Ognjena Marija

So it seems that both St Ilija (mainly) and St Petar became replacement for Perun. 

If so, is the cockerel standing on top of church steeples symbol of St Peter, there to remind people of St Peter’ betrayal of Jesus? Or is the cockerel standing on top of church steeples symbol of Perun, there to protect the church from the wrath of the storm god???

And did cockerel jump onto church steeples directly out of Slavic mythology, or did Goths, who before their migration westward lived for centuries mixed with eastern Slavs, act as intermediaries?

This is very interesting indeed, don’t you think?

Wren or wran?

The wran, the wran, the king of all birds…
This is wren. The Wren is small and rather inconspicuous. But it lives life at a fast, relentless pace and it sings this way too – it trembles as it puts everything into its song, which lasts about 5 seconds and usually ends in a trill.They are either the first or one of the first birds to start singing at dawn and once they start their song is so loud that it drowns out everything else. So they are known as the heralds of the rising sun. 
In European folklore, the wren has always been considered the king of the birds, as its name in European languages indicates. Aristotle and Plutarch called the wren basileus (king) and basiliskos (little king). In Latin he was known as Regulus – prince. In French, Roitelet – little king. Celtic names of the wren (draouennig, drean, dreathan, dryw etc.) all mean druid bird, and in Welsh the word dryw actually means both druid and wren. It is the same in Germanic languages. In Teutonic wren is Koning Vogel meaning king-bird. In Old German wren is Schneekönig meaning snow king, in Modern German wren is Zaunkönig meaning king of the hedge and in Dutch wren is winterkoninkje meaning winter little king. The same situation is in Slavic languages. In Serbocroatian wren is carić maning little tzar, in Russian wren is korolek, in Ukrainian wren is korolik, in Sorbian wren is kralik, In Slovenian wren is kraljiček, in Slovak wren is hrdlik all meaning prince, little king. 
It was generally believed that wren brought good fortune and harming the bird or its nest was strictly forbidden. It was also believed that anyone who broke this taboo would die from a lightning strike. 
Well wren was considered the bringer of good news everywhere except in Ireland where he was considered to be the bringer of bad news. This is the list of local beliefs related to wren from Ireland from “Pagan Celtic Britain”, by Ann Ross, Chapter VI, page 260:

…if it call from behind you importuning of your wife by another man in despite of you. If it be on the ground behind you, your wife will be taken from you by force. If the wren call from the east, poets are coming towards you, or tidings from them. If it call behind you from the south, you will see the heads of good clergy or hear death tidings of noble ex lay men. If it call from the south robbers and evilkinsmen are coming. If it call from the north west, a noble hero of good lineage and noble hospitallars and goodwomen are coming.
If it call from the north, bad people are coming whether warriors or clerics or bad women and wiched youths are on way…

So no wonder that in Ireland on Christmas day wren was hunted and killed…
Long ago, on Christmas day, in Ireland, group of men an boys, called “wren boys” go out “hunting the wren”. Pursuit of the bird persisted into the early years of the 20th century. Accounts relate that for a day or two previous to the holiday wren was, ‘hunted and knocked over with stick or stone. Two or three of them were tied to a branch torn from a holly bush, which was also decorated with coloured ribbons. Sometimes a pole or a basket was used to carry the dead wren. If the group as “unlucky” and couldn’t find and kill a wren, an effigy, a bird doll was used. 
Yates drawing of “wren boys”
Then on the St Steven’s day, the “wren boys” or as they are sometimes called “straw boys” get dressed up in masks, straw suits, and colorful motley clothing, and go from home to home displaying the dead birds and begging for money “to bury the wren.” They play music instruments, sing and make a lot of noise. At the door step of each home the ‘Bean an Tí’ (the woman of the house), is beseeched:

The wren, the wren, the King of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.
So up with the kettel and down with the pan,
and give us a penny to bury the wren.

The house that is least generous is likely to have the wren buried under their door, “through which no luck would then enter for a twelvemonth”

Here are some pictures of “wren boys” or “straw boys” from Ireland:

Similar traditions of hunting the wren have been performed on the Isle of Man on Boxing Day and in Pembrokeshire, Wales on Twelfth Day (6 January, the old Christmas day) and, on the first Sunday of December in parts of Southern France, including Carcassonne. 
What is the explanation for this strange custom? Why, of all birds, is this tiny bird chosen as the martyr for display by groups who take their name from it? 
Apparently because of its treachery. Here are the explanations given in Ireland for this custom:
When the Irish forces were about to catch Cromwells troops by surprise, a wren perched on one of the soldiers drums made a noise that woke the sleeping sentries just in time, thereby saving the camp.  
Another explanation is that wren betrayed St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, by flapping its wings to attract his pursuers when he was hiding in a bush. 
Another explanation for the hostility towards this most harmless of creatures says that it is all the result of the efforts of clerics in the middle ages to undermine vestiges of druidic reverence and practices regarding the bird. Medieval texts interpret the etymology of wren, the Irish for which is dreolín, as derived from ‘dreán’ or ‘draoi éan’ the translation of which is ‘druid bird’. So once venerated and protected bird, whose harming was by the Irish believed to be punishable by death by lightning, became the target of the ritual killing on the same day when it was originally celebrated. 
The last explanation for the hatred towards wrens is also the explanation for how wren got to be called the “little king”.This explanation is associated with the fable of the election of the “king of birds”. The story goes like this. The birds decided to elect the king of birds and decided that the bird that could fly to the highest altitude would be made king. The eagle out-flew all other birds, but he was beaten by a wren that had hidden in his plumage. And when the eagle tired, the wren flew out above him and won the race. 

This fable is already known to Aristotle (Historia Animalium 9.11) Plutarch (Political Precepts xii.806e) and Pliny (Naturalis Historia 10.74). 

Plutarch implied that this story teaches us that cleverness, trickery is better than strength. Hmmmm…Great lesson….

What is interesting is that this old fable is actually still told as a fairy-tale in Ireland and in Slavic lands. 

In Irish version, god wished to know who was the king of all birds so he set a challenge. The bird who flew highest and furthest would win. The birds all began together but they dropped out one by one until none were left but the great eagle. The eagle eventually grew tired and began to drop lower in the sky. At this point, the treacherous wren emerged from beneath the eagle’s wing to soar higher and further than all the others. And this is why wren is hunted and killed. In Irish the word Dreoilín means wren and the word dreolán means trickster…

In the Slavic version the bird which flies the highest, while carrying the wren hidden in his feathers,  is eagle (in East Ukrainian and Polish version) or heron (in West Ukrainian version) or stork (in Sorbian version). Once the eagle (heron, stork) out-flies all the other birds, wren flies out of its plumage and out-flies the eagle (heron, stork). 

That wren is seen as trickster in Slavic mythology can be seen from the fact that wren is also known as “obluda” meaning “trickster”, “durisvit” meaning “charlatan, fool”, “zvoditelj” meaning “joker”. But in Slavic version of the story, the trick is discovered and wren is forced to run and hide in order to avoid punishment. In Ukrainian and Sorbian versions of the story, this is not the end. Angry birds decide that because they could not find the king of the bird through a “who can fly the highest” competition decide to stage a context in “who can get the deepest”. The bird that can get the deepest into the ground will be the king of the birds. And again wren won the contest. The wren scientific name Troglodytidae is derived from the word “troglodyte”, which means “cave-dweller”. The wrens get their scientific name from the fact that they forage in dark crevices and hide from the cold in holes just like mice. This small, brown bird that scurries through the undergrowth and into log piles and holes in search of insects and any other small animals, particularly beetles and spiders, from a distance actually looks like a mouse. Thus in Ukrainian and Polish tradition, wren is also known as mouse king. It is interesting that Icelanders also consider wren to be the “mouse’s brother”. 

The Celts and the Slavs seem to have understood the story slightly differently from the Greeks. Wren’s trickery was not seen as virtue but as a crime, a sin…punishable by death…

Are Slavic wren stories versions of older Celtic stories preserved in Central Europe when Celts morphed into Slavs? Or does this story about the cheating wren predate both Celts and Slavs? Or is this story about the cheating wren a later corruption of a much earlier story which doesn’t involve wren at all but another bird whose name sounds very much like wren, making the wren an unfortunate victim of a mistaken identity? 

Let’s see what we can dig out. 

Remember that wren forages and hides in holes in the ground, in “the underworld”. This makes wren, the bird that can be under ground, on the ground and in the air “the bird that connects the three worlds”. 

As I already said, wren is the first bird to start singing in the morning. And the loudest. This is why wren is known as the herald of the rising sun. 

So every evening both the sun and wren go underground. And every morning wren emerges from the underground before the sun does, effectively out-running the sun during their race from the underworld to heaven. Now the bird most associated with the sun is eagle, who is the solar bird pretty much in every religion in the northern hemisphere. So wren racing the sun can be nicely represented with wren racing an eagle. Is this the origin of the story about the bird race in which a wren beat an eagle?

Also because wren announces the arrival of the sun, during the Pagan times, wren, the “little king of birds”, was announcing the arrival of the Sun, the “big king of heaven”. That is a particularly important role in sun worshiping religions. No wonder wren was so venerated and protected. 

European Wrens are migratory in some parts of Europe, flying anything up to 2500 km (1500 miles) with some migrating all the way from Scandinavia down to Spain. But in British Isles wren is one of the few non migratory songbirds and is often the only bird singing during the winter solstice period. Its song on the Winter Solstice morning, not only announces the sunrise, it announces the beginning of the new solar year, the birth of the new sun, new sun god, new little king of heaven.

Christmas is repackaged Winter Solstice and that many old rituals related to winter solstice were moved to Christmas. So instead of the birth of the new sun, new sun god, little king of heaven which happens on the Winter Solstice morning, we have the birth of baby Jesus, the son of God the king of heaven, which happens on Christmas morning. Now correct me if I am wrong, but the son of the “king of heaven” is defacto the “prince of heaven” or the “little king of heaven”. Right?

When the Winter Solstice celebration of the birth of new Sun God was replaced by the Christmas celebration of the birth of the Son of God, Christians didn’t want to be reminded of the old Sun God by the wren, who was still announcing his arrival. So Is this why wren had to die on the day the new Son of God was born to replace Sun the God? Look at the day on which the dead wren, the dead herald of the old Sun God was paraded around. That day is the day after the Christmas day, the St Stephen’s day. Now who is this St Stephen? St Stephen or St Stephan is traditionally venerated as the Protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity. Now this means the first one to be killed in the name of Christ, Son of God. And the first to be killed in the name of the Son of God is Sun the God. New young Sun God, old “little king of heaven”, which used to be born on the day of the Winter Solstice is now killed on Christmas day, replacement for the Winter Solstice, and is replaced by Son of God, new “little king of heaven”. And the day when this “first victim of Christianity” is celebrated is St Stephen’s day. Funnily name Stephen or Stephan was originally a title meaning “crowned” or king, the origin of which is in the  Ancient Greek word “στέφανος” which means crown. It was the title given to many kings in medieval Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Poland. So the death of the old “little king” and the enthronement of the new “little king” is celebrated on the day of Stephen, the day of the “crowned one” the day of the king. Do you think that there is some kind of symbolism here? 

But this is not all.

Why is the killing of wrens or disturbing of their nests punished by thunder? And why is it said that wren is the bird of Lugh, the Celtic thunder god? Well to understand this we need to look at what happens to the newly born Sun God after the Winter Solstice.

Remember my post “Two crosses“?

As soon as he is born on Winter Solstice, the Sun God starts its ascend to the throne. He finally sits on its throne on Summer Solstice. This is the day when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky above the northern hemisphere. This is the maximum sunlight day. One would expect that the day after the Summer solstice, as the days start getting shorter the weather would start getting colder. But that is not the case. The days start getting shorter but the weather continues to get warmer. Until the 2nd of August. This is the maximum heat day. This is the sun at its maximum strength. After that the days finally start getting cooler.

In Serbia the 2nd of August is Perun day, but also the day of Ilija Gromovnik, the Thundering Sun, the Thunder Giant. In Serbian Thunder Giant is Grom Div. In Ireland 2nd of August is the day of Chrom Dubh, the Sky God and the main agricultural deity of the old Ireland. But also the day of Lugh, the thunder god.

Now if we look at wren life-cycle we will notice something very interesting. This is an excerpt from Edward Armstrong’s THE WREN (1955) which talks about wren’s singing patterns:

Usually there is little song in January apart from imperfect phrases, lacking in verve, during the day, especially in the morning if the weather is mild, and some rallying songs at dusk, if it is severe. …. Favourable weather in February elicits a fair amount of morning song, a song or two in the afternoon and a little regular song before roosting. … In March [if the weather is mild] there is intermittent singing for two or three hours in the morning, an increase in the evening output and a general advance towards day-long song .. at the end of the month, when nest-building has begun, song is in every way well developed. … In April there is still more territorial song … apparently there is some diminution in May [when females are incubating or, towards end of May, feeding young] … it is difficult accurately to assess the output of song at this stage as individuals vary according to the phase of the breeding cycle. … In June many reach their highest daily production of song and a few young Wrens begin to sing at the end of the month. During July song decreases and deteriorates, and some adults go almost out of song, but the number of juveniles singing increases. The moult in August is accompanied by an abrupt diminution of song, so far as most adults are concerned, but the birds of the year frequently utter their broken ditties, mainly during the hour and a half after sunrise. This may continue until about the beginning of October when song becomes bolder and clearer, though still incomplete. In November if the weather is [mild], there is little change: Wrens are heard for about half and hour after sunrise and a few phrases are uttered in the late afternoon and towards sunset. Song diminishes in December, but even when it is freezing Wrens occasionally engage in song duels.

So wrens sing the most around Summer Solstice period as befits the herald of the Sun. But they get almost completely silent around Crom Dubh, Lugh, Ilija Gromovnik, Perun day. And this is the only time when these loudmouths shut up. Why? The reason for the sudden silence of wrens, is the annual moult: a complete change of feathers after the final wear and tear of the breeding season. Even juveniles are changing into adult plumage. Moulting takes energy, as the bird’s metabolism speeds up to grow new feathers and push out the old ones. The birds become lethargic, reluctant to fly very far, and spend much of the day resting in deep cover. Keeping their beaks shut.

And this coincides with the period when Summer turns into Autumn and the beginning of the harvest. For early farmers this must have been very auspicious. As I wrote in my post about the Sky Father, the beginning of the harvest is the most critical period of the whole grain vegetative cycle. Sudden storm, heavy rain and particularly strong winds can destroy everything farmers worked for the whole year. On Summer Solstice Sun God was powerful and merciful. On the 2nd of August he is even more powerful but he is angry, angry because his reign is coming to an end. This is why 2nd of August is the real seat of the Sky God. Because this is when he is most dangerous.

And in Serbia, on the 2nd of August people celebrate St Stephen the Wind maker. This saint is Christianized version of Stribog, the old Slavic wind god.

In the epic “Slovo o polku Igorovu” it is said that the winds are the grandsons of Stribog. He was imagined as an old man who had a warrior’s horn with which he woke the winds up. Stribog was especially worshiped in Kievian Russia where they built idols dedicated to him…Festivities in Stribog’s honor were organized in the summer as well as in the winter.

Now I know that the Eastern Slavs worshiped Stribog as a separate deity, but I believe that Stribog was just an attribute of Perun. Here is why. 

Eagle was his sacred animal. Just like Perun’s. His sacred plants were hawthorn and oak. Just like Perun’s. His day was the 2nd of August. Just like Perun’s.  When pledges were made, Stribog was often guarantor who would punish cheaters and wrongdoers. Just like Perun. 

Also apparently we don’t officially know what Stribog means. Well in Serbian the word “trti” means “to rub in, to stomp in, to erase”. The word “strti, zatrti” means “to destroy utterly, to level to the ground”. The word “stri, zatri” is an imperative of “strti, zatrti” meaning “destroy utterly, level to the ground”. So Stribog = Stri, Zatri + bog = destroy utterly, level to the ground + god = The one who destroys utterly, who levels to the ground. 

This is wheat field destroyed by a storm. 
All the stalks are broken by wind and rain. This is the nightmare of all grain farmers. And this is what “strti, zatrti”, “to destroy utterly, to level to the ground”, means. This the terrible power that the Sky God, the Thunder Giant wields. 

Basically Stribog was the destructive face of Perun. It is interesting that Stribog was replaced by Stefan or Stepan. In Serbian the word “tepati” means “to hit, to beat up” and the word “stepati, zatepati” means “to destroy utterly, to level to the ground”. Stepan is the one who “destroys utterly, who levels to the ground”… So Stepan could be stepa + on = destroy utterly, level to the ground + he = the Destoryer. Maybe St Stepan (Stefan) is just another version of Stribog and has nothing to do with crowned and king? Or maybe you only get crowned as a king when you utterly destroy, level to the ground everything that stands in your way…Interesting… So it is no wonder that Stribog was the favorite god of military commanders. Even more interesting is that the word “stepan” also means destroyed, leveled, which is what happens to someone who was stoned to death like St Stepan, Stephen…I will not even go into how come an early Palestine saint, the first martyr of Christianity who was stoned to death, has a name which in Slavic language means”the one one who was utterly destroyed, leveled, killed”…

And here is the best bit: Stribog was particularly popular with princes, who often built his idols and worshiped them….There is something poetic about the fact that Stribog was the favorite idol of the princes, who are waiting for their fathers to die so that they can inherit the throne. Perun as Stribog is the sun god in is most terrible, super powerful but on the way out and knowing that he is on the way out. The winter is coming and his power is vanning and in December he will die and will be replaced by his son, the “new sun”, “little king of heaven”, “prince of heaven”. And there is nothing Old Sun God can do. This is just the way things are. 

I love this. 

So during this “dangerous” harvest period, during the reign of Perun the destroyer, Stribog, wren doesn’t sing. It hides and it looks like it has disappeared. Well this looks like a fitting announcement of the arrival of the old cranky god, don’t you think? Run and hide… And then it starts singing again when the harvest is finished and the reign of the sun is over. Right on time for the arrival of the Lady, Virgo. Is this why there is the link between the Storm god and wren and why those who harm wrens are punished by thunder? I also believe that the fact that wren is in Slavic countries also known as “bull’s eye” is another thing that confirms this link between the Sky god in his terrible Destroyer role and wren. The sacrificial animal of both Perun and Crom Dubh was bull…

O and by the way in Japan, the wren is labelled king of the winds…

But it is possible that the hunt actually originally happened on winter solstice day but that the bird that was hunted was not wren but wran, vran meaning crow, raven.

In English tradition, “the cock robin and the jenny wren are the Queen of Heaven’s cock and hen”.
The shape-shifting Fairy Queen took the form of a wren, known as “Jenny Wren” in nursery rhymes.

In my post “Babje leto – Grandmother’s summer” I talked about the transformation of the old mother goddess into Mary the mother of god, the Queen of heaven. According to the old Serbian and Celtic tradition, the year was divided into two parts: the white, light, warm part dominated by the Sky father and the black, dark, cold part dominated by the Earth Mother. These two opposites mix during the year and produce life. But in their extremes they are both destructive and bring death. 

The period between the Summer solstice (21st of June) and the beginning of Autumn (2nd of August), is the extreme Sky Father period. This is the period symbolized by the Eagle. The period between the Winter solstice (21st of December) and the beginning of spring (2nd of February) is the extreme Earth Mother, Baba, Cailleach period. This period is symbolized by crow and raven. In my post “Bran Vran” I talked abut the word “bran, vran, wran, fran” which is found in both Slavic and Celtic languages and which means “crow, raven” but also “black”.  Crow and ravens, the ominous black birds of death are sacred birds of the mother goddess in her most extreme form as the old hag of winter. 

The eagle, the big king of the summer skies and the crow, the usurper, the little king of the winter skies. Interestingly crows are the only birds which are not afraid of eagles and are known to gather in groups and attack eagles…On top of this crows and ravens are the smartest birds. So if any bird was to outsmart an eagle and use smartness against strength it would have been crow (wran) and not wren. 

In Ireland the “wren boys” don’t actually sing “The wren, the wren, the king of all birds…”. They sing “The wran, the wran, the king of all birds…”. Is this just the mispronunciation or were the original “wren boys” actually “wran boys” who didn’t hunt wrens but “wrans”, crows and ravens?

Crows and ravens can devastate the grain fields during the winter and early spring. They gather in huge flocks, land on fields and can basically poke and pull every last seed out of the ground. This is why farmers since the time immemorial considered crows their enemies and built scarecrows

Now here is again the picture of the “wran boys”:

Don’t they look like scarecrows dressed in old mismatched colorful clothing? And look at the “straw boys”. Don’t they look like walking grain stacks? 

Giant grain stacks, good harvest, is reason why crows (wrans) are killed… 

The “wran boys” go through the fields, bang drums, blow pipes and shout. Just what you want to do if you want to scare the crows and ravens (wrans). And if you also manage to kill a crow and raven (wran) or even many crows and ravens (wrans) even better. And to prove that you have done your job of protecting the fields well, you attach the dead crows and ravens (wrans) on the holy branch and parade them through the village and you ask for money to bury them. And you kill the crows and ravens (wrans) on the day of the Winter Solstice, the day when the Sun is reborn, to help the Eagle win over crows, to help light win over darkness, to help the summer win over winter…

Remember how in Ireland wren was considered the bringer of bad news, which is the role dedicated to crows and ravens in Slavic countries where wren always brings good news? Did someone seriously misunderstand something here? I believe so. I believe that the old custom of killing crows and ravens on Winter Solstice was, when the meaning of the word “wran” was forgotten, replaced with killing of wren, which is the closest English word that sounds like “wran”…

What do you think?

I will leave you with this great song by Snakefinger and Residents called “Kill the great raven”. You can hear the song here.

Kill the Great Raven 
Kill the Great Raven 

His tiny eyes, they search the skies 
He looks so alone, so he must die 
“Oh, does he really have to die?” 
“Oh yes, he really has to suffer” 

Kill the Great Raven 
Kill the Great Raven 

And when he dies, 
to his surprise 
The sun will set 
and he will rise
“Where will he go?” 
“He’ll become the sun of course. 
We must have one you know…

Kill the Great Raven 
Kill the Great Raven 

Archangel Michael

This is Archangel Michael, my family saint. He is celebrated today on 21st of November. I wish all people who celebrate Archangel Michael (Srećna Slava) Happy Slava. 

But who is really Archangel Michael?

If we look at the Bible we find that it has this to say about Archangel Michael:

Genesis 3

“{3:24}And in front of the Paradise of enjoyment, he placed the Cherubim with a flaming sword, turning together, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

1 Chronicles 21

“{21:16} And David lifting up his eyes, saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand, turned against Jerusalem: and both he and the ancients clothed in haircloth, fell down flat on the ground.”

“{21:30} And David could not go to the altar there to pray to God: for he was seized with an exceeding great fear, seeing the sword of the angel of the Lord.”

Who is Archangel Michael? The Archangel Michael is the closest to the Lord in the Jewish scriptures, for his very name means “Who is like God.” As the eldest Archangel, he is given captaincy of all of God’s natural phenomena, including rain, wind, fire, snow, thunder, lightning, and hail. Michael is believed by many Jews to have appeared to Moses as the fire in the burning bush and to have led Daniel from the lions’ den. Additionally, because it is said in the Book of Revelations that Michael will lead God’s troops against the dragon and his angels at the final battle, many people seek the aid of Michael against wrong-doers on Earth

The archangel who controls the rain, fire, thunder, lightning and who punished the wrong-doers. Is this a description of Perun? The Archangel with a flaming sword who stands between Heaven and Earth guarding the heaven and pointing his flaming sword towards the earth. Is this a description of lightning? Is the lightning the flaming sword of the lord?

In my post about “Ognjena Marija” I explained that 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, who is just another name for Ilija, Ilios, Sun god, another face of Sun god. 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” referring to Ognjena Marija. Onjena Marija, Perunika uses a heavy sledge hammer (a symbol of thunder deities) 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. The name “bogiša”, 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. Perunika, the wife of Perun, symbolized by flower Perunika, is the essence of his power, Electricity, Lightning. 

In the same way Indrani is the wife and essence of the power of Indra, and Shakti is wife and essence of the power of Shiva. 

Perun holding Perunika is Shiva holding Trishula, Lightning. 

And guess what? Iris (Perunika) has the petals of the same color as lightning, blue – purple laced with lightning like golden pattern. It also has three main petals.

Just like trishula has three spikes: 

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, the Thunder god, 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.

This basically means that the sun wheel of Svetovid is thunder wheel of Perun. Sun creates, gives power to lightning, which is exactly what the latest scientific data is telling us: Solar radiation and lightning are intrinsically linked.  

Now remember, Michael “is like God”. And so is Perun. Perun is like Svetovid. Perun is Ilija the Thunderer, who is Thundering sun Ilios. In my post about Triglav, Trimurti I wrote that 

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 this means: 

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

And the answer to this riddle is Triglav, Trimurti. Svetovid (sun), Perun (thunder and lightning) and Svarog (Jarilo, fire) are three faces of one and only god Triglav. 

Perun is “like” Svetovid and this is depicted through the symbols of Svetovid and Perun: their wheels. The wheel of Perun is “like” the wheel of Svetovid. It is actually the fiery version of the wheel of Svetovid. Sun creating fire through lightning. 

Now if Michael is “Like El”, is Michael actually Perun, who is “Like Svetovid”? 

In Indian mythology, Trimurti consists of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma. In Serbian mythology, Triglav (Svetovid, Perun, Svarog (Jarilo)) 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 (Svetovid).
Branjanj (meaning the protector, supporter, from bran “protection”, braniti “to protect”), the fire (Svarog, Jarilo).
Živa (meaning alive, living from Živ “alive, life”), the giver and taker of life (Perun).

In Serbian the word “Živ” means Alive and the word “Život” means Life. The tree of Life in Serbian is “Drvo Života”. And Michael is guarding the access to the tree of Life (Život). Is this just a coincidence or is this a hint that Michael is Živa – Perun, the electricity part of the holy trinity? And as we know now, electricity is what powers all the life in the universe….

The references to the “captain of the host of the Lord” encountered by Joshua in the early days of his campaigns in the Promised Land (Joshua 5:13-15) have at times been interpreted as Michael the Archangel, but there is no theological basis for that assumption, given that Joshua then worshiped this figure, and angels are not to be worshiped. Some scholars also point that the figure may refer to God himself. In the book of Joshua’s account of the fall of Jericho, Joshua “looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand”. When the still unaware Joshua asks which side of the fight the Archangel is on, the response was, “neither…but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.
So Joshua worshiped Michael (the fiery sword of god) like God. Michael who is “Like God, Closest to God”. Serbs worshiped Perun (the lightning which causes fire and destruction) like God, the god of warriors. 

What is amazing is that when asked whose side he is on, Michael answers “neither”. This is exact description of the nature of lightning. It is not on the side of heaven nor it is on the side of the earth. It is in between connected to both heaven and earth.

The Book of Revelation (12:7-9) describes a war in heaven in which Michael, being stronger, defeats Satan:

…there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.” 

Slaying the dragon is a job of Thuner gods though out Evroasia. In Slavic religion, Veles is said to live in the roots of the Tree of Life in the shape of a serpent and is constantly trying to destroy the tree of life by eating its roots. He is killed by Perun in the shape of an eagle who lives in the branches of the Tree of Life. Perun the defender of the Tree of Life kills Veles the dragon, the great snake. This is another proof that Michael is actually Perun, Shiva, Thor, the thunder god, the lightning sword of the Lord God, the Sun.  

A reference to an “archangel” also appears in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:16

…the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God…“.

This archangel who heralds the second coming of Christ is not named, but is probably Michael, the lightning which descends from heaven to earth with the sound of thunder, the voice of Archangel, the trumpet of God.

Do you think this is all a bit strange? It gets even Stranger.

The earliest and most famous sanctuary to Saint Michael was the Michaelion built in the early 4th century by Emperor Constantine at Chalcedon, on the site of an earlier Temple called Sosthenion. A painting of the Archangel slaying a serpent became a major art piece at the Michaelion after Constantine defeated Licinius near there in 324, eventually leading to the standard iconography of Archangel Michael as a warrior saint slaying a dragon. The Michaelion was a magnificent church and in time became a model for hundreds of other churches in Eastern Christianity which spread devotions to the Archangel.

A temple called Leosthenion (Greek: Λεωσθένιον) or Sosthenion (Greek: Σωσθένιον) had existed at the location prior to the 4th century. The site corresponds to modern Istinye.

According to a widespread tradition, current already since the 6th century, the Church of St. Michael at Sosthenion was founded by Constantine the Great, who visited the temple, erected by the Argonauts and dedicated to Zeus Sosthenios or a winged deity. Constantine interpreted the winged statue of the temple as a Christian angel. After sleeping the night in the temple, Constantine reported a vision that the angel was the Archangel Michael, and converted the building into a church to honor him.

Winged Zeus, Winged thunder god, was “interpreted” by Constantine as “Archangel Michael” who we have seen has all attributes of Perun, the thunder god. 

Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to become a Christian and in 313 AD along with his co-Emperor Licinius signed the Edict of Milan, allowing Christians to worship freely and build public churches, rather than worshiping in secret. However, Constantine and Licinius later fought each other and in 324 AD Constantine defeated Licinius at the Battle of Adrianople, not far from the Michaelion – attributing the victory to Archangel Michael.

“Constantine felt that both Licinius and Arius were agents of Satan, and associated them with the serpent described in the Book of Revelation (12:9). Constantine represented Licenius as a snake on his coins. After the victory, Constantine commissioned a depiction of himself and his sons slaying Licinius represented as a serpent – a symbolism borrowed from the Christian teachings on the Archangel to whom he attributed the victory. A similar painting, this time with the Archangel Michael himself slaying a serpent then became a major art piece at the Michaelion and eventually lead to the standard iconography of Archangel Michael as a warrior saint.”

Archangel Michael was the warrior saint because Perun was a warrior God. And Archangel Michael slaying the Dragon is Perun (Eagle) slaying Veles (snake), Sun. Light overpowering Water, Darkness…

Did Constanin turn Perun into Archangel Michael? 

Well I don’t know, but have a look at these two pictures. 

The labarum (Greek: λάβαρον) was a vexillum (military standard) that displayed the “Chi-Rho” symbol ☧, formed from the first two Greek letters of the word “Christ” (Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Χριστός) — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ). It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I. Since the vexillum consisted of a flag suspended from the crossbar of a cross, it was ideally suited to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ.

According to Lactantius, a Latin historian of North African origins saved from poverty by the Emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337), who made him tutor to his son Crispus, Constantine had dreamt of being ordered to put a “heavenly divine symbol” (Latin: coeleste signum dei) on the shields of his soldiers. The description of the actual symbol chosen by Emperor Constantine the next morning, as reported by Lactantius, is not very clear: it closely resembles a Chi-Rho or a staurogram, a similar Christian symbol. That very day Constantine’s army fought the forces of Maxentius and won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), outside Rome.

There is a symbol, a “heavenly divine symbol” which closely resembles ChiRho. It is the heavenly wheel of Perun, the warrior deity of Slavs who is like Svetovid:

Constantin, the first Christian Roman emperor, was born in the Balkans, in what is today the south eastern part of Serbia, in the town which is today called Niš, but which was known as Naisus during Roman times. What was Constantin’s tribal origin? I don’t know. But if he was fighting in the Civil War, he must have turned to his countrymen, to his compatriots, to his tribesmen for support. And what if they believed in Perun, the thunder god, being the protector of the warriors? What would be the best way Constantin could appease them? What was the best way for Constantin to get their support? Well he could have told them that he did not forget the “old faith” of their forefathers. And that if his compatriots joined him, they would be fighting as “us” against “them”. And that they would be fighting under the protection of their old warrior god. And how would he show that? By placing the symbol of their old warrior god, the wheel of Perun, the heavenly divine symbol, which closely resembles ChiRho, onto their standards and shields. 

Under this sigh you will conquer!



And they did. 

Is this why, when eventually Constantin won the war, he built the temple dedicated to “Archangel Michael”, who is Like God, the commander of the heavenly army, the slayer of dragons, the guardian of the Gates of Heaven and the Tree of Life, the one who is between the Heaven and Earth?

What do you think, who is really Archangel Michael?

Irij

“…the souls of our ancestors shine every morning from Iriy…” – “The book of Veles

Ireland. Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

Éire“,is Irish for “Ireland”, the name of an island and a sovereign state. It evolved from the Old Irish word Ériu, which was the name of a Gaelic goddess. Ériu is generally believed to have been the matron goddess of Ireland, a goddess of sovereignty, or simply a goddess of the land.

There are two theories that try to explain the origin of this word.

The first one says that the name Ériu is derived from the name other people gave to the island of Ireland. The second one says that the name originated in Ireland and was the name by which the Irish called their own land. They both have their proponents.

Ireland, the western most land theory

The first theory, which was proposed in the 19th century, and for which we read that it “does not follow modern standards of etymology”, derives the name from Scottish Gaelic. According to this etymology, the origin of “Ériu” comes from ì (island) + thairr (west) + fónn (land), which together give ì-iar-fhónn, or “western isle”. This is similar in meaning to the Norse name for Irish people, “west men”. If we look at the map of Northern Europe, we can see that indeed Ireland is the land lying directly westward, looking from Scotland and from the Baltic sea, from which both Northern Slavic, Baltic, Norse and Danish mariners would have come to Ireland.  So Western Isle and West Men makes a lot of sense, but as we are told it “does not follow modern standards of etymology”…

Ireland, the fat, full, abundant land theory

The second theory, which apparently “follows the modern standards of etymology” says that the origin of “Ériu” comes from Proto-Goidelic “Īweriū” or “Īveriū” which comes from Proto-Celtic “Φīwerjon”, which comes from from Proto-Indo-European “piHwerjon”, which is related to “piHwer”, which is supposed to mean “fat, full, abundant”. This would suggest that the meaning of the word Ériu is “abundant land”. The whole root chain here is reconstructed, meaning that we think the words in the chain might have existed, and might have the meanings we propose, and might have been related to each other, but we actually have no idea if this is true or not. On top of this, we don’t know if the meaning “fat, full, abounding” is correct. Ireland is certainly not especially abundant compared to England or the rest of Europe. The land in Ireland is not in any way fatter or more fertile and more suited for agriculture, crop growth. In fact the opposite is the case which you can see from this map of land use in Europe.

You can see the distribution of the arable farmland (yellow), forest (dark green), pasture (light green), and tundra or bogs in the north (dark yellow). It is plain to see that Ireland does not deserve to be the only place named “fat, full, abundant land”. The description of the quality of the Irish soil is best summarized on the web page called “Soils in Ireland” where the first sentence is “The general consensus is that Irish soil quality is good overall”. So good, not great, not amazing. One thing that I would like you to note on the above picture is that Ireland is mostly light green, which is the color of pasture. The data found on the “Crops and Livestock Survey” for 2015 is (in thousands of hectares):

Area farmed 4,429.5
Total crops, fruit and horticulture 359.7

Total cattle and sheep production related land over 4,000
This means that most of the Irish agricultural land is used as pasture land. The reason why this is so is because the combination of the Irish climate which is wet and cold and the Irish soil which is acidic, makes Ireland best suited for growing grass, not agricultural crops. And hence Ireland is basically one huge grass field full of grazing cattle and sheep with few cold climate crops fields, forests and bogs strewn around. 
Anyway 🙂
One of the proponents of this modern scientific “fat, full, abundant land” theory is John Koch. In his work “Celts, Britons, and Gaels—Names, Peoples, and Identities” he provides a detailed discussion on the subject, which is intended to prove the theory. Here is what he says:

…The Irish as ‘them’ are first recorded as Latin derived from Greek Iernoi Īernī. Later, is recorded more correctly as Iouernoi Īuernī. The first occurrence of Īernī probably goes back to a Coastal Itinerary of Marseille of the sixth century BC. In both instances, the name of the people Īuernī is derived from the place-name found in classical sources as Īueriō. Īueriō is none other than the Primitive Irish forerunner of Old Irish Ériu, Modern Éire. The etymological sense of the word is ‘the Fat’ or ‘Fertile Country’. Ériu, genitive Érenn, corresponds to Welsh Iwerydd ‘Irish Sea, Atlantic’ and Iwerddon ‘Ireland’. The ancient Celtic forms behind these are the nstem nominative *Īweriū, genitive *Īwerionos. In the Antonine Itinerary, a Latin source of the early 3rd century AD, we find Insula Clota in Hiverione. Dative Īveriōne implies nominative Īveriō ‘Ireland’, thus directly reflecting the Primitive Irish nom. *Īweriū. Thus the Indo-European preform would have been  *piHwerjōn ‘The Fertile Land’. I proposed that the ethnonym Īuernī proves that Irish—or the Celtic language that was to become Irish was spoken in Ireland already at the time that the Greeks first heard of the place in the 6th century BC. More recently, Patrick Sims-Williams has doubted this conclusion. Instead, he argues that Īueriō and Īuernī could have been names in use by Celtic speaking peoples on the European mainland for an Ireland that was not yet itself Celtic speaking.  I do not think that this alternative is plausible, for the following reasons. Not only were Īueriō and Īuernī in use in what was Ireland’s Final Bronze Age or Dowris II and not only are they Celtic names, but they have also survived in the Irish language of literate, historical times. Īuernī, the name that the Greeks borrowed, survives as Old or Middle Irish Érainn, a name which not only exists in Irish, but exists in no other Celtic language except Irish. In medieval Irish literature Érainn is used for tribal and dynastic groups in Munster and elsewhere. The groups in question are marginal within historical times, but credited with having ruled the prestigious royal site of Tara in remote antiquity; so the name is stratified deeply within Irish-language Irish tradition itself and occurs nowhere else in the Celtic world. Furthermore, the place-name Ériu has, as a byform, a common noun Old Irish íriu, meaning ‘earth, land’. There is no corresponding word from Brittonic or Continental Celtic. In other words, Ériu is explicable has having arisen out of the semantics of Irish in particular, rather than Celtic in general. Furthermore, names derived from the same root as Ériu have survived prominently as submerged eponyms in the Irish origin legends of Lebar Gabála and related texts. These include the prominent Milesian invaders Iär and Íth. The latter’s name simply means ‘fat’. The connection of the name Iär to Éire and Érainn is not at all apparent within the literate period. But *Īueros, the pre-form of Iär, would have been an obvious eponym for Īueriō in the Primitive Irish of prehistoric times… Īueriō was known to mean the ‘Fat Land’, which was no longer so for the writers of Lebar Gabála….

Convinced? Lets have a look at the highlighted parts. 

Ériu, genitive Érenn, corresponds to Welsh Iwerydd ‘Irish Sea, Atlantic’ and Iwerddon ‘Ireland’…

If you are in Wales and you look directly westward, what you see on a clear day is: Ireland. So Ireland is the land in the west. And after Ireland, further west is the Atlantic ocean, the western sea. Or maybe the Irish sea and Atlantic got their name from Ireland.

….Īueriō was known to mean the ‘Fat Land’, which was no longer so for the writers of Lebar Gabála…. “

Ok, this is strange. Īueriō is a word with an unknown meaning and so we proposed that it means “Fat Land” based on a completely derived etymology linking it to the derived PIE root “piHwer” which is supposed to mean “fat, full, abundant”. Now it is ” known to mean Fat Land”? The old Irish “íriu” which was supposed to have been derived from Īueriō, means “land, earth, soil; the earth, the world”. Not “fat, full, abundant land”. And if the meaning “fat, full, abundant land” was not known to the users of the word “íriu” in the Irish annals, maybe it is because this word never actually meant “fat, full, abundant land” but just “land, earth, soil; the earth, the world”….

But this part is the most interesting.

“…Érainn, a name which not only exists in Irish, but exists in no other Celtic language except Irish….Furthermore, the place-name Ériu has, as a byform, a common noun Old Irish íriu, meaning ‘earth, land’. There is no corresponding word from Brittonic or Continental CelticIn other words, Ériu is explicable has having arisen out of the semantics of Irish in particular, rather than Celtic in general…

Maybe the word “íriu” doesn’t exist in other Celtic languages, but it exists in Slavic languages.

Iriy, Irij or Vyriy (Russian: ирий, ирей, вырий) is a mythical place in Slavic mythology where birds fly for the winter and souls go after death, sometimes identified with paradise. The term was first mentioned in the writings of Vladimir II Monomakh. During the Christianization of Kievan Rus’, people were able to imagine heaven and hell based on the idea of Iriy. By the way Viriy is just v + iriy = in, into + iriy. Question: where do the souls of the dead people go? V Iriy = Into Iriy.

I know what you will say. This Slavic Iriy can be any place and surely the words similarity is a coincidence. But there is more. Slavic mythology tells us more about Iriy in the story about Jarilo: 
Up until the 19th century in Russia, Belarus and Serbia, folk festivals called Jarilo were celebrated in late spring or early summer. Early researchers of Slavic mythology recognized in them relics of pagan ceremonies in honor of an eponymous spring deity. In Northern Croatia and Southern Slovenia, especially Bela krajina, similar spring festivals were called Jurjevo, nominally dedicated to St. George, and fairly similar to the Jarilo festivals of other Slavic nations.

All of these spring festivals were basically alike: processions of villagers would go around for a walk in the country or through villages on this day. Something or someone was identified to be Jarilo or Juraj: a doll made of straw, a man or a child adorned with green branches, or a girl dressed like a man, riding on a horse. Certain songs were sung which alluded to Juraj/Jarilo’s return from a distant land across the sea, the return of spring into the world, blessings, fertility and abundance to come.

Jarilo was a son of the supreme Slavic god of thunder, Perun, his lost, missing, tenth son, born on the last night of February, the festival of Velja Noć (Great Night), the pagan Slavic celebration of the New Year. On the same night, however, Jarilo was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, where he was adopted and raised by Veles, Perun’s enemy, Slavic god of the underworld and cattle. The Slavs believed the underworld to be an ever-green world of eternal spring and wet, grassy plains, where Jarilo grew up guarding the cattle of his stepfather. In the mythical geography of ancient Slavs, the land of the dead was assumed to lie across the sea, where migrating birds would fly every winter. This land of the dead was by Slavs known as Iriy, Irij or Vyriy (Russian: ирий, ирей, вырий).

With the advent of spring, Jarilo returned from the underworld, that is, bringing spring and fertility to the land. Spring festivals of Jurjevo/Jarilo that survived in later folklore celebrated his return.

So…Wet, ever green land of eternal spring, full of cattle which lies across the sea and is called Iriy…

This is a typical picture from Ireland. What do you see on it? Ever green land of eternal spring, full of cattle, which lies across the sea. Is there better description of Éire, Ireland?

I have been living in Ireland for past 21 years. It snowed properly once. And we had one proper summer month. The rest of the time it was a perpetual wet spring. 

So is Īueriō, Iriu, Éire Slavic Iriy? I believe so, because believe or not there is actually no other place in Europe that fits the description. It is Ireland’s unique position in the north of Europe and in the middle of the Golf stream that gives it unique climate ideal for growing grass and which makes it a paradise for cattle herders. 

And this is why the ancient Irish society was based around cattle. Cattle was wealth, cattle was currency, cattle was what people fought for. Even the main Irish heroic myth, “Táin Bó Cúailnge” is a description of a cattle raid…

Now interestingly the god that stole Jarilo, the young sun, and who took him to the land of the dead, Iriy, was called Veles, but who was also known as Volos. In Serbian, the word Vo, Vol means bull. So Volos would actually be “Cattle god”. A very good name for a good that rules over Iriy, Īueriō, Iriu, Éire…Funnily enough in Irish the word for cattle is Bó which in Serbian means to stab, like with a horn. There is a whole cluster of words based on this root in Serbian and Irish. But not just the words for cattle are the same in Serbian and Irish. Serbians from Bosnia managed to preserve ancient bull fighting described in “Táin Bó Cúailnge“. 

Bull fighting, Bosnia

I wrote about the common Irish and Serbian words and customs related to cattle in my post “Bó – Vo

The obsession with cattle and viewing cattle as the main source of wealth was also the same in Serbian and Irish society. In Serbian language one of the old words for cattle was “blago” which literally means “treasure, wealth”. So a green land, where grass never stops growing, ideal for growing cattle, must have looked like paradise for cattle herders. And guess what. The word for paradise in Slavic languages is “Raj” (pronounced ray), which is very very similar to the word for otherworld “Iriy”. As a matter of fact we can get the word Iriy (which has no known etymology) from Je Raj (pronounced ye ray) meaning “is paradise”. 

Slavic word “raj” meaning paradise comes from the Proto Slavic: “rajь” – paradise. This is an ancient word because the cognates include 

Avestan, Old Persian: ‎”rāy” – paradise, wealth and 
Sanskrit: रयि ‎(rayi) – rich, property, goods, possessions, treasure, wealth, house, stuff, materials

Proto-Italic: “reis” – thing, matter. Originally, the noun was a “regular” i-stem, and would have been *rēj- before vowels (genitive *rējes, dative *rējei etc.), and *rēi before consonants and word-finally (nominative *rēis, perhaps originally disyllabic). In the former, -j- was regularly lost, while in the latter the diphthong was shortened before another consonant, due to Osthoff’s law.

Apparently these are the only descendants of the Proto-Indo-European *reh₁ís ‎meaning “wealth, goods”

If for our ancestors “raj” paradise was a place of wealth, and the greatest wealth was cattle, then the land of cattle was indeed a paradise “je raj” = “iriy”. 

Was that paradise Īueriō, Iriu, Éire? Was the original meaning of the word “land rich in cattle” rather than “fat land”?

There are two worlds, the world of the living and the world of the dead. The sun spends the day in the world of the living and the night in the world of the dead.
And there are two gates that stand on the border between these two worlds: the eastern gate and the western gate. 
Every morning the eastern gate is opened by Danica, the day star, which is in the morning called Zornjača, the morning star, and the sun comes from the world of the dead into the world of the living. 
And every evening the sun goes from the world of the living into the world of the dead through the western gate, which is then closed behind him by Danica, the day star, which is in the evening called Večernjača, the evening star. 
The souls of the dead follow sun to the western gate, which is where the entrance into the land of the dead is. 
And there they enter Iriy, the ever green land of eternal spring, full of cattle, raj, paradise. And every morning, when the eastern gate of the world of the dead is opened, they smile on us…

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.