slavic-beliefs

Russian Superstitions

Omens/Protection

  • Knocking on wood is practiced in Russia as in other countries. However Russians tend to add a symbolic three spits over one’s left shoulder (or simply with the head turned to the left), and Russians will often knock three times as well. Traditionally one was spitting on the devil (who is always on the left).
  • Returning home for forgotten things is a bad omen. It is better to leave it behind, but if returning is necessary, one should look in the mirror before leaving the house again. Otherwise the journey will be bad.
  • If one feels that he or she may have been cursed by someone (the evil eye) or just has the feeling of a hostile presence, it is recommended to remove one’s coat and then put it back on starting with the hand opposing the usually used one. It is also recommended to pin a French Pin inside your clothing to avoid the curse of the evil eye in the first place.
  • Birds that land on a windowsill should be chased away. If they tap on the window, or fly into it (open or closed) it is considered a very bad omen (often of death).
  • A woman with empty water buckets coming towards you is considered a bad omen.
  • It is bad luck to use physical hand gestures to demonstrate something negative using oneself or someone else as the object. For example, when describing a scar you saw on someone’s face you should not gesture on your own face or someone else’s. If you must, you can demonstrate in mid-air. If one does it without realising, it can be countered by making a hand motion towards the body part used and then an abrupt motion away (as if to pick up the bad energy and throw it away) or by wiping the area with your hand and then blowing on your hand (as if to wipe off the bad energy and then blow it away).
  • Looking into a broken mirror almost certainly brings bad luck. The superstition says that if you look into a broken mirror, you break your inner world, and your soul becomes defenceless against the dark forces.

Love

  • Never give yellow flowers to your lover, as it implies that an argument will happen and your relationship will end.
  • Lucky in cards not lucky in love. This, however, is only a pre-marital superstition. The reason for the division is that marriage is a sacrament in the Russian Orthodox Church, and this sacrament, ordained by God, eviscerates the pre-marital superstition. Thus, when a man is bonded by divine sacrament to a single woman whom he loves the cause and effect is reversed: namely, his married love for a single woman, and her love for him, will bring him good fortune in all endeavors including cards.
  • During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom carry candles. Whoever’s candle died first, was the one who would die first.
  • If a woman puts too much salt on the meals this means she is in love.
  • Do not take your wedding ring off to show it to someone else, or worse still to let them try it on. The wedding ring is worn on your fourth finger, which is the one under the influence of the sun, and is a sign of our heart’s true love. If you take it off to show to another, it means you are giving away your love and happiness to a stranger.
  • In Russian superstition if a couple sets a wedding date and doesn’t end up getting married on that date they can not set another date and should not get married as their union will be cursed.

Cause And Effect

  • If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you (usually speaking ill).
  • If your right eye itches, you’re going to be happy soon. If your left eye itches, you’ll be sad.
  • If you have hiccups, someone is remembering you at this moment.
  • If an eyelash falls out you’ll receive a gift. If someone finds an eyelash on someone he or she will sometimes let the person blow it away and make a wish.
  • If a fork or spoon falls on the ground, expect a female guest. If a knife falls, expect a male guest.
  • If someone sneezes while telling something, it means he or she is telling the truth.

Miscellaneous

  • Russians will typically avoid talking about pending successes. They believe that it is bad luck to talk about upcoming success before it actually occurs.
  • Never greet, or say goodbye to someone in a doorway. The threshold divides people, and in traditional Russian folklore, the house spirit resides here, so this superstition says that your greetings and gifts will not bring fortune or good luck.
  • It is best to cut your hair or nails during a full moon.
  • When someone is talking about something very undesirable or bad, the listener should say in Russian “Типун тебе на язык!” (tipun tebe na yazyk), which is generally translated as “Curse that tongue of yours!”. This expression is not meant to be offensive at all but is rather used as a spell for prevention of evil and bad luck.
  • Moving to the new house one must first let a cat go in first to assure harmony in the household.
  • If you sing on an empty stomach, you will chase your money away.
  • Do not pick up coins from the road. The popular belief is that such coins carry negative energy if they were thrown by a bad person and cause sickness.

Kupala Night - old Slavic celebration. It relates to summer solstice. Many of the rites related to this holiday within Slavic religious beliefs, due to the ancient Kupala rites, are connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification. On Kupala day, young people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith. The failure of a couple in love to complete the jump while holding hands is a sign of their destined separation. Girls may float wreaths of flowers (often lit with candles) on rivers, and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath.

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Душан Божић - Судба древних
(Dušan Božić - Fate of ancients)

This short comics tells a story about conflict between major gods in Slavic mythology Perun and Veles. Text is written in a form of decasyllable as it was used in old Serbian epic poetry.

“Since there were the Sun and the Moon,
Mythical words had been conveyed.

When Gods ruled all over the world,
When there was no humans.

Above the treetop of an oak, up in the sky,
Situated was knyaz* of thunder - Perun.
The one that is honored by many heroes.

And down in the valley was a horned Veles,
God of cattle, God of all sorts of wealth.
He was ruler of the whole Nav**.

Transformed into bearded snake,
He climbed up, where he does not belong,
Then he took away flocks of thunderer.

When he lead cattle to the water,
He was seen by righteous god Perun.
Raging thunderer became wrathful,
So, with lightnings he was striking Veles

While Veles tried to hide behind an old trunk
Lightning shimmered and cut tree in half,
Than snake tried to hide behind the rock,
But Perun has found him there also!

Wherever dragon has been hiding
There was Perun striking with a lightning.
Finally, thunderer found Veles,
And shot him down with powerful lightning.

So light was that hit,
That he plummeted into the black earth.

Snake has fallen into the black earth,
And dark clouds arched over the sky.
Rain is falling for three days and three nights.
All of the Gods had made trizna***,
Grieving over God of cattle.

Fertile Mother Earth took him over,
And embraced him on her chest.

Ancient Veles has not died,
He will sprout along with a spring flowers.

Kolovrat**** of time is spinning.”


* knyaz is a historical Slavic title, used both as a royal and noble title.
** Nav is one of the names for the otheworld in Slavic beliefs.
*** trizna was a funeral feast of ancient Slavic religion
**** kolovrat is solar symbol and also name for the spinning wheel

marmotje  asked:

Hi! I'd like to ask you a question! I talked to the woman who cleans our school yesterday and we talked about clothes and everything. Suddenly she told me that green is considered an evil colour in Poland? But I couldn't understand her explanation! I asked my mum later (who was born in Silesia and a friend of hers but they didn't know anything about it. Now I'm confused and apparently I'm a bad person now, because my favourite colour is green? (Seriously, my classroom was flooded today!) Help!

(2/2) I really really hope that you can help me! (Even if it turns out it was just a joke) And thank you for your time!

***

Sorry for a late reply but I had to think about your ask for a little bit.

Okay, so before I start to elaborate about it, you have to know that I’m not so sure about my answer because I’ve never heard about green being an “evil colour”. So this is only my assumption. 

Firstly, we need to “divide” Polish culture into 2 parts - after christianity and before it (Slavic beliefs), because many symbols changed their meanings after the Christianisation of Poland. 

Let’s start with pre-christianity period. Then green was a colour of a new life, animals and plants, farming. It was believed that green could save people from injuries. On the other hand this was a colour of immaturity. I’m not sure about it (because there is little historical facts about images of slavic gods and deities) but I’ve read that green was be considered to be a colour of wild places (and holy at the same time) and their inhibitants like deities or demonic creatures.

After the baptism of Poland the meaning of green colour could have changed. Even so, green can’t be such an evil colour since even in the Bible (creating a world) it is a colour of life (green plants as a food for ppl and animals). But mind that there is also a description of the Apocalypse in the Bible where we’ve got “an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death”. In Polish most popular translation of the Bible the colour of this horse is “trupio blady” (deathly pale) but in some images Death sits on a green horse. The translation from can also differ - it doesn’t have to be pale, it might be also yellowish or pale green. So maybe that’s why pale green can be considered as a colour of illness, sickness or disease and death. A bright green symbolises a poison or venom. Maybe it is also about reptiles that are, let’s say, the enemies of christianity (a snake or dragon - for instance Saint George who fought a dragon, a satan in fact).

Right now green is rather a positive colour but I’m not so surprised that this Polish woman finds it negative or even evil. But once again, this is only my guess, I’m not sure if my assumptions are correct. 

Maybe some of my followers have sth to add. Also @lamus-dworski - maybe you are able to say sth more about this.

Vampires

So, I wanted to tell you guys about vampires and their origins.

It is safe to say that the most popular vampire in the world is Count Dracula (or, like, Edward, but that’s just pop culture). We all know his story and how he is tied to Transylvania, which can lead to a conclusion that that is where the myths about vampires are from.

Wrong.

Since I am from Serbia and I love my culture, I am here to tell you the true origins and first myths about vampires, which have spread across the world and changed a lot ever since.

Note: Here I will be talking about the most common vampire myths and not those originating from Africa and Asia, since they are entirely different beliefs, entirely different origns and entirely different stories.

Origin

The first myths about vampires come from Slavs and their beliefs.

A vampire, especially on Balkan and in Ukraine, is considered a ghost of a dead person or a corpse which has revived. It was revived by an evil spirit or the devil; it is a decedent whose soul cannot pass to the other world, instead it stays trapped in the dead body.” ~Slavic Mythology, Nenad Gajić

The word “вампир” (vampir), meaning “vampire” (obviously) originates from Serbian language and it has spread worldwide, starting from the rest of the Slavic languages.

About vampires it has been written in the Emperor Dušan’s Code (1349) in the 20th clause, without naming them.

Soon after that, there was a story about a Serbian haiduk (loosely translated: rebel/brigand) called Arnold Paole (many think that this is an incorrect name and that the real one is Arnaut Pavle, where the first name isn’t a name at all and is actually a title). He claimed that he had encountered a vampire while he was serving in the army of the Otoman Empire. After his death, some residents of his village claimed that they have seen Arnold as an apparition. Soon after, the four people who had claimed this have died a mysterious death.

Other mentions of vampires include a book by Milovan Glišić called 90 Years Later, which tells a supposedly true story about Sava Savanović, one of the first vampires in literature.

After that mentions of vampires have only increased. For example, in 1923. Belgrade’s newspaper Time published an article about Paja Tomić, who has supposedly became a vampire.

Other than these, there have been many similar stories about people who have became vampires.

According to Slavs, how does one become a vampire?

The interest thing is that in Slavic mythology the belief that the bite of a vampire turns you into one does not exist.

So, if not by biting, how does one become a vampire?

Slavic superstitions about funerals and burying the deceased are tightly connceted to the beliefs about vampirism. Examples include:

  • If an animal jumps/walks over the corpse or if a bird or a bat flies over it, the corpse can revive
  • If someone’s shadow falls on the corpse, it can revive
  • If a person walks/jumps over the grave within the 40 days following someone’s funeral, the deceased can revive (it is also believed that if after these 40 days the person does not revive, they probably will not become a vampire in the future; this is connected to the belief that it takes a sould 40 days to pass onto the other world)
  • If a person succeeds in killing a vampire and if the vampire’s blood splashes them in the proccess, they become a vampire after they die

If any of the above is to happen, the revived starts to crawl out of their grave during the night, they choke people and drink their blood. When this happens, a crack appears on their grave through which they crawl in and out.

It is also believed that people who have sinned are most likely to become vampires.

Abilities, behaviour and appearance

According to this South Slavic belief, in this critical period (refering to the 40 days) the vampire can be seen as a shadow or cannot be seen at all, but he has the ability to turn into the animal which has jumped over his grave. Then he feeds on human blood, but also animal blood. His habitat is the cemetery, where he always returns when the sun starts to rise. If the vampire isn’t destroyed in the first 40 days of his “life”, he will, from the blood he has drank during the previous nights’ roamings, become so strong that he won’t need to go back to his grave in a long time. Then, he can also be seen at crossroads, in mills or in the houses of his closest relatives, where he stays for a long time.

Usually vampires are middle-aged people, mostly men. They have sharp canines and long nails, since their teeth, hair and nails keep growing even after death […] They are stronger than ordinary men, they can move at high speed, turn into different animals, cross any obstacle “except for water and throns.’’”  ~Slavic Mythology, Nenad Gajić

Furthermore, some myths say that a vampire sometimes wisits his widowed wife and can have children with her. These children don’t have a shadow, have less bones than the norm and a large head. They have the ability to find, see and kill a vampire.

Protection and prevention

Slavs prefered prevention to protection, but, according to them, there are ways to protect yoursef from a vampire.

First of all, to discover a vampire, a horse can be brought near the grave, since horses can sense vampires. Also, ash or dirst can be spread near the grave where later footsteps will be seen, if the vampire crawls out of the grave. Also, if the grave is dug out and the corpse turns out to not be rotten, its eyes are wide open and its hair and nails haven’t stopped growing, this means that the corpse has revived and is a vampire.

How is this vampire destroyed? It has to be dug out, stabbed with a stake and thrown into the flames.

As for the methods of prevention, they include:

  • burying a corpse face down
  • cutting off limbs or the head
  • sliting the tendoms under the knees
  • stabbing a hawthorn’s peg into the forhead

When it comes to methods of protection, this is where the Slavis beliefs meet today’s myths:

  • a (pre-Christian) cross painted on the door of a house
  • garlic
  • iron

So, there you have it! Slavic myths, based on my personal research. Please take into consideration that all of this had to be translated from Serbian, somwhere even adapted, and I am only an amateur.

Either way, I hope you liked it!

Peace out ✌

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Kupala Night, also known as Ivan Kupala Day; Russian: Иван-Купала; Belarusian:Купалле; Ukrainian: Іван Купала; Polish: Noc Kupały), is celebrated in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Russia currently on the night of 23/24 June in the Gregorian or New Style calendar, which is 6/7 July in the Julian or Old Style calendar still used by many Orthodox Churches. Calendar-wise, it is opposite to the winter holiday Koliada. The celebration relates to the summer solstice when nights are the shortest and includes a number of Slavic rituals. Many of the rites related to this holiday within Slavic religious beliefs, due to the ancient Kupala rites, are connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification. On Kupala day, young people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith. The failure of a couple in love to complete the jump while holding hands is asign of their destined separation. Girls may float wreaths of flowers (often lit with candles) on rivers, and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath.There is an ancient Kupala belief that the eve of Ivan Kupala is the only time of the year when ferns bloom. Prosperity, luck, discernment and power would befall on whoever finds a fern flower. Therefore, on that night, village folk would roam through the forests in search of magical herbs and especially the elusive fern flower.Traditionally, unmarried women, signified by the garlands on their hair, are the first to enter the forest. They are followed by young men. Therefore, the quest to find herbs and the fern flower may lead to the blooming of relationships between pairs of men and women within the forest.It is to be noted, however, that ferns are not angiosperms (flowering plants), and instead reproduce by spores; they cannot flower.  // wikipedia

Readers! Soon will be Kupala Night in Szczecin, so for sure, I will take for you a lot of photos! :)

Ved’ma (rus. ведьма, “the one who knows”— witch) — is undoubtedly one of the most popular folklore characters throughout the world, whose main traits are similar in majority of the cultures. As we all know from the folklore, witches are women, who have concluded an alliance with evil spirits or inherited their magical gift from the ancestors. However, any unsociable or strange-behaving women could be easily considered as witches.
According to the slavic beliefs, ved'mas looked just like every common woman (some fables and legends, however, mention tail or small horns, which were diligently hidden*) with a hard look and unnaturally swollen and red eyelids. Witches always avoided eye contact, because it was believed that you could see an inverted reflection of the man in their pupils. It was thought that the sight of the Kupala fire (one of the main holidays in pagan Rus’) was especially painful for witches and was considered the best way to spot the wicked ones. To avoid the inheritance of the magic power, ved'mas were buried with their face down.

* — Those details were most likely added to the character after the сhristianization of Rus, when the most of the pagan folklore characters were given the traits of christian demons. I have to mention, though, that the image of ved'ma in slavic culture is much more positive compared to the european “colleagues” (once again, because of parallel coexistence of сhristianity and pagan beliefs).

P.S. I have mentioned only the facts that I couldn’t find in other cultures’ folklore. A year wouldn’t be enough to write the full description.

5

favorite comic character meme ≻ [2 of 6] anything - character development + liho. 

“i hear your cat liho. she whines at door for you.” “she’s not my–” Likho, liho is an embodiment of evil fate and misfortune in Slavic mythology, a creature with one eye, often depicted as an old, skinny woman in black (Лихо одноглазое, One-eyed Likho) or as an evil male goblin of forests. Rather than being included in the major canon of the Slavic belief system, the Likho is traditionally found in skazky, or tales of fantasy and adventure equivalent to Western fairytales. [x]

Żmija’s guide to Slavic faith: part 1, basic problems

who are Slavs? To properly understand where the differences and doubts are coming from when talking about Slavic beliefs, we have to see how big and varied the slavic nations are. These were many tribes and groups spread on a vast land, and each with their own set of beliefs and interpretations, and their own favourites when it came to Deities. So, the god that was the boss for one tribe in Poland, might not have been even considered a higher deity in another far away one in Russia. However, very often, the Slavs believed in very similar gods under slightly different names, or different Gods under the same name - same goes for demons, spirits, and main myths. Gods’ roles and powers could change a bit depending on a given group as well. Quite a mess there, really, but so much more fascinating to untangle.

Some of the tribes were in direct contact with each other and also other foreign groups, such as Germanics or Balts, hence the similiarites in both their culture and beliefs at some stages. The proto-slavic language quickly gave way to very varied and different individual languages of the given lands, and without a unified way of communication (no early writing systems as well) the differences were bound to arise - however, the roots and similiarities are still amazingly prominent.

We can divide the Slavic nations into West, East, and South Slavs - however, this is a modern classification and it’s important to remember that today’s nations consisted of many, many different tribes in the times we’re interested in.

source? The main problem we face while diving into slavic beliefs is the painful lack of written sources. There are some, obviously, but as mentioned before - ancient Slavs had no writing system. So what we have are either mentions in historical records that either served as trivia or curiosities, or stories supposed to ridicule the slavic faith as “the heathens that believe in lighting or mud or something”. Many sources we have have been awfully contaminated by Christianity, and so is the big part of interpetation and work connected to Slavic beliefs and culture.

However scarce, the sources exist. Most importantly, however, the ancient beliefs are still alive in traditions, rituals, tales and stories and folk songs, and even language itself. We cannot trace every little thing back to our ancestors and back it up with solid written sources, but it doesn’t mean we can’t see the Old in the New, and it doesn’t mean we can’t discover everything anew. 

Neopaganism and rodnovery: made of moss or thistle? As much as I love thistle - and rodnovery, too - it is really damn prickly. Whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran, whether you grew up among strong pagan influences or you’ve been far away from them, you will encounter a lot of difficulties when dealing with rodnovery. I could praise it for centuries - I have met many amazing, warm and open people here. People who helped me grow, people who challenged my ways of thinking and my faith, people who fought for me and with me, and people who turned to me for guidance or friendship. There are many welcoming, wise souls out there, those truly connected to the Old Gods and Old Ways.

And then there are the assholes. These are people who got lost in their own misconceptions and distrust. They are either nearly violently hostile towards Christanity (or any other religion, really, but Abrahamic religions are usually targeted the most, Christianity for obvious reasons) or towards anything different, modern, and open-minded (they are often extreme conservatives, trashing concepts of other sexualities, genders, equality of gender and race etc. often to the horrific degree of actual neonazism…) This kind of people is neither new nor tied only to rodnovery, but it’d be foolish to try to hide it. It is there. And I think it is my responsibility to not only warn, but actively fight these people, and try to repair the damage they’ve done to slavic pagans. But assholes are everywhere, and we should never let them stop us from, well, anything.


Understanding the first two parts of this post is crucial to understanding the complicated nature of our efforts in untangling the mysteries and differences. In next parts I will try to bring the slavic faith closer to the reader who might only rely on English texts - which are, well, scarce, and usually either heavily upg’d, or purely academic.

I work with books and sources based on academic research, and with my own experience (to a lesser scale, as I want to be as close to the core and history as it gets), but I don’t claim to be the all knowing, wise pagan. I’m still learning myself, and there is a lot left to learn. If you have anything to add, or you can correct me, please do!

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Kupala Night, also known as Ivan Kupala Day (Feast of St. John the Baptist; Russian: Иван-Купала; Belarusian: Купалле; Ukrainian: Іван Купала; Polish: Noc Kupały) Many of the rites related to this holiday within Slavic religious beliefs, due to the ancient Kupala rites, are connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification.On Kupala day, young people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith. The failure of a couple in love to complete the jump while holding hands is asign of their destined separation.Taraxacum wreath floating on waterGirls may float wreaths of flowers (often lit with candles) on rivers, and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath.There is an ancient Kupala belief that the eve of Ivan Kupala is the only time of the year when ferns bloom. Prosperity, luck, discernment and power would befall on whoever finds a fern flower. Therefore, on that night, village folk would roam through the forests in search of magical herbs and especially the elusive fern flower.Traditionally, unmarried women, signified by the garlands on their hair, are the first to enter the forest. They are followed by young men. Therefore, the quest to find herbs and the fern flower may lead to the blooming of relationships between pairs of men and women within the forest.It is to be noted, however, that ferns are not angiosperms (flowering plants), and instead reproduce by spores; they cannot flower. IN THIS FEAST WODNIK, TOPIELEC AND UTOPIEC ARE MOST ACTIVE!

Drekavac

The Drekavac, translating to “The Screamer” is a creature found in South Slavic mythology.

Beliefs

Drekavac comes from the souls of children who have died unbaptised.

The creature is not consistently described.

  • One source states that its body is dappled, elongated and thin as a spindle, with disproportionately large head.
  • Another source describes it to look like a bird.
  • A modern description says that the body of the Drekavac looks like a dog or fox, with hind legs similar to that of a kangaroo.
  • It may also appear in the form of a child.

It calls for people passing near the cemetery to baptise it. The one feature everyone agrees about is its horrifying yell.

Drekavac could be seen at night, especially during the twelve days of Christmas and in early spring, in time where other demons appear most often.

In the form of the child it predicts someone’s death, but in the form of the animal, it predicts cattle disease. Drekavac rarely bothers its parents, as it is afraid of dogs.

Sightings

According to the guide of a reporter of Duga magazine, numerous villagers on the mountain of Zlatibor report seeing it, and almost everyone reports hearing it.

In 1992, it was reported that in the Krvavicka River the villagers found remains of an animal unlike any known, and claimed it was a Drekavac.

A more recent encounter is from 2003, in the village of Tometino Polje near Divcibare. A series of attacks on sheep took place, and some villagers concluded that they must have been perpetrated by a Drekavac. Others think it could not have been a Drekavac because they have only heard the yells during the night, and the sheep were mutilated during the day.

In September 2011 a horrifying yell and unverified encounters with strange creature, claimed to be a Drekavac, were reported in villages around Drvar in western Bosnia. 

The time has come - again - for a new following spree. Spring cleaning left a lot of room for fresh blogs!

if you post anything related to:

- paganism

- slavic culture and beliefs (rodnovery)

- nordic and celtic as well

- witchcraft

- nature, elements, wildlife

simply like (or reblog! the more blogs the better) this post and I’ll follow you


slava, 

Żmija

It’s my personal universe concept. This is the world where Matylda is living (check out previous concepts). It’s future Poland but without christianization. There are a lot of creatures from slavic beliefs and religion of our ancestors, but a little futuristic.
On the concept art you can see the guesthouse in the shape of the hive. There is also floating pathway to the building. At the back of the guesthouse is forest where strange creatures lives. Ghost are driven to the guesthouse and Matylda’s family help them.

gorgosgorgos  asked:

Hello!! Long time follower! I am from the US mid-west, where there are many americans of Polish descent. An intern at my mother's school, who is from Poland, told her that the original spelling of my family's last name, Szczesny, means "lucky one" in polish. Is this true? If true, are there any uniquely polish symbols for luck? Thank you I love love love your blog!

Hello there and thank you for those kind words! ♥

I looked around for the meaning of the adjective ‘szczęsny’ (it’s not in regular use in the modern Polish language anymore) and I can confirm that in the old-Polish that word meant fortunate / lucky.

It’s closely related to the modern adjective ‘szczęśliwy’ which has a spectrum of meanings and depending on a context it can be translated to English as lucky or happy / joyful. I’d say it describes a mental feeling of luck and happiness.

Some sources say ‘szczęsny’ and ‘szczęśliwy’ are the same (only old vs modern Polish).

Both of them came from the noun ‘szczęście‘ that can also mean either luck or happiness (or both). A phrase ‘mieć szczęście’ means precisely ‘to have luck’, or ‘to be lucky’. Its etymology is the proto-Slavic sъčęstьje that meant happiness.

I had to think for a while about any unique symbols of luck in Poland. Most of them are universal (known worldwide or across all Slavic countries / eastern Europe). We cherish symbols like the horseshoe, four-leaf clover, rabbit’s foot, wishbone, cheemney sweeper (in my region after seeing the cheemney sweeper you have to grab a button and see a person in glasses within a few minutes while holding the button in order to grant the luck). 

Something I’ve been told is a bit more unique is a stork that is bringing luck in the Polish and Slavic folklore. 

A swallow can also bring luck, and the person who saw the first swallow arriving in spring was granted luck for the rest of the year. House which was chosen by a swallow to make a nest under its roof was predicted to have luck as well. 

In folklore of many Polish regions gray or white cats were bringing luck. 

To bring happiness and prosperity into the farm the rural people were making ‘the first spring blessing of cattle’ ceremonies and in them a cow in a wreath made of flowers and herbs was bringing the luck for the entire farm. 

Many behaviours of the horses were bringing the luck. In general, horses were among the most sacred animals in old-Slavic beliefs and their behaviour was used in divinations. I think the beliefs about the horseshoes are connected to it in the particular example of Poland and other Slavic countries. A horseshoe was often burried under the foundation or tresholds of a new house to bring luck into it in the future. You can find many really cute designs of horses upon looking for a ‘konik ludowy’ (’folk horse’ in Polish), at least in the Polish google.

Some types of serpents native to Polish lands were bringing luck into the households, and they were believed to have their own serpent king (adder / viper king) - killing him was a doomed fate and its killer could’ve been excluded from the community. According to ethnographic sources there were regions in Poland where serpents were sacred animals and even kept in households, meant to protect from evil spells and bring the luck. In old legends and folklore a viper (żmija) was associated with a good land dragon (żmij) that in turn was associated with the Slavic god Weles / Veles.

A popular symbol bringing luck from the legends is the fern flower.

Houses were decorated with wycinanki - the decorative papercuts - and those had a whole range of purposes including protection but also bringing luck and happiness into the house. Many decorative pisanki (Easter eggs) were also meant to bring luck.

If you’re really looking for uniquely Polish symbols I suggest you can totally use some wycinanki for the luck. You can sometimes find a design with horses or storks and something like the one below would look great with swallows too [x]:

Here I have to also mention that many of such decorative, colorful flowers in the Polish wycinanki are sometimes interpreted as symbolizing the luck-bringing fern flower.

If you want a special amulet, a luck-bringing protective amulet from old Polish / Slavic folklore was a nawęza (simplified English spelling: nah-ven-zah). To make a nawęza you have to find either a small stone (the best is flat), a bone part, a fossil, a shell or a piece of wood that has already a ‘natural-made’ hole in it. Nawęzy are worn around the neck on a thin leather strap, or inside small pouches made of linen or wool that can be embroidered.

These are only a few examples, let me know if you want to know more :)

2

Likho, liho (Russian: Лихо, Belarusian: лі́ха, Polish: licho) — is an embodiment of evil fate and misfortune in Slavic mythology, a creature with one eye, often depicted as an old, skinny woman in black (Лихо одноглазое, One-eyed Likho) or as an evil male goblin of forests. Rather than being included in the major canon of the Slavic belief system, the Likho is traditionally found in skazky, or tales of fantasy and adventure equivalent to Western fairytales.

( Photos by Russian Fairy-Tales Museum )

A 19th century vampire slayer


The remains were found during the
excavation of a marketplace in Poland’s West Pomeranian Province. The burial is thought to date back to the 16th
century and shows signs that the people of the time carried out a special ritual in the belief
that the subject being interred was a vampire.
“A piece of brick rubble in the mouth and pierced thigh indicates that it is a vampire
burial,” said dig leader Slawomir Gorka. “This was done not for him, but for the community,.who lived here.” Similar burials were believed to have been
common in the region between the 13th and 17th centuries when vampires were an integral
part of superstitions and folklore.
“There is a strong Slavic belief in spirits,” said Dr Tim Beasley-Murray. “Romanian folklore
has vampiric figures such as the moroi and strigoi. The word ‘mora’ means nightmare. But
these are common to many cultures. We often
see bird or owl-like figures that swoop and feed on you.”

rideswraptors  asked:

I was wondering if you know of any books in English or documentaries (any language) that go into detail on pre-christian Polish customs and religion?

Hello there, and sorry for a late response!

I do know of some books, however didn’t have any occasion to read anything beside a few things available online on that topic in English so far. Such books aren’t that easily available here in Poland, and my main resources are naturally in Polish - here’s a growing list of them (combining various other topics as well) which I’m updating from time to time, with focus on links to books that are available legally in various Polish online libraries.

To be honest, that is a recurring question and I’d really love to prepare a similar list of resources in English eventually - maybe someone reading this has something valuable to recommend? :)

(a bit of general history/background informations right below, so in case you don’t want to read it, just scroll down for a ‘startup list’ of English books and articles that I frequently see are being recommended)

Another detail is the problematic nature of the topic. You might already know that there are basically no original resources about the old-Slavic faith before the arrival of Christianity on the Polish lands. It’s literally impossible to go really deep into detail about the authentic pre-Christian faith from here. We are just still not sure how it looked like, unnless some forgotten chronicle would be discovered.

In a way, we’re among the most enigmatic Slavic countries in this matter. Way too much of the informations were lost on the course of our complicated history.

Theoretically, the closest relatives/neighbours to the old Polish tribes (thinking about the tribe of Polans in particular) were the extinct Polabians and Pomeranians about whom we know much more than about the early Poles. Informations about those tribes were left in medieval German and Danish chronicles. The main canonical ‘trio’ are “Chronica Slavorum”, “Thietmar’s Chronicle” and “Gesta Danorum”, and I highly recommend to check them out for the little bits of authentic paragraphs about the Western Slavic customs and gods (even if some lines might be biased due to the authors being Christian and looking at the Slavs as pagans). I remember seeing English translations of a few interesting chapters online. Meanwhile, the Polish manuscripts we know of were written many centuries after the official introduction of the then-new religion, and the informations written in them are only small mentions, still analyzed nowadays.

On the other hand, there are quite a lot of resources concerning the remnants of old customs and faith within the Polish folklore (18th and 19th-century ethnographers are golden in that matter). I mentioned it already on my blog: many people doesn’t know that the last less or more authentic ‘pagan’ customs/rites were noted on the Polish countryside as late as the early 20th century! A lot of customs of confirmed pre-Christian origins are widely celebrated in Poland also nowadays. Of course, these spheres of knowledge require lots of reading in a wider perspective and with an open mind, where lots of mentions of Christianity appear because these are the customs that were being gradually syncretized to some bigger or smaller extent.

I know that many people are not fond of reading about the folklore and are looking rather for straight-up informations about the Slavic Faith, but I assure you that it is sometimes a valuable read when you know what you’re looking for. Literally, there are rites and traditions where it’s enough to replace the name of the Christian God, the Holy Mary or a Saint with a name of an old-Slavic Deity.

To summarize it shortly, what we know about comes mainly from the knowledge about old rural customs and tales, from bits of informations from manuscripts which were rather late year-wise, and of course from comparative studies of resources about the other Slavic countries.

If you look for informations about the Old Polish Faith, it’s no mistake to turn into resources from other countries as well and to general informations about Rodnovery - everything shares similarities and could be traced to an old common Slavic core (be of course vary of details that are clearly described as coming from other specific countries).

Also, don’t forget about archaeology where some descriptions of old-Polish/Slavic places of worship, symbolical decorations, can be found. These are spread around, and once I started collecting valuable bits on a side blog @west-slavs

Polish folk legends and fairy tales are nice for side-reading too :)


For a start I might put below some titles (books and articles) that I saw being recommended, or stumbled across online. Various approaches, from archaeology to folklore:

  1. Andrzej Buko: The Archaeology of Early Medieval Poland. Discoveries - Hypotheses - Interpretations
  2. Leszek Pawel Słupecki: Slavonic Pagan Sanctuaries
  3. Marija Gimbutas: The Slavs
  4. Kamil Kajkowski: Islands as symbolic centres of the Early Medieval settlement patterns in Middle Pomerania (Northern Poland) [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format]
  5. Kamil Kajkowski: The Boar in the symbolic and religious system of Baltic Slavs in the Early Middle Ages [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format]
  6. Kamil Kajkowski: Slavic Journeys to the Otherworld. Remarks on the Eschatology of Early Medieval Pomeranians [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format]
  7. Kamil Kajkowski, Paweł Szczepanik: The multi-faced so-called miniature idols from the Baltic Sea area [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format] 
  8. Leszek Paweł Słupecki: The Krakus’ and Wanda’s Burial Mounds of Cracow [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format]
  9. Dominika Czop: Structure of the universein the Norse and Slavic beliefs [online on academia.eu]
  10. Roman Zaroff: The Origins of Sventovit of Rügen [online on sms.zrc-sazu.si - pdf format] 
  11. Urszula Lehr: The transcendental side of life. Aquatic demons in Polish folklore [online on folklore.ee - pdf format]
  12. Michael Ostling: Between the Devil and the Host. Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland
  13. Anna Brzozowska-Krajka: Coexistence or Conflict? The Problem of Dual Belief in Polish Folklore [online on journals.ku.edu]
  14. Elwira Grossman: Studies in Language, Literature, and Cultural Mythology in Poland: Investigating the Other (Slavic Studies, V. 7)
  15. Anna Chrypinski: Polish Customs
  16. Anna Czekanowska: Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage - Polish Tradition - Contemporary Trends
  17. Joanne Asala: Polish Folklore and Myth
  18. Sophie Hodorowicz Knab: Polish Traditions, Customs, and Folklore 
  19. Sophie Hodorowicz Knab: Polish Herbs, Flowers & Folk Medicine
  20. Włodzimierz Piątkowski, Anita Majchrowska: Health, illness and dying in Polish folk medicine [online on progress.umb.edu.pl - pdf format]
  21. Włodzimierz Piątkowski, Anita Majchrowska: Unconventional therapists and their patients in Polish traditional folk medicine [online on degruyter.com]
  22. Anna Lubecka: Polish ritual year – a reflection of Polish cultural policy [online on folklore.ee - pdf format]
  23. Traditional design of the Lublin region - popular motifs (article prepared by organization Warsztaty Kultury for a project Patterns of Europe, available on the project’s website)

I need to check out my bookmarks and look for more, and will try to prepare a separate list similar to the one with resources in Polish!

If anyone reading this would like to share good books and articles in English or some documentaries focusing specifically on Poland (and also as analysis on the Polabians or Pomeranians) I’d be more than happy to see and collect as many good recommendations as possible :)

Stefan Żechowski (1912-1984). Koszmarny sen. Dusiołek, do utworu Bolesława Leśmiana // Nightmare. Dusiołek, for Bolesław Leśmian’s poem, 1964

Dusiołek was a mythological Slavic demon - a mischievous creature that would sit on people’s chests during their sleep and strangle or suck off the breath, especially during the vulnerable phases of grief and unhappiness. It was similar to zmora.