Berehynia

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Berehynia or Bereginia (Russian: Береги́ня/Ukrainian: Береги́ня) is a female spirit (Vila) in Slavic mythology, which recently came to be regarded as a "Slavic goddess" with a function of "hearth mother, protectoress of the home"[1] in late 20th century Ukrainian romantic nationalism centered on matriarchal myth.[2]

Slavic folklore[edit]

Originally, obscure shadowy ghost-like naiads similar to Rusalkas lived along the rivers, lakes, and ponds, and were considered ill-tempered and dangerous. A water-bank where they were thought to be found was to be avoided by young men and women, especially in the dark.

Early in the 20th century fakeloristic scholarship speculated that the Berehyni combined a prehistoric Scythian earth-goddess[3] and rusalky (guardians of the banks).

Ukrainian nationalism[edit]

2007 stamp

Since Ukrainian independence in 1991, she has undergone a fakeloric metamorphosis, and today is identified as a combination of the "hearth-mother" (associated with the guardianship of the nation itself) and the rusalka. This metamorphosis has its roots in the late 1980s, as several Ukrainian writers sought to personify their vision of an ideal Ukrainian woman. Consequently, Berehynia today also has a place in Ukrainian nationalism,[4] feminism,[2] and neopaganism.[5] The re-interpretation as "protectoress" is due to a folk-etymology, which associates the name, which is derived from the word bereh (Russian bereg) "river bank", with the unrelated verb berehty (Russian berech) "to protect".

In 2001, a column with a monument to Berehynia on top, as a protector of Kiev (pictured), was erected at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in the center of the city, on the site of the former Lenin monument. Kiev's historic protector Archangel Michael (pictured at the Coat of Arms of Kiev) older monument is located just across at the same square.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lozko, Galina. Берегиня. Українське народознавство (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b Rubchak, Marian J. (May 2001). "In Search of a Model: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness in Ukraine and Russia". European Journal of Women's Studies (Valparaiso University, Indiana: SAGE Publications) 8 (2): 149. doi:10.1177/135050680100800202. 
  3. ^ so V. A. Gorodtsov (1860–1845), who identified this goddess with figures in traditional Rus' embroidery according to Gyula László, Steppenvölker und Germanen: Kunst der Völkerwanderungszeit (1970), p. 140.
  4. ^ "Berehynia" (in Ukrainian). АРАТТА. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  5. ^ The hypothesis that Berehynia is a historical Slavic goddess is argued by Halyna Lozko, Chairwoman of Ukrainian Native Faith (founded 1998, formerly Pravoslavya, founded 1993) [1]

External references[edit]