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Slavic Neopaganism (sometimes called Rodnovery, or Ridnoviry, a compound word of rodna/ridna "native" and vera/vira "faith": Belarusian: Родноверие/Rodnoverie; Bulgarian: Родноверие/Rоdnoverie; Macedonian: Родноверие; Czech: Rodnověří; Croatian: Rodnovjerje; Polish: Rodzimowierstwo; Russian: Родноверие/Rodnoverie, Родославие/Rodoslavie; Slovak: Rodnoverie; Slovene: Rodnoverstvo, Staroverstvo (Staroverism, literally "Old-faith-ism"; note, not to be confused, that Starovery is the name of the Old Believers in Russian); Serbian: Родноверје/Rodnoverje; Ukrainian: Рiдна Вiра/Ridna Vira, Рідновірство/Ridnovirstvo, Рідновір'я/Ridnoviriya; and alternatively in some languages it's called Slavianism (Slavianstvo, Slovianstvo)), also called Rodism (Родянство), is a group of contemporary, polytheistic or pantheistic (and other) philosophies and religions focusing on Slavic culture and folklore, and worship of Slavic deities. They are the revival of the ethnic religion of the Slavs. Its adherents call themselves Rodnovers. The movement is at times intertwined with Slavic Vedism, and sometimes incorporates elements of Hinduism.
- 1 Etymology of the term "Rodnovery"
- 2 History
- 3 Common themes
- 4 By country
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Etymology of the term "Rodnovery"
"Rodnovery" comes from some Slavic languages' compounds adapted to English (from [for example Russian or Serbian] Rodnoverie), made up of rodna, meaning "native", plus vera, meaning "faith", "truth". Therefore the most immediate meaning of the noun is "Native Faith", implying "Slavic Native Faith". Rodnovers generally don't refuse to be categorised as "Pagans", but virtually none accept the prefix "neo-".
According to scholar Aitamurto (2007) "Rodnovery" is the most used and most appropriate term to define the ethnic religion of the Slavs, because aside from its immediate meaning, it has deeper senses related to its Slavic etymology that would be lost through a translation. According to this view "Rodnovery" is a word that embodies the central concept of the Slavic Native Faith: rodna is one of the various stemmings of "Rod". But this is controversial in the case of other groups.
In the theory of some Rodnover groups, the Rod is at the same time the primordial and only god, the fountain that begets all the gods and all the things existing, and the kin (root or genus), the lineage or the bond to the ancestors originating itself from the One. Thus, another outright translation of "Rodnovery" could be "Kin-Religion" or "Lineage-Religion". Rodna or rodnaya is itself a concept which can denote the "nearest and dearest", and such impersonal community as one's native home or land. But not all groups of Slavic pagans agree on such view of the Rod.
Other names that are in use in Russia for the religion, although less popular, are "Slavism" or "Slavianism" and "Vedism" or "Vedaism". The first name has been used by a community in Moscow maintaining that the term "Slav" originally means "pious", "worshiper of the gods", the latter has been employed by Alexander Aratov, editor of the Moscow radical newspaper Russkaia Pravda, identifying traditional knowledge as a scientific truth instead of a belief, claiming that the Slavs "know", "understand", "view" (vedali) rather than "believe" (verali).
Another name is Rodism (Родянство), which drops the vera suffix, thus meaning simply "religion of the Rod", "religion of the Root(s)", "religion of the Ancestors". In the different Slavic countries people use varying terms that come from their native languages, for example Rodzimowiercy by Poles or Ridnoviry by Ukrainians.
In the 19th century, many Slavic nations experienced a Romantic fascination with an idealised Slavic Arcadia believed to have existed before the advent of Christianity, combining such notions as the noble savage and Johann Gottfried Herder's national spirit. In the absence of extensive written or archaeological evidence for the destroyed Slavic religions, these artistic visions were important in rebuilding interest in the lost Slavic heritage after the unmitigated condemnation of medieval Christian writers. Zorian Dołęga-Chodakowski's 1818 pamphlet "O Sławiańszczyżnie przed chrześcijaństwem" (About the Slavs before Christianity) later proved to be an influential proto-Neopagan manifesto with its depiction of "two cultures" in the Slavic lands; one was the original pure Slavic culture of the peasants, the other was the imported foreign culture of the nobility. Unlike earlier authors, Dołęga-Chodakowski identified Christianity as a negative influence on national character.
In addition to new artistic representations, the 19th century rediscovered many authentic fragments of Slavic religion, such as the publication of the Tale of Igor's Campaign (1800) and the excavation of the Zbruch idol (1848). It was also rife with literary hoaxes and fakes, such as Kraledvorsky Manuscript, the Prillwitz idols (1795) and the Mikorzyn stones (1855).
As in other European countries, many Slavic nations developed their own Slavic faith movements in the first half of the 20th century (Poland by 1921; Ukraine by 1934). The German and Polish groups were often already referred to as Neopagan in press articles before World War II.
Ecology and respect for nature is а prevalent theme. Piotr Wiench has claimed that nationalism is less important than ecology to most groups, describing "a movement inspired by nature-based spirituality". Many groups use extensive symbolism drawn from the natural world (trees, lightning, Sun, and Moon) and many hold their religious ceremonies outdoors in sparsely populated areas. Wiench mentions one group that dances to drums in the forest near Poznań.
Aiatamurto describes a number of common themes, such as nationalism, concern for the environment, warrior themes and indigenous values. Her analysis focuses primarily on Russian groups, which she describes as heterogenous and ranging from pacifism to xenophobia and anti-semitism.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In late 2011, in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also formed a rodnovjerje association named Svaroži Krug (Circle of Svarog), as a part of the panslavic Praskozorje movement. Their aim is not only religious, but also scientific - promotion, research, preservation, and revival of old Slavic tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Rodnover groups in the Czech Republic include Společenství Rodná Víra (the Association of Native Faith) based in Prague.
The most influential Polish Rodzimowierca, Jan Stachniuk (1905–1963) founded the magazine Zadruga (named after the Balkan tribal unit) in 1937. The magazine and its associated group embraced members of a wide variety of viewpoints, ranging from secularly humanistic to religiously Rodzimowierca stances. Continuing on from Dołęga-Chodakowski, Stachniuk's own work criticised Catholicism in Poland, adding elements borrowed from Max Weber and Georges Sorel. Stachniuk fought against the Nazi occupation during the Warsaw Uprising but after the war, following a brief period of toleration, he was jailed by the Communist authorities, ending the first period of Zadruga activity. The Wrocław-based publishing house "Toporzeł" has reissued Stachniuk's works and those of his disciple Antoni Wacyk. Zadruga also inspired the registered religious organisation Zrzeszenie Rodzimej Wiary (ZRW, "The Native Faith Association") whose founder Dr. Stanisław Potrzebowski wrote an influential book on pre-war Zadruga. Another active group which owes a heavy ideological debt to Stachniuk is an "Association for Tradition and Culture 'Niklot'" (founded in 1998), led by far right politician Tomasz Szczepański, who publihes the periodical "Trygław". Niklot promotes an ideology of ethnic nationalism inspired by Jan Stachniuk and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Other Rodzimowierca groups, registered with the Polish authorities in 1995, are Rodzimy Kościół Polski (the Native Polish Church) which represents a tradition that goes back to Władysław Kołodziej's 1921 Święte Koło Czcicieli Światowida (Holy Circle of Worshipper of Światowid), and Polski Kościół Słowiański (the Polish Slavic Church).
Russian rodnoveriye movement is extremely heterogenous. The first Rodnover association in Russia was registered in 1994. Rodnover groups in the Russian Federation include the Slavic Communities Union based in Kaluga. The largest religion is that of Rod. Lesser deities include Perun and Dazhbog. Russian centers of Rodnovery are situated also in Dolgoprudny, Pskov and other cities. Moscow has several pagan temples.
Most Russian Rodnovers draw their material from some combination of written medieval chronicles, archaeological evidence, 19th and 20th century fakelore, artistic invention, direct "divine revelation" and many variants of the Aryan myth, which place the source of the Slavic civilization and its beliefs as far as the Etruscans and even Atlantis.
Rodnoveriye in Russia involves a large amount of xenophobia, especially antisemitism. In 1992 a political party ("Russkaya Partiya") associated with neopaganism issued a manifesto, calling for declaration of "Christianity (which preaches the idea of God-chosen Jewish people) a Jewish ideology, and a foreign religion that aids the establishment of a Zionist yoke in Russia".
Most, but not all, Rodnovers place a heavy emphasis on some form of nationalism as part of their ideology combined with anti-Christian sentiment (they consider Christianity a Jewish superstition). In some cases, this may be limited to a commitment to preserve national tradition and folklore; in other cases, it may include chauvinism directed against other ethnic groups. Dr. Victor Schnirelmann, a cultural anthropologist at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology in Moscow, has written that ethnic nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and antisemitism are core values of many Russian Rodnover groups, and that they base their ideology on the Aryan myth. Schnirelmann also says neopaganism is prevalent among the skinhead groups in Russia.
Recent translations into Russian of "racist and antisemitic teachings" by the Italian fascist Julius Evola and the antisemitic Theosophist Alice Bailey support this tendency, he says. The promotion of the Panslavist and specifically russocentric ideas by right-wing associations (they deny the independent ethnicity of Belarussians and Ukrainians) of the Russian Rodnovery groups have led to inferences that these groups promulgate Russian imperialism.
The Moscow Bureau of the Human Rights Watch notes prevalence of xenophobic, racist, and antisemitic views among Russian neopagan groups. In 2010 there were several incidents of violence by Russian neopagan extremists against Orthodox Christians and non-Russians.
Roman Shizhensky, a scholar of Russian neopaganism, states that it is a manufactured "parareligious" movement based on fabricated mythology. The scholar Victor Schnirelmann expresses a similar opinion. Russian neopaganism has been described by the culturologist I.B.Mikheyeva as "highly politicized quasireligion" with extremist tendencies. Schnirelmann gives a similar assessment of a "quasireligion" based largely on ideology. His assessment is an interpretation of the statements of Russian Rodnover leaders.
Volhv Veleslav is one of the foremost priests in Rodnovery. His early works form the basis of Slavic neopaganism and its reconstruction. He also coined the term Rodnover/Rodnovery.
The largest pagan group in Slovakia is Krug Peruna; it actively organizes different ceremonies throughout the country. Moreover, it has members in not only Bratislava (its headquarters) but also other cities such as Martin and Košice.
Another smaller group is Paromova Dúbrava, which draws together pagans from Bratislava and nearby vicinities. The most recent group is Rodolesie from Veľký Krtíš.
The new Rodnover page is Geryon, situated in Bratislava. The Geryon communicate with the other Rodnover sites or groups. The centrum of this guild is in Bratislava, but the members are in both the Slovak and Czech Republics.
Miroslav Švický (also known as ŽiariSlav) published on the subject what was quite well recognized by Slovak etnologic academia, most notably the book Návrat Slovenov. He with group of people around him named Rodný kruh fosters unorthodox approach to neopaganism under Slovak name vedomectvo. They focus on comprehending pagan themes that survived in Slovakia to this day, instead of exactly reproducing rituals as they are described in historical literature (often fragmentary and written by foreigners). The aim is to restore harmony with nature by preserving old rituals, crafts and music as well as creating new ones in the same spirit, named novodrevo, novodrevná hudba. Švický is frontman of musical group, Bytosti, that plays such music.
The informal association, Slovenski staroverci (trans. Slovenian Old-believers), was formed in 2005 when they began actively working on the preservation of Slovenian and Slavic native faith. Old-believers in Slovenia annually celebrate holidays associated with the four seasons: Jarilo (vernal equinox), Mara (autumnal equinox), Kresnik (summer solstice) and Božič Svarožič (winter solstice). In addition to these seasonal holidays, old-believers also commemorate Veles' day and Perun's day. In 2009, Slovenski staroverci sent a public letter to the minister of education and sports, asking him to find a place for Slovenian native faith among other religions taught in public schools. That same year, in the castle Struga, Slovenski staroverci also organized an international conference for Veče rodne vere (trans. gathering of native faith). A year after the conference, a journal was published, titled Triglav: Religious Meaning Among the Slavs. A room in the Struga castle is permanently arragened as an open room dedicated to the Slovenian native faith. The room also serves as a place for exhibitions of Slavic old-belief artwork. In 2012, a statue of the Slavic god Perun was erected in the Šentjur district.
Among the new religious movements in Slovenia, the association Slovenski staroverci is the only one worshiping Slovenian native gods. Their activity can be easily compared to other rodnovery movements.
It should also be noted that Slovenia is one of the few countries where organised, ancient, pre-Christian beliefs survived up until at least the 19th century, and in some parts of Slovenia these beliefs survived even up to the first world war due to great secrecy and a strict code of silence.
One of the most influential Ukrainian Ridnovir ideologues was Volodymyr Shaian (1908–1974). In 1934, Shaian, a specialist in Sanskrit at Lviv University, claimed to have a religious experience while observing a folk ritual in the Carpathian mountains. His brand of Ridnoviry emphasised the shared roots of Indo-European culture. He was involved in a short-lived Ridnovir movement in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, before emigrating to London at the end of the Second World War. After the war, he was an outspoken supporter of the authenticity of the Book of Veles, and his own 900-page magnum opus on Slavic religion, Vira Predkiv Nashih (The Faith of Our Ancestors), was published posthumously by his supporters in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1987.
The largest group that currently continues Shaian's legacy is the Obiednannia Ridnoviriv Ukrayiny (Об`єднання Рідновірів України "Native Faith Association of Ukraine"), founded in 1998 by Halyna Lozko, a University lecturer in Kiev. This group is a federation of previously existing smaller groups, including Lozko's own Pravoslavia, founded in 1993. (The name Pravoslavia is a sort of pun which means both "speaks the truth" and Orthodoxy in the Ukrainian language.) The federation has chapters in Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa, Boryspil, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Lviv and Yuzhnoukrainsk. "Pravoslavia" publishes a glossy magazine named "Svaroh" after the Slavic deity.
Lev Sylenko (1921–) was a disciple of Shayan's before breaking with him in the 1960s and developing an alternative reconstruction of Ukrainian pre-Christian religion. Sylenko's vision is a monotheism that worships the god Dazhboh. Sylenko founded his RUNVira group in 1966 in Chicago, USA, and opened their first temple in the mother country of Ukraine only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The current headquarters of RUNVira is in Spring Glen, New York, USA. His 1,400-page Maha Vira was published in 1979. Smaller groups have broken off from RUNVira and mix Sylenko's teachings with other sources.
RUNVira's ideology espouses the same xenophobic and antisemitic stereotypes as its Russian counterparts, including extreme views of Christianity's being not only a foreign Jewish superstition, but also a tool in conspiratorial plot of Jewish world domination, according to RUNVira's own website.
Other Slavic countries
Some smaller religious groups also exist in other Slavic countries such as Croatia and Serbia, but there is a Black Metal and Folk Metal scene with bands promoting Paganism through their music. Some acts from the ex-Yugoslav area are: The Stone (Serbia), Stribog (Croatia), Svarica (Croatia), Kult Perunov (Croatia), Огњена кочија (Serbia), Samrt (Serbia), Arkonian (Macedonia), Maras (Macedonia), Volos (Macedonia).
In April 2011, after a few years of existence, the first Croatian organization related to the Ancient Slavic culture and Slavic mythology religion was officially formed, named Perunova Svetinja – "association for promotion of the ancient Slavic culture". It erected a wooden statue of Perun on the mountain of the same name in the Ucka mountain range in Summer 2013.
- Baltic Neopaganism
- Caucasian Neopaganism
- Germanic Neopaganism
- Uralic Neopaganism
- Slavic Vedism
- Religion in Russia
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