Slavic neopaganism

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The "Hands of God" found on one burial urn of pre-Slavic Przeworsk culture[1] became a symbol of Rodzimowiercy for some Polish Rodzimowiercy[2] as well as Slavic neopagans in general.
The Kolovrat (Коловрат) swastika (Свастика) is the foremost symbol representing Rodnovery among East Slavic peoples and traditions.
The swastika in its many forms, particularly with curved outer three or four arms forming a broken circle, is a common symbol of Rodnovery among West Slavic peoples and cultures.

Slavic neopaganism, sometimes called Rodnovery[3] or Ridnoviry,[4][5][6] 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; Serbian: Родноверје/Rodnoverje; Ukrainian: Рiдна Вiра/Ridna Vira; Рідновірство/Ridnovirstvo; Рідновір'я/Ridnoviriya; Slavianism (Slavianstvo, Slovianstvo);[7] or 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.[8][9][10][11] Its adherents call themselves Rodnovers. The movement sometimes incorporates elements of other polytheistic religions.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

Etymology of Rodnovery[edit]

Rodnovery comes from Russian and South Slavic languages' compounds adapted to English (from [for example Russian or Serbian] Rodnoverie), made up of rodna, meaning "native", plus vera, meaning "faith", "truth". Rodnovers generally don't refuse to be categorised as "Pagans", but virtually none accept the prefix "neo-".[18][19]

According to Kaarina Aitamurto, "Rodnovery" is the most used[18] and most appropriate term[18] 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 translation.[18] According to this view "Rodnovery" is a word that embodies the central concept of the Slavic native faith,[18] Rodna is one of the various stemmings[clarification needed] of "Rod".[18]

In some Rodnover groups, Rod is at the same time the primordial and only god, the fountain that begets all the gods and all the things existing,[18] and the kin (root or genus), the lineage or the bond to the ancestors originating itself from the One.[18] Another translation of "Rodnovery" could be "Kin-Religion" or "Lineage-Religion".[citation needed] 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,[18] but not all groups of Slavic pagans agree on such view of Rod.

Other names[edit]

Other names that are in use in Russia for the religion, although less popular,[19] are "Slavism" or "Slavianism" and "Vedism" or "Vedaism".[19] The first name has been used by a community in Moscow maintaining that the term "Slav" originally means "pious", "worshiper of the gods".[19] The latter term 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).[19]

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".[citation needed] In 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.[citation needed] 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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed] The German and Polish groups were often already referred to as Neopagan in press articles before World War II.[citation needed]

Common themes[edit]

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".[20] 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.[citation needed] Wiench mentions one group that dances to drums in the forest near Poznań.[20]

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.[21]

By country[edit]


Rodnovery in Belarus has ties in politics, particularly within the pro-Russian political scene.[22] Uladzimir Sacevič is a Rodnover leader.[22]

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

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.[23] Their aim is the promotion, research, preservation, and revival of old Slavic tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Czech Republic[edit]

Rodnover groups in the Czech Republic include Společenství Rodná Víra (the Association of Native Faith) based in Prague.[citation needed]


Chram Mazowiecki – RKP, 2007
Jan Stachniuk

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.

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).[24]


A Rodnover ritual in modern Russia.

The Russian rodnoveriye movement is extremely heterogeneous.[25] The first Rodnover association in Russia was registered in 1994.[26] Rodnover groups in the Russian Federation include the Slavic Communities Union based in Kaluga.[citation needed] Russian centers of Rodnovery are situated also in Dolgoprudny, Pskov and other cities.[citation needed] Moscow has several pagan temples.[citation needed] 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.[27]

Rodnoveriye in Russia involves a large amount of xenophobia, especially antisemitism.[28] 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".[29]

In Russia and Ukraine, many followers of Slavonic native faith use the Book of Veles as a sacred text. This work is considered by scholars in general to be a 20th-century literary forgery.[30]

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.[31] Schnirelmann also says neopaganism is prevalent among the skinhead groups in Russia.[32]

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.[33]

The Moscow Bureau of the Human Rights Watch notes prevalence of xenophobic, racist, and antisemitic views among Russian neopagan groups.[34] In 2010 there were several incidents of violence by Russian neopagan extremists against Orthodox Christians and non-Russians.[35]

Roman Shizhensky, a scholar of Russian neopaganism, states that it is a manufactured "parareligious" movement based on fabricated mythology.[36] The scholar Victor Schnirelmann expresses a similar opinion.[37] Russian neopaganism has been described by the culturologist I.B.Mikheyeva as "highly politicized quasireligion" with extremist tendencies.[38][39] Schnirelmann gives a similar assessment of a "quasireligion" based largely on ideology. His assessment is an interpretation of the statements of Russian Rodnover leaders.[40]


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[41] (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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[44]

Among the new religious movements in Slovenia, the association Slovenski staroverci is the only one worshiping Slovenian native gods.[45] Their activity can be easily compared to other rodnovery movements.[46]

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.[47][48][49][50][51]


Modern statue of Slavic god Perun erected by Ukrainian ridnoviry in 2009, city of Kyiv.
Lev Sylenko, founder of the RUN-Vira church, holding the "Maha Vira" in his hands.
A service inside a temple of the Ukrainian RUNVira organisation.

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.

The Temple of Oriyana in Spring Glen, New York, USA.

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.[52]

Other Slavic countries[edit]

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.

Also in 2011, in the Serbian village of Mokra, a group of enthusiasts, led by journalist Dragan Jovanović, erected a wooden statue of Svetovid.[53]

Various organizations continue to promote Slavic Neopaganism through numerous websites and online magazines.[54][55]

Other countries[edit]

In 2010, the Russian pagan organisation "Vene Rahvausu Kogudus Eestis" (Содруга Русской Народной Веры в Эстонии) was registered in Estonia in Tartu.[56]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Lech Emfazy Stefański, Wyrocznia Slowiańska, Białystok 2000, p. 37-43
  3. ^ See: Milan Petrović. Qualification of Slavic Rodnovery in Scientific Literature — Neopaganism or Native Religion
  4. ^ The battle for Kiev’s Perun continues – ECER. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
  5. ^ Non-Christian Orthodox believers | The Day newspaper. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
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  9. ^ Harle, Peter. "Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Whole", Journal of American Folklore, Volume 117, Number 463, Winter 2004, pp. 104–105
  10. ^ V.Shnirelman "Неоязычество и национализм", Восточноевропейский ареал // Исследования по прикладной и неотложной этнологии. № 114. ИЭА РАН, 1998 г.; Неоязычество на просторах Евразии. «Библейско-богословский институт св. апостола Андрея», Москва, 2001, pp. 68, 102, 177, 168.
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  12. ^ Krishnji, Stari Sloveni, Staroslovenska mitologija, religija i istorija. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
  13. ^ Michael Strmiska. "Modern Paganism in World Cultures". Chapter Six: The Revival of Ukrainian Native Faith by Adrian Ivakhiv. pp. 209–239.
  14. ^ Велеслав Поклонник Черной Богини Кали Ма. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
  15. ^ РОДНОВЕРИЕ В РОССИИ - Краткая история - Велeсов круг. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
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  19. ^ a b c d e Schnirelmann, 2002, pp. 199-200
  20. ^ a b Piotr Wiench (Sep 9, 2007), Neo-Paganism in Central-Eastern Europe, University of Central Lancashire, retrieved January 3, 2012 
  21. ^ Kaarina Aiatamurto (2011), "Modern Pagan Warriors: Violence and Justice in Rodneverie", in James R. Lewis, Violence and New Religious Movements (Oxford University Press): 245, retrieved January 3, 2012 
  22. ^ a b Aliaksiej Lastoŭski. Russo-centrism as an ideological project of Belarusian identity. In Belarusian Political Scene Review #1, 2011. p. 27 - quote: «[...] Another peculiar place where the ideas of russo-centrism are created and propagated is a series of international scientific and practical conferences held under the supervision of Uladzimir Sacevič. Sacevič himself leads social activities in several directions. He is the chairman of the "Human Ecology” Committee under the Belarusian Social and Ecological Union, a member of the Coordinating Council of the Union of Struggle for People’s Sobriety, and at the same time acts as the organizer of the Rodnovery (Slavic Neo-Pagan) movement in Belarus. Following the conferences’ results, digests under a characteristic name “The Slavic Veche” are published (in total, four such digests had been published by 2009). Selection of materials in these digests is very eclectic. There, one can find manifestos of Rodnovers/Neopagans [...]». Institute of Political Studies Political Sphere, Vytautas Magnus University.
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  30. ^ Б.Опхашкнбяйхи: Менъгшвеяйне Йпшкн Б Псяяйнл Мюжхнмюкхгле. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
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  37. ^ *Шнирельман, В. Изобретение религии: неоязычество на просторах Евразии//
  38. ^ И.Б.Михеева "Неоязычество как религиозно-культурный феномен современности: проблема дефиниции" - Публикации - Каталог публикаций - Центр изучения современной религиозности
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  53. ^ [4] Kumir na Ravništu
  54. ^ Stari Sloveni, Staroslovenska mitologija, religija i istorija. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
  55. ^ Drevni Srbi i Sloveni. Istorija, mitovi, obicaji, predanje. Svevlad. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
  56. ^ Uut usuühendust juhib ülemvaimulikuna Vene Erakonna Eestis poliitik


  • Aitamurto, Kaarina (2007). Neoyazychestvo or rodnoverie? : reflection, ethics and the ideal of religious tolerance in the study of religion, Omsk: Aleksanteri Institute (Finnish Centre for Russian and East European Studies). ISBN 978-5-98867-009-4
  • Ivakhiv, Adrian (2005). In Search of Deeper Identities Neopaganism and Native Faith in Contemporary Ukraine, in Nova Religio.
  • Potrzebowski, Stanisław (1982). Eine völkische Bewegung in Polen, in Zadruga, Bonn: Institut für Angewandte Sozialgeschichte.
  • Shnirelman, Victor (2002). "Christians, Go Home!": A Revival of Neo-Paganism Between the Baltic Sea and Transcaucasia (An Overview), in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 17, No. 2.
  • Shnirelman, Victor (1998). Russian Neo-pagan Myths and Antisemitism, in Acta no. 13, Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism, The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Simpson, Scott (2000). Native Faith: Polish Neo-Paganism At the Brink of the 21st Century. ISBN 83-88508-07-5
  • Wiench, Piotr (1997). Neo-Paganism in Central Eastern European Countries, in New Religious Phenomena in Central and Eastern Europe. ISBN 83-85527-56-7

External links[edit]