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FounderErnests Brastiņš
Members~ 650 (2007)[1]
based on 13th century Latvian paganism

Dievturība is a Neopagan religious movement which claims to be a modern revival of the folk religion of the Latvians before Christianization in the 13th century. Adherents call themselves Dievturi (singular: Dievturis), literally "Dievs' keepers", "people who live in harmony with Dievs".

The Dievturi movement was founded in 1925 by Ernests Brastiņš. It was forcibly suppressed by Soviets in 1940, but lived on in émigré communities and was re-registered in Latvia in 1990. In 2007, approximately 650 persons were officially active members of Dievturi movement.[1]


The era of Ernests Brastiņš[edit]

Memorial stone at the Forest Cemetery of Riga to those Latvian Dievturi killed by the Communists 1942–1952.

Ernests Brastiņš (1892–1942) was the primary force in the early development of Dievturība. He was an artist, an amateur historian, a folklorist and an archaeologist. He documented many ancient Latvian temples and castles, writing the Index of Mythological Notions of Latvian Dainas. Dievturi Catechism is the main inspirational text of Dievturība. Other important ideological leaders in the interwar period were Arvēds Brastiņš and Alfrēds Goba.[2]

In the 1920s and 1930s the movement attracted several public figures from the cultural sphere, such as the painter Jēkabs Bīne, writers Voldemārs Dambergs, Viktors Eglītis and Juris Kosa, literature historian and critic Alfrēds Goba, and the composers Jānis Norvilis and Artūrs Salaks.[3] It failed to attain any widespread popular following, but through the presence of artists and intellectuals the movement managed to produce a substantial amount of material on the interpretation of folklore.[2]

Suppression and émigré activities[edit]

With the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 the movement was suppressed and scattered. Brastiņš was deported to a Soviet labour camp in 1941 and executed in 1942, and other leaders were deported to Siberia or emigrated to the West. During the Soviet era, the movement primarily lived on in small groups within the Latvian émigré communities.[2] In 1983 there were reports of a Soviet crackdown on Dievturība, as there were people in the Latvian dissident milieu who were interested in the religion, such as the activist Ints Cālītis and the poet Gunars Freimanis. The approach of the Soviet authorities was to accuse those associated with Dievturība of Nazi activities.[4]


Works to revive the movement in Latvia began in 1986 as part of an emerging new interest in Latvian history and folklore. The main driving force at this stage was the ceramist Eduards Detlavs (1919–1992).[5] Dievturība was officially re-registered as a religious organization on 18 April 1990, under the name Latvijas Dievturu Sadraudze (LDS, Community of Latvia's Dievturi).[6]

Throughout the 1990s the Dievturība movement was able to renew its activities and become a part of the European intellectual neopagan current.[2] At the beginning of the 2000s there were 16 active groups in Latvia. Most of them were gathered under the LDS but some were independent. Among the points of disagreement within the movement are the extent to which the material produced in the period of Brastiņš should be followed, and what the relationship should be between Dievturība and Christianity, with some adherents arguing that the two can be combined.[7]

As of 2018, the LDS consisted of a board and eight local groups. The total number of organized Dievturi was approximated to between 600 and 800 people. The chairman of the LDS was Andrejs Broks. The honorary chairman and president of the council was the artist Valdis Celms, who also has had an impact on Baltic neopaganism with his books Latvju raksts un zīmes ("Latvian Patterns and Symbols", 2008) and Baltu dievestības pamati ("Fundamentals of the Baltic Religion", 2016).[6]

The Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi was inaugurated on 6 May 2017 and is operated by the LDS.[8] It was financed by the entrepreneur Dagnis Čākurs and is located on a small island in the Daugava river, close to the town Pļaviņas.[9]


Aerial view of the Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi in Latvia

Dievturība, as a reconstructionistic movement, is primarily based on Latvian folklore, old folk songs (dainas) and mythology. By necessity, modern Dievturība differs from the historical Latvian religion. For example, there is no evidence that the Latvian pagans recognized a trinity of deities; in Dievturība, Dievs, Māra and Laima are a triune godhead.

Other deities are either aspects of Dievs (the universe itself, the ultimate reality), or other types of non-deified spirits. In Dievturi theology, several triumvirates of deities and concepts are recognized.

Soul complex[edit]

  • Human form
    • velis – astral body
    • miesa – physical form
    • dvēsele – soul

The difference between the dvēsele (soul) and velis (the astral body) is a fine one. The dvēsele is eternal. It comes from Dievs (god) and will return to him after the death of the miesa. The velis stays near the body, gradually melting and disappearing over time similar to the concept of a ghost or the Greek shade. The end of autumn and the start of winter is accepted as the time of remembrance of dead ancestors. In the dark time of autumn people gave food for their dead relatives due to the "dying of nature" or as a thanks gesture for a good harvest during the summer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Reliģisko lietu pārvaldes 2007. gada pārskats "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Purs, Aldis; Plakans, Andrejs. 2017. Historical Dictionary of Latvia. p. 90-91. ISBN 9781538102206
  3. ^ Stasulane and Ozoliņš 2017: 238
  4. ^ Erik Lettlander. 3 October 1983. Crackdown on Latvian religion hides Soviet fear of nationalism. The Christian Science Monitor.
  5. ^ Stasulane and Ozoliņš 2017: 243
  6. ^ a b Gatis Ozoliņš. 18 April 2019. dievturība Latvijā. Nacionālā Enciklopēdija.
  7. ^ Stasulane and Ozoliņš 2017: 244-245
  8. ^ Uz salas Daugavā atklāta dievturu svētnīca. 11 May 2017. Skaties.
  9. ^ Sandra Dieziņa. 17 January 2017. “Liepsalās” atklās dievturu svētnīcu. Latvijas Avīze.


  • Gatis Ozoliņš. The Latvian Dievturi Movement as Invention of Tradition. In Native Faith and Neo-Pagan Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. Kaarina Aitamurto, Scott Simpson. Acumen Publishing, 2013. ISBN 1844656624
  • Anita Stasulane and Gatis Ozoliņš. "Transformations of Neopaganism in Latvia: From Survival to Revival". Open Theology, 3(1), pp. 235-248. Available on-line: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0019

External links[edit]