Friday, 22 November 2019

Rings


In the village Postenje, in Azbukovica, highland area in western Serbia, women used to wear a ring for every son they had. Each son had his own finger with a single ring on it. 

If one of her sons died, she would put the ring on the finger of one of her still living sons...If the woman then had another son, she would leave the dead son's ring where it was, and would put a new ring on an empty finger for her new son...

When an old woman died, she was buried with all her rings. But if a young woman died, all her "son" rings were taken off her fingers before her burial...

The rings are kept by the dead woman's husband until he finds a new bride that he wants to marry. Then a very interesting ritual is performed with them...

The a new bride is chosen, "widows from the village" take the dead woman's "son rings", chose one, and "cary it around the bride". After that they give it to the dead woman's husband to look at his new bride through it. This seals their future marriage...

Does anyone know of any similar custom? It is absolutely fascinating. The ethnographer that recorded it in 1921 thought that this custom was once widespread...

From the "Journal of the Ethnographic museum in Belgrade, book 1", published in 1926. Link here, Serbian, Cyrilic

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Vampires

In Slavic culture a white horse was a sacred animal dedicated to the Sun God Svetovid. 


White horses were kept in Svetovid temples and used for divination. I talked about the white horse as a symbol of Svetovid, Slavic sun god in my post "Horseman". White horse was the symbol of the sky. 




Black horse was seen as the symbol of the underworld. What is interesting is that the underworld the domain of Dabog, Serbian supreme god, the main ancestral deity, to whom all the chthonic rituals were dedicated. The same god Dabog who was also Serbian Sun god. Paradoxical I know. I wrote about this in my post "Day star".

In the past in Serbia, if people suspected that someone from their village was a vampire, they would take a black foal to the graveyard, and let it wander among the graves. The grave by which it stopped was the vampire grave. 


Once the horse identified who the vampire was, the villagers would open the grave and stick hawthorn stake through the corpses heart into the ground below. This was done to "tie the body to the ground" 



From "Srpski Mitoloski Recnik - Grupa Autora"

Interestingly, in the past, in Serbia, a stake was used to mark every grave. Probably as magical way of insuring that dead don't turn into vampires. Or maybe... In old Serbian graveyards in villages Brestovac near Grocka and in Dobrača on mountain Rudnik, archaeologists have discovered remains of wooden stakes. There was always one stake per grave stuck at the head of the grave where today we find tombstones and crosses.

In the first half of the 20th century, in Serbian villages Zlokućan i Razgojna,  in Leskovac region, when the person was buried, a stake was stuck into the ground just below the feet to mark the grave. Probably because at that stage the stake which was normally stuck into the ground above the head was replaced with a cross or a tombstone. After the stake was stuck into the ground, the priest emptied the ash from his incense burner around the base of the stake... 

According to ethnographers, in this part of Serbia, stakes were eventually replaced with stone stake-like gravestones. Like these ones in this cemetery in Dići



These look very much like standing stones used for marking Bronze Age graves... 



Were standing stones originally wooden stakes? Or did wooden stakes used as grave markers develop from standing stones only for people to go back to standing stones of sort?

In the first half of the 20th century, in Bosnia a stretcher made from two stakes was used to take the body to the graveyard. After the body was buried, one stake was stuck into the ground above the head and one below the feet...

Among Serbs, the stake on the grave seemed to have represented the dead person lying in the grave. There is a belief in Serbia that if a dead man is taken out of the house he should never be brought back in. If that happens, then the house has to be "secured" using a "dead stake" which is stuck into the house floor...

This symbolic equating of the dead person lying in a grave and a stake stuck in the grave is found in the ancient Serbian cursing ceremony called "prokletija". In it a stake representing a unidentified or runaway perpetrator of a serious crime is cursed and then stoned until a cairn is created around the stake...



That this marking of graves with stakes is an ancient Serbian (Slavic?) custom, can be seen from the fact that in "The Life of Otto, Apostle of Pomerania, 1060-1139" the author Ebbo, talks about the funerary custom of Baltic Slavs (Sorbs) of marking graves with stakes:

 ...and that the Christian dead should not be buried
with the heathen in the woods or the fields, but
in cemeteries, as is the custom of all Christians ; that
they should not place sticks on their tombs, and
should abandon all pagan customs and depraved
practices ;...

In Serbia people believed that the body (flesh not bones) had to decompose within 3 years in order for the soul to reach the otherworld. If it did not, this was the sign that "the god didn't want this person's soul" because it was evil. Which is why these kind of dead turned into vampires. 


This is really interesting considering that it is completely the opposite from the Christian belief that it is the bodies of the holy men (and women) which don't decay. An "incorruptible" body of  Mary of Jesus de León y Delgado...


It is also very interesting that in Serbia vampire was a synonym for werewolf. 


Wolf was totem animal of the Serbs. Serbian Sun god Dabog was also known as Wolf shepherd. And Serbs believed that they turn into wolves when they die...I wrote about this in my post "Wolf feast".

In a view of that, how are we to understand all this?

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Crab

This is Brown Crab (Cancer pagurus) 


It is found in all Atlantic European waters as well as northern Mediterranean waters.


Normally this crab lives in coastal waters under 100 m deep, sometimes over 100 km off coast. But once a year, during the moulting (shell shedding) season, which is followed by the mating season, these crabs move to the shallows. The mating season of the brown crab is mainly in July-September. 


Mating of the Brown crabs occurs shortly after the female has moulted, when the female carapace is soft. Mating predominantly takes place at night-time. During that time, male crabs are found attending both hard and moulted females at low-water mark, hiding under rocks...

This is Spider Crab (Maja squinado - Mediterranean sub species and Maja Brachydactyla - Atlantic sub species)


It is found all along the the Atlantic and North Mediterranean coast. Distribution area of Maja brachydactyla (blue circles) and Maja squinado (red squares) along the distribution area of the species 



Spider crabs inhabit coarse sand mixed grounds and open bedrock from the shallow sublittoral zone to a depth of 120 m, although highest densities occur between 0 and 70 m. Large migrations of spider crabs occur during the early spring when they move into shallower water to spawn. Female crabs become berried (egg-bearing) from April onwards, and by June all mature females are berried. Hatching occurs from July until November, following which the crabs migrate back to deeper water. 


In latitudes located farther to the north, matings were observed in shallow waters from May to July, on the Irish coast, and starting in June on the French coast...

So if you were a primitive hunter gatherer living in Europe, the only time you could catch these crabs was when they were in shallow inter tidal waters. Which happened during their mating season...Which peaks during June-July period... 

Which is really interesting considering that this period of the Solar year is on the Zodiac circle marked with the sign of Cancer (Crab)...


Cancer  21 June – 23 July



Coincidence?

I don't think so. 

So far I have found that:


And now 

Cancer - marks mating season of European large crabs...

I will here repeat this question:

Does anyone realize how important this is, from the point of view of the determining the origin of the Zodiac? The official line is that: 

"The division of the ecliptic into the zodiacal signs originates in Babylonian ("Chaldean") astronomy during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. "

Yet here we have all these zodiac signs marking extremely important cyclical natural events which occur in Europe...

These zodiac signs could only have been invented in Europe where they have self explanatory meaning. The meaning which was completely lost when zodiac was brought out of Europe to the places where natural cycle is very much or completely different. 

Which is why people have forgotten the true meaning of Zodiac: It is a solar not stellar circle...

So was zodiac invented in Europe? And more importantly when was it invented? And what about the other zodiac signs?


Sources for crab lifecycle info:

Brown crab


Spider crab

Marine conservation society website



Saturday, 16 November 2019

Тетёрки

Тетёрки (pronounced tetjorki), singular Тетёрка (pronounced tetjorka) are large ceremonial cookies baked for spring equinox in the northern part of Russia. 



They were given to children who were supposed to look through them at the spring sun. 

In Russia, spring equinox signals the imminent arrival of migratory birds. And it is these birds that bring Jarilo, young Sun god, from Irij, the land of the dead, where sun god spends winter. 

I talked about this in my post "Leto".

Yarilo, the Slavic Young Sun god, painting by Russian artist Andrey Shishkin. The word "Yar" means young, green, spring, so Yarilo literally means "Young one" and "Green one". He is the original "Green man", the bringer of Spring...



Jarilo's arival is, according to Russian legend, announced by the mad mating song and dance of the "sun bird" black grouse. 


Proto-Slavic name for black grouse is "tetervь". According to the Russian sources, this is where the name for Spring Equinox cookies "Tetjorki" comes from. Тетёрка (pronounced tetjorka) literally means female grouse. 

The equivalent in South Slavic tradition is partridge, whose mad mating song and dance announces the immanent arrival of Jarilo. 



As a matter of fact, Serbian name for partridge "jarebica" literally means spring fucker :) from jar = spring and jebica = fucker, feminine.  I wrote about this in my post "Partridge".

What is very interesting is that "тетёрка" cookies come from Kargopol (Russian: Ка́ргополь), a town in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. 



And according to "Symbolism of animals in Slavic folk tradition" by Aleksandar Gura, in Arkhangelsk region, where "тетёрка" cookies are made, the word "тетёрка" doesn't mean grouse but partridge....

Both female partridge and female grouse are symbol of fertility in Slavic tradition. They represent girl, bride and in mythological sense, Spring Earth, Spring Goddess Vesna. 

This is one of the reasons why tetjorka cookies were also made as part of wedding rituals. They were made by the bride's mother and were given to groom's family as presents.

Recipe:

Ingredients: 

2 cups rye flour (or rye flour in half with wheat),
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of warm water,
1 pinch of salt

Make dough from rye flour, water, salt, honey 



Kneed it until firm and hard



Form long thin dough thread



Wind the dough rightward, as the sun goes across the sky, starting from the centre outward. The cookie symbolises the sun and its effect on nature. 





Brush the dough with oil and bake for 15-20 minutes at a temperature of 180 ° C. Turn to the other side and bake for another 5 minutes.



Let the cookies cool. 

Tetjorki can be stored for about a year. 

This video shows making of Tetjorki.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Skier

This large ceramic vessel was found in Bronze Age Шиловское (Shilovskoe) settlement in Ural region of Russia. The engraving on the vessel is the earliest depiction of a skier.


This is the tracing of the engraving from Russian archaeological report. The meaning of the squiggles above the picture is still debated.



This is the description of the Shilovskoe settlement from "The Early Slavs: Eastern Europe from the Initial Settlement to the Kievan Rus" By Pavel Dolukhanov:


Excavation at the Shilovskoe site exposed two layers, one from Early Bronze Age Abashevo culture (2500–1900 BC) and the other from Late Bronze Age Srubnaya culture (1800–1200 BC). It is not clear who made the pot with the skier.


Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Hungarian graveyards

Ancient graveyards (medieval or older) are in Central Serbia called "Madžarska groblja" (Hungarian graveyards), "Grčka  groblja" (Greek graveyards) or "Džinovska groblja" (Giants graveyards).

This is one of these "Greek graveyards" from Hrta, Serbia.




Neither Greeks nor Hungarians ever lived in Central Serbia. The border between Hungarian and Greek graveyards goes along the line of the old border between Hungarian occupied Northern Serbia and Turkish occupied Southern Serbia during the Turkish Austrian wars 1718—1739.

His is history map of South Eastern Europe 1648-1739, Wars of Turkey with the Austro Hungarian Empire, Venice and Poland 




- The Austro-Turkish frontier fixed by the Peace of Carlowitz 1699 (yellow)
- The Ottoman Empire as in 1739 (green)
- The Austro-Turkish frontier fixed by the Peace of Passarowitz 1718 (red)

The so called Hungarian graveyards are located above the red line.

This is Jovan Hadži-Vasiljević, a Serbian historian and ethnographer.



He excavated one of the "Hungarian graveyards" located in the village of Stave in western Serbia. He found that all the graves contained dead buried according to Orthodox Christian custom. One of the graves contained Austrian coin from 1650

What is incredible is that he did his excavation in 1914 right after Kolubara battle, one of the biggest battle which Serbian army fought, and won, against invading Austrian army at the beginning of the WWI.




He fought in the battle, then during the lull after the battle asked his commander to give him couple of soldiers and let him excavate the graveyard in the nearby village...

Basically he excavated on a battlefield. What a guy 🙂

The description of his excavation can be found (in Serbian) in 1931 "Journal of the Ethnographic museum in Belgrade, book 6".

Milenko Filipovic in his work "Ancient graveyards from Takovo region" (Central Serbia) talks in detail about Hungarian graveyards from this area still standing in 1950's.

This is one of the old tombstones from a "Hungarian graveyard" from his book





Milenko Filipovic tried to explain the reason why these old graveyards are called "Hungarian". His conclusion is that these were old graveyards built by Serbs who escaped across Danube and Sava with Austro-Hungarian army after they pulled out of Serbia at the end of the 18th c.

The whole clans moved away. Locals in the 1950's still knew for some cemeteries who built them and said that some "Hungarians" used to come back for years to visit their dead...

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Axe of Perun



Very interesting 14th c AD axe found in Kaliningrad area of the Baltic. The head is made of bronze with iron blade inserted in. The axe is decorated with engraved Lion on one side and bull on the other. Summer starts in Taurus and ends in Leo, on the day of Perun, Slavic thunder god, whose main weapon and symbol was an axe...

This is very interesting. Zodiac symbols on Pagan Slavic axes???