Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Weather stones

During the periods of severe droughts, in a small Belarusian village, 9 windows would go to the Dabog (Giving God) stone, lift it using the stakes as leavers, and would perform a special prayer to the stone asking it to send down the rain. 



You can read more about this in my post "The last megalithic ritual in Europe". 

This is Velika Baba (Great grandmother) peak in Jezersko region, Slovenia.



This crag in Slovenia is called "Poljanska baba" and is located on slopes of Mt. Mežakla. 



In Serbian, the word baba means "birth giver" and is used for mother, grandmother, midwife. It also means stone, rock, crag, bedrock, mountain and Mother Earth (Birth Giver 🙂). 

Stones, rocks, particularly bedrock, crags, rocky mountain peaks are seen as bones of Mother Marth. 

In my post "Yin and Yang" I talked about the Mother Earth and Father Sun and their life creating interplay. 

Chines divided all the natural phenomena into Yin and Yang ones:

Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, dark, and passive; and is associated with water, winter, north, earth, the moon, femininity, and nighttime.

Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, bright, and active; and is associated with fire, sky, summer, the sun, masculinity and daytime. 

People in the Balkans too clearly linked wet, cold weather with "Baba", Mother Earth. 

Shepherd's in Slovenia believed that "baba" stones were linked to weather, water, humidity, mud, soil and fertility and pasture abundance. 



The same veneration of stones related to weather is found on Mt Velebit in Croatia. This is "Malo Rujno" highland plateau on Mt Velebit. 


On it there is a stone block which local shepherds called "Baba" (Grandmother). Every spring, on the arrival of flocks to the highlands, shepherd women used to bring food offerings and leave them on the stone, to placate Mother Earth, and ensure the cold and wet weather doesn't come back. 

You can read more about this in my post "Shepherds chapels from Velebit". 

Now here is something very very interesting. In the article "Nesnovna krajina Krasa" we can read this: 

In Slovenia people used to cut special types of stones called "špičneki" or "špičniki" meaning "spikes". These were pointed stones which were placed on the houses or at the garden gate to "word off hail and storm"


In the village Spiczki (spikes) in Podlasie, Poland, there were stones which people believed controlled the weather. During storms, people would raise the stones to point to the sky for protection. 

The same custom was recorded in the village of Turow in Poland. A stone called "śpiczek" (spike) was tilted for rain and straightened to point to the sky for sun

Is this one of the reasons why people erected standing stones permanently pointing to the sky? Did that happen during one of the catastrophic climate changes that happened during Bronze and Iron Age? Culnagrew Standing Stone. Picture by Ciaran McGuckin


Catastrophic weather event like the early Bronze Age "Flood of Patholon", memory of which was preserved in the Irish oral tradition written down in medieval times. You can read more about this in my my post "Flood of Partholon".

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Jarba fjeruluj

Jarba fjeruluj (Iron plant) is a  type of amulet made by Vlah shepherds from the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Serbia. It is said to protect a man from "anything that flashes like lightning or booms like a thunder" (any blade weapon or firearm).


Making the Iron Plant is the only magical ritual in the Vlah magic which was performed by men.


This amulet can only be made on St George's night by the man who will wear it. It can't be bought or sold. Pic: ritual fist milking of sheep which takes place on St George's day. More about shepherd's rituals performed on St Georges day can be found in my post "Aries must die".


The amulet consists of two parts. A small box like this one.


 This box has to be made from Oskoruša (Sorbus domestica) wood (type of rowan).


Inside of the box the man places a single "male" (red) hazel flower. In Serbia people believe that hazel produces male (red) and female (pink) flowers.


In Serbia people believed that "thunder never strikes hazel tree", hazel being a holy tree.


Shepherds used to tie hazel twigs around their waists to protect themselves during thunderstorms


But this hazel flower had to be obtained in a special way:


The amulet protects its owner against "anything that flashes like lightning or booms like a thunder" if it's kept next to the body. In extreme danger, the amulet box can be opened and pointed towards the danger for extra protection

The amulet loses its power if a crime is committed while wearing it, if it's brought into a church or if it's worn during sex

At the end of the owner's life, the amulet is passed on to his son

Source: "Vlaška magija" by Jasna Jojić

Monday, 15 July 2019

Bee

Every day should be a bee day. This article is a collection of posts from my Twitter count about Slavic bee folklore. 

People probably learned where and how to get the honey from bears. This can be seen from Slavic word for bear: "medved" = med + ved = honey + knowledge = "he who knows about honey, honey sage"... More honey related linguistic delicacies can be found in my post "Mmmmmmm"


Traditional Slavic beehives are actually made from tree logs, which are hollowed and stood upright to resemble hollow trees. This is a great picture of old style log beehives in front of an old style wooden Church. Ukraine


In the Balkans, Slavs believed that a new beekeeper must start with three beehives: one found (containing a wild swarm), one received as a present, and one stolen. This will ensure his success in beekeeping. It was considered a very bad luck to sell bees...


In Serbia (and other Slavic countries and Finland), horse skull was placed on top of beehives to protect bees from pests and diseases


In Slavic countries when a beekeeper died, his neighbour would go to his beehives to inform the bees of their master's death, by hitting each beehive three times. People also believed that bees that belonged to the dead beekeeper would also soon die...This is why it was a practice to give bees away, to your son or to someone else before you die, to ensure bee colonies' prosperity.  Nikolai Bogatov, "A beekeeper" 1875


Slavs also believed that lightning never strikes a tree with a beehive in it


Slavs believed that bees were the purest beings and the only ones whose soul devil can't corrupt and that beehives are the only place where devil can't hide. But even if Devil would somehow manage to hide in a beehive, St Elijah would never strike the beehive with his lightning, not even to kill the Devil...



In South Slavic languages, the word "uginuti" means "to die" but is only used for animals. The word "umreti" also means "to die" but is only used for people. And bees...


The reason for this could be that in some parts of Serbia people believed that the soul of the deceased migrated into a bee. So bees and humans had the same soul.


Slavs believed that bee only bites people who committed some kind of sin 


In Lika (Croatia), at Christmas people would fill a small wooden vessel used for scooping flour from storage with grains, and would stick three beeswax candles in the grain, one for dead, one for bees and one for grain


The first splinter made during the cutting of "Badnjak" (Serbian Yule log, a young oak tree) is collected and usually place next to beehives, to ensure fertility and prosperity. More about Yule log cutting related rituals and ceremonies can be found in my post "Badnjak"


Another splinter was put into Christmas cake. Interestingly, part of the dough used to make Christmas cake (česnica) is smeared on beehives to ensure health and prosperity of the bees. 

This is typical Serbian Christmas cake (česnica)


This shows that in Serbian tradition there is a clear link between grains and bees. This link is confirmed by this next custom.

The central pole from the threshing floor is in Serbian called "stožer".  


This pole is treated as the seat of Grain God. Sacrifices and offerings are made to it during threshing season as well as during New Year (Winter solstice) season.


When stožer needs to be replaced, it is not thrown away. It is stuck among the beehives to insure there prosperity.  You can read more about threshing flors in my post "God's threshing floor".

In the end here are two most important beliefs recorded among Serbs from Serbia and the people of Polesye who have a legend that they came from Serbia. 

Serbs believed that bee was sent to people by God to bring abundance. "Долете челка од Бога, казује лето богато" (A bee flew from God, promises rich summer). A ritual song sang at St George's day, beginning of summer



In Polesye, area along Belarus and Ukraine border, there is a belief that God created bees "to live til the end of the world" and that "when all bees die, the world will end"... You can read more about people from Polesye and their curious origin story in my post "David Gorodkov Turov style"



The bees are dying...

Friday, 12 July 2019

Wolf feast

In some parts of Serbia, on Christmas Eve people used to take a table laid with food on the doorstep of the house and would then ask wolves to come to the feast. In other parts of Serbia they would invite the dead to the feast in the same way.


Doorstep is one of the most sacred places in Serbian houses because it is believed that the dead ancestors gather under the doorstep stone. There are indications that Serbs (some of them anyway) used to bury their dead under the doorstep, where they would "protect the entrance into the house" from evil spirits.

So why did Serbs invite wolves to the feast in the same way they invited the dead to the feast?

Serbs venerated their ancestors. They believed that all that is good and bad comes from happy or unhappy ancestors. So it was extremely important to keep them happy, which usually meant entertained, well fed and well watered. This is why no major Serbian celebration could pass without the ancestors being invited to join. And Christmas in particular, being the biggest celebration in Serbian calendar, had to be celebrated together with the ancestors.

Now Serbs believed in Father Sky (Sun) and Mother Earth. They believed that they actually descended from these "deities". They particularly considered Dabog (Sky, Sun god) to be their forefather.

At the same time wolf was the totem animal of the Serbs, their animal twin. The belief that wolf was Serbian animal twin was manifested in many folk customs. For instance when a child was born, the custom in Serbian villages was for the father to open the house door, stand on the doorstep, and announce the birth of a son by shouting: "Rodila vučica vuka!" (A she-wolf just gave birth to a wolf cub!). A mother would announce its wolf nature to her child by singing it a lullaby which started with "Nini sine, vuče i bauče, vučica te u gori rodila" (Sleep my son, my wolf, a she-wolf gave birth to you in a mountain). A newborn baby was pulled through a wolf jaw to protect it from evil, illness and demons...In that way Dabog, the supreme god of the Serbs, the archetypal ancestor of the Serbs, who was also called the Wolf Shepherd, was giving his blessing to his new descendant. Amulets made from various parts of wolf body were used to protect people from various dangers including devil himself. The name Vuk (Wolf) is a very common Serbian name and it is believed that it protects the person from evil.


It was even believed that Serbs turn to wolves when they die.

Vampire, a dead body which gets out of the grave attacks people and sucks their blood is by Serbs also called vukodlak (werewolf).


In Montenegro and Hercegovina, Serbs simply called vampire "wolf". Serbian Kuči tribe from Montenegro believed that every vampire after a while turns into a wolf. The reason why vampire is seen as a wolf is because Dabog, the Wolf Shepherd, is not just the Sun (Sky) god, but also the good of the underworld, the good of the dead. Which is why his animal, wolf, a chthonic animal itself, is seen as a natural metamorphosis for the dead. Werewolf (Vampire) is the link between the world of the living and the world of the dead, as he is both dead and alive...

So this is why the same ritual invitation to the feast was performed for both the ancestors and the wolves.

In some parts of Serbia, the Christmas feast for wolves was laid on a crossroads and wolves were called to come and "take theirs and leave mine". The man who brought the food for wolves had to run home without turning.



Crossroads are one of the favourite gathering places of the dead. The "not turning while going home" rule is also applied to the family coming back from the graveyard after burying someone. Here again we see the link between the wolves and the dead...

Monday, 8 July 2019

Bird wedding




The "Ptaškowa swajźba" (Sorbian Bird Wedding) is the centuries old "the end of winter" traditional custom practiced by Sorbs (Wends). Sorbs are a western Slavic ethnic group whose homeland is in a region divided between the eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg, and the provinces of Lower Silesia and Lubusz in Poland.

Birds' Wedding comes from the Upper Sorbian region where this custom is widely spread in families.

The wedding ceremony takes place on the 25th of January. In Kindergarten and schools, young children wearing traditional regional dress, which varies from town to town, are playing bird bride and groom.



In most areas the bride is a Magpie and the groom is a Raven, while in some other areas the bride is a Blackbird and the groom is a Thrush. The wedding guests are other "birds", wearing bird masks complete with beaks and feathers.


The custom has its roots in the pre-Christian era. The beginning of February (Imbolc in Celtic calendar) is the climatic end of winter and beginning of spring. The same climatic calendar seemed to have been used by Serbs too. I talked about the climatic cross quarter days in my post "Two crosses".



February is the time when first non migratory birds, like ravens, start making nests. This nesting activity signals immanent arrival of spring and summer.

In Slavic languages the word for summer "leto" comes from "let" meaning flight, because summer is the period between the arrival and departure of the migratory birds. The arrival of migratory birds was actually celebrated in some Slavic countries. I talked about it in my post "Leto".


Birds were extremely important in Slavic mythology. In pre-Christian times, Slavs believed that souls of their dead entered birds and through birds entered heaven, Iriy. So feeding birds with grain during the winter was basically a form of sacrificing grain to the ancestors. And happy full ancestors would repay hundredfold with bountiful grain harvest during the next summer. 

The birds were specially well fed the night before the Bird's wedding. Dishes were filled with grain and placed outside of the houses, high out of reach of any dogs or cats who might be around.  Overnight "birds" would fill the dishes with gifts to thank the children for feeding them through the winter: coloured eggs, bird shaped pastries, candies, nuts and apples.



In Serbia there is a belief that sparrows get married on the 2nd of February, Sretenje (Meeting), the day when Winter meets Summer....

Monday, 1 July 2019

Sceptre

This is the so called "Ptuj inscription", a line of text written in Noric language, a little known Central European #Celtic language spoken in Roman province of Noricum. 





It reads: ARTEBUDZBROGDUI

This is interpreted as two personal names: Artebudz [son] of Brogduos. The name Artebudz is proposed to mean "bear penis" (compare Welsh arth "bear" and Irish bod "penis")... 

In Serbian we have these two words: 

budža - knobstick, also anything that sticks out, that can be stuck into something else, like a penis. 
budžiti - to stick something like budža into something tight, like a penis into vagina 

This is an Irish knowbstick. I believe most people reading this know what penis looks like 🙂 




Serbian word budža also means someone important, someone who is sticking out...🙂 

In Brittany we find "Penn Bazh" which is exactly the same as the Irish knobstick. 




Penn Bazh was and still is used as a weapon. It literally means head stick where the word "bazh" means stick, basically Celtic "budz" or Serbian "budža" 

Interestingly in Serbian we have another version of the word "budža" meaning someone imortant: "badža" which corresponds with Breton "bazh". So we find both variants of the Celtic word for knobstick, budz and bazh in modern Serbian... 

The official etymology for the Irish word "bod" meaning "penis" is that it comes from Middle Irish "bot" (tail, penis) which comes from Proto-Celtic "*buzdos" (tail, penis).

Interestingly, there is a Serbian word "buzdovan" means a knobstick, battle club just like "budža". So we have two old Irish words (bod, buzd) in Serbian both meaning the penis (knob), knobstick.

In English the phrases "to be a knob" or "to be a dick" both mean that the person in question is showing off, is full of himself, is unpleasant, offensive or even abusive. Like someone who has or thinks he has absolute power, superior worth and right over others.

In Serbian when someone has power over others, he is called "budža" literally a penis, a knob, a knobstick. This is not a derogatory term, but an expression of respect. Knobstick is here directly linked to importance and power over others and is the symbol of that power

In Serbian when someone is "budža", has power over others he is also "neki kurac" meaning a penis, a knob. Like in "on misli da je neki kurac" meaning he thinks that he is important. This directly links a knobstick and knob, the power over others and reproductive power

This is completely natural and logical, because in clan societies, where all clan members are blood relatives, the oldest male, "Djed" (grandfather) is the one who holds the position of power over others. And unsurprisingly in the Balkans, knobstick is the symbol of that power

Like on this medieval fresco from Macedonia where the elders called "Djed" (grandfather) carry knobsticks both as weapons and as symbols of power.




I believe that this is ancient. It is the simplest the most direct expression of the patriarchal power that you can get. I made you, you came from my penis, therefore I have power over you. 

In Serbian the word for descended from is "potekao" literally "poured out of (his penis)" 🙂

Originally the elders probably held their penises as symbols of powers. In Serbian when someone is behaving like he has power we say "kurči se", meaning "he is showing off, he is being a dick" but literally "he is sticking his dick out" and "he is wielding his knob" 🙂

In Serbian the expression "ponaša se kao da je uhvatio boga za kurac" means "he is behaving like he has absolut power", but literally means "he is behaving like he is holding God's dick". 🙂

Serbs believed that they descend from god Dabog. That they were children of Dabog. So Dabog being the oldest male, the DJED, means that his dick is the symbol of absolute god given power. Is knobstick the symbol of the Dabog's dick? And is this where sceptre of power comes from?




These medieval stećak standing stones from Bosnia all have engraved knobsick. As all the medieval stećak standing stone engravings have religious symbolism, this shows that knobsick was a symbol of not just civil but also religious power at the time. These were djed, elder graves...