Oldest culture subsummed by Vlad. Mostly peasents. Live in large southern steppes. Most numerous culture in Novoka. Mainstay of Novoka army and farmers. A very few knights are promoted. Hedge magic (hermits, midwifes, witches) abounds. Hold onto old ways (Druid/Pagen), but large areas embrace True God. dvoeverie (dvoh-ev-VAIR-ryeh) or “double-faith” Life depended on the rhythms of working the soil. There is respect for elders, for the deceased; love for children, love of nature and animals. pagan ritual symbolizing renewal and rebirth which is still practiced is the dyeing of eggs. Using wax, girls drew symbolic designs on eggs, dipped them into dye, melted the wax to expose the ornament, and presented these magical objects to loved ones. Traditionally, people decorated their homes with green tree branches and fragrant herbs. This was a day for fortune-telling. Girls wove garlands and floated them in a river or stream. They watched as the wreaths drifted away, wishing that a handsome young man would find the garland, It is also noteworthy that the common man is free to protest and question the priests and their interpretations of Divine will.
Another important part of Slavic ritual is the funeral meal. A huge feast was prepared and brought to the cemetary where it was eaten amidst much wailing and laughter. Food was always left for the dead. In Eastern European ritual, funeral and fertility rites are intertwined. Volos, a god of the herds, is believed by many to be the same god as Veles, an underworld deity.
New Year’s Day¶
Originally on the Winter Solstice, New years was considered the most powerful time for divination.
Spring Festival Strinennia¶
Mar 9th. Clay images of larks were made, their heads smeared with honey and stuck with tinsel. They were carried around the village amidst the singing of vesnjanki, invocations to Spring. Birds were thought to bring the Spring with them upon their return. Children were given pastries shaped like birds to toss into the air while saying “The rooks have come.”. Sometimes the pastries were tied to poles in the garden. The baking of these pastries was to ensure that the birds would return.
Oh little bee, Ardent bee! Fly out beyond the sea. Get out the keys, the golden keys. Lock up winter, cold winter Unlock summer, warm summer. Warm summer - A summer fertile in grain.
“beautiful” or “red” hillock - the Sunday after Easter. In Russia, a woman holding a red egg and round loaf of bread would face East and sing a spring song which the chorus then took up. Afterward, a doll representing Marzena, grandmother Winter, was carried to the edge of the village and thrown out or destroyed. Xorovods, Russian circle dances, started on this day as well as were Spring game songs; A female performer would enter the center of a circle and mime the sowing, pulling, spreading, etc..of the flax all the way up to the spinning. She and all those in the circle would sing:
Maslenitsa was considered to be a time for purification. All salt was prepared for the coming year, as salt was used for cleansing and curative purposes. Ritual baths to prepare for the oncoming work in the fields were also taken before sunrise and followed with fumigation in the smoke of the juniper.
Radunica - (Rah-doo-NEET-sa)¶
The second Tuesday after Easter. This holiday was originally known as Nav Dien (Day of the Dead) and was a bi-annual holiday to celebrate the ancestors. The original dates of these two holidays were probably May eve and November eve - cross-quarter dates. Usually feasting and celebrating occured in the cemetaries among much ritual wailing. Offerings, often of eggs, were left to the dead.
Kupalo - (Coo-PAH-loh)¶
the Celebration of the summer solstice. Kupalo comes from the verb kupati which means “to bathe” and mass baths were taken on the morning of this holiday. On this holiday, the sun supposedly bathed by dipping into the waters at the horizon. This imbued all water with his power and therefore, those who bathed on this day would absorb some of that power.
Fire was sacred to the ancient Slavs and fires were never allowed to go out. In the sanctuaries, fires were tended by the priests and in the home, guarded by the mother. On the eve of Kupalo, however, all fires were extinquished and rekindled with “new fire”. New fire was created by friction. A peg was rotated within a hole in a block of wood made especially for this purpose. In some areas, animals were sacrificed on Kupalo’s eve and a feast prepared of them entirely by men was shared as a communal meal. Bonfires were lit and couples jumped over them. It was considered a good omen and prediction of marriage if a young couple could jump the flame without letting go of each other’s hand. Cattle was chased through the fires in order to ensure their fertility.
Kupalo was considered the most powerful time to gather both magical and medicinal plants. It was considered the only time to gather the magical fire-fern. On Kupalo’s eve, the flower of the fern was said to climb up the plant and burst into bloom. Anyone who obtained it would gain magical powers including the ability to find treasures. To gather the herb, one must draw a magic circle around the plant and ignore the taunts of the demons who would try to frighten them off. Kupalo marked the end of the “Spring festival” period which started in the beginning of March.
St. Ilia’s Day¶
August 2nd. In the Ukraine, this day marked the beginning of autumn. It was said “Until dinner, it’s summer. After dinner, it’s autumn.” Ilia is closely related to Perun and this was most probably one of Perun’s holy days. After this day, no swimming was allowed as Ilia will curse anyone he finds swimming after his feast day.
a small patch of field that was left uncut. The spirit of the harvest was said to precede the reapers and hide in the uncut grain. This small patch was referred to as the “beard” of Volos, the God of animals and wealth. The uncut sheaves of wheat in “Volos’ beard” were decorated with ribbons and the heads were bent toward the ground in a ritual called “The curling ofthe beard”. This was believed to send the spirit of the harvest back to the Earth. Salt and bread, traditional symbols of hospitality were left as offerings to Volos’ beard.
Rusal’naia Week - (Roo-sahl-NIE-ya)¶
originally just after May eve, this holiday was later celebrated on the 7th or 8th week after Easter. The holiday was possibly named after the Roman holiday Rosalia. During this week the Rusalki, female water spirits, were said to leave the rivers and go to the forests and fields. Birches were considered a source of vegetative power and homes were decorated with birch branches, both inside and out.
On the Wednesday of this week, girls would go into the forests and choose and mark the birches. The following day, Semik, bringing fried eggs (omelettes) & beer, they would decorate the chosen trees with flowers. One special birch would be chosed and “curled”. That is, the ends of the twigs would be knotted and twisted to form wreaths. The fried eggs would be placed around it while Semickajas (songs sung only at Semik) were sung. Then the kumit’sja ceremony would be held: The girls would kiss each other through wreaths on the birch tree and swear an oath of friendship. This spell was believed to ensure that they would be friends for life or, “kumas”.
This tree was sometimes left in the forest, and sometimes cut down and brought into the village. No males were allowed to touch the tree. The tree might be dressed in woman’s clothing and/or stripped of its lower branches. Sometimes this tree was set up in a home as a guest. If left in the forest, its tip might be bent down and tied to the grass, ensuring that its sacred energy would return to the earth. Girls would sing and dance the xorovod around the tree.
Banishings of the Rusalki were performed during Rusal’naia. Dolls of them were made and ritually torn apart in the grain fields.
On the Sunday of this week, girls would perform memorial rites on the graves of their parents and afterward divide eggs among their family members. Then the sacred birch tree was removed from the village and tossed into a local river or stream. Girls would take wreaths from their heads and toss them in after the birch. If their wreath floated off, love was to come from the direction the wreath floated toward. If the wreath sunk, the girl was supposed to die within the following year. If it circled, misfortune would come.
I, a young girl, am going to the quiet meadow, the quiet meadow. To the quiet meadow, to a little birch. I, a young girl, will pick a blue cornflower, A little blue cornflower, a cornflower. I, a young girl, will weave a wreath. I, a young girl, will go to the river. I will throw the wreath down the river. I will think about my sweetheart My wreath is drowning, drowning. My heart is aching, aching. My wreath will drown. My sweetheart will abandon me.