We’re all well familiar with the mythology surrounding the ancient gods such as Zeus, Odin, Jupiter, Venus, Aphrodite, etc; but do you know who deities of the ancient Slavs were, or what were their names?
For a long time now, Russian artist Jaromir Velikorodov has been carving statues of the ancient Slavic gods. Taking some artistic freedom, since not many original sources of the ancient Slavic mythological creatures exist today (mainly because they were wood carvings), he has based his works on the research of the Ancient Slavic culture which he has done for years.
According to this Russian artist, Ancient Slavic culture runs through his veins and he feels some kind of spiritual connection to it. Statues are made of Linden tree coated with oil and wax, as it was done in ancient times.
Ancient Slavs used to keep such statues in their homes, decorated with embroidered towels.
Let’s take a look at some of the mythological creatures of our ancestors:
Dabog (Ancient Slavic: Дажьбогъ) is a Slavic god who yields life to the Earth, being the god of Sun and rain, which are the basic life preserving necessities.
He is at the same time god of the underworld and progenitor of the Slavs. According to Veselin Čajkanović, he was also the supreme god of Serbs.
Svetovid (Svantevid, Suvid, Svantovit) was associated with war and was attributed with success in battles, good harvests, but also fertility.
He is often presented with four heads, a sword or bow in one hand and the drinking horn in the other.
Baltic Slavs considered him the highest deity; among the Serbs Svetovid is somewhat preserved through St. Vitus or “Vidovdan”, which is one of the most celebrated saints in Serbian Orthodox Christian tradition.
Crnobog (Black god) is a God of night and darkness. Crnobog may be one of the most mysterious Slavic deities. There are many assumptions related to him, but little can be confirmed with certainty.
Hors (Ancient Slavic: Хърсъ) is East Slavic deity of uncertain functions, probably a Sun god. His wooden idol was situated on the top of a hill in Kiev, next to the idol of Perun, Dabog, Stribog, Simargl and Mokosh.
It is assumed that his characteristics were formed under the influence of the south. Sometimes he is mentioned by the name of Surija (there is also a Hindu deity by the same name) or Zorja.
Ancient Slavs believed that Svarog’s son was forging a new sun, which would then be carried by Surija’s horses across the sky.
In Ancient Slavic mythology, Jarilo is the god of spring vegetation and fertility, but sometimes even associated with war.
He is thought to be an exquisitely handsome young man, riding on a white horse, dressed in white and barefoot, tasseled with wild flowers and carrying a bundle of wheat in his hands. This is the reason why in various spring rituals girls dressed in white and crowned with flowers used to ride on white horses.
Dolls were made of straw in his glory and called by the name of this deity.
Lada – the Ancient Slavic goddess of Summer, love and beauty. According to the ancient belief, she lives in another world, called Irij, until spring, when she is awaken to bring spring.
The name of goddess Lada was first mentioned in the Renaissance period, when Slavic historians, influenced by their French, Italian and German colleagues , started showing great interest in antique mythology. Some of them, especially Czech and Polish historians tried to rebuild the forgotten Slavic pantheon of gods.
Ljelj is the son of Triglav and husband of Lada, who cares of brotherhood.
Mokosh (Мокошь) was the East Slavic goddess of fertility, protector of women and jobs done by women, such as spinning.
Her ancient idol was placed at the hill in Kiev by Prince Vladimir, next to the idol of Perun and other deities.
In the northern Russia she is known as Mokusha, and depicted as a woman with big head and long arms who visits houses and looks over the spinners. Her cult was, judging from the toponyms, also present among Western Slavs.
Morana (or Mora, Morena, Marana, Maržana) is a symbol of death and winter in Slavic tradition.
She manifests in various shapes; most often as a very pale beautiful girl, with the wolf fangs and claws. Her other shape is such as that of a Baba Yaga, an ugly old witch.
Perun (Перунъ) is a Slavic god of skies and natural disasters (rainfall, summer storms), that is a god of thunder, some kind of a Slavic Zeus, who people usually turned to during drought.
Thursday was his day, and the oak tree and the flower of iris were dedicated to him.
Rod is a being from Slavic mythology that still creates controversy in science over whether it represents a deity or a mythological creature.
Živa is the goddess of life. On her head she wore ornaments resembling Sun rays; she was wrapped in a light cloak, with bare shoulders and bosom. She held a bundle of wheat in her left hand, and a fruit similar to apple in her right.
Svarog (Ancient Slavic: Сварогъ, Соварогъ) is the god of Sun who provides life and warmth of the fireside (which is a substitute for the Sun). He is only mentioned in one source – “Chronicle” of the Byzantine historian Jovan Malala.
Triglav is a three-headed deity of Baltic Slavs, presumably a god of war. However, as the supreme god, he has the threefold role of the deity fulfilling three functions: deity of birth, afterlife, death and ancestors, and the deity of sustaining human life.
Similarity of Triglav and Svetovid suggests the possibility of them being one and the same deity, known by different names in different areas.
Stribog (Стрибогъ) is a deity of East Slavic mythology. All the winds were considered his grandchildren.
His ancient statue is mentioned among the ones that stood on the hill in Kiev, where the statues of Perun, Hors, and Mokosh were found.
He was depicted as the grey-haired old man holding a horn in his hand, by which he awakens the winds, his grandchildren. Eagle was the animal symbolizing Stribog.
Veles or Volos (Велесъ, Волосъ) was the god of fields, pastures and forests, or crops, livestock and wild animals. His animal pendant is a bear, while in Christianity his role was taken over by St. Vasilije.
Some authors see him as the god of the underworld, and some attribute him with the protection of poetry. One of the most controversial writings in the field of Ancient Slavic religion was named after him and known as “The Book of Veles”.