Paganism entails the tendency of individuals to hold various beliefs that are different from the major world’s religions. Paganism was a highly dominated belief among the ancient Slovaks in Russia. Pagan gods, spirits, alongside deities were in charge of most souls of the ancient Slovaks. According to paganism, the Slavs were ruled and controlled by natural forces. The earlier said gods and spirits were linked with various elements, survival, and seasons. The Slavic history, religion, myths, rites, and festivals among others highly influenced the Russian culture. Through these components of paganism, it highly influenced the current Russian Culture (Halemba 45).
The Russian people are highly recognized all over the world though their festival celebration that marks their culture. The festivals that are practiced today were highly contributed to their existence by the paganism regime in the ancient times. For example, the charismas celebrations that are held yearly came up as a result of integrating the pagan festival of the winter solstice known as kolad with a sun holiday celebration. Moreover, other paganism holidays like Volos were grafted into today holidays like George day practiced on April twenty-third. According to Greek, George is defined as a farmer symbolizing the first day on which flocks were taken to the fields by herders who wielded pussy pillows. The practice of using pussy willows was a pagan belief symbolizing that the energy of the willows could be transferred to the flock of animals. Still the culture of using willows is exhibited in the current era whereby individuals collect pussy willows and take them home to symbolize the coming of spring (“Slavic Languages and Slavic Paganism”).
Paganism sites and rituals were integrated into the Russian Culture. Some of these paganism sites and rites can be traced in the Russian culture. For instance, most Russians visit the burial places of their loved ones mostly on May first, a date that coincides with the a pagan holiday (Rodnitsa) whereby the celebrants used to invite the deceased individuals to eat and drink on their graves (Halemba 28). Additionally, the pagan sites are currently being visited by a number of Russians. A good example is the two pagan stones that are located in Kolomenskoye Park in Moscow. One of these stones was a goddess of fertility while the other was a dedication to the male god associated with virility. The site receives a lot of visitors who leave colored ribbons on trees around the stones. The practice clearly shows that still the sites are well recognized and respected among the current Russian Culture (“Pagan Russia”).
Some of the current Russian myths in the form of folktales contain elements of the ancient pagan myths. During the formation of these myths, some elements of paganism were considered thereby resulting to such tales. For example the famous “Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Bogatyrs” which was narrated to an individual by name Alexander by his grandmother, to some extent is associated with the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. The folktale is a continuation of the pagan myth. In other words, it’s like the current Russian myths and folktales are retelling the ancient pagan myths. Therefore, the ancient practice of paganism contributed to the establishment of the current Russian beliefs and myths (McKay 86).
Paganism highly influenced Christianity among the Russians. For example, the symbols that were used during the paganism regime are being exhibited in Christianity. Various symbols like stars and circles are currently found in churches and icons. Moreover, some Christian songs contain some aspects of paganism. In the early days when Christianity was being introduced in Russia, the people never shifted directly to new churches but instead used the shrines that were earlier used for paganism. The entire religious revolution and the dual faith in Russia portrays how paganism shaped the religious beliefs and ways of life of the people of Russia (“Pagan Russia”).
The practices and symbols of paganism for years have been preserved as a cultural heritage for the Russians. Despite the introduction of Orthodox Christian Church, the pagan house idols continued to be made in Russia. For example, Natalya Zhulaeva made the bereginya doll that with other idols are well kept in sacred parts of a house alongside various icons of Christian saints. The presence of these idols enriches the Russian culture with more flavor as visitors travel to this house to have a look at these items (“Slavic Languages and Slavic Paganism”).
Evidently, paganism highly influenced and shaped the Russian Culture. Various festivals that are currently held coincide with the paganism celebrations. Moreover, the rituals and sites that were practiced in the paganism era can still be traced in the Russian Culture meaning that it’s the one that shaped the culture. Paganism has positively contributed to the growth and establishment of the Russian Culture thereby enriching Russia with a very admirable history. Therefore, paganism is a very important practice in the history of Russia. It should be preserved through well storage of its symbols as it positively enhances the Russian Culture.
Halemba, Agnieszka. The Telengits of Southern Siberia: Landscape, Religion, and Knowledge in Motion. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.
McKay, George. Subcultures and New Religious Movements in Russia and East-Central Europe. Oxford: P. Lang, 2009. Print.
“Pagan Russia.” Passport Magazine: Russian Lifestyle, Russian Restaurants, Moscow Hotels, Russian Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Oct. 2015.
“Slavic Languages and Slavic Paganism.” Proto-Indo-European Religion. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Oct. 2015.