November 1, 2010

Veles

Veles s a major Slavic supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld, associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth and trickery. He is the opponent of the Supreme thunder-god Perun, and the battle between two of them constitutes one of the most important myths of Slavic mythology. No direct accounts survive, but reconstructions speculate that he may directly continue aspects of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon and that he may have been imagined as (at least partially) serpentine, with horns (of a bull, ram or some other domesticated herbivore), and a long beard. By all accounts, he was considered as an evil god with gray shades.
Veles is one of few Slavic gods for which evidence of offerings can be found in all Slavic nations. The Primary Chronicle, a historical record of the early Eastern Slavic state, is the earliest and most important record, mentioning a god named Volos several times. Here, Volos is mentioned as god of cattle and peasants, who will punish oath-breakers with diseases, the opposite of Perun who is a described as a ruling god of war who punishes by death in battle.
Ancient Slavs viewed their world as a huge tree, with the treetop and branches representing the heavenly abode of gods and the world of mortals, whilst the roots represented the underworld. And while Perun, seen as a hawk or eagle sitting on a tallest branch of tree, was believed to be ruler of heaven and living world, Veles, seen as a huge serpent coiling around the roots, was ruling the world of dead. This was actually quite a lovely place, described in folk tales as a green and wet world of grassy plains and eternal spring, where various fantastic creatures dwell and the spirits of deceased watch over Veles' herds of cattle. In more geographical terms, the world of Veles was located, the Slavs believed, "across the sea", and it was there the migrating birds would fly to every winter. In folk tales this land is called Virey or Iriy. Each year, the god of fertility and vegetation, Jarilo, who also dwelt there during winter, would return from across the sea and bring spring into the world of the living.
Veles also regularly sent spirits of the dead into the living world as his heralds. Festivals in honour of him were held near the end of the year, in winter, when time was coming to the very end of world order, chaos was growing stronger, the borders between worlds of living and dead were fading, and ancestral spirits would return amongst the living. This was the ancient pagan celebration of Velja noc (Great Night), the relic of which still persists amongst many Slavic countries in folk customs of Koleda, a kind of combination of carnival and Halloween, which can happen anywhere from Christmas up to end of February. Young men, known as koledari or vucari would dress long coats of sheep's wool and don grotesque masks, roaming around villages in groups and raising a lot of noise. They sang songs saying they travelled a long way, and they are all wet and muddy, an allusion of the wet underworld of Veles from which they came as ghosts of dead. The master of any house they visited would welcome them warmly and presented them with gifts. This is an example of Slavic shamanism, which also indicates Veles was a god of magic and wealth. The gifts given to koledari were probably believed to be passed onto him (which makes him very much like a dragon hoarding treasure), thus ensuring good fortune and wealth for the house and family through entire year. As seen in descriptions from the Primary Chronicle, by angering Veles one would be stricken by diseases.


That enough about Veles, although there is still much about him. :D
Tomorrow I will represent you God Perun! Enjoy you reading! Slava! :D

44 comments:

  1. I love reading up on different God and Goddess's

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  2. and we gave our baltic brothers away :(
    shame :(

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  3. I love your posts about the Gods! and the art is fantastic <3

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  4. wow theres a lot of meaning to this..

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  5. hm never heard of him. I stay tuned for perun!

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  6. you're blog is definitely one of my favorites

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  7. You have an interesting blog here!
    following~

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  8. I really love what you're doing here. You always have the most interesting posts.

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  9. very interesting. i love reading about celebrations of other cultures and stuff like that.

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  10. he really reminds me of Keeper of the Grove xD

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  11. I like all this mythology stuff

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  12. awesome, Slavic mythology seems pretty hardcore

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  13. Wow Veles sounds awesome! :P

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  14. great post is really nice post and beautiful pics

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  15. I love mythology and cool deerhead hats like Veles :)

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