During the time of their rise as a nation, Slavs were pagans called rodnovery. This word is a compound of “rodnoy”, which means “native”, and “vera”, which means “faith”.
This was a polytheist religion that prevailed among the majority of Slavic tribes. It was later replaced by orthodox Christianity. However, some of the religious festivals and traditions were so deeply engraved in people’s minds that even the Church allowed some concessions. This resulted in modifying some traditional Christian festivals and replacing the deities in some legends with Christian saints. This is why today Christians in Slavic countries celebrate some holidays that have pagan roots.
Slavs serving their gods, 19th century woodcut.
Although, this religion hasn’t been popular for many hundreds of years, traditions of rodnovery have not been forgotten. It also seems that some people today are ready to drag them back into the light.
The Christian Church holds much sway over people’s minds. Constant technological progress increased the number of skeptics and atheists. This is why not many people today are ready to convert in the religion of their ancestors. However, Slavs are extremely strong willed people that can overcome any obstacles. The result of their spiritual power is resurrection of ancient rituals and popularization of the religion that was an extremely important part of their ancestors’ lives.
Today, there are many groups of youths in Ukraine that form various clubs specialized in Slavic culture. Religion was a very important part of that culture, so these young people study it closely and bring back some of the archaic rituals.
There are also people from the older generation that are quite taken with this idea. Some of them even form settlements where they strive to imitate the lifestyle of their ancestors. They worship the same deities, celebrate the same festivals and live in harmony with nature.
This is the question that people should be asking themselves when they see that the popularity of rodnovery is growing. Religion, after all, can be a very dangerous weapon that some people won’t hesitate to use.
Rodnovery today are neo-pagans that worship ancient Slavic deities. They follow the lunar calendar and celebrate the same festivals as their ancestors. There can be no doubt that these people honor the old traditions and do a very good deed by trying to preserve them from being forgotten and lost forever.
The problem with this situation is that some of the people that take active part in the resurrection of Ancient Slavic culture cannot live up to their great ancestry. It is shameful that such a noble ambition is dimmed by the fact that several individuals try to use it for personal gains turning some of the rodnovery communities into sects.
There is also another group of people. They are quite dedicated to the ideas of rodnovery and truly take this religion to heart. However, they are shrewd enough to spot an opportunity for business that the recent popularization of neo-paganism represents.
As the number of people interested in these traditions starts to grow, they require various tools that can bring them closer to their ancestors. These are amulets, statues of deities, traditional clothes and musical instruments, etc. Selling these things at various online shops and ethnic festivals allows these religious businessmen build up a fortune while promoting the traditions they chose to follow.
However, the Slavs are honest people by nature, and they are ruthless with those who try to cheat and use them. This is why the number of cons in this area is reduced constantly. The moment the liars are spotted, they are shunned and condemned by the community.
Basically, Ukrainian rodnovery today can be separated into two categories. There are those who are genuinely interested in history and restoration of ancient customs and traditions. They pour over various texts and documents trying to recover any details that can make the picture of the ancient Slavic society complete.
The other group mainly focuses on spiritual practices. They believe in magic used by their ancestors through various religious rituals. It’s this group that is more prone to problems, but close relations of different neo-pagan communities help to remove any conmen from their midst.
There can be no arguing the fact that the attempt to restore ancient Slavic traditions is a truly commendable initiative that should be supported by the Department of Culture. This is why many people believe that it’s the cause worth fighting for.
My Slovak girlfriends brother is soon to be a father, he wants his baby to have an old-school traditional ceremony rather than a Christian baptism. Are there any groups in Slovakia that could help?