I recently wrote a blog about Hostýn and noted that the imagery was, well, a bit strange.
First, we have ‘Mary’ standing on the crescent moon depicted as a lunar goddess – actually something you see a lot in this part of the world – but then what is going on with baby Jesus? At the time, I pointed to Zeus as a possible analogy.
Well, after some input from Sue Vincent and Stuart France, I was led to the Slavic God named Perun. He is the god of the sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, law, war, fertility and oak trees in the Slavic pantheon. Having come up with that name, I googled it along with ‘Hostýn’ and I found myself back on the monument’s website and an obscure page there where Google translated the following;
“One of the most beautiful and mythical hills not only of Moravia is Hostýn. It has attracted the incoming since time immemorial. The first experiments with iron were performed by people of Silesian-Platenian culture, the Celts had the largest Moravian oppidum. The Slavs also liked here, in the 12th century Czech princes built border fortifications. The most famous story relates to the Tatar invasion and the images and sculptures depicting this legendary event can be seen today in the Hostýn Church of Our Lady.
In the 13th century Tatar troops stopped under Hostýn. A few months ago, she had defeated the flourishing of European knighthood in Poland, and now it seemed that nothing was in their way to the Atlantic. But in Hostýn, she arranged a higher power in the form of a miraculous storm and floods, and the Tatar hordes were turned to a humiliating escape. The storytellers sing about the originator of the miracle according to who they are eating. The remnants of the pagans, the survivors of the peaceful Christian mission, thanked Perun, the Catholics did not allow the Virgin Mary. Without any imagination, materialists point to the possibility of torrential rain, a heat storm, an earthquake, or a sand or snowstorm. Nihilists, historians and other spoilers even doubt that there has ever been a battle. Let’s do it.
Later, the Church of Our Lady was built on Hostýn (Catholics won it), a monastery, a chapel, and Stations of the Cross. The famous pilgrimage site was established here. Pilgrims attracted a number of vendors, stalls were built along the stone staircase, then the hotel. On the former Celtic acropolis tower rises, a few years ago it was overtaken by a wind power plant.”
The bolding is mine. As I related in the original article, the myth of the founding of the place goes back to this supposed battle with the Tartar army and a miracle that was said to occur at that time…
“In the 13th century, and this is a historical fact, the Tartars launched an attack on Moravia. The townspeople took to the hills, to the site of an ancient Celtic settlement mainly because it had defences and a water supply. Besieged by the Tartars, the inhabitants prayed to the Virgin Mary. Their prayers were answered. A storm broke out and lighting struck the tent of the Tartar leader, killing him instantly. The invading army decided to no longer pursue the inhabitants and fled.”
Well, this is all very well but back in those times, christianization of the region had only been partially successful. While the aristocracy may well have been devout christians, the ordinary people had a reputation for clinging to their Slavic roots …. and Gods. In fact, a Slavic christian church was in existence that in effect, tried to have its cake and eat it too. As wikipedia states…
“Many elements of the indigenous Slavic religion were officially incorporated into Slavic Christianity, and, besides this, the worship of Slavic gods has persisted in unofficial folk religion until modern times. The Slavs’ resistance to Christianity gave rise to a “whimsical syncretism” which in Old Church Slavonic vocabulary was defined as dvoeverie, “double faith”. Since the early 20th century, Slavic folk religion has undergone an organised reinvention and reincorporation in the movement of Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery).”
So could that solve the mystery? Could it be that in a nod to Slavic paganism, the catholic church has adopted an image that shows the Slavic God Perun as the baby Christ? And if it had, wouldn’t that simply be an extension of the “double faith” discussed in the wikipedia article above? I also find it interesting that the miracle points to a miraculous storm… brought on by Perun, the God of Thunder and the skies and the God of the Slavs.