Myth and Fairy Tale – A Slavic Angle

I have always adored myths and legends. Growing up, I was addicted to stories of the Greek Gods, King Arthur and other such tales. I also enjoyed fairy tales and read them avidly. My favorite was one called Rumpelstiltskin. Imagine being able to turn straw into gold? Just like an alchemist. Old Rumpelstilskin is depicted as an Imp or Goblin-type creature but the name is also reminiscent of the German words for a poltergeist. The girl eventually goes ‘deep’ into the woods where she watches him singing and reveals his name. According to some sources, this story or a variant of it could be up to 4,000 years old! Notice how the girl goes deep into the woods…..in order to earn the name of the Imp.

Fairy tales and myths are stories brought to us through the centuries and were often from a verbal origin. These tales were passed from generation to generation as an oral tradition before being collected and embellished in more recent times. They contain great wisdom and I happen to believe great ‘occult’ wisdom too. They appeal to all and provide a way and a means to pass on knowledge to each new generation.

Recently, it struck me that living in the Czech Republic, I am not so familiar with the Slavic fairy tales and myths. Yes, I have alluded to some in my short book of Czech ghost stories such as the founding myth in which three brothers cast out of their own land find and found the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia (Čech, Lech and Mech). I have watched the very many movies made locally that cover a lot of the more common fairy tales over and over again (It appears to be a Czech tradition to have these movies on TV every year at Christmas and other significant times). Yet, having lived here 14-years, I have little knowledge of the Slavic Gods nor the myths and legends of that culture. It is time I learned a little.

I suspect it was the visit to Hostyn that caused me to realize this. As I searched to try to explain to my own satisfaction why an image of the baby Jesus was depicted like Zeus, I reached out to Sue Vincent and Stuart France. They pointed to a Celtic deity synonymous with Zeus and that was the link to Perun, the sky God of the Slavs. In turn, this led to the tales of the duality of Perun and Veles like this account from wkipedia……

“In Slavic mythology, much like in Norse and Baltic mythologies, the world was represented by a sacred tree, usually an oak, whose branches and trunk represented the living world of heavens and mortals, whilst its roots represented the underworld, i.e. the realm of the dead. Perun was the ruler of the living world, sky and earth, and was often symbolised by an eagle sitting on the top of the tallest branch of the sacred tree, from which he kept watch over the entire world. Deep down in the roots of the tree was the place of his opponent, symbolised by a serpent or a dragon: this was Veles, watery god of the underworld, who continually provoked Perun by creeping up from the wet below up into the high and dry domain of Perun, stealing his cattle, children, or wife. Perun pursued Veles around the earth, attacking him with his lightning bolts from the sky. Veles fled from him by transforming himself into various animals, or hiding behind trees, houses, or people; wherever a lightning bolt struck, it was believed that this was because Veles hid from Perun under or behind that particular place. In the end, Perun managed to kill Veles, or to chase him back down into his watery underworld. The supreme god thus reestablished order in the world, which had been disrupted by his chaotic enemy. He then returned to the top of the World tree and proudly informed his opponent down in the roots “Well, there is your place, remain there!” (Ну, там твое место, там сабе будь!). This line came from a Belarusian folk tale. To the Slavs, the mythological symbolism of a supreme heavenly god who battles with his underworldly enemy through storms and thunder was extremely significant.

While the exact pantheon characterization differed between the various Slavic tribes, Perun is generally believed to have been considered as the supreme god by the majority, or perhaps by nearly all Slavs, at least towards the end of Slavic paganism. The earliest supreme god was probably Rod; it is unclear precisely how and why his worship as the head of the pantheon evolved into the worship of Perun.”

 

Perun

 

And in that few words, we can see immediately a solar and a seasonal aspect to this myth as well as even perhaps a tree of life? Interesting too that the underworld God Veles is symbolized by a dragon or serpent representing earth energies? Interesting also that his world is watery. Meanwhile, Perun is airy representing the sky and upper world and fiery by virtue of the weapons at his disposal – so we have also four elements. The story also hints of finding balance between the elements as does the hexagram which is nothing but a representation of the four elements at a minimum. So there is also an As above, So below here. You see, there is so much occult knowledge communicated in just this paraphrasing of the myth, one has to marvel at our ancestors.

 

Veles

 

Now even before I really began, I can see some really intriguing elements to these Slavic Gods. The symbol for Perun is a Haxagon…. In their eternal battle, Perun is often depicted on horseback lancing Veles depicted as a dragon or serpent……. Now, where have I seen that image before?

 

8th Century image of Perun defeating Veles

 

So, in addition to exploring the land in search of earth energies in my adopted land, I am now wanting to explore Slavic myth, legend and fairy tale to try to understand how they – the Slavs who occupied this part of the world, saw the land that they had adopted when standing on the mount north of Prague called Mount Říp. Here, the three Slavs Čech, Lech and Mech, looked over the lands they would adopt and inhabit… so the myth says.

 

Mount Říp

 

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