Paganism of the ancient Slavs
Paganism - a religion based on the belief in the existence of several deities, not in the one God-creator, as, for example, in Christianity. The ancient Slavic religion today is nothing more than a cult, faith of a small group of people who have rejected the faith and other religions.
The conception of the ancient Slavic religion
The term "paganism" is inaccurate because this term includes too extensive layer of cultures, today, instead of using this word, scientists use the term “polytheism”, “totemism” or an “ethnic religion”.
Paganism of the ancient Slavs - is a term used to refer to the aggregate of religious and cultural beliefs of ancient Slavic tribes before they accepted Christianity. It is believed that this term in relation to the culture of the ancient Slavs is not derived from the religion itself (polytheism), but from the fact that numerous Slavic tribes that were living on the territory of Russia were used one language, though they were not linked to each other.
Nestor-the Chronicler to describe the totality of these tribes had used the term "pagans", that is, the tribes that were united by one language. Later, it began to designate particular religious and cultural beliefs of the ancient Slavic tribes.
The emergence and development of the ancient Slavic religion
Slavic paganism began emerging as far back as 1-2 centuries B.C. when the Slavic tribes gradually began to stand out from the peoples of the Indo-European group and settled on the new territories and began to interact with neighboring people’s cultures. It is from the Indo-European culture having emerged the God of the thunderstorm and images of the combat brigades, the God of cattle and an important image of the Mother Land.
Also an important influence on the emergence of the Slavic paganism had made Celtic tribes, who not only brought certain images into the religion of Slavs, but also they brought the term «God" to the Slavs, the word to describe the images of the deities. With the Norse mythology the Slavic ancient religion also has much in common - the motive of the world tree, dragons and other deities were transformed according to the conditions of life of the Slavs.
After the Slavic tribes actively began to separate and to settle on the different territories, an old religion also has been transformed, its elements started to appear in each tribe.
It should also be noted that often the beliefs of the ruling elite of society and lower could also differ materially, as mentioned in the old Slavic chronicles. That is, they believed that in large cities the religion might be differing from what people believed in the villages.
The essence of the Slavic paganism
In spite of a sufficient number of historical sources, information about the beliefs of ancient Slavs are very sketchy, this means it is not so easy to form an accurate picture of the world of our ancestors. It is believed that the ancient religion is based on the belief in the power of nature and the earth - hence stemmed gods lords of some certain natural phenomena. In the addition to the highest Gods there had existed and inferior creatures - goblins, mermaids and other - that could seriously affect a person's life, but they also could take a part in it. The Slavs believed in the existence of heaven and hell, in the existence of the soul in man, which was one of the most important values.
The Slavs had many rituals that were associated with the interaction of humans and gods, they had brought offerings, worshiped, asked for help and protection. As for the sacrifices, the mostly scarified oxen or other animals, precise information about the human sacrifice of the Slavic pagans do not exist.
The List of the Slavic Gods
The Slavic gods:
Perun - God of Thunder, the chief God of the pantheon.
Mother - Land - the female personification of viviparous, fertile land, she was worshiped, asking for a good harvest or a large number of children; there was also a "vow of land", which was considered unbreakable.
Perun - the main deity.
Horse - the personification of the sun;
Dazhdbog - the solar deity that is considered the ancestor of the Russian people;
Stribog - a deity that is associated with the winds;
Simargl - the messenger between heaven and earth;
Mokosh - female deity, the patroness of spinning and weaving, the wife of Perun;
Hair - the patron of cattle;
Velez - the patron of poetry and story-tellers;
Sudice - the deity that personifies fate;
Svarog - God of the blacksmiths;
Svarozhich - the God of fire.
Persecution of the Pagans, and the end of the ancient religion
With the development of the Russian state and the increasing focus on the more developed countries, the old religion gradually started to be persecuted by the Christian supporters.
However, people in many areas are desperately resisted the adoption of Christianity, even after the official christening of Russia - many people among the Slavs on the latter-days of Christianity returned back to the old religion, secretly carried the old rituals and worshiping the old Slavic gods. The relationships between Christianity and the old religion have always been very intense, but with the increasing role of the Christian church in political and public life of Russia, the new religion gradually had supplanted paganism and eventually almost destroyed it.