Perception of Christianity by the Pagan Polabian Slavs

Perception of Christianity by the Pagan Polabian SlavsRoman Zaroff

The article explores the question of how the pagan Polabian Slavs could perceive Christianity at the time of its expansion to the East. An attempt is made here to distance ourselves from our Christian background, and to analyse how other people can see beliefs that we often have no doubts about ourselves - a difficult task indeed. The article looks at how the ordinary people saw this new religion and concludes that their general perception of Christianity was negative.
It shows that such an attitude was due to the association of Christianity with imperial subjugation, economic exploitation and destruction of the old ways of life. What the new religion sometimes offered was hardly acceptable and understood by the Polabian society. Also, the article explains why Christian conversion gained ground much quicker with the members of the Polabian Upper class and the rulers.

Marija Gimbutas: Old Europe, Goddesses and Gods, and the Transformation of Culture

Figure 1. Marija Gimbutas with Franklin Murphy (left) and Lloyd Cotsen (right) at a celebration honoring these two key supporters of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Cotsen Institute Photographic Archive.IN THE FALL OF 1965, UCLA Extension offered a lecture course called “The Ancient World before the Greeks,” with an optional field trip to Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Marija Gimbutas, a new professor in the Department of Indo-European Studies, was very much involved. I took that class and it rearranged my life.

On our last night on Crete, after visiting dozens of sites, the field trip participants formed the Friends of Archaeology, at the suggestion of Marija and surely encouraged by the plentiful ouzo. With much enthu- siasm, the group elected Sandy, my late husband, as president of what is now UCLA’s oldest active support group, although he clearly announced that he could be only a figurehead.

Vikings in the East: Scandinavian Influence in Kievan Rus

Vikings in the East: Scandinavian Influence in Kievan RusThe Vikings, referred to as Varangians in Eastern Europe, were known throughout Europe as traders and raiders, and perhaps the creators or instigators of the first organized Russian state: Kievan Rus. It is the intention of this paper to explore the evidence of the Viking or Varangian presence in Kievan Rus, more specifically the areas that are now the Ukraine and Western Russia. There is not an argument over whether the Vikings were present in the region, but rather over the effect their presence had on the native Slavic people and their government. This paper will explore and explain the research of several scholars, who generally ascribe to one of the rival Norman and Anti- Norman Theories, as well as looking at the evidence that appears in the Russian Primary Chronicle, some of the laws in place in the eleventh century, and two of the Icelandic Sagas that take place in modern Russia.

‘The gleaming mane of the serpent’: the Birka dragonhead from Black Earth Harbour

‘The gleaming mane of the serpent’: the Birka dragonhead from Black Earth HarbourAbstract

The ‘Birka dragon’ symbol is synonymous with the famous Viking Age town of that name, an association born from the 1887 discovery of a casting mould depicting a dragonhead. Recent excavations in Black Earth Harbour at Birka have yielded a dress pin that can, almost 150 years later, be directly linked to this mould. This artefact introduces a unique ‘Birka style’ to the small corpus of known Viking Age dragonhead dress pins. The authors discuss and explore the artefact's manufacture, function and chronology, and its connections to ship figureheads.


Birka in Lake Mälaren, in eastern Middle Sweden, is one of the very few Viking Age Scandinavian sites (AD 750–1050) to be recognised as proto-urban, or as a ‘Viking town’, in an otherwise mostly rural society (cf. Kalmring 2016). Accordingly, the site complex (along with the royal estate of Adelsö-Hovgården) has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. In 2015, the project ‘Birka's Black Earth Harbour’ re-investigated one of the few excavated harbour facilities, and a small semi-plastic (halbplastisch) dragonhead was discovered embedded in the sediments. The artefact can be directly linked to a well-known casting mould retrieved by the Swedish History Museum at the end of the nineteenth century.

Rites of Slavic paganism

warha eu 01The unity and integrity of a nation and a tribe is most dependent on the uniformity of the norms of behavior, the perception of the general picture of the world and its individual elements, the presence of shared memories. For each ethnic culture there are different ideas about the degree of importance of each component, but if any of the above is missing, society and ethnicity may be doomed to collapse.

Our Ancestors were characterized by two types of behavior: everyday (in the intervals between significant events) and ceremonial (dedicated to a particular event).

Every rite is a transformation through a series of actions of a crisis situation, which is a consequence of the imbalance between “ours” and “alien”. As a result, the lost balance in the community’s existence is restored, and this restoration is at the same time a transformation that is most often understood as death-rebirth: in the ritual, a certain new reality is artificially created instead of the old one that has outlived itself for age or other temporary reasons. A rite is capable of combining and reducing long-term life processes into one point, putting a certain line under age-related or calendar events.

Solar symbol of well-being and prosperity

Solar symbol of well-being and prosperityThe swastika (as a character 卐 or 卍) is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon from the cultures of Eurasia, where it has been and remains a symbol of divinity and spirituality in native European religions, Indian religions, Chinese religions, Mongolian and Siberian shamanisms.[1] According to René Guénon, the swastika represents the north pole, the center and the axle of the world, the activity of the absolute God of the universe shaping the world. The symbol is drawn either in the stars around the celestial north pole (the Big Dipper) or in the stars around the ecliptic north pole (Draco). In the Western world, it was a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck, the Sun and Indo-European peoples; but in the 1930s, it became the main feature of Nazi symbolism as an emblem of Aryan race identity and, as a result, become stigmatized in the West by association with ideas of racism and antisemitism.

Heathenry (new religious movement)

Heathenry (new religious movement)Heathenry, also termed Heathenism or Germanic Neopaganism, is a modern Pagan religion. Scholars of religious studies classify Heathenry as a new religious movement. Its practitioners model their faith on the pre- Christian belief systems adhered to by the Germanic peoples of Iron Age and Early Medieval Europe. To reconstruct these past belief systems, Heathenry uses surviving historical, archaeological, and folkloric evidence as a basis, although approaches to this material vary considerably.

Heathenry does not have a unified theology although is typically polytheistic, centering on a pantheon of deities from pre-Christian Germanic Europe. It adopts cosmological views from these past societies, including an animistic view of the cosmos in which the natural world is imbued with spirits. The religion's deities and spirits are honored in sacrificial rites known as blóts in which food and libations are offered to them. These are often accompanied by symbol, the act of ceremonially toasting the gods with an alcoholic beverage.

Eariy slavs in the southwest baltic region: initial investigations in dobropole pyrzyckie (Poland)

Eariy slavs in the southwest baltic region: initial investigations in dobropole pyrzyckie (Poland) Sebastian Messal, Bartłomiej Rogalski


Important but up to now more or less unsolved questions of early Medieval archaeology focus on the date and the process of Slavonisation in the southwest Baltic area. The state of knowledge in various regions of northeast Germany and Poland lead to partly different research reviews, which in some cases even expressed opposing opinions. There are only a few absolute dates available indicating that the beginning of the Slavonic settlement can be dated to the late seventh and early eighth centuries, but how this process of slavonisation can be explained is still unknown. Did a new Slavonic community migrate into a devastated landscape, or was there a change of identity into a Slavonic way of life connected with continuous Germanic settlement?

New interdisciplinary investigations of late Germanic and the earliest Slavonic settlements in northwest Poland focus on these questions. The aim of the research project is to obtain new references for continuities or discontinuities in the history of the settlement and the use of the landscape in the area of Pyrzyce, Western Pomerania, to explain processes of change from the sixth to the eighth century.

Key words: Early Slavs, Dobropole Pyrzyckie, Germany, Poland, Baltic Sea, Slavonisation, migration, settlement archaeology, dendrochronology.

Russian neopagans move their faith from the fringes

The burning of a ritual dummy on the Kupalo holiday. It symbolizes the death and rebirth of the sun. (Pavel Volkov)For centuries, Russia’s pagans practiced their faith on the fringes. But lately, the community of rodnovers, or neopagans, is growing — and finding a home in the country’s biggest cities.

Russia’s first pagans were largely wiped out by the Russian Christian church 1,000 years ago. But a modern iteration of the movement was reborn during the collapse of the Soviet Union. “The collapse of the communist system in Eastern Europe enabled the few small Pagan movements in the region to surface in the public sphere,” political scientist Kaarina Aitamurto wrote in the journal E-International Relations. “At the beginning of the 1990s, they gained momentum in virtually all ex-socialist countries.”

Followers say their polytheistic faith honors Russia’s Slavic roots and allows them to maintain a distinct national identity. Today, there are thousands of self-described rodnovers in Siberia, Volga, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The group defines its faith loosely, pulling traditions and beliefs from ancient Slavic tribes. Though customs vary from place to place, many rodnovers celebrate the “solar holidays” that mark the change of the season by dressing in costume and performing short plays. At some ceremonies, there are sacrifices, dances and communal meals. Rodnovers often worship in Slavic-style temples that feature images of the gods.

Ethnic nationalism

Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethno-nationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity.

The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that «nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry». It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group, and with their ancestors. However, it is different from a purely cultural definition of «the nation», which allows people to become members of a nation by cultural assimilation; and from a purely linguistic definition, according to which «the nation» consists of all speakers of a specific language.