Like a bolt from the blue
Yes Yes! Because the impression is electrifying! Like a walk as usual. Step by step. A little uphill, a little down. I meander along a narrow path among streams and trees. Picturesque areas The Bukowa Primeval Forest always delight. The eye is happy, the birds are singing, the face is happy. There is another hill ahead of me, a steeper than usual… I haven't been here yet! I set off willingly up the hill, carelessly following the fresh, spring greenery. One, two, three, I'm upstairs and ... shit the hell! What is this???
Suddenly I am standing at the top of a hill in the middle of a circle. What is this circle? I catch my breath and look around more closely. I can feel someone's eyes on me. Some type, carved into a tree trunk, glares at me from under the eye. Totem? Statue?
I keep looking around. There are more of these statues. They look at me from several sides. This is not an ordinary totem. In the center of the circle, under a wooden statue, there is a huge stone. It has a large X symbol engraved on it. Right next to it is another, smaller one. It is covered with a linen cloth. Altar.
More symbols catch my eye. They are cut or painted on the trunks of statues.
Much of it. Happens!
After the climb, I have already had time to rest, but I take a deeper breath. Okay! Let's take a closer look at all of this. First, a short video (you can see it below) and then a quick analysis of the situation.
Place of worship
After a while, I have no doubts. I found myself in the middle of a place of some cult. What?
I have a phone, I have internet and I have time. I sit on a tree trunk around the perimeter of the circle surrounding wooden statues and a stone altar, take out a sandwich with luncheon meat and slowly chewing my breakfast, I get to the next information. After a few minutes, I travel back to the early Middle Ages. Until the times before Christianity became dominant in this part of Europe, and the religion of the Slavs was common.
Slavic religion assumed the existence of many gods and did not limit their number in any way. At the same time, god in this religion was not identified with the human figure. God was identified with everything that surrounds man and, as an absolute, penetrated through everything that exists. Of course, over time in the religion of the Slavs a group of gods arose, which was known and common to most believers. There was even a hierarchy that considered some gods more important and others less important. Some were worshiped more eagerly and their temples were erected, while others were slowly forgotten. A certain regionalization could even be observed, e.g. in Szczecin, which was already a significant center at that time, and Trygław (also known as Trzygłów, Trygłów, Triglav) enjoyed a special cult. On Rügen (northern Germany), Świętowita was especially worshiped, and the center of worship was in Arkoni. On the other hand, in Radogoszcz (now the area of Maklenburg), Swarożyce was given special attention.
Slavs considered places with special features to be sacred places. Most often hills with an old tree, old boulders, preferably near some source, well or stream. They often transformed places of worship to form a magic-circle for contact with the deity.
But wait a minute!
Suddenly I was back to the present day. I looked around. Isn't it a perfect place for a Slavic temple? I am sitting on the perimeter of the circle, at the top of the hill, old trees around me, an old boulder in front of me, and the Leniwka stream slowly flowing down below.
However, there is something else!
Szczecin, Slavs ... the most famous music club in Szczecin "Słowianin"
Swarożyc ... Swarożyca Street in Szczecin? Yes!
The most famous place of worship: Świętowit: Arkonia… and in Szczecin? Arkońska Street, Arkonka swimming pool, Arkoński forest, Arkonia sports club ...
The statue types are still glaring at me. Now they even smile a little. I think they're making fun of me. Who they are?
I keep reading
Phone battery at a glance: 78%. Cool!
A glance at the luncheon sandwich: 0% uuuu! Detriment.
Well, I'm back to the Middle Ages! About all the gods of the Slavs, I will read later. Now I'm interested in what these symbols mean? What do the symbols on the trunks of the statues and on the stone mean?
A few keywords dropped on Google, half an hour of browsing the web and we've got it!
Runes and runic writing
Some of the symbols found turned out to be characters from the runic alphabet. Of course, I assume that everyone knows the runic alphabet very well, but if there was someone who (like me) did not know this alphabet, I decided to prepare an appropriate study aid. Below you will find a graphic with all the characters of the runic alphabet (the so-called fuþark). It was used in this area more or less until the Polish baptism took place, and even a little longer (more or less until 1000).
What do the signs in the photo mean?
Now the matter is clear!
The first sign is Algiz (in our alphabet it corresponds to the letter Z), and its meaning is: care. Putting a sign of care in a place of worship seems to make sense. It probably symbolizes the care or protection that the participants of the cult would like to ensure for themselves from the spirits.
The second character is Jeran (the equivalent of the letter J in our alphabet). Jeran symbolizes the harvest. The placement of a harvest sign in a place of worship is clear. After all, many of the rituals were in the intention of the fertility and abundance of crops that the earth gave people. I think it is hard to find a better set of signs in a place of Slavic worship than Algiz-Jeran, that is care and harvest.
I liked the reading of the runes so much that I instinctively started looking for more to read something else. Another rune was easy to find. It was carved in stone. The largest stone lying there, which can be seen in the photo below. To decode this sign, I leave it to you 🙂
Playing with runes
Playing with the runes turned out to be so fun that there were no more runes to read. So a simple idea came to my mind. What if you interpreted your initials with runes? Let's try it!
My initials are JG, meaning Jeran-Gebo. The meaning of these signs is: harvest and love. Not bad what? The wife will be pleased - I thought right away.
How is it with your initials? Go ahead you can boast in the comment below the post! : )
Finally, I wrote down my name in runes (below) and we could take care of other symbols.
In addition to the runes, of course, other signs were widely used - symbols. They had a much broader meaning than runes, and since I was so good at deciphering, I took care of finding their meaning right away.
The first symbol appears to be a simplified version of the symbol known as the Turnstile. The turnstile is a kind of swastika, one of the most positive symbols of the Slavs and not only Slavs. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains use it universally and treat it as a sacred sign (unfortunately in the XNUMXth century the sign was appropriated by the Nazis, whose crimes completely obliterated the original positive meaning).
The word svastika means "source". It was treated as a synonym of happiness and prosperity. In the Slavs the turnstile was called swarga, swarzyca or swarożyca and the association with the Slavic sun god (Swaróg / Swarożyc) is obvious.
The right-handed turnstile mimics the apparent movement of the sun as seen from the northern hemisphere. It was commonly painted on houses to scare away evil demons and provide protection from natural disasters.
Originally the turnstile had four arms broken at right angles, but it has evolved over time. The eight-pointed version was the most popular among the Slavs. The three-legged version emphasizes the importance of the number three (three support points ensure stability).
Another symbol is easy to spot on the next tree. In my opinion, this is a simplified version of the triskelion.
Triskelion is, in short, a sign composed of three symmetrical elements: spirals, meanders or legs. Creates a circular geometric pattern. It is often interpreted as a symbol of the three elements: earth, fire and air, or the triple dimensions of human life, which include the physical, mental and spiritual parts. In the case of the Slavs, however, the most probable is the interpretation that connects tiskelion with Trigav, i.e. a god with three heads, formed by merging three other gods into one.
I found another symbol on one of the statues. You can see it in the photo below.
The meaning of this symbol immediately tells us whose face the statue represents. It is a symbol that signifies one of the two most important gods of the Slavs: Weles.
Weles (also known as Wołos) was the god of the underworld (and the dead). He had the ability to transform into a Viper, who was the guardian of the entrance to the underground land of the dead, known as Nawia.
A three-year-old bull (number 3 again) was offered as an offering to Weles. He is also often called "the bovine god" because he was considered the lord and supreme guardian of cattle. Among the Slavs, cattle was a measure and a reflection of wealth, so Weles, as a god, was also a patron of prosperity and merchants.
Let's take a look again at the sign that symbolizes Weles. Does it not look like a bull's head?
Weles was also recognized as the god of law and oaths. If there was a need to take any oath, it was just the name of Weles.
How to get to the place of worship of the Slavs in the Bukowa Forest?
Getting to the temple of the Slavs in the Bukowa Primeval Forest is not easy (because fortunately it is impossible to get here by car), but it will not be a big challenge for lovers of walks. It will just be a pleasant walk in the woods.
The best and most pleasant thing to do is to drive your car to the parking lot at Jeziorka Szmaragdowy and start your walk towards the mountain of the Slavs. After leaving the parking lot, you have to follow the wide road next to the nearby Zajazd Szmaragd. The fast road turns into a dirt road and passes under a wooden gate welcoming newcomers to the Beech Forest. After you climb a steep climb where the road winds in an S-shape, you will climb to the top of the hill where there is a wooden shelter and several paths cross. You go slightly diagonally to the left, passing the carport on the left side (as I marked it in the photo below) .. Then the path will lead you by itself, until you reach a characteristic passage, a culvert under the highway. Turn left right after the culvert. First it will be a little uphill, then a little downhill, and at the end of the path you will come to another forest road which you have to turn right. This road will take you almost to the destination of the trip (it is in a straight line, maybe 200 m from the road) .. When approaching the place, you should turn on the navigation on your phone (by clicking on the coordinates I have given below, for example). This will make it easier for you to find the hill and the Slavic place of worship.
You will have to walk about 3 km one way, which means reaching the place, depending on the pace at which you will move, will take you from 0,5 h (walking pace) to 1 hour (walking pace).
The shortest path to the place is marked on the map below. In the field, the access route is not marked in any way. So please do not follow the markings of the tree trails that you encounter along the way. You will also find the GPS coordinates of key points under the map, should you get lost in the forest during the walk (although I don't think this would be a problem, because the walk takes place all the time along comfortable forest paths).
It is worth wearing off-road shoes, because some parts of the road traveled during the march may be sometimes muddy.
Of course, I also include the detailed GPS location of the place of worship itself.
P1 - Parking lot at the Szmaragdowe Lake, GPS coordinates:
53.373342, 14.624549 - click and route
Point 1 - the place of religious cult of the Slavs, GPS coordinates:
53.355030, 14.636958 - click and route
Point 2 - passage (culvert) under the motorway, GPS coordinates:
53.366014, 14.634187 - click and route
Are there any rituals taking place here?
When my visit to the temple of the Slavs was coming to an end, one more question came to my mind: are there any rituals really taking place here? Possible!
If, however, this is the case, then judging by the lack of any traces at 100%, they are (fortunately) modernized and bloodless. Nevertheless, if they did, I would love to see what it looks like and take some photos. Imagine, for example, such Dziady in this scenery? Bricked goose skin!
In the center, at the foot of the wooden statue, there was a small stone altar covered with a linen cloth. I discreetly looked underneath and here's what I saw: coins and grains (photo below). Are they left over from some ritual?
If there are any traditional Slavic rites, they are most likely to take place during traditional Slavic holidays. For those who would like to check it, coming to this place after dark or at night, I have collected the dates of the most important holidays of the Slavs. Of all of the following, four holidays are definitely the most important: Szczodre Mody, Jare Mody, Kupała Night and Harvest Festival, but the Spring and Autumn Forefathers are definitely the most suitable for the scenery.
Calendar of Slavic holidays
Szczodre Mody - December 21
The holiday falls on the winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year. Each subsequent night following the Generous Gods became shorter and the light and Dadźbóg (or the Sun) each day gained an advantage over the darkness.
The feast often lasted a dozen or so days and took the form of a boisterous feast. During the festival, the deceased were not forgotten, for whom food, drink and a place by the fire were prepared. During the holidays, rituals, fortune-telling and gifts were performed.
Does December, the opening at the table and the gift-giving remind you of anything? Exactly as you think! Christmas is a Christian celebration that arose from the transformation of Generous Mating. For many years, Christmas was called Christmas.
Weles Week - from February 9 to 15
In those days, Weles, the ruler of the underworld and the world of the dead (whose statue stands in the temple in the Beech Forest), traveled the world of the living with his food. Awakening the forces of the earth, he visited farms, performed rituals over livestock, especially (as a cattle god) over cattle. People sang songs, prayed, sacrificed and ... turned the leather garments inside out, fur outside, to resemble the animal form of Weles.
Does walking in the retinue from house to house, singing songs, praying and being in the retinue of a shaggy, horned animal remind you of anything? And carol singers going from house to house and Turoń (a shaggy beast with horns) among them?
Jare Gody - March 21
The holiday falls on the day of the vernal equinox, when the length of the shortening nights equals the length of the lengthening day. The coming of the equinox marked the definitive end of winter and the end of fear of cold and hunger. Life, vitality and fertility were worshiped. No wonder then that Jare Gody was celebrated grandly and for a long time (sometimes even several days).
Saying goodbye to winter was quite unambiguous and uncompromising on this holiday. The personification of winter and death, that is Marzanna, was simply burned first and then melted… which is what has been done until today.
The patron of the holiday was the god Jaryło who was imagined as a barefoot young man in a white robe, riding a white horse. Today, spring is seen more as a barefoot, airy woman.
The celebration of Easter draws from the tradition of Jarych Wedding to the fullest.
Gaik - April 30
On that day, a doll (called Dziewanna) was made from plants brought from the forest and carried it throughout the settlement as a symbol of the final triumph over winter. The tradition of placing a May pole decorated with flowers and garlands, around which ritual dances took place, was also practiced.
Spring Forefathers - May 2
Dziady is nothing more than the feast of the dead. In the Slavic tradition, it was celebrated as many as six times a year, and the most important were Dziady spring and Dziady autumn (celebrated on the night of October 31 to November 1).
The essence of forefathers was the association of the living with the dead and establishing relationships with the souls of ancestors. The aim of the Dziady rite was to win the favor of the dead, who were to look after the living, guaranteeing fertility and harvest.
It seems that Dziady is a holiday that is perfectly suited to be celebrated in the Beech Forest. If I were to check whether anything is really celebrated in this place, I would probably choose the date of Spring or Autumn Forefathers.
The herd - May 15
The herd is a little-known holiday today. More about him can be found in the accounts of Jan Długosz, Aleksander Brückner and canon Kosmas.
According to Długosz, the name of the holiday “Herd” comes from the crowds who flocked to the celebrations. At the same time, Długosz pointed to the dissolute and shameless nature of the holiday. What did that mean in practice? Hard to say.
In canon Cosmas, we find information about making animal sacrifices over water sources and summoning the spirits of the dead. Brückner, on the other hand, mentions dancing, singing and feasts, and the offering of honey and fat.
Nowadays, this holiday has a permanent place in the calendar of Christian holidays and is called: Pentecost.
Kupała Night - June 20
Another celebration related to the solstice, and at the same time a moment to say goodbye to spring and welcome summer. The patron of the holiday is the Slavic god of love - Kupala.
Kupała Night, otherwise known as Kupalnocka and Sobótka is a celebration of love and fertility. There are dances around the ritual fire, fortune-telling from wreaths put on the water, looking for a fern flower and collecting herbs, and a certain relaxation of morals is even advisable.
Strong memory of this celebration is still present today and ritual fires burn every year. Of course, the holiday has penetrated into the Christian tradition and is called Midsummer Night.
Perun's festival - July 20
Perun is the most important god of the Slavs. As a thunderous god of thunder, he had the ability to make rain. It was a natural counterbalance to Weles, the god of the underworld and the dead. Perun and Weles are the most important, complementary pair of gods in the beliefs of the Slavs.
The holiday, of course, falls on a period of frequent, intense, summer storms, and its celebrations were related, among others, to with sports competition between men. Perun was a symbol of what was masculine: fighting, strength, efficiency and victory. It is significant that in situations where an oath was required, all people were obliged to take the oath on Weles. Only the warriors swore by Perun.
Harvest Festival - September 22
The date of this holiday, like most others, was determined by the relationship between the length of the day and night. It falls on the day of the autumn equinox. This is the perfect time to thank the gods for the summer crops and to ask for favor for the upcoming difficult autumn and winter time. The harvest festival celebrated, of course, dances, revelries, playfulness, and rituals and prayers.
Currently, Harvest Festival (the equivalent of the traditional Slavic Harvest Festival) and is celebrated a bit earlier. One of the Saturdays or Sundays at the end of August or the beginning of September after the end of the harvest season.
Autumn Forefathers - the night of October 31 to November 1
The ritually celebrated Day of the Dead, known to us today, is associated with the cult of ancestors. During the festival, as during the Spring Dziady, the spirits of the dead were summoned to gain their favor.
It seems that the place of worship in the Beech Forest is perfect for this. Is your curiosity so great that you dare to go there tonight?
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