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Origin, identity, and tradition 


To begin with, we would like to briefly address the issue of identity in the national and overall (European) sense. We will try to discuss a little the Indo-European religion, which was at the birth of other classical European mythologies. Finally, we'll focus on three domestic traditions of Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic. We would also like to point out that the Celts, Germanic Tribes and Slavs are documented in our territory by archaeological findings, but, in terms of mythology, our inspiration are other European nations, where the traditions have survived in better condition. In the case of the Celts, this applies, for example, to Ireland and Britain, to the Germanic Tribes of Scandinavia and Germany, and to the Slavs, it is possible to draw from Russia and the Eastern Slavs. At the end of the article, we will briefly mention the lower natural beings of fairies, Rusalkas, elves, etc., which we perceive as being more or less common to all the above-mentioned traditions. 


Forest Mound in the Dřevohostice. Forest belonging to the Indo-Europeans that made cord ceramics, approximately 2800-2300 BC.


In times of national revival, identity was derived primarily from the language. From this point of view, the Czech nation can be defined as Slavic. The Slavic language then belongs to a larger family of Indo-European languages. Many cultures, nations, tribes have changed in our territory since the Stone Age. The first surely known inhabitants of our country are the Celts. Before them, there were various cultures unknown to us. In the Neolithic Stone Age (from the 6th millennium BC) we can talk about pre-Indo-European people, although it is sometimes acknowledged that the influence of Indo-Europeans may have been there at that time. The people of cord ceramics (2800–2300 BC) are considered to be the first quite certain Indo-European nation in the Czech Republic, and then virtually all subsequent cultures of the Bronze and Iron Age. We are talking about unnamed Indo-Europeans. In the older Iron Age in Hallstatt (8th-5th century BC) it is possible to consider the historical Celts; but Moravian Hallstatt is also assigned to Indo-European Venetians. Celts lived here until the beginning of our era; at this time, they are archaeologically documented as a La Tene culture (5th-1 century BC). In the 1st century BC, the Germanic Tribes settled here. At first, the tribes of the Markomans, later probably others, and the last Germanic Tribes that are in our country considered as Longobards. Longobards advanced through our territory to the south. They are documented even in Italy (still Lombardy). Some of Longobards stayed in our territory. We know it because of the Longobard burial ground near Kyjov from the end of the 6th century. In the second half of the 6th century, the Slavs came. In later years in the Middle Ages, there were also settlements from German (Germanic) countries.


That is why believe that identity is made up of both; language (Slavic) and ethnicity. It seems unlikely to us that there was a complete exchange of population in the past. That is why we think that our identity is Slavic, Germanic and Celtic in ethnic terms, and we carry in us the remnants of Indo-Europeans from the Bronze Age, Eneolithic and probably pre-Indo-Europeans. It is not in our interest in what proportion - we leave it to each individual.


Sun Cross, triskel, oak leaves and a gable from the tomb in Poděbrady. Bylany culture (Hallstatt), 8.-6. century BC.

Source: Dr. Jiří Neustupný, The religion of Prehistoric Mankind in Bohemia and Moravia, 1940.



Finally, we would like to repeat that most of the above-mentioned cultures and nations are also linked by a likely Indo-European origin. A common Great Motherland of Indo-Europeans was sought in the 19th century. Todays probably the most widespread theory about the Great Motherland in the north between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.


The disintegration of the Indo-Europeans has occurred gradually since the end of the Stone Age in the Eneolithic and the Bronze Age. If we would consider the old Indo-European cultures in terms of the most familiar symbolism of archaeological findings, it would be noticed that since the Bronze Age, symbols referring to the solar cult have very often appeared. The most widespread Sun symbol is the isosceles cross in a circle, but also various forms of Swastika, rings and circular symbols with different numbers of rays. The Indo-European solar cult is associated with horses pulling a sun chariot. At the end of the Bronze Age and Hallstatt period, solar symbolism also appears in combination with water birds. We discuss this topic more in the article about symbolism.


Solar symbolism from the Bronze Age around 9.-7. century BC. Museum Stralsund, Germany.


Indo-European religion 


With the help of Indo-European comparative mythology and linguistics, it is possible to theoretically reconstruct the presumable Indo-European religion. This religion was at the birth of later historically documented mythologies and religious ideas of Greeks, Romans, Celts, Germanic Tribes, Slavs, Baltics and others. The resulting form of mythology was formed from the original Indo-European basics in combination with the myths of the nations with which the ancient Indo-Europeans came into contact. The shape of the landscape in the target countries could also have an impact. The main theme of the Indo-European religion was the deification of Earth, Heaven, the Sun, the Moon, dawn, etc. The gods brought order and fought against the forces threatening the cosmic order. They could also bring prosperity. The Indo-European God of Thunder, whose power was expressed by lightning and storm, had his opponent in a space snake or a dragon. Springs and rivers were worshiped as well as fire.


Heavenly God 


The main god of the Indo-Europeans was Heavenly God, Heavenly Father. The name was probably Dyeus or *Dyēus Ph2tēr. Later, after the Indo-Europeans split, the gods of the successor pantheons arose from this original Heavenly God - Greek Zeus, Roman Jupiter, Germanic Tyr (Tiwaz), etc. This god was later replaced by Wotan-Odin in Germanic mythology. Greeks and Romans, on the contrary, apparently merged with the idea of God Thunderer. The Negau helmet mentioned Tiwaz. It's certainly interesting that the Baltic nations retained this god under the name of Dievas (Dievs) as well.


Mother Earth


Earth was seen as a partner of Heaven. The Vedic Prthivi is referred in India as a partner of the Heavenly God Dyaus. Functionally she corresponds to the Germanic mainland Nerthus and the Nordic Jörð. Slavic Mother Earth is Mokosh, Lithuanian Baltic is Žemina and Latvian is Zemes māte.


Dawn Goddess 


The reconstruction of her name is in the form of * H2eus(os). From here the ancient name of the goddess Aurora and Eos, Indian Ushas, Lithuanian Aushriné and probably Germanic Ostara comes. The goddess of dawn is also associated with the morning star Aurora and in the case of the Germanic Ostara with spring. Latvian male Auseklis and old Germanic Aurvandil probably have the same word base.


Sun goddess


Genders of the sun gods are in the later Indo-European nations both male and female. From the reconstructed name *Seh2ul it could cause development of names of goddesses Sol, Sunna to Germanic Tribes, Saul to Balts, but also the name of the Greek heroine Helena. Jaan Puhvel wrote in the book Comparative Mythology that the name Helene is perhaps derived from *Swelená, which is related to the name Helios ‘*Sáwelios, the Sun ', and Avestian Chvarena, *Swelnos, sunshine, therefore the name of the male sun-god Helios, has the same word base. This includes the mythical daughters of the Sun, the Latvian Saules meitas. The Indian sun god Surja has a daughter - the goddess Súrjá. This goddess is also known as the Duhitá Súrjasja 'daughter of the sun'.


Moon god


The original supposed name *Meh1not survives with the Germanic Tribes in the form of a moon god named Máni, in Latvian Mēness and Ménuo in Lithuania. In prehistoric times, the Moon was also a 'celestial calendar'. In ancient mythology of southern countries, the moon is, on the contrary, associated with goddesses.


Divine twins 


Divine twins can have a diverse basis. These may be two mythical founders, two gods associated with horses, or directly horses pulling a Sun chariot, or sons of the Heavenly God. This category includes, for example, the founders of Rome Romulus and Remus, Greek Dioskúrs (sons of Zeus) Kastór and Polydeukés. The names of the Germanic mythical kings from Britain Hengist and Horsa refer to horses. Hengist means 'stallion' and Horsa means 'horse'. In Norse mythology, the sun goddess Sól has a chariot pulled by two horses, whose names sound a little like the names of the Lithuanian twin “cognacs” Ashvieinai and the Indian Ashvin, yet the interpretation of their names is different. They are called Árvakr - 'soon awake' and Alsvidr - 'very fast'. To Germanic Tribes, the gods of the twins also correspond to the two gods Alks. On the contrary, they are associated with a moose. The Baltic (Latvia) Dieva dēli are the sons of Heavenly God.


God of Thunder


The supposed Indo-European *Perkwunos 'the one who beats' has been preserved in the Slavic name Perun, the Prussian Perkuns, the Lithuanian Perkūnas and the Latvian Pērkons. The Germanic appellation the god of the thunder is the name Donar, Thor has a word base in the Indo-European word for thunder. Celtic Taranis has a similar base in taran - thunder. The Thunder Lord is the protector of gods and men. His adversary is the Jörmungandr and giants, but sometimes he competes with the god Velnias (Baltic). He can ride a horse in the Baltic mythology, but he uses a goat-drawn car in the Germanic one. His weapon was, in the older ideas of Indo-Europeans, a stone ax, then a bundle of lightning or a hammer.


The goddess of rivers and waters 


The name of this goddess still echoes in the names of some rivers such as Danube, Don, or Dnieper. The reconstructed Indo-European *deh1nu was further preserved in the Irish mythical folk of the goddess Danu (Tuatha Dé Danann) and possibly in the Greek girls Danaovna. 


Indo-European ceramics and stone ax, the culture with cord ceramics, approximately 2800-2300 BC.

Source of the photo: Dějiny pravěku





The Celts are an Indo-European people that have been formed in Europe since the Bronze Age north from the Alps in France through Germany to part of Bohemia. Later they expanded and also expanded their territory. Eventually, they were pushed and absorbed by the Romans and Germanic Tribes. After they demise on the European mainland, Celtic culture survived in Brittany, partly in the British Isles and in Ireland. They are archaeologically documented in our territory especially in the La Tene period in the 5th-1st century BC. We can partly assign the older Hallstatt period from the 8th century BC to the Celtic culture. We will mention several well-known gods and goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. Some deities are recorded by the Romans and relate more to the mainland. Others are documented rather (or only) in Britain and Ireland. Here they often belong to the circle of mythical folk of the goddess Danu - Tuatha Dé Danann.





Main Celtic god of the mythical divine folk of the goddess Danu - Tuatha Dé Danann. He was a great fighter, fighting with a cudgel that killed with one side and revived with the other. At the same time, he was educated and cognizant about magic. 




The name of this goddess bears the whole divine genus as ‘the folk of the goddess Danu’ - Tuatha Dé Danann. In Irish mythology, she is a something like the mother of gods, but originally, she's an Indo-European goddess of rivers and waters. 




The Celtic God of Thunder. The name comes from the Indo-European designation of thunder. The word Taran still exists in modern Welsh and Breton and still means thunder. The bronze statues of Taranis found in the Celtic settlements are complemented with wagon wheels and a bunch of lightning bolts. These statues were created under Roman influence.




Probably the protector of the tribe. His name is the Indo-European designation for the folk - Teuta. The Germanic word Teutons has the same word base. The Baltic name for the people (tautas) is with the same meaning. 




God with antlers. His most famous depiction comes from the Gundestrup cauldron. He is sitting cross-legged, holding a Celtic neckerchief and snake in his hand. He's surrounded by animals. He is a god of forest, wildlife and probably fertility. 




Goddess associated with horses. She is depicted riding a horse. She was worshiped on the mainland, her cult in Britain is not well documented. She was popular also with The Romans on the mainland.




Goddess associated with fate and death. She appeared in the form of a beautiful girl, an old woman and even a crow. In the crow form, she sat on the shoulder of the Irish hero Cúchulainn. That meant he fell in battle and died. Until then, his enemies were too afraid to approach.




He's considered to be a sun god. He owns magic spear and slingshot. He was most likely the founder of Lughnasad. This holiday is celebrated at the beginning of August and is associated with harvest. Originally, the holiday was also associated with horse races and fighters’ competitions. 




God, who is documented in the Celtic world on the mainland and the British Isles. He's considered as a solar deity. He is also related to healing. The basis of his name *bel may mean bright, shining. The same basis is in the name of the spring festival Beltain in the sense of a bright fire. 




Celtic Irish goddess of healing and fertility. In the UK, she corresponds to Brigantia. The name has an Indo-European basis meaning noble. The Indian form of the goddess of dawn, Ušas, has the nickname Brhatí, which has the same Indo-European basis. For this reason, the theory of Brigid's connection with the Indo-European goddesses of the dawn developed. 


Celtic god Cernunos on the Gundestrup cauldron from 2.-1. Century BC.

Source: Wikimedia Commons (public domain).




The Germanic Tribes formed from the older Indo-European cultures of the Nordic Bronze Age and the Older Iron Age in the northern parts of Europe. From the archaeological point of view, we sometimes find the Nordic Bronze Age more interesting. From this period came beautiful engravings in bronze, but also known Nordic engravings in stones. Here the motif of ships often appears, often associated with the symbols of the Sun. There are also known engraved figures, sometimes with axes. At the end of the Bronze Age, at least according to our observations, there was some sort of cultural decline and later in the first centuries BC, the first historical Germanic Tribes started to form. Like other ancient cultures, the Germanic Tribes are going through a period of great migration and expansion. Goths cross the territory of present-day Ukraine to southern Europe. The Gothic kingdoms are formed on the ruins of the Roman Empire, and the Vandal tribe relocates up to North Africa. This is the time when the Germanic Tribes were first documented in our country.

As far as the gods are concerned, the names of Old Germanic gods from continental Europe are preserved, but the mythology of the Nordic Germanic Tribes from the Viking Age became the best known. In Norse mythology, there are two divine families, the Aesir and the Vanir. They waged an initial war together and, after the ceasefire, they ruled together.

According to Norse mythology, the main World is made up of nine worlds. The names of these nine worlds are used in this variant: Asgardr, Ljosalfheimr, Svartalfheimr, Midgardr, Jotunheimr, Vanaheimr, Muspelsheimr, Helheimr, Niflheimr. Their names mean the Realm of Aesir, the home of Light Elves, the Middle-earth – the realm of people, the home of Ice Giants, the home of Vanir, the home of Fire Giants, the realm of Dead, the realm of Mists.




The Norse god Odin is also the Old Germanic god Wotan. In Nordic mythology, he is considered the chief god. In this position, he replaced the original Indo-European Heavenly God. Odin owns a magical spear. He is accompanied by two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory or Mind) and two wolves Geri and Freki (the Ravenous and the Greedy one). Odin sacrificed himself on the World Tree Yggdrasil and because of that, he gained knowledge of the runes. He sacrificed one his eye in Mími's well for the gift of knowledge. His wife is the goddess Frigg. With the goddess Fjörgyn, he has a son Thor, the God of Thunder. This goddess is identified with Jörð, the Nordic goddess of the earth. He is also Lord of Valhalla, the hall of fallen warriors. He belongs to the Æsir family




Norse goddess whose Old Germanic name was probably Frija. The supreme goddess and wife of Odin. She is the only one with the right to sit with Odin on the throne from where you can see the whole world. She knows the fates of the World but never tells them. According to mythology, she knew about the future death of the god Balder, and therefore she took an oath from all living beings, gods, humans, animals, and plants that they would not harm Balder. She left out the mistletoe, and with it, Balder was eventually killed. She is the goddess of motherhood and the patron saint of the family. She's characterized by a distaff and a spindle. She belongs to the family of Æsir.




The Norse God of Thunder, Old Germanic Donar. God of masculine appearance, a strong man among the gods. His weapon is the hammer Mjöllni and he owns the belt of power. He has a chariot pulled by two goats, whose names are Tanngnjóst and Tanngrisni. If he kills and eats the goats, its bones must be preserved, so they can be later revived with the Mjöllni hammer. In the story of the hammer stolen by giants, the hammer is brought in during a wedding ceremony. Thor is disguised here as Freya, swiftly seizes the hammer and kills all the present giants. From this, it's usually concluded that Thor's hammer is not only a deadly weapon but also an object for blessing (e.g. the Wedding) and reviving. Thor's wife is the goddess Sif. He belongs to the family of Æsir.




Goddess associated with grain and harvest. Originally, she had beautiful hair to symbolize ripe grain. Loki cut her hair and stole them. Thor forced Loki to make up for that, and since then she has hair from gold. The goddess belongs to the family of Æsir.




According to Indo-European comparative linguistics, he is the original Indo-European Heavenly God. His name is also Tiwaz. In the minds of the Norse Germanic Tribes, he was pushed out by Odin. In Norse mythology, there is a story about the huge wolf Fenrir. The wolf was a descendant of Loki. No one dared to approach the wolf, except Tyr. Tyr fed the wolf, which eventually grew and began to bee a threat for the gods. Therefore, they decided to bind the wolf. Gnomes made the handcuffs. The wolf let the gods bound him only on the condition that one of the gods put his hand in his mouth as a pledge. He thought that they would deliver him again. But that did not happen, and Tyr, who was the only one to find the courage, lost his hand. The god is the patron of oaths, assemblies, and war. He had to give the wolf perjury in the name of higher interest (his own handcuffs). But the perjury had to be punished by the loss of his hand. The god belongs to the family of Æsir.




The goddess of youth. She owns magical apples of youth. She gives the apples to the gods. One day Idunn was kidnapped. The gods began to fade and age. Eventually, Idunn returned and the gods regained their strength. She is the wife of the poetry god Bragi. She belongs to the family of Æsir.




He is the god of eloquence and poetry. He probably has carved runes on his tongue, which probably gave him greater poetic talent. There were sworn oaths on the Bragi’s Cup. He belongs to the family of Æsir.




The god of fertility. He is the twin of the goddess Freya and both are children of the sea god Njörd. His attributes include the golden boar Gullinbursti, the ship Skidbladni and a magical sword. He gives up his sword for his love for Gerda. He belongs to the family of Vanir.




The goddess of love, fertility, and witchcraft. She owns the necklace Brísingamen, a chariot pulled by cats and a falcon feather cloak. Apparently, she takes half of the fallen warriors. Freya belongs to the family of gods called Vanir.




The god of the sea, the father of Frey and Freya. In one story he married Skadi. She could choose one of the gods for a husband as a replacement for killing her father. But the condition was that she had to choose amongst the gods only by their feet. She chose Njörd, thinking that Baldr would have the nicest feet. This relationship was not happy. The god of the sea could not live permanently in the mountains and, on the contrary, Skadi could not live by the sea. So, they agreed that the settlements would be changed after nine days. He belongs to Vanir.




God guarding the residency of the gods of Asgard. He holds the guard at the Bifrost Rainbow Bridge, which connects the residence of the gods with the rest of the Worlds. He has the Gjallarhorn on which he honks in the case of danger. He has good eyesight and hearing. Apparently, he sees and hears the growth of the grass at night. He belongs to Æsir.




The god of beautiful appearance. He's kind and peaceful. He was eventually killed by mistletoe. The mistletoe arrow was fired by the blind god Höd, who was guided by the cunning god Loki. He belongs to Æsir.




Jörð is the goddess of the Earth. She is identified with the goddess Fjörgyn. This goddess corresponds even to the Old Germanic Nerthus. She had a sacred grove on an island near the Baltic. Nerthus, according to the Germanic Tribes, had festivities during which she rode through the countryside on a chariot pulled by cows and at this time fighting was prohibited. Apparently, it was a ritual in which the goddess did not ride through the country personally, only her statue did. Nerthus does not appear under this name in Nordic mythology. However, we assume that she could be part of the Vanir.




Sol is the goddess of the sun. The Germanic form of the name is Sunna or Sauilo. In Norse mythology, she no longer plays a big role, but she is mentioned there. She has a chariot pulled by two horses. The motif of the Sun with a horse carriage was more prominent in the Bronze Age by ancestors of the Germans. This is proved by the solar disk with a horse from Trundholm from the Bronze Age.




The god of the Moon. He has a chariot with horses, too. According to the Norse myths, he's the brother of the sun goddess Sol.




A wily god who causes trouble for the gods, but then he can correct them. Most of the time, however, he must be forced to do it by the god Thor. He was originally a giant.




The goddess of death, daughter of Loki. She rules the empire of the dead. According to myths, one half of her body is beautiful and the other half dark or decaying. 


The Norns


The Norns are in Norse mythology fates who rule the destiny of gods and men by the World Tree Yggdrasil. They represent the past, present and future. Their names are Urðr ("What Became"), Verðandi ("What is Becoming"), and Skuld ("What shall be").




Women picking fallen heroes on the battlefield, which they then host in the hall Valhalla.


There are even more gods and different beings named in Norse mythology. All nine Worlds that are mentioned at the beginning of the chapter about German mythology are inhabited, besides humans, by Light Elves (Ljósálfar), Dark Elves (Dökkálfar), Ice Giants, Fire Giants, etc. The world is surrounded by a huge serpent Jörmungand, also called Midgardsorm. This snake is an adversary of the god Thor in myths. Thor tried to hunt and kill him. He never succeeded in killing him and they kill each other at Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods.


The goddess Idunn gives away the apples of youth. Author James Doyle Penrose (1862-1932).




Slavs enter the world scene during the Migration period and in the early Middle Ages; their realm was Eastern Europe. At that time, Central Europe was populated with remnants of the Germans. There were not necessarily sharp borders between the Germans and the Slavs, but both Indo-European cultures could partially overlap in the border areas. To support this theory, we mention here the Przeworsk culture, which existed on the territory of present-day Poland around the 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE. The shape of this culture could be influenced by the La Tene Celts, and there was also the influence of Rome (import of goods). From the ethnic point of view, this culture was previously disputed. It's now recognized that there could have been German tribes in its western part (Vandals and Burgundians) and Slavic tribes in the east. The Slavic part could manifest itself by the Indo-European. The Vistula Veneti (also called Baltic Veneti), who had an influence on the ethnogenesis of the Slavs. Later the Slavs expanded to the Balkans and to the West. They occupied the sparsely populated territory of today's Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the Balkans, Austria, and Germany. In Germany, the wave of Slavic settlements is documented only in Bavaria and in the north by the Elbe. Of the so-called Polabian Slavs, the Lusatian Serbs language survived to this day. The other Slavic tribes were assimilated by the Germanic Tribes. Today's Germans have at some places partly a Slavic origin. The Slavic settlement appeared in the Czech Republic during the second half of the 6th century.

In Slavic mythology, motifs from the Indo-European antiquity survived, for example in the idea of the God of Thunder, Perun. The form of the name of this Slavic god is also evidenced by the relationship with the Balts, where they call him Pērkunas (Lithuania) and Pērkons (Latvia). It's also interesting that they depicted gods with multiple heads. We think that this was not a multi-headedness of God in the literal sense, but that it was a symbol – e.g. triplets, rule on cardinal points, functions, etc. One of the most famous Slavic shrines was Arkona in Rügen in Germany. Here was worshiped god Svetovid in the temple. This sanctuary existed until 1168 when it was conquered and destroyed by King Waldemar I. of Denmark.




Apparently, the main Slavic god. He might correspond to the Indo-European Heavenly God (Dyeus), but the origin of the name is different. It's interpreted either in Proto-Slavic language or in the Indo-Iranian language. Slavic interpretation of the word basis of the 'svar' would supposedly mean a solemn speech. Later the meaning shifted to a battle clash. The Indo-Iranian interpretation refers to the original word 'chvar' - the Sun, or the Sanskrit 'svar' - light, brightness and possibly heaven (svarga). Later, God withdrew to the background and left the government to new generations of gods, such as Perun.




The Slavic God of Thunder. The interpretation of his name is Indo-European *perti - beat. So, the one who beats. Another possibility of interpretation is offered in the Indo-European name of oak *perku. The God of Thunder has oak as his sacred tree. His name could also be related to Indo-European variants for the word rock or mountain - Hittite perunaš (rock) and Sanskrit parvata (The mountain god is portrayed as a strong man and his weapon is an ax.)


Mokoš (Mokosh)


Slavic variant of the original Indo-European goddess of the Earth, Mother Earth. The name of the goddess comes from the Proto-Slavic root *mok - moisture. This is related to fertility, motherhood, and sexuality. The goddess was known until modern times, and even in the 16th century, Christian confessional books in Russia mention Mokosh, fairies and some gods in the question of sinful action. The name of the goddess still bears the Czech village Mokošín.




Slavic god of the Sun. His name comes from either pre-Slavic roots *dadj and *bogъ, which means God of giving, or from Indo-European root *dʰegʷʰ which means ‘to burn‘. He’s a son of the main god Sverog. He should be the same as the god Svarožič.




God worshipped by the Slavs around the Elbe river. The main shrine was on Rügen (Baltic island). The shrine was conquered by Christian Danes in 1168. It was the last organized Slavic cult. Svetovid had a statue with 4 faces in his shrine. Part of the statue was an engraved horn for drinking, decorated sword and even engraved saddle with a bridle. The horn was refilled by a priest and by the liquid level it was estimated if the crop yield will be good or bad. They took care of a white horse right in the shrine. They believed that Svetovid is riding that horse in the night.


The god of cattle often connected to magic. In the Baltic area, he is appearing as Velnias. The baltic form of Veles is apparently more magical. The meaning of the name Veles comes from the Baltic word 'véles', souls of the deceased. Some Germanic words have the same word base, like Valkyrie or Valhalla where the beginning syllable of those words is also connected to the souls of the deceased. Veles could even be related to the name of Germanic priestess Veleda. In that case, the word base is created by Indo-European 'wel' which means vision.




The goddess of love and spring. Notes about Lada are being questioned quite often because reports about her existence were created in modern folklore. Lada is mentioned in the Lithuanian liturgical lyrics that were sung at the end of spring. There, she is described as the guardian of marriage and crops. A text from the 11th century maybe mentions Lada. It's about a village named Livadija on the Halkidiki peninsula, where Slavs were worshiping a statue of Lada for giving them sunlight, rain, and prosperity.




God worshipped by Polish Slavs. His statue had 3 heads. Priests symbolized them as a sign of ruling through three different spheres of the World - Heaven, Earth, and the realm of death. His statue was situated in the Baltic city of Wolin and in the Czech Republic in the city of Štětín. In Štětín, Triglav had a beautiful temple, where were people leaving a tenth of every war loot. Cult of Triglav was debunked in the 12th century.




The goddess of death is still appearing mainly in folklore. She's connected to the tradition of celebrating the end of winter by dropping a figure (that looks like Morana) down to the river. Mr. Čeněk Zibrata says that this tradition is documented in the church denunciation from the 14th century that could say a lot about the age of this tradition that could be a pagan version of the Pre-Christian spring ritual.




Worshipping of Rod is documented in the church text from the 11th or 12th century. People were praying to him and giving him offerings such as food from feasts etc. Rod relates to Rodjenice (Slavic deities). He was referred as the guardian of families. 


Slavic god Veles.  Author Andrej Klimenko (Андрей Клименко), nar. 1956.


Lower natural beings


Amongst the lower natural beings are fairies, undines, dwarves, elves, various forest spirits etc. These beings could be included in some of higher mythological stories, but they can be found even in some regional stories or even fairytales. Sometimes they can be beautiful and noble beings. The word elf originates from Indo-European word *albhós, which stands for white or pure. The same word base has Alps or even Elbe. In Nordic mythology an 'aflablot' preserved. This phrase means 'sacrifice to the elves’.


These beings could be gifting to the good folk and punishing the bad folk. Sometimes they do not care about good and evil and deal according to their self-interests. In the Norse ballads, there is, for example, a story about Mr. Oluf and Rusalkas. Mr. Oluf met a bunch of Rusalkas and one of them wanted Mr. Oluf for herself. She promised him expensive things, but he was stubborn and could not be convinced. The Rusalka killed him by a spell. In other stories, Rusalkas behaved kinder. In the tales of Šumava, there's another story about a boy, who helped a lake queen against an evil witch in Kašper mountains. In the end, the lake queen richly gifted that boy. In another Šumava tale, a boy named Hannes, left into the realm of a Wild Woman (Wildman) of river Vydra, but after some time he longed on going back. The Wild Woman agreed and let him go. When he returned, he realized that a century had passed. He begged the Wild Woman, but she refused his pleadings. In grief, he drowned himself. Here appears an interesting topic of the march of time. In the realm of death, the time is different. For comparison, we will mention the Celtic story of Ossian. He went into the realm of death after he met the daughter of Niamh, the god of the sea. She appeared in front of him riding a horse with silver hooves and golden mane. He lived in her realm, but he also longed for going back in the realm of the living. She lent him her horse to get back, but under the condition that he couldn't get off the horse. Meanwhile, in the land where he lived, a long time had passed, and completely different people were living there. He wanted to help some of the countryfolk to roll a stone out of the road but unluckily he fell off the horse. At that moment he aged and became an old man.


Sometimes you can spot the topic of gifting something to a human occurring in some tales. A fairy wouldn't give a human wealth directly, but she'd give him, for example, a leaf or pile of them. Oftentimes happens that the human throws out the leaves, but one would get stuck to him and when he'd return home the leaf would turn into a purse with gold.


Meetings with natural beings would take place in a forest, near a clear pond, river or lake. Into this category belongs, for instance, a topic of White ladies near springs. Today’s tales about the White lady are mainly from castles, but earlier you could meet the White lady in nature. There the White ladies are guardians of some places, but in the castles, they're guardians of kin. Fairies appear in Romanesque and Celtic literature as an accompaniment or guardians of heroes. They meet in a forest or near water.


Another interesting topic is about the Swan ladies. They take forms of birds, but sometimes, when bathing, they take off their bird form like a coat or cape. In their true form, they look like beautiful young ladies. To make such a lady fall for a man he must hide her cape. When the Swan lady finds her cape even after a very long time, she'd fly away into the realm of death.


In other stories, the Ghosts of the forest appear. They are protecting trees against cutting down. They could kill a lumberjack if he would try to cut a tree.


In the end, we would like to shortly mention dwarves, elves. In general, they are handy, but sometimes the only thing they are thinking about is wealth. There are some stories in Norse mythology where they're killing themselves over some rare thing. The good elves sometimes help in homesteads for a little gift. They do not like being sponsored though. In that case, they leave and never help again.


The fairy dance. Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, 1895.



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Ladislav Heger, Marie Novotná; Severské balady, 2000.

Josef Rauvolf; Legendy a pověsti staré Šumavy, 1996.


Rodná víra


Proto-Indo-European mythology