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Religion and Mythology Erasmus IP “Modernisation of Europe by Innovating Teacher Training’ 4 – 7 July 2010 Vilnius.

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Presentation on theme: "Religion and Mythology Erasmus IP “Modernisation of Europe by Innovating Teacher Training’ 4 – 7 July 2010 Vilnius."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religion and Mythology Erasmus IP “Modernisation of Europe by Innovating Teacher Training’ 4 – 7 July 2010 Vilnius

2 Religion and Mythology “(…) And inasmuch as they [the Prussians] did not know of [the Christian] God, it so happened that they worshipped the entire creature-world instead of God, namely: the sun, moon and stars, the thunder, birds, even the quadruped animals including toads. They also had holy groves, sacred fields and waters.” (Chronicon Prussiae, by Peter Dusburg, 1326)

3 Religion and Mythology cremation rites the belief in reincarnation the veneration of holy groves, trees, fields, waters and fire the belief in the existence of many gods and spirits sacrificial offerings and sooth-sayings

4 Pagan Gods the Lithuanian Perkūnas the Scandinavian Thor German Donner As a ruler of the air, he is a vigorous man with a copper beard, holding an axe in one hand. He traverses the sky with great noise in a fiery two-wheeled chariot, drawn by a he-goat. When thunder is heard, a proverb says, “God is coming – the wheels are striking fire”. His castle is on the high hill in the sky. Perkūnas is very restless and impatient; he is a great enemy of evil spirits, devils and unjust or evil men. He throws his axe at evil people or tosses bolts at their dwellings.

5 Pagan Gods PERKŪNAS

6 Pagan Gods In religion of the rulers and nobility, Perkūnas was the chief god. E.g. the Lithuanian Ruler Gediminas (~1275-1341) writes about Perkūnas in his famous letters to the Pope of Rome. The Lithuanian and Samogitian Chronicle reports the following: “In Vilnius in the Valley of Šventaragis, named after the legendary Lithuanian High Priest, Skirmantas, the ruler of Lithuania, ordered vestals and priests to make offering to the honor of the gods and to the Great God Perkūnas, who rules the fire, thunder and lightning. They were to tend the eternal flame day and night with oak wood. If the fire ever died, it was lit again with sparks from a great boulder”

7 Pagan Gods Perkūnas became the chief Lithuanian god and protector of the state. The introduction of Christianity did little to minimize the power of Perkūnas. Lithuanians maintain to this day that if it were not for the Christian God, their first god would be Perkūnas. In 1583, Jesuits visiting Lithuanian diocese discovered to their great dismay that the Lithuanians were worshiping the storm god Perkūnas, ancient oaks, the old communal gods and “imaginary phantoms”, which they claimed were protecting homes, towns and gardens. Even nowadays Perkūnas and his symbols are widely used in Lithuanian creative arts.

8 Pagan Sun

9 The great Sun goddess Saulė is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and Matriarch of the Cosmos. As many old hymns and prayers attest, she is a beloved and popular deity of the Lithuanians and Latvians. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMpUtZoVaTo Rasa ir Jonas Teka saulė

10 Pagan Gods ŽEMYNA The Lithuanian Earth Goddess Žemyna ceaselessly creates and nourishes human, animal and plant life: all life arises from her and returns to her. As the mother of all, Žemyna not only gives birth to all humans and feeds them, but also bolsters their ability to create new life. Žemyna also imparts health and prosperity.

11 Žemyna

12 Pagan Gods GABIJA The worship of fire is of ancient origin. Since fire protected our ancestors from manner of beasts and terrors of the night, it was held in great esteem, as something supernatural and otherworldly. When fire was brought into dwellings it did not lose its sacredness, in fact it gained a new meaning as the hearth-fire that united families, clans, tribes and later cities.

13 Pagan Gods GABIJA

14 Pagan Gods LAIMA - Laima is an all-knowing goddess. - Her name carries the direct meaning of “happiness”. - in old Lithuanian the word lemti (the meaning of the word derives from “ to destine ”, “ to know ”, “ to decide ”, “ to determine ” ).

15 Pagan Gods Laima can appear as a single goddess, or as a trinity. The three Laimos represent different aspects of fate: at the time of birth - one determines that the child will live, - the other determines that it will die in time, - the third the length of one’s life.

16 Laima

17 Laima’s embodiments Swan Cuckoo

18 Duck Lamb

19 Pagan Gods AUSTĖJA Austėja is a goddess of bees, and it was believed that she like Žemyna, promotes growth plentifulness and reproduction.

20 Austėja Source: Drawings by Algirdas and Aurika Seleniai

21 Pagan Gods the protectress of families ; the only true mother of all other bees ; a woman and a bee in one person. A.J.Greimas links her name to the Lithuanian verbs austi – to weave (linen) and austyti – to fly swiftly here and there, to shut and open doors repeatedly. This metaphorically linked to the gathering of honey and building of honeycombs. The Greek goddess Arthemid, protectress of mothers of large families and pregnant women, was also called a bee, Melissa.

22 Pagan Gods DEVIL Source: Museum of Devils

23 Pagan Gods VELNIAS, the DEVIL, the Demon Velnias is the god of the underworld and the protector of the dead. He is also associated with agriculture, hunting, trade and crafts. He participates either as an assistant of Dievas or as antagonist in the creation of the earth, its fauna and flora.

24 Pagan Gods Velnias is related to : - the old Prussian god Patulas, - the Hindu gods Varuna and Vritra, - the Scandinavian Odin and the Slavic Veles. The root of the name Velnias, that is vel- is the same as for velė, the spirit of the departed, therefore, in ancient Lithuanian religion and mythology Velnias was the guardian of the dead.

25 Witch Ragana

26 Pagan Gods RAGANA The image of the Goddess as a Destroyer and Regenerator is colourfully preserved to this day in the Baltic and Slavic tradition. The name of the Baltic Ragana is related to the verb regeti – to know, see, foresee and to the noun ragas – horn, crescent. The name itself reveals her essential characteristics: - she is a seer, - she “knows”, - she is associated with the moon’s crescent.

27 A distaff decorated with symbols of the cosmological meaning

28 Symbol traces in the sashes

29 Symbol traces in egg ornaments Source: Global Lithuanian Net_ COSMOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT BALTS.mht


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