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Veles

Deities, Concepts, Archetypes

Veles

Postby JBRaven » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:08 am

Veles (Cyrillic: Велес; Polish: Weles; Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic: Велесъ) also known as Volos (Russian: Волосъ)? (listed as a Christian saint in Old Russian texts) is a major Slavic supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld, associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth and trickery. He is the opponent of the Supreme thunder-god Perun, and the battle between two of them constitutes one of the most important myths of Slavic mythology. No direct accounts survive, but reconstructions speculate that he may directly continue aspects of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon and that he may have been imagined as (at least partially) serpentine, with horns (of a bull, ram or some other domesticated herbivore), and a long beard. By all accounts, he was considered as an evil god with gray shades.


God of the underworld and death

Ancient Slavs viewed their world as a huge tree, with the treetop and branches representing the heavenly abode of gods and the world of mortals, whilst the roots represented the underworld. And while Perun, seen as a hawk or eagle sitting on a tallest branch of tree, was believed to be ruler of heaven and living world, Veles, seen as a huge serpent coiling around the roots, was ruling the world of dead. This was actually quite a lovely place, described in folk tales as a green and wet world of grassy plains and eternal spring, where various fantastic creatures dwell and the spirits of deceased watch over Veles' herds of cattle. In more geographical terms, the world of Veles was located, the Slavs believed, "across the sea", and it was there the migrating birds would fly to every winter. In folk tales this land is called Virey or Iriy. Each year, the god of fertility and vegetation, Jarilo, who also dwelt there during winter, would return from across the sea and bring spring into the world of the living.

Veles also regularly sent spirits of the dead into the living world as his heralds. Festivals in honour of him were held near the end of the year, in winter, when time was coming to the very end of world order, chaos was growing stronger, the borders between worlds of living and dead were fading, and ancestral spirits would return amongst the living. This was the ancient pagan celebration of Velja noc (Great Night), the relic of which still persists amongst many Slavic countries in folk customs of Koleda, a kind of combination of carnival and Halloween, which can happen anywhere from Christmas up to end of February. Young men, known as koledari or vucari would dress long coats of sheep's wool and don grotesque masks, roaming around villages in groups and raising a lot of noise. They sang songs saying they travelled a long way, and they are all wet and muddy, an allusion of the wet underworld of Veles from which they came as ghosts of dead. The master of any house they visited would welcome them warmly and presented them with gifts. This is an example of Slavic shamanism, which also indicates Veles was a god of magic and wealth. The gifts given to koledari were probably believed to be passed onto him (which makes him very much like a dragon hoarding treasure), thus ensuring good fortune and wealth for the house and family through entire year. As seen in descriptions from the Primary Chronicle, by angering Veles one would be stricken by diseases.

Enemy of Perun and storm myth

The Russian philologists Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov and Vladimir Toporov reconstructed the mythical battle of Perun and Veles through comparative study of various Indo-European mythologies and a large number of Slavic folk stories and songs. A unifying characteristic of all Indo-European mythologies is a story about a battle between a god of thunder and a huge serpent or a dragon. In the Slavic version of the myth, Perun is a god of thunder, whilst Veles acts as a dragon who opposes him, consistent with the Vala etymology; He is also similar to the Etruscan Underworld-monster Vetha and to the dragon Illuyankas, enemy of the storm god of Hittite mythology.

The reason of enmity between the two gods is Veles' theft of Perun's son, wife or, usually, cattle. It is also an act of challenge: Veles, in the form of a huge serpent, slithers from the caves of the Underworld and coils upwards the Slavic world tree towards Perun's heavenly domain. Perun retaliates and attacks Veles with his lightning bolts. Veles flees, hiding or transforming himself into trees, animals or people. In the end he is killed by Perun, and in this ritual death, whatever Veles stole is released from his battered body in form of rain falling from the skies. This Storm myth, as it is generally referred to by scholars today, explained to ancient Slavs the changing of seasons through the year. The dry periods were interpreted as chaotic results of Veles' thievery. Storms and lightning were seen as divine battles. The following rain was the triumph of Perun over Veles and re-establishment of world order.

The myth was cyclical, repeating itself each year. The death of Veles was never permanent; he would reform himself as a serpent who would shed its old skin and would be reborn in a new body. Although in this particular myth he plays the negative role as bringer of chaos, Veles was not seen as an evil god by ancient Slavs. In fact, in many of the Russian folk tales, Veles, appearing under the Christian guise of St. Nicholas, saves the poor farmer and his cattle from the furious and destructive St. Elias the Thunderer, who, of course, represents the old Perun. The duality and conflict of Perun and Veles does not represent the dualistic clash of good and evil; rather, it is the opposition of the natural principles of earth, water and substance (Veles) against heaven, fire and spirit (Perun).


Sources & Entomology

Veles is one of few Slavic gods for which evidence of offerings can be found in all Slavic nations. The Primary Chronicle, a historical record of the early Eastern Slavic state, is the earliest and most important record, mentioning a god named Volos several times. Here, Volos is mentioned as god of cattle and peasants, who will punish oath-breakers with diseases, the opposite of Perun who is a described as a ruling god of war who punishes by death in battle. In the later half of 10th century, Veles or Volos was one of seven gods whose statues Vladimir I, Prince of Kiev had erected in his city. It is very interesting that Veles' statue apparently wasn't standing next to others, on the hill where the prince's castle was, but lower in the city, on the marketplace. Not only does this indicate that Veles was connected with commerce, but it also shows that worship of Perun and Veles had to be kept separate: while it was proper for Perun's shrines to be built high, on the top of the hill, Veles' place was down, in the lowlands.

A similar pattern can be observed amongst the South Slavs. Here the name of Veles appears only in toponyms, the most well-known of which is the city of Veles in Macedonia, over which looms a hill of St. Elias the Thunderer. Another example is the town of Volosko in Croatia, situated on the seashore under the peak of Mount Ucka, nicknamed Perun. Amongst Western Slavs, the name can be principally found in 15th and 16th century Czech records, where it means either dragon or devil.

It is probably same as Vala the enemy of Vedic thunder-god Indra, and to Vels or Velinas, a devil of Baltic mythology and enemy of Baltic thunder-god Perkūnas, as well as Nordic Vǫlsi "priapus". One possibility is that the name derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *wel-, meaning wool [1] (if so, the English word "wool" would actually be fairly closely related to the name of this god). "Volos" is also the Russian word for "hair." This seems logical since Veles was believed to be deity of a horned cattle.

The name may also be related to Slavic terminology for oxen, for which the South Slavs and Russians all use "вол/vol."
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Re: Veles

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:59 pm

Veles (Vles, Volos)

Veles has several functions. He is the god of currency, riches and cattle, the deceased and inspiration for creative persons and thinkers. At first sight these functions are not connected in any way, but I’ll try to unite them logically in my story to present the outlook of the pagan Slavs.

Let us consider the etimology of the word Veles. he word Veles has evolved during 5 thousand years from words of the Proto Indo-European language. The word Veles has the Proto Indo-European root which means hairy. Its root transformed to various forms in various European languages. But even nowadays we see the similarity of them. The words Veles (in Slavic languages), Vieh (in German) and fee (in English) have similar sounds, and scientists say that these words have the same origin. Their meaning is connected with cattle: Veles is the god of cattle, Vieh is cattle and fee has occured from the old name of cattle. It is not surprising that fee came from the word cattle because cattle was used as currency in the archaic monetary systems. But it is surprising that the words Veles have saved its Proto Indo-European sense hairy in Slavic languages. Slavic people understand that the word means hairy without any translation. The image of Veles is that of a hairy anthropomorphic being.

Getting back to the subject of money, in this context it is the agreement to use something as a medium of exchange. So when it is stated that Veles is a god of money it means that he is the patron of the agreement to use something as a medium of exchange. In the archaic monetary system, which is also known as the demerange monetary system, people payed for the storage of money instead of charging percent for storage like we do in the modern world. So in other words, ancient people prefered to invest money, not to accumulate it. Money was invested in manufacture. Here you may think that manufacture resulted in goods which make people rich, so Veles must also be a god of riches. It is not so. Riches in Slavic is bogatstvo which occured from the word bog. Bog means god. So a wealthy person was the only one who knew the god. The monetary system helped people to learn of the god. How does it work? A famous finance specialist Bernar Lietar came to the conclusion that in the times of the demerange monetary system the ordinary person worked only four days in a week and he or she was provided by all the blessings. The rest contributed to reflections and were given opportunities to perticipate in religious ceremonies to teach them about the god.

To establish such a monetary system, it is necessary to possess wisdom. So it is time to consider the important characteristics of Veles – wisdom, knowledge, intuition, and magic talents. Therefore he inspires all people who are connected with intellectual and magic work, such as thinkers, musicians, artists, doctors, magicians, sorcerers and poets.

What is the source of wisdom, knowledge, inuition, and magic talents? All people are educated with the help of the experience of their elders and the people who came before them.hese people are connected with the world of the dead. So various pagan religions link wisdom, the gods of wisdom and the world of the dead together. Veles is the god of the world of the dead. As the god of the dead he is also called Vij, which has the same origins and is very similar to the German word Vieh. The link with the dead is a major characteristic of Veles, so as you see, his other functions are a result of it.

Some people identify Veles with the Dragon (snake) who is the enemy of Perun. This identity is not exact. There is no historical source that proves Veles is a dragon. On the contrary, in sources we see the association of Perun and Veles: in the contract of 971 Russians swore by the names of of Perun and Veles.
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Re: Veles

Postby Batista Petrov » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:57 am

Here's another article on Veles:

http://epika.org/house-of-mythology/15-veles
Slavic Mythology
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