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Perun through history

Deities, Concepts, Archetypes

Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:12 pm

Perun through history

Of all historic records describing Slavic gods, those mentioning Perun are the most numerous. As early as 6th century, he was mentioned in De Bellum Gothicum, a historical source written by the Byzantine historian Procopius. A short note describing beliefs of a certain South Slavic tribe states they acknowledge that one god, creator of lightning, is the only lord of all: to him do they sacrifice an ox and all sacrificial animals. While the name of the god is not mentioned here explicitly, the fact that word Perun in a number of Slavic languages today simply means "thunder" or "lightning bolt" suggests this was a reference of him.

Perun is mentioned in the Rus' Primary Chronicle, a history of early Kievan Rus. Together with a god named Veles he is sworn upon in peace agreements between Slavic overlords and Byzantine emperors. Here he is mentioned as a god of war and nobility, who punishes oath breakers with death in battle. In 980, when prince Vladmir the Great came to throne of Kiev, he erected statues of six or seven pagan gods in front of his palace. Perun was chief among these, represented with a silver head (hair) and a golden mustache and in some accounts, a golden mouth. Vladimir's uncle Dobrinja also had a shrine of Perun established in his city of Novgorod. After the Christianization of Kievan Rus, this place became a monastery, which, quite remarkably, continued to bear the name of Perun. Vladimir, The last pagan prince of Kiev, was baptized in AD 988. Afterwards tore down the idol, it was tied to a horses tail and dragged to the Dnieper. Amid much weeping it was then tossed in as men with poles made sure that he was not washed ashore or pulled out. The statue was ordered to be floated down the river "past the rapids," after which point Vladimir said he didn't care what happened to it. When the statue was past the rapids, it immediately came to a stop on the sandy shore, which from then on was referred to as Perunya Ren or Perun's sands.

Reference to Perun is perhaps made in a short note in Helmod's Chronica Slavorum, written in latter half of the 12th century, which states (quite similarly to Procopius some six centuries earlier) that Slavic tribes, even though they worship many various gods, all agree there is a supreme god in heaven which rules over all other on earth. This could be a reference to Perun, but since he is not named, nor any of his chief attributes (thunder or lightning) mentioned, we cannot be certain.

As late as the first half of the twentieth century, in Bulgaria and Macedonia, peasants performed a certain ceremony meant to induce rain. A central figure in the rite was a young girl called Perperuna, a name clearly related to Perun. At the same time the association of Perperuna with rain, shows conceptual similarities with an Indian god Parjanya. There was a strong Slavic penetration of Albania, Greece and Romania, between the sixth and tenth centuries. Not surprisingly the folklore of northern Greece also knows Perperuna, Albanians know Pirpir?n? and so the Romanians have their Perperona. Also, in a certain Bulgarian folk riddle the word "peru?an" is a substitute for the Bulgarian word " " (grmotevitsa) for the thunder. Moreover, the name of Perun is also commonly found in Southern Slavic toponymy. There are places called: Perun, Perunac, Perunovac, Perunika, Peruni?ka Glava, Peruni Vrh, Perunja Ves, Peruna Dubrava, Perunu?a, Peru?ice, Perudina and Perutovac.

In addition, the Eastern Slavs, promised to uphold treaties with the Byzantines by invoking Perun in 907, 945 and 971. The Perun idol stood in Kiev, already by 945, when prince Igor swore to be true to the treaty at the shrine.

But there are more accounts and other evidence showing that the cult was widespread among the ordinary people and in various forms, survived christianization. It is worth noting certain passage in the "Russian Primary Chronicle". It stated that when the Perun idol and its sanctuary was destroyed, the people cried , while, according to the Chronicle of Novgorod, assault on the Perun shrine in Novgorod caused serious uprising and bloody fighting in the city. Surely, both cases implied that it was a well established people's cult.

The survival of worship well into the Christian era is also well attested. The following accounts strongly demonstrate the popularity of the cult among the ordinary people. In a Russian apocrypha of the 12th century, known as (Hozhdyene Boguroditsi Po Mukam), Perun and other gods were mentioned.

A fourteenth century source known as (Slovo Grigoriya) - "The Word of Gregory", says that in remote areas pagans still prayed to Perun. . In the late eighteenth century Russia an ecclesiastic ruling had forbidden the singing of Christian prayers in front of an oak tree. And it has to be remembered that the oak tree was closely associated with the cult of Perun. Also, an interesting custom was reported near Novgorod, as late as the early twentieth century. Here many travelers or boatmen, sailing the Volkhov river, would cast a coin into the water, at the spot where Perun shrine was excavated in 1950's.

Finally, after Christianization the cult merged and was transformed into veneration of Saint Elias. This happened most likely because of the Old Testament which credited Saint Elias with the ability to bring rain and thunderstorms. Thus through these means, an obscure Christian saint became a major celebrity in Eastern Slavic Orthodoxy. In the later Christian iconography of Saint Elias, he appears like Perun traversing the sky in the chariot of fire or riding on the horse. He has been also associated with thunders, arrows and oaks. In the early twentieth century, in the north-east of Russia, the following celebration was reported. On the 20th of July (August 2), Saint Elias day, a cow was slaughtered and the meat prepared by males. It was then distributed in the church and eaten by the whole congregation. This custom, evidently not being Christian, resembles the sacrificial killing of an animal and the communal consumption of the meat.

The veneration of St. Elias with its mixture of pagan and Christian elements is one of the best arguments for the purely Slavic character of Perun and of the cult being widespread among all sections of Eastern Slavic society. Put simply, if Perun was only a deity of the elite and was elevated to prominence at Kiev only for a few years, ordinary people would not have retained the cult for centuries. Neither would the Orthodox Church be forced to accept and tolerate certain evidently pagan beliefs and practices.

The name of Perun also appears in Eastern Slavic toponymy. The most famous place is Peryn' near Novgorod, where the remnants of open site shrine were unearthed by archaeologists , and there was a place on the Dneper known as "Perun's Shoal".

Perun was also a deity of the Western Slavs, although the cult did not show up so prominently. In all Slavic languages, except Polish and Kashubian, the term for thunderbolt is "grom". The term is known to the Poles but more often they call it "piorun", a word clearly deriving from the name of Perun. In Silesia, even today, people say "Ty pieronie !", which in free-lance translation means "you bastard !". Theolder Poles' saying of dissatisfaction, "do pioruna !", could be translated as "by thunder !". It sounds like nonsense, but if we substitute the old meaning it would be "by Perun !". Very close to the familiar "by Jove !". Similar sayings have survived among Kashubians in the form of "na per?na !" and "ty per?nie !". It is worthwhile to note that in Kashubian thunder or lighting is called "par?n" not "per?n" , indicating that original saying refers to deity rather than to the thunder. In Moravian and Slovakian folklore there are spells using the term "parom" or "hrom" (original Slavic "g" replaced by "h" in Ukrainian, Czech and Slovak languages) interchangeably for thunder and lightning. Furthermore, the Slovaks would say "parom do teba" or "do paroma", meaning "may Perun strike you" and "by Perun !", respectively. Among the now almost extinct Polabian Slavs of eastern Germany, a deity called Porenutius (Porenut) was reported on R?gen island by a Danish chronicler of the turn of the 13th century Saxo Gramaticus. Some scholars have interpreted the name as a corrupted form of Perun. However, this interpretation is not uniformly accepted. Another deity called Proue was mentioned by Helmold as being worshiped in the 12th century near Oldenburg in Wagrien. Its idol stood in an enclosed sanctuary situated in an oak grove. Sacrifices of cattle and sheep were performed for this deity, and once a week tribal court and the assembly was held there. Again it has been postulated that the name Proue is a corruption of Perun, taking into consideration that in another version of the chronicle, known as Stettin manuscript, it appears as "Prone". Whatever the case, Proue's association with oaks and cattle sacrifice indicates close conceptual links with Perun-like deity.

Still, however, the strongest evidence for antiquity of the Perun cult, its universality among all the Slavs, and all sections of the Slavic society, comes from the western extreme of Slavdom. In the region of Hanoverian Wendland, west of Elbe river in Germany, a dialect of Obodrite Slavs survived till the end of the eighteenth century. Those Slavs called Thursday a " Perundan" - literally a "day of Perun". Evidently, these people were aware that the name for Thursday in German "Donnerstag" means "day of Donar", a continental Germanic war god. Clearly, they had substituted their god Perun for Donar, as it was the Slavic deity that most closely resembled the Germanic war god. There is no other explanation, unless we accept that the 18th century Slavic peasants of backward Hanowerian Wendland spent cold nights of the northern European winter passionately reading the "Russian Primary Chronicle".

The name of Perun is also commonly found in Southern Slavic toponymy. There are places called: Perun, Perunac, Perunovac, Perunika, Peruni?ka Glava, Peruni Vrh, Perunja Ves, Peruna Dubrava, Perunu?a, Peru?ice, Perudina and Perutovac. These names today mostly represent mountain tops, but in medieval times, large oaks, sacred groves and even entire villages or citadels were named Perun. Also, as mentioned already, in Ukrainian perun and in Polish piorun means "thunderbolt". Among South Slavs, a mountain plant Iris germanica is known in folklore as perunika ("Perun's plant") and sometimes also as bogisha, ("god's plant"), and was believed to grow from ground that had been struck by lightning.
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Re: Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:14 pm

Stories about Perun

In Slavic mythology, the world was represented by a sacred tree, usually an oak, whose branches and trunk represented the living world of heavens and mortals, while its roots represented the underworld, i.e. the realm of dead. Perun was a ruler of the living world, sky and earth, and was often symbolised by an eagle sitting on the top of the tallest branch of the tree, from which he kept watch over the entire world. Perun was a punisher of evil-doers. Deep down in the roots of the tree was the place of his enemy, symbolised by a serpent or a dragon: this was Zaltys, a great serpent curled at the base of the world tree (which people later associated with Veles, watery god of the underworld). Zaltys /Veles continually provoked Perun by stealing his cattle, children or wife. Perun pursued Zaltys /Veles around the earth, attacking him with his lightning bolts from the sky. Zaltys /Veles fled from him by transforming himself into various animals, or hiding behind trees, houses or people; wherever a lightning bolt struck, it was believed, this was because Zaltys /Veles hid from Perun under or behind that particular place. In the end, Perun managed to kill Zaltys /Veles, or to chase him back down into his watery underworld. The supreme god thus reestablished the order in the world which had been disrupted by his chaotic enemy. He then returned to the top of the World tree and proudly informed his opponent down in the roots: Ңy, таm твое место, таm сабе бyдз! ("Well, there is your place, stay there!"). This line came from a Belarusian folk tale of great antiquity. To the Slavs, the mythological symbolism of a supreme heavenly god who battles with his underworldly enemy through storms and thunder was extremely significant, and from Perun and Zaltys /Veles, this idea of cosmic battle was passed onto God and the Devil following Christianization.

While the exact pantheon characterization differed between the Slavic tribes, Perun is generally believed to have been considered as the supreme god by the majority, or perhaps nearly all Slavs, at least towards the end of Slavic paganism. The earliest supreme god was probably Rod; it is unclear precisely how and why his worship as the head of pantheon evolved into the worship of Perun. Another candidate for supreme deity among at least some Slavs is Svarog.

Thunder is his voice, and the winds and the tempests his breath. Water represents Perun's blood or tears. The sun and the moon are his eyes. Man receives his flesh from the fire that comes out of his eyes, and his soul from his breath.

As the thunder god, he enters into a union with the mother earth (or sometimes creates it), and impregnates it through rainwater, causing her to generate life. One of Perun's main roles is to restore the earth's productive powers after the multi-headed snake demon steals the holy waters, takes away the earth's moisture, and renders her infertile. After killing the demon, Perun releases the holy waters that come pouring down to restore the earth's fertility. Closely associated with this is the belief that the rains, especially, of the spring season bless all those, who bathe in its waters, with strength, health, beauty, and fertility. These waters are also a protection against evil forces and spirits. The sun, which is referred to as the divine eye, also ages with the seasons, bathes in these pure waters and becomes healthy and youthful again. These waters are believed to cure human blindness, and there are a number of tales and legends in which the hero regains his sight after washing his eyes in the holy water collected at the crack of dawn before the "crow has bathed her children" from the seven springs or wells.

As a thunder deity, all manner of rain-related phenomenon were associated with him. Perun's family all had roles in the coming of rain. His sons would make the thunder and cause the lightning to strike. His daughters and wife would sift the rain. Together, they brought the moisture, thus making the land fertile so crops would grow. This would have been very important to the agricultural societies which worshipped Perun. To invoke Perun's favor or call upon him to bring the rains, worshippers would give food offerings to the god. It is considered unlikely that human sacrifices were made to Perun.
In 1610 D. Fabricius wrote: "During a drought, when there has not been rain, they worship Perkons in thick forests on hills and sacrifice to him a black calf, a black goat, and a black cock. When the animals are killed, then, according their custom, the people come together from all the vicinity, to eat and drink there together. They pay homage to Perkons by first pouring him beer, which is then brought around the fire, and at last pour it in this fire, asking Perkons to give them rain."

Rain is a happy omen and, falling before a new endeavour is commenced, guarantees its success. The sick are given rain water, or water collected from the seven springs to drink. Rain water, or the water of life, as it is called in Russian, heals wounds, makes mutilated parts of the body grow, rejuvenates the old, and resurrects the dead.

The Slavonic tales abound in accounts of how a dead hero is restored to life by means of this precious liquid, which is sometimes brought by the Whirlwind, the Thunder, and the Hail, sometimes by their types the Raven, the Hawk, the Eagle, and the Dove. But they differ from most of the similar stories in this respect. They have two species of what is called the "strong" or the "heroic" water. The one is called "the dead water" (mertvaya voda); the other the "living [or vivifying] water" (zhivaya voda). Contrary to its name, however, the dead water does not bring death; rather, it makes mutilated bodies whole, and heals wounds. But unlike live water, it does not possess the power of resurrection. Folktales are replete with motifs of dead and live water. Like the spring rains which first melt the earth, purify her, make her whole, while the following rains resurrect her, the dead hero too is first sprinkled with dead water, and then with live water, before he comes to life again. When that has been done, the corpse first shudders and then sits up, usually remarking "How long I have been asleep?" or "Oh, did I sleep too long?"

What is the source of these waters? This brings us to the arbor mundi, the world tree. There, in the centre of the universe stands the oak tree, on its top sits the bird of paradise, the eagle, under its roots lies the snake demon. Two springs flow out from under the tree; one of live water, and the other of dead water. Near the springs sit three women, the fortune tellers. One knows the past, the other the future, and the third, the present. They decide what should be and what should not be, and the fate of every being. They bring death or life, and continuously work over the creation of the world (Here I may add that one of the magical values of live water is that it imparts wisdom and power to tell the future).

The arbor mundi is seen as a mediator between the world of the dead and the world of the living. The fight between the eagle and the snake demon is eternal, and represents the cycle of life and death, and of the seasons. The defeat of the demon results in the release of live waters. Death in slavic folklore is seen as a temporary state, a state of sleep. Nothing dies till the end. Every spring the sun comes out of the clutches of the forces of darkness; every spring Perun overpowers the snake demon, and life returns to the earth. Arbor mundi, associated with the theme of the constant revival and renewal, is seen as one of the attributes of Perun.
The sun in Russian folklore is metaphorically called Ognioni kamen, or Bel goruch kamen ? the white hot stone. Perun either holds the fire-stone (the fireball) in his hands, or his thick eyelashes hide the fire underneath them or, at times, he himself represents the sun. On the one hand, the sun (fire-stone) dies every winter or, having become weak, is overpowered by his adversary the dark forces of winter and revives every spring after having bathed in the pure waters released by Perun. On the other hand, Perun has to drink the living fluids of the celestial wells first before he is able to kill the snake demon, and send life generating rains down to earth. The sun as the eye of god Perun or, as the fire hidden in the eyes of god, can burn and destroy everything when they are open but, soaked in holy waters, it generates life-giving forces. These attributes of the sun and Perun are transferred on the earth to stones.

Stone, like the oak tree, is seen as a mediator between the two worlds. The grave stone represents death. Like the oceans, it also separates the worlds of the dead and the living. The stone appears as a frequent symbol of death in folktales. The death of the hero is represented by his turning into stone. But since death is not absolute, the hero, like the earth in general, is brought back to life after he is sprinkled with live water.

A dry stone represents death; soaked in water, it represents life. As Perun is himself incapable of impregnating the earth without having first drunk the fluids of life from the celestial springs. The sun gets his strength and energy back only by bathing in the pure spring rains. The sun and fire are attributes of Perun. Fire is masculine in slavic religion, and water feminine. Both are seen as good phenomenon; neither can tolerate any impurity. One burns, and the other washes away or drowns all impurities. The pigeon (blue) book refers to fire as king, and water as queen. They are husband and wife. Through their union, procreation takes place.

Perun, the sun, and stone are thus dry seeds unless soaked in female waters. In many places, Perun is said to be married to the celestial water maiden. He places stones in the wombs of women, thus blessing them with children. In other stories the representative of Perun recovers gems or treasures which evil spirits have hidden away within mountains or under deep waters, that is to say, he brings out the lights of heaven from behind the dark veil of winter, or from out of the depths of the cloud-sea. Sometimes, however, it is Perun who dies, and then remains lying veiled in a shroud [of fog] or floating over dark waters in a coffin [of cloud, until the spring recalls him to life].

Slava is a beautiful bird - a messenger of God Perun, every feather of which was said to shine a different color. This beautiful bird was called MATEPb CBA (Mater Sva) which can be translated either as Mater Slava (Mother Glory), Mater svex (Mother of everyone) or Mater Sova (Mother Owl - which may be why much of Russian Folk art depicts an owl). This flame colored bird usually appeared in the critical moment and pointed with its wing the direction in which an army should go. Everyone knew that either glory or a glorious death awaited the warriors and the prince had no choice but to follow the bird's lead.
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Re: Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:15 pm

Perun's Weapons

Perun's bow is sometimes identified with the rainbow, from it, are shot burning arrows, which set on fire all things that they touch. Perun's lightning bolts were believed to be stones and stone arrows. These thunderbolt stones were sometimes said to be transferred back to the sky by the wind after being passed through the earth to a certain depth and return gradually to the surface in a specific period of time - usually 7 yrs 40days. When they return to the surface they are in the shape of longish stones of a black or dark grey colour. According to folk beliefs, fulgurites and belemnites, masses of fused sand and sometimes even remains of prehistoric stone tools found in the ground are remains of these weapons. Various Slavic countries also call these deposits "Perun's stones", "thunderbolt stones", "thunderbolt wedges" and "Perun's arrow"; The lightning stones of Perun protected against bad luck, evil magic, disease, and - naturally enough - lightning itself. Evidence for this belief is overwhelming, and comes from the Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia and Poland. People, rocks and trees struck by lightening are considered to be sacred for the heavenly fire remains inside them.

In some cases the flaming dart of Perun became, in the imagination of the people, a golden key. With it he unlocked the earth, and brought to light its concealed treasures, its restrained waters, its captive founts of light. With it also he locked away in safety fugitives who wished to be put out of the power of malignant conjurors, and performed various other good offices. Appeals to him to exercise these functions still exist in the spells used by the peasants, but his name has given way to that of some Christian personage. In one of them, for instance, the Archangel Michael is called upon to secure the invoker behind an iron door fastened by twenty-seven locks, the keys of which are given to the angels to be carried to heaven. In another, John the Baptist is represented as standing upon a stone in the Holy Sea [i. e. in heaven], resting upon an iron crook or staff, and is called upon to stay the flow of blood from a wound, locking the invoker's veins "with his heavenly key." In this case the myth has passed into a rite. In order to stay a violent bleeding from the nose, a locked padlock is brought, and the blood is allowed to drop through its aperture, or the sufferer grasps a key in each hand, either plan being expected to prove efficacious. As far as the key is concerned, the belief seems to be still maintained.

According to the mythologists, Perun's golden key is the lightning with which in spring he rends the winter-bound earth and lets loose the frozen streams--offices more usually performed by the sun--or pierces the clouds, and frees the rains which are imprisoned in those airy castles. These spring rains have always been looked upon as especially health-giving, and from that idea, as some commentators suppose, arose the myth of the Water of Life which figures in the folk-lore of so many different races.

Perun also had another type of weapon in his arsenal, as destructive as his firestone arrows, but even more unusual: mythical golden apples. While this may not seem to be much of a weapon, in many Slavic folk accounts, the golden apple appears as a talisman of ultimate destruction. An example from a Serbian folk song with strong mythical elements relates:

... Te izvadi tri jabuke zlatne
I baci ih nebu u visine...
...Tri munje od neba pukoše
Jedna gađa dva djevera mlada,
Druga gađa pašu na dorinu,
Treća gađa svata šest stotina,
Ne uteče oka za svjedoka,
Ni da kaže, kako pogiboše.

"...Then he took out three apples of gold
And threw them high into the sky...
...Three lightning bolts burst from the sky,
One strikes at two young brothers-in-law,
Another strikes at pasha on a horse,
The third strikes six hundred wedding guests,
Not an eye for a witness fled
Not even to say, how they ended dead."

It is conjectured that mythical golden apples of Perun were symbols of a rare but notorious form of atmospheric discharge, ball lightning. The same is probably true for the thunder marks of East Slavic folklore, of which two examples are shown above.
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Re: Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:16 pm

Characteristics of Perun

Perun represents justice and order. He was the purifier, as well as the devil's principal adversary. His actions were manifested in lightning, thunder, storms whirlwinds and fire; and ancient men heard his voice in thunder, and believed it drove away the devil and other evil forces. Many scholars see the origin of music, use of musical instruments and bells, and the beating of drums as attempts to imitate the voice of Perun, and part of the magical efforts to protect the world from the evil forces and spirits.

Perun has been represented as as a rugged man with a copper beard and also a man with silver head (hair) and a golden moustache or beard. Perun has also been portrayed as a tall and well-shaped man, with black hair, and a long golden beard.

He rides in a chariot pulled by a bull or he-goat with his fiery bow in his right hand and shoots his arrows (lightning) at evil people and spirits. He also uses his arrows to pierce the clouds with shafts of lightning and bring his fertilizing rains. Sometimes he flies abroad on a great millstone, which is supported by the mountain-spirits who are in subjection to him, and who, by their flight, give rise to storms.

In the Spring, Perun goes forth in his fiery chariot, and crushes with his blazing darts the demons, from whose wounds the blood is sometimes described as streaming forth. That is to say, the lightning pierces the clouds at that season of the year, and causes them to pour forth rain.

By the time of Vladimir, Perun was more war-like, probably the Viking/Thor influence. While always a god of warriors, Perun was more of a Defense God, than a War God in earlier times.

All big trees were sacred to Perun, but he especially loved the oak. There are records of oaks being fenced in as sacred to him. Particularly distinctive or prominent oaks were especially associated with Perun. In Southern Slavic traditions, marked oaks stood on country borders; communities at these positions were visited during village holidays in the late spring and during the summer. Shrines of Perun were located either on top of mountains or hills, or in sacred groves underneath ancient oaks. There is evidence that sacred and consecrated oaks were situated in some form of enclosure, usually, surrounded by a ditch, a stone ring or a fence. Some featured statues, but there didn't seem to be an absolute requirement for images. These were a general place of worship and holding of sacrifices. It was much later near cities that buildings were constructed for worship and images became a regular feature. The early circles tended to be for a single god, while the buildings were polytheistic. Temples to Perun tended to be octagonal and on high ground.

A perpetual fire was maintained in his honor; if it went out, it was rekindled by the use of a stone. Worshippers laid arms at his idol's feet, and stuck arrows around oak trees in his honor.

Sacrifices to him usually consisted of a rooster, but on special occasions, bear, bull or he-goat might be killed. The sacrificed animal was then communally eaten. It was believed that such a feast would strengthen the bonds between the group's members. Some say that by eating the flesh they were seen to be imbued with the power of their patron God. Human sacrifice was not a feature of the old Slavic religion. Reports of human sacrifice were most likely propaganda against the religion, while it may be possible that some wicked people did this.

Perun's sacred animals are the bull and the he goat, his birds the eagle, dove and the cuckoo.

One geometric symbol was his 'thunder wheel', which was apparently a six-spoke wheel. This seems to have symbolized the thunder-chariot and was similar to that of the depictions of Taranis, the Gallo-Roman thunder-god.

A six-petalled rose within a circle was carved on roofs to protect houses from thunder and lightning, and the symbol may have been associated with Perun.

Similarly to Perkunas of Baltic mythology, Perun was considered to have multiple aspects. In one Baltic song, it is said there are in fact nine versions of Perkunas. Remains of an ancient shrine to Perun discovered beneath medieval Peryn skete in Novgorod consisted of a wide circular platform centred around a statue, encircled by a trench with eight apses, which contained sacrificial altars and possibly additional statues. The overall plan of the shrine shows clear symbolism of the number nine. This is sometimes interpreted that Perun, in fact, had nine sons (or eight sons, with himself, the father, being the ninth Perun). It should also be noted that in some Slavic folk songs, nine unnamed brothers are mentioned.
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Re: Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:18 pm

Similar Gods

Further support for the antiquity of the Perun-like deity in Eastern Europe comes from Mordvinian mythology. In pre-Christian times, Mordvins, an Ugro-Finian people of middle Volga basin, worshiped a thunder god called Purginepaz. This appears to be a borrowing from the Indo-European mythology. However, it was not borrowed from the Slavs, as their Eastern branch did not penetrate the middle Volga in pre-Christian times. While at the same time the root "Purg" in Purginepaz suggests some relation to the Baltic "Perk" in Perkunas. A possible explanation is that Mordvins borrowed the concept and the god's name from the Fatyanovo culture of the second half of second millennium B.C.E. The Fatyanovo culture emerged in the Eastern Baltic area and spread along Volga and Oka as far as Ural mountains. Physical anthropology and strong cultural affilitiation of Fatyanovo complex with Kurgan and later Baltic cultures, indicates that they were Indo-European people. They were not Balts and probably not Balto-Slavic people either, but rather culturally and linguisticaly ancestral to both. Whatever the case, this shows that the concept of a Perun-like deity was common amongst the Old European population of Eastern Europe in the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. And this in turn clearly indicates continuity of this common Indo-European concept.


In Hinduism there was a weather god, Parjanya (which is the Vedic Sanskrit for "rain" or "raincloud"), whose domain was thunder storms and monsoons. This deity, who also makes things grow, like Perun, is associated with cattle. Parjanya is often identified with Indra, the "Bull" of the Rigveda, but also associated with Varuna as a deity of clouds and as punishing sinners. And among the Balts, a thunder god Perkunas was one of the major deities. There is close conceptual relationship between the foregoing and thunder-associated gods of other Indo-European people, such as: Celtic Taranis; Greek Zeus and Germanic Thor/Donar. Independent developments separated Indo-European beliefs but a certain common concept were preserved. For example, in Germanic mythology the goddess Fj?rgynn is the mother of the thunder god Thor. Taking into consideration that in Germanic languages the original Indo-European "p" changed into "f", her name appears related to the stem "perg". In Hittite mythology the stone monster Ullikummi, who fights the weather god Te?ub, is a son of the major god Kumarbi and a rock, a goddess called Peruna? or Piruna?. Unfortunately, Hittite mythology is so mixed up with Semitic and non-Indo-European beliefs that the similarity of name with Parjanya or Perun may be only a coincidence. On the other hand it may reflect a common Indo-European tradition shared with the Germanic people.

Two hymns of the the Rigveda, 5.63 and 7.101, are dedicated to Parjanya.

He is one of the 12 Adityas, a Gandharva and a Rishi in the Harivamsa. The name may be cognate with Lithuanian Perk?nas "god of thunder", Gothic fairguni "mountain", see Perkwunos..

RV 5.63 in the translation of Griffith:

Sing with these songs thy welcome to the Mighty, with adoration praise and call Parjanya.
The Bull, loud roaring, swift to send his bounty, lays in the plants the seed for germination.

He smites the trees apart, he slays the demons: all life fears him who wields the mighty weapon.
From him exceeding strong flees e'en the guiltless, when thundering Parjanya smites the wicked.

Like a car-driver whipping on his horses, he makes the messengers of rain spring forward.
Far off resounds the roaring of the lion, what time Parjanya fills the sky with rain-cloud.

Forth burst the winds, down come the lightning-flashes: the plants shoot up, the realm of light is streaming.
Food springs abundant for all living creatures, what time Parjanya quickens earth with moisture.

Thou at whose bidding earth bows low before thee, at whose command hoofed cattle fly in terror,
At whose behest the plants assume all colours, even thou Parjanya, yield us great protection.

Send down for us the rain of heaven, ye Maruts, and let the Stallion's flood descend in torrents.
Come hither with this thunder while thou pourest the waters down, our heavenly Lord and Father.

Thunder and roar: the germ of life deposit. Fly round us on thy chariot waterladen.
Thine opened water-skin draw with thee downward, and let the hollows and the heights be level.

Lift up the mighty vessel, pour down water, and let the liberated streams rush forward.
Saturate both the earth and heaven with fatness, and for the cows let there be drink abundant.

When thou, with thunder and with roar, Parjanya, smitest sinners down,
This universe exults thereat, yea, all that is upon the earth.

Thou hast poured down the rain-flood now withhold it. Thou hast made desert places fit for travel.
Thou hast made herbs to grow for our enjoyment: yea, thou hast won thee praise from living creatures.
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Re: Perun through history

Postby JBRaven » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:19 pm

Holy Days of Perun

Perun's Main Holy Day

August 2 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = July 20 (Old Calendar - Julian)
Perun's day (St. Elijah Day)
Some say Red and gold candles are lit on Perun's day.

Other days associated with Perun

April 3 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = March 21 (Old Calendar - Julian)
Festival of Perun marks the beginning of spring at the vernal equinox.

May 6 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) - April 23 (Old Calendar - Julian)
St. George Day
Associated with Perun because St.George slayed the dragon.

July 7 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = June 24 (Old Calendar - Julian)
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Associated with Perun because of Perun's association with water.

November 21 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = November 8(Old Calendar - Julian)
Archangel Michael
Associated with Perun because Michael is the commander of heavenly armies and vanquisher of the Devil

November 23 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = November 10 (Old Calendar - Julian)
St. George Day
Associated with Perun because St.George slayed the dragon. Celebrated as secondary St. George day in the country of Georgia

December 9 (Today's Calendar - Gregorian) = November 26 (Old Calendar - Julian)
St. George Day
Associated with Perun because St.George slayed the dragon. Celebrated as secondary St. George day


Perun's holy day is Thursday
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Re: Perun through history

Postby Batista Petrov » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:37 am

Thank you for this. I've actually been rather interested in Perun and I've always adored any stories about him. He're is short story and some pictures:

http://epika.org/house-of-mythology/14-perun
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