Archives For Ukraine

At the beginning of this month, a wooden idol of the god Perun, installed in the Ukrainian city of Kiev by Slavic Pagan reconstructionists/revivalists (known as Ridnovir), was destroyed by unnamed vandals. According to the Native Faith Association of Ukraine (ORU) this was a coordinated effort that required machinery and multiple people to accomplish. This desecration comes after a Ukrainian Pagan temple was attacked at the end of 2011 in Poltava.

The European Congress of Ethnic Religions (ECER) released a statement saying that this event “rocked all those who respected the ancient Slavic faith.”

Perun idol in Kiev before the desecration.

Perun idol in Kiev before the desecration. (Photo: ORU)

This event rocked all those who respected the ancient Slavic faith. In Poland, in the name of Rodzimo Wiaro (Stanislaw Potrebowski), an appeal on behalf of their fellow Ukrainians was released. The appeal reads “With pain we are going through the news of your idol’s desecration in Kiev. Through this tragedy we stand in solidarity with you. The authors of this crime should not feel like they still live 1000 years ago, when the sacred groves were destroyed and our people’s idols were profaned. Across Europe, the old spiritual traditions are being reborn, and that which has been persistently forced on us is drawing back. The destruction of our idols and beliefs will not minimize our fidelity to our ancestral faith. Let this sordid crime become one more stimulus to move us into restoring and strengthening our indigenous culture. “

This incident seems to be part of a larger tapestry within the Ukraine, where tensions between competing worldviews seem to be ratcheting up. Back in August members of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen took a chainsaw to a giant wooden cross to protest the treatment of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, while the recent Ukrainian elections were very controversial (and very close), causing mass demonstrations. No doubt some see the rise of Slavic Paganism as an affront to traditional Orthodox values, even though adherents of the traditional pre-Christian faiths in the Ukraine are hardly heterogeneous in political or social views (Ridnovir was recently denied inclusion in national religious organizations).  Unlike other European countries, clergy in the Ukraine are very involved in politics, fueling tensions with those who feel the Orthodox and Catholic churches in that region exercise too much control over society.

Within Slavic Paganism Perun is the highest power, controller of thunder and lightning. He shares many, but not all, characteristics with the Norse god Thor. As mentioned above, Ridnovir maintain that this desecration of Perun’s idol will simply become a “stimulus” towards growing and strengthening their faith. As I find more information on this incident, and the larger picture of current tensions between Pagans and Christians in the Ukraine, I’ll post updates.

Top Story: A Pagan temple under construction in Poltava, Ukraine, was vandalized, and its keeper hospitalized, at the end of September, sparking waves of sadness and outrage among the global Pagan movement. M. Horatius Piscinus at the Patheos blog Religio et Pietas had the first report on October 1st, identifying it as a Nova Roma temple dedicated to Jupiter Perennus.

A message of "Die Heathens" left at the site.

A message of "Die Heathens" left at the site.

“The Kalends of September proved long and full, and now another Kalends comes upon us.  The Ides (13 Sept) celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva atop the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It is therefore especially sad to learn that the Temple of Jupiter Perennus that is being built for our community in Poltava, Ukraine, was attacked last Monday night by a group of Orthodox Christians. Our chief priest of Jupiter, the Flamen Dialis Marcus Corvus was injured while defending the altar of Jupiter and has been hospitalized. This comes after news that another Christian band attacked a Romuva sanctuary in Lithuania. Even here in Ohio, some years ago, Christians attacked a sanctuary that was erected by a CUUPS group on the grounds of a Unitarian church in Fairlawn, a suburb of Akron.   While sad to hear such events continue today, it is no shock to learn of them. Not when ministers like John Hagey preach that “Tolerance is a sin,” when Pat Robertson, among others, blamed the 9/11 attacks on pagans, or when Rev. Billingsly, the former minister of the Akron Baptist Temple, once preached from the pulpit to his congregation that they ought to burn pagans at the stake.  Such is the face of the “New Christianity” that we are met with each day, and now it has touched my friend Corvus and his family.”

The next day, the Cultus Deorum Romanorum blog posted photos of the desecration, and Kenaz Filan pointed out that this isn’t an isolated incident in the Ukraine.

“Despicable as this crime is, it’s not the first such attack in Poltava.  On April 13, 2002, some 50 young men leaving a soccer game attacked a nearby synagogue:  hurling stones and yelling “Kill the Jews,” they broke some twenty windows and beat up two people, one the son of Kiev’s chief rabbi. In July 2008 a Holocaust memorial was smeared with paint and anti-Semitic graffiti.   And in October 2001 a Roma family’s house was set afire: five people died in the conflagration, including a six-year old girl and three-year old boy.  The Poltava police showed little interest in finding the responsible parties, which is unsurprising since a Poltava police officer allegedly led the assailants.”

Filan also points out that Pagan groups in the Ukraine aren’t completely blameless, and that some nationalistic strains of Paganism in that country have engaged in attacks on Orthodox churches. Still, the deeds of some Pagan groups in the Ukraine do not excuse violence towards any or all Pagans by Orthodox Christian mobs. At his personal blog, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus said he was “horrified”, but not surprised at this incident.

“With the way worldwide Christianity is progressing at present, particularly in some areas that don’t have the same views on religious liberty that the U.S. supposedly enshrines in its highest laws of the land, insecure Christians with something to prove (mostly to themselves, which is truly sad) feel the need to lash out at others. May their vandalism and intolerance be met with redoubled efforts on the part of the Flamen and his associates to honor their gods in the face of adversity, and may all of the gods of healing (perhaps including Ares) assist him in his recovery.”

You can find more commentary from a variety of Pagans and polytheists at Sannion’s blog as well. For those wanting to donate toward the rebuilding of what was destroyed, you can donate here.

In Other News:

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. But first, let me offer my prayers and support to the people of Japan, who just suffered8.9 magnitude earthquake, and all those potentially affected by subsequent tsunamis in the Pacific basin. For updates, resources, and information, check out the Google Crisis Response page.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Top Story: A coalition of Ukrainian political parties have introduced a sweeping bill into parliament (full text) that would outlaw virtually any activity that involves any kind of predestination in exchange for a fee.  This isn’t just an ordinance to limit palm-readers and psychics, it’s almost obsessive in its thoroughness.

“…future (fortune) predicting services – is the activity of fortune-tellers, chiromancers, astrologers, seers, sorcerers, clairvoyants , soothsayers, prophets and other persons who, with the use of fortune- telling, palmistry, numerology and magic ceremonies and techniques try to guess the future (fortune) or unknown facts about persons, objects or other phenomena (weather, harvest, etc.), as well as allegedly correct the future (fortune) of a person and his/her problems, kill the hoodoo with the use of magic techniques and ceremonies.”

In addition to banning the practice of these services for money, they are also banned from appearing on television, placing advertising, or being written about in a positive light by the local press. Needless to say this has been controversial for those who engage in some of those practices. Ukrainian astrologers are protesting the measure, but as an outsider it’s hard to tell how successful they will be, or what the prospects of this bill are in the Ukrainian parliament. The bill’s author, MP Pavel Unguryan, had this to say about it.

“The Government and the people’s deputies of Ukraine have long been receiving numerous complaints from citizens, Christian faiths, religious and community organizations concerned about the harmful effects of Ukrainian citizens work of psychics, healers, fortune tellers, palmists and dominance in the media and television variety of commercial software, which offers paid services of questionable content on the so-called healers, fortune-tellers and psychics”

One wonders if this is fall-out from the fact that certain prominent politicians in the Ukraine are (in)famous for engaging the services of psychics and fortune-tellers. Indeed, psychic services are generally quite popular in that country. So passage of this bill may not be a sure thing. Due to the language barrier it will be hard for me to keep track of this story so I ask anyone who’s following this matter in the Ukraine to please keep me posted if you hear any developments.

In Other News:

Modern Paganism and Islam: Can a religion like Wicca appeal to someone raised in a Muslim household? Enough to have them convert and renounce their former faith? Apparently it can. The Guardian prints an editorial from “Goldie Kuresh” about her journey from Islam to Paganism.

“I gravitated toward paganism, specifically witchcraft. I liked that these were not “people of the book” and their only “book” was one that the follower created him or herself. I liked that there was a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses to engage with; it wasn’t worship in the old sense of the word, it was co-creation. The only thing that troubled me about my new tribe was its propensity to want to organise into groups that then try to get mainstream recognition. I quite liked the lack of organisation and/or dogma that paganism represents.

The lack of any structure, hierarchy (as a solitary person I never joined a coven with a priest or priestess), or rules meant that I was free to do as I pleased. I followed the guidance I received in dreams. I accepted and adopted that which felt true to me and rejected that which didn’t. I celebrated the solstices and lived by the moon. It was a time of expansion and magic.”

It seems that for some, modern Paganism’s lack of hierarchy, and decentralized structure, is a selling point. One wonders if Goldie’s experience is unique, or if other young Muslims are looking to Paganism as an alternative.

More on the Stolen Secular Cross: An anonymous letter that is alleged to be from the thief of the controversial WWI Mojave desert cross memorial has surfaced. The alleged letter explaining the theft was printed in its entirety by the Desert Dispatch, here’s an excerpt.

“The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care. The cross has been carefully preserved. It has not been destroyed as many have assumed. I am a Veteran. … We as a nation need to change the dialogue and stop pretending that this is about a war memorial. If it is a memorial, then we need to stop arguing about the cross and instead place a proper memorial on that site, one that respects Christians and non-Christians alike, and one that is actually recognizable as a war memorial.”

It should be stressed that there is no evidence at this time that the letter is from the thief (or thieves). So its content should be taken with the requisite grain of salt until proven to be genuine.

How Not to Dress at  a Powwow: The Native Appropriation blog examines a recent incident where a group of teenage girls showed up to Stanford powwow, one of the largest powwows on the West Coast, in war-paint, feathers, and fringe.

“These girls are students at Palo Alto High School. Definitely one of the best high schools in the area, if not the state. It is a high school that turns out tops students who go on to top colleges, and enrolls children of professors, stanford employees, and other well educated silicon valley execs. To top it off, the school is literally across the street from Stanford. Across the street from a school that hosts the largest student run powwow in the nation for 39 years running, that is home to nearly 300 Native students, that has one of the strongest college Native communities in California.

I would like to think that the combination of those factors would equate some level of understanding, that a high school of their caliber would incorporate some type of curriculum on Native history, or at least a basic level of cultural sensitivity. Clearly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Adrienne goes on to discuss the fine line between engaging with Native culture, and mocking/appropriating it. I also recommend her essay on why that “hipster headdress” is a bad idea.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!