Slavic Mythology: Origin, Stages, Gods, Symbols +10 Facts

Discover with us the Slavic Mythology. Get to know all the legends, gods, symbols and most fascinating stories in this great culture.

slavic mythology

Slavic Mythology

Slavic mythology and Slavic religion evolved over more than 5,000 years. Parts of it are conjectured to date back to the Neolithic or possibly even the Mesolithic. The religion has many features in common with other religions descended from Proto-Indo-European religion.

Origin of Slavic mythology

The Slavs are the least documented group among the so-called “barbarian” enemies of Rome in late antiquity, so there is no scholarly consensus about their origin. Authors who wrote about the Slavs disagree: some say that the Slavs were nomads and others that they lived in permanent settlements located in forests and swamps; some accounts say that they lived under the rule of a king, while others say that they embraced a form of democracy.

In addition to these discrepancies, we must keep in mind that most of these accounts are filled with the prejudices of the Romans, who viewed all barbarian peoples as primitive, uncivilized and violent.

Some authors have traced the origin of the Slavs to indigenous Iron Age tribes living in the valleys of the Oder and Vistula rivers (in present-day Poland and the Czech Republic) around the 1st century A.D. However, this is still a matter of debate.

Mitología eslava

Based on archaeological evidence, we know that Proto-Slavic peoples were active as early as 1,500 BC in an area stretching roughly from western Poland to the Dnieper River in Belarus. Rather than having a center of origin of Slavic culture, it seems more reasonable to consider a broad territory in which its inhabitants shared a common cultural trait.

Linguistic evidence suggests that, at some point during their early times, the territory of the Slavs reached the western region of Russia and the steppes of southern Russia, where they came into contact with Iranian-speaking groups. This is based on the fact that Slavic languages share a surprising number of words with Iranian languages, which can only be explained through the spread of Iranian into Slavic.

Later, as they moved westward, they came into contact with the Germanic tribes and again borrowed several additional terms from the Germanic languages. Interestingly, a Polish thinker named Józef Rostafiński had noted that in all Slavic languages the words for beech, larch, and yew were borrowed from foreign languages, implying that during the early times these types of trees were unknown to the Slavs, a suggestion that could be used as a clue to determine where Slavic culture originated.

Stages of Slavic Mythology

Slavic paganism or Slavic religion defines the religious beliefs, saddlebags and ritual practices of the Slavs prior to the formal Christianization of their ruling elites. The latter occurred in several stages between the 8th and 13th centuries.

The South Slavs living on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, bordering the Byzantine Empire to the south, came under the sphere of influence of Orthodox Byzantine Christianity, beginning with the creation of the Slavonic alphabet (first in Glagolic and then in Cyrillic alphabet) in 855 by the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, and the adoption of Christianity in Bulgaria in 863 CE. The Eastern Slavs followed with the official adoption in 988 CE by Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus.

The Western Slavs have been under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church since the 12th century, and Christianization for them goes hand in hand with full or partial Germanization.

The Christianization of the Slavic peoples was, however, a slow and, in many cases, superficial phenomenon, especially in what is now Russia. Christianization was vigorous in the western and central parts of what is now Ukraine, as they were closer to the capital, Kiev, but even there, popular resistance led by volkhvs, pagan priests or shamans, recurred periodically for centuries.

Although Byzantine Christianization, in the first place, has slowed down East Slavic traditions in Rus, it has preserved Slavic traditions in the long run. While local Slavic figures and myths, such as the Baba Roga in Croatia were forgotten, Slavic culture continued to exist and even flourish in the East Slavic countries. In the case of the Christian Latinization of the East Slavic countries, this may not have been the case.

The Western Baltic Slavs tenaciously resisted Christianity until it was violently imposed on them through the Northern Crusades. In Bohemia, shortly after the official Christianization of the country at the end of the 9th century, a popular anti-Christian rebellion broke out.

Among the Poles and Eastern Slavs, outbreaks of rebellion occurred throughout the 11th century. Christian chroniclers reported that the Slavs regularly returned to embrace their original religion (relapsi sunt denuo ad paganismus).

Many elements of the indigenous Slavic religion were officially incorporated into Slavic Christianity and, in addition, the worship of Slavic gods has persisted in unofficial folk religion into modern times.

Slavic resistance to Christianity resulted in a “whimsical syncretism” which in Old Church Slavic vocabulary was defined as dvoeverie, “double faith” or “double belief.” Since the beginning of the 20th century, Slavic folk religion has been the subject of organized reinvention and reincorporation into the Native Slavic faith movement (Rodnovery).

Gods or deities of Slavic mythology

Slavic folk belief holds that the world is organized according to an opposing and complementary cosmic duality through which the supreme God is expressed, represented by Belobog “White God” and Chernobog “Black God”, who collectively represent celestial, male deities and female-terrestrial deities, or waxing and waning gods of light, respectively.

The two are also embodied by Svarog-Perun and Veles, who have been compared to the Indo-Iranian Mithra and Varuna, respectively. All the bright male gods, especially those whose names have the attributive suffix -vit, “lord,” are epithets, denoting aspects or phases in the year of the male radiant force, personified by Perun the “Thunder” and the “Oak,” Veles, as the etymology of his name emphasizes, is instead the god of poetic inspiration and sight.

The base Mokosh “Moist”, the great earth goddess related to the Indo-Iranian Anahita, has always been the center of strong popular devotion, and is still worshipped by many Slavs, mainly Russians.


Slavic Gods

1.Svetovid: The god of the Universe. One of the most important Slavic deities. Sometimes thought to be a variant of the god Perun, but it is usually accepted that he was a completely different deity.

Svetovid was sometimes depicted on the white horse, most often with a bow or sword in one hand and a drinking horn in the other. Some researchers believe that when Christianity came to the Slavic countries, Svetovid was transformed into St. Vitus.

2. Jarilo: god of vegetation, fertility and spring. When people were about to take care of their crops, they asked Jarilo to help them. Especially if the harvest time took place during times of war. As a deity related to these two aspects, harvest and war, but also spring and vegetation, he supported the growth of the police.

Until the end of the 19th century, in many Slavic countries (especially in Serbia, Belarus and Russia) a special holiday called Jarilo was celebrated. It was celebrated in late spring or early summer.

3. Dažbog: He was the sun god, whose fame became so great that he began to be regarded as a cultural hero. People used to ask him for help when they desired wealth. He was the patron of those who wanted to hold power in their hands. The Serbian version of the legend describes him as an underground lord, rather dark but also impressive god, whose attributes are precious metals.

4. Perun: His weapons were thunder and lightning. He was a supreme god, one of the most powerful among the Slavic deities. He was associated with many different attributes. Actually, there were so many, that we can conclude that Perun was a god of everything on Earth, but the most important ones were iris, oak, eagle, weapons, horses, chariots, mountains, wind, water.

5. Veles: His realm was the underworld, the corridors of the earth and the waters. You can try to find him in the wetlands. He was believed to be a bearded deity interested in music, magic and tricks. Veles loved wealth, so she very often appeared in rituals or celebrations related to the harvest. In addition, some researchers believe that he was a Slavic version of Mithra.

6. Rod: The one who created all that exists, the supreme god who gave birth. One of the deities that so frightened Christianity that he was often mentioned in didactic works that presented pagans as followers of the evil power. His cult was popular in all Slavic regions.

7. Berstuk: He was the evil god of the forest. Known as the spirit of the forest, he was often called “the deity of evil”. He had a nature as complicated as he was evil, liked to spend time in the wilds of the forests and looked a bit like a faun, he had a human appearance with goat’s feet.

8. Svarog: Some people call him the Slavic Hephaistos, and it makes a lot of sense. He was a fire god whose support was really appreciated in Goldsmith. He was also a solar deity, whose celestial fire sustained those who worked in a smithy.

9. Hors: The healing god. When the sun appeared in the sky during the winter, people knew that the god Hors helps them to survive, demanding time. He was a healer, whose support meant victory over illness. He brought healing and soothing energy. He appeared in a famous text entitled “Tale of Igor’s campaign”.

10. Stribog: He was a god of the winds, air and sky. Among the Slavic gods, he was the one believed to be the grandfather of the winds of the eight directions. Several Polish and Russian villages and lands were named to honor Stribog.

Animals of Slavic mythology

Animales de la mitología Eslava

Animals always played an important role among the Slavs. Animals such as wolves, bears, hares or foxes, thanks to the wide area of distribution, have become firmly entrenched in various legends, stories, mythology and art of the Slavic people. In Christianity, the wolf was associated with evil spirits, but still most of these animals left a strong imprint on their cultures.

Bears have also left such a strong symbolic impact that today most people, when talking about Russia, first think of a bear as its symbolism, but there are also other Slavic regions (such as the Lika region, Croatia) where bears are a symbolic animal that is representing the whole area.

Symbols and symbolism of Slavic mythology


Mitología Eslava

It meant in Sanskrit as much as a fountain, something that brings happiness and prosperity. In Slavic circles, the swastika was also called swarm or swarozyc. Associations with the Slavic sun god Swarog / Swarozyc are not accidental here; the swastika symbolizes the Sun and solar worship.

The right swastika mimics the movement of the Sun (as seen from the northern hemisphere) with its shoulder shape. Such a talisman could have been a symbol of goddesses and fertility. Left-handed swastikas were less popular and should have been associated with night and magic.

Traditionally, the swastika was a kind of isosceles cross with the arms bent at right angles. Sometimes, however, the shape of the swastika was slightly modified. An example of such a variation is the eight-pointed Slavic tourniquet.

This type of swastika was particularly popular among the Slavs, the sign was drawn on houses, in order to deter all evildoers appearing in the world in the form of demons. This treatment was also to protect the house from the destructive influence of the weather.

Other variants of the swastika:

Hands of God

Símbolos de la mitologia Eslava

The hands of God is a symbol which, in the opinion of the Polish Native Church, is an ideogram of the notion of the Supreme God. The central cross with four sides of fingers (rakes) would reflect the concept of the cross, further drawing attention to the universe and balance as the desired state of nature.

The accompanying swastikas would in this interpretation involve both Swarog and his son Swarożyc, the causal elements of God. In reality, however, researchers do not have much to say about this. In the opinion of some, the Hands of God did not necessarily have to be a Slavic symbol.

Sign of thunder

Símbolos de la mitologia Eslava

Perun symbol; a six-pointed circle or regular hexagon. This sign in the West Slavs was commonly slotted into rafters or other points in the house to protect them from lightning and storms. It also sometimes appeared on coats of arms, cabinets, cutouts and Easter eggs. This symbol is present in many cultures, so it is conventionally called the general term hexapental star.


Símbolos de la mitología Eslava

It is a sign composed of three identical elements: legs, spirals or meanders that form a cyclical geometric pattern. Today, this symbol is usually associated mainly with the Celts, where it could mean the three elements: water, air and earth (the Celts’ approach to fire was quite peculiar). It can also be seen as a triple dimension of human life, consisting of physical, mental and spiritual elements.

It is also commonly interpreted today as another symbol of solar worship, a variant of the swastika. However, it is worth discussing it in isolation from the swastika and its variations, as these were generally associated with the symbolic meaning of the four or eight (Kołrót), while the triskelion (also known as the trickwetre) was associated with a trio, a number that had a completely different symbolism among pagans.


Símbolos de la mitología Eslava Lúnula

A metal crescent-shaped pendant worn by Slavic women, among others. Among the ancient Slavs, lunulae were often worn by both husbands and maidens. They were a symbol of femininity and fertility. They were worn to secure the favor of the gods and protection against evil charms.

Their cultural significance is certainly related to the symbolism of the moon, whose full cycle is also determined by the menstrual cycle in women. The name lunula is related to the ancient name of the moon, which among the Slavs was formerly referred to as radiance.

The feminine form of the name of the natural earth satellite seems to confirm that for the Slavs the moon was a woman: beautiful, dazzling in its splendor and, above all, changeable. The lunula is therefore a manifestation of femininity in all its glory, which is not surprising in the fact that this symbol was not worn by men.

Weles brand

Símbolos de la mitología Eslava Lúnula

The symbol of Weles is the Slavic master of the afterlife, the god of magic and divination, the patron saint of wanderers, merchants and poets, as well as the keeper of horned cattle. His name is believed to be related to the oxen he tended. The sign of Weles is a horned triangle that refers directly to one of the spheres of this deity. This symbol should be used by all those who in any way feel subordinate to the weles.

Myths and legends of Slavic mythology

Unfortunately, Slavic mythology originated in the days when writing was not a standard, and therefore it has never been officially recorded by Slavs, but by Christian chroniclers. Luckily for us it is possible to restore some of the ancient legends thanks to oral folklore, rituals, folk beliefs and notes of ancient chroniclers.

The myth of the creation of the world by Rod

First there was nothing but chaos, all was one. Then the ancient god Rod descended to earth in a golden egg, and set to work. First, he decided to divide the light and the darkness, and from the golden egg there came the sun, illuminating everything around it. Behind it came the moon, taking its place in the sky and in the night.

Then he created the vast waters around the world, and after that came the vast earth. From this land the trees began to grow, the animals came out of the forests and the birds began to sing. He created a rainbow, to divide land and sea, truth and falsehood.

Then he stood on the golden egg, Rod paused for a moment and looked around. He was satisfied with the fruits of his labor, but decided that some things were still missing in this world, so the God breathed on the ground – and the wind rustled in the trees and from his breath she was born, the goddess of love Lada.

She divided the world into three realms: Heaven, earth and the underworld. First she created the gods, who must maintain order on earth, then she created men and, finally, a shelter for the dead. In the creation of three realms through them a gigantic oak tree began to grow; the World Tree, which has grown from the seed cast by the creator.

Its roots are hidden in the world of the dead, traversing the earthly realm and the crown that holds heaven and the sky. He populated the kingdom of heaven for the gods. Then, together with Lada, he created a powerful god Svarog. Breathing life into him, Svarog became the loyal helper of the creator Rod: he paved the path of the sun across the sky and the path of the moon in the night sky.

How Chernobog wanted to capture the universe

Originating in ancient times, the evil god Chernobog; the lord of darkness, had his mind overwhelmed by injustice and gloomy thinking. He succumbed to the temptations of the world and planned to subdue it, so he became the Black Serpent and left his lair.

Svarog was the god who kept an eye on the world, as he felt something was wrong he did not go to his forge and caressed his mighty hammer against the burning forge to create himself more gods to help him.

The first to be born from the fire of the forge was Dazhbog, then Horse, Stribog and Simargl. While new gods were being created, the Black Serpent crawled over the land to corrupt it and the men who lived on it. Svarog sent Dazhbog and Simargl to see what is happening in the land of men, and seeing that they had something to do, many have already been corrupted by Chernobog and a war was about to begin.

Returning to the Nav Svarog was informed by his sons that a war between good and evil will begin. Svarog heard them and began to strike his celestial forge to arm his army, because to defeat Chernobog he had to fight with luminous intensity.

Chernobog so corrupted men that he and his evil forces of the world finally fought their way into the celestial palace at the top of the world tree, in their madness they began to invade the world of Svarogs forge himself.

Quickly Svarog created a magic chest and as soon as Chernobog appeared at the door of the forge, Svarog called upon the help of his sons’ gods and together they defeated the serpent.

Finally capturing Chernobog in the chest, the cursed black god was defeated, and in his misery he asked Svarog to spare his evil offspring, the men of this world. Svarog decided to spare men in his justice and because in the end he himself created men flawed as they are.

However, there was one condition to spare them, he told Chernobog that never again could the world be controlled by darkness in its entirety, and Chernobog had to agree.

The world of men was restored and half of the world was again covered by daylight shining from the burning forge of Svarog, while the other half remained in darkness, thus the cycle of night and day came to the world of men.

The myth of the magic lily of the veiled valleys

The Garden of Eden or as the Slavic gods called their heaven “Nav” was the place where they rejoiced, and a wedding was to be held as the chief god of war, Perun was to be married. The feast has begun and while all the gods were happy in Veles sat there gloomy and hateful.

The truth is that Veles liked the bride and Perun’s envy bit his heart. Her name was Dodola and she was the rain goddess who milked her celestial cows in the sky and then the clouds rained down on the earth.

During the feast, Dodola came down to earth for a walk in a dense forest, but Veles followed her and tricked her into sniffing a lily flower, lost her consistency and gave birth to a son, Yarilo. As she was unconscious, Veles stole the child and wanted to raise him as her own.

Perun found out about this in anger and wanted to destroy Veles, so the battle between Perun and Veles began. For three long days and night this battle between gods lasted until Perun finally defeated Veles and took him to the heavens to be judged. This was the day Veles was banished from the heavens and sentenced to live in the underworld.

How Veles stole celestial cows

Driven by hatred for the gods of Heaven who banished him to the underworld, Veles plotted against them. One of the witches, Baba Yaga, convinced him to steal the heavenly cows from the gods as an act of revenge against Perun and Dodla.

At first he resisted doing so, but after a while he remembered what had been done to him and decided to listen to what Yaga told him. She created a whirlwind from the ground to the sky and all the celestial cows fell into the underworld through that whirlwind. Veles hid them in a big cave when the gods began to take care of them.

Since there were no more celestial cows in the heavens, a deadly drought no longer began and the people were in despair. Pastures and crops died, wolves attacked the villages, but madness also ruled the men and they began to steal each other’s livestock.

Perun and Dazhbog heard the prayers of the men and decided to help the world once again, they went down to the gates of the underworld and waited for Veles to appear, but Veles was plotting to attack them from behind.

Perun lost all patience and struck the underworld with his thunderbolt, but Dazhbog stopped the thunder because he feared that if he damaged the underworld, the trees rooted, he would eventually cause the entire world tree to fall. While they were arguing Veles turned into a snake and attacked them from behind, Perun defended himself while Dazhbog quickly slithered into the underworld to fetch the cattle.

The epic battle lasted for days and Perun again defeated Veles, but now the evil god of the underworld would not reveal where he hid the celestial cows. Dazhbog finally found them and shouted to Perun where to strike the mountain to free the cattle. So it was done and the mountain was split into two parts so that the celestial cows would return to heaven and the world of men would have rain once again.

While Veles locked up all the water in the world

For many years people prayed and gave sacrifices to all the gods of the Slavic pantheon, except Veles, who was banished to the underworld and finally forgotten by the men of the world. In his desolation his idol was forgotten, no one else brought the gifts for Veles and the sacred fire of his idol was almost extinguished. This was a great insult to Veles that men had forgotten him, so he decided to close all subway water sources.

All over the world the drought began again, the cattle became sick from the dry pastures and the people began to pray to the gods for help again. They prayed for rain on the idol of Peruns and God heard their prayers.

He decided to teach Veles a lesson for closing the waters. He took his bow and lightning arrows, saddled his horse and went to find the white snake Veles. The cunning serpent god saw Perun flying in the sky and hid under the old hollow oak tree to prevent Perun from shooting him with his arrows. Perun’s arrows, however, lit a fire in the old oak tree and Veles had to surrender.

He told Perun where he had locked up all the subway water, but when he was free he escaped and did not give him the key to the locks. It did not matter that Perun found the locks and smashed them with his axe and it was the end of the drought, the grasses were green again and from that day on the people did not forget to worship Veles.

Traditions of Slavic mythology

Tradiciones de la mitología eslava

Every culture has its own traditions. Some are still alive and well today and others have died with the dawn of Christianity. Well, it was not so easy for Slavic traditions to fall off the map. They were so crucial for the Slavic people that the Church, at the time of spreading the word of Jesus, decided to implement some aspects of it as its own.

Those small changes made the Slavic people see Christianity not as an enemy, but as a new form of religious worship. One intertwined with their own beliefs of the past.

There are several practices that are in use even today. They are the avengers of the time when the gods lived among the people. When rivers and mountains were guarded by spirits and demons. To a time even before Christianity existed.

Koliada or Kolede

Kolede is an ancient Slavic ceremonial ritual and winter holiday. The same word “Kolede” has survived throughout history in all Slavic countries with slight deviations in spelling, but keeping its structure – “ko led” which can be translated into “as ice”.

The ritual begins on the evening of New Year’s Day and consists of children walking from house to house greeting people, singing Christmas carols and using sticks to knock on people’s doors to drive away demons and evil spirits. In return, people should give the youngsters some candy and a small amount of money.

The elders, in some regions, organize a meeting before the night of Kolede, Badnjik or “Veseljak” in Serbian meaning “Joy”. They light a bonfire in a young oak tree, drinking “Blaga Rakija” (“Sweet Rakija” – Rakija mixed with sugar) and have a ceremonial blessed bread (Artos) which is torn by hand and shared with everyone for good health and good fortune.

Dziady or Zadushnica

Dziady (Belarusian “grandparents”) or Zadushnica/Zaduszki (South Slavic “For the Soul”) is an ancient Slavic holiday honoring the souls of ancestors. It is believed that the souls of the dead are allowed to return to the world of the living as spirits, to do favors for their relatives. To welcome a spirit, one must receive his or her guest appropriately.

Light fires in the cemeteries, prepare a feast and place “grumadki” (pieces of wood) on the path to guide the spirits back to life after death.

This feast is celebrated on the last Saturday before St. Dimitry’s Day and again on Trinity Day. Some regions in Slavic populated areas have dismissed this practice as non-Christian or pagan and have stopped celebrating it. But it still has a strong influence in most of the South Slavic countries.


Djamalari is a Slavic dance ritual in the southern Balkans. According to popular beliefs, the days between January 6 and 19, which are non-baptismal days, are considered to be a critical period.

At this time, demonic creatures such as Talasons, Karakondjuls, vampires and others can roam freely. Possessing even the holy water itself as the cross is powerless in this period. Thus, Slavs, young and old, disguise themselves as bears, horses and gypsies, and in more recent times, as doctors, policemen and priests.

The ritual begins with the lighting of a large bonfire, drinking and telling explicit jokes and singing songs of pornographic content. At midnight, the Djamalars walk through the streets beating drums and ringing bells, invoking ancient spirits to help them during the 12 days and chasing away evil spirits.

Govedar Kamen (Shepherd’s Stone)

Govedar Kamen is a stone that was considered a sacrificial altar for the ancient Slavs and is incorporated into Christianity today. Located 40 kilometers southeast of Skopje, it acts as a medium between the world of the living and the spirit world, where sacrifices are required to achieve a cure. Most cases involve the sterility of women.

Every year, on the feast of St. George, May 5 and 6, people approach the rock and perform a ritual that consists of tying two strings of wool (red representing the man and white representing the woman) around the stone and asking for a blessing, promising a sacrifice if a child can be consummated. The woman then braids the two strings and ties them around her stomach.

Those who were healed, gather at the rock the following year and sacrifice lambs, chickens and goats. The health, sex and color of the sacrificed animal has to be the same as that of the child that was born. Then the animal is placed on the stone and sacrificed, bathing the stone in its blood.

Then, the father dips his fingers in the blood and spreads it over the face of the newborn, marking a triangle with dots. This is a form of baptism by blood and declares that the debt has been settled, guaranteeing a healthy, long and prosperous life for the child.

Sacred places of Slavic mythology

Although the idols spoken of in the Russian chronicles seem to have been erected in the open air, the German chronicles provide detailed descriptions of sacred places and enclosed temples among the Baltic Slavs.

These enclosures were walled and did not differ from the profane fortifications usually triangular in shape at the confluence of two rivers, fortified with embankments and palisades, especially on the access side. Fortifications intended for religious purposes contained wooden structures, including a cell for the statue of a god, also made of wood and sometimes covered with metal.

These representations, all anthropomorphic, often had supernumerary body parts: seven arms, three or five heads (Trigelavus, Suantevitus and Porenutius). The temples were under the custody of priests, who enjoyed prestige and authority even in the eyes of the chiefs and received tribute and shares of the military booty.

Human sacrifices, including eviscerations, decapitations and trepanations, had a propitiatory role to ensure abundance and victory. An enclosure may contain up to four temples; those at Szczecin (Stettin), in northwestern Poland, were erected in close proximity to each other. They were visited annually by the entire population of the surrounding district, who brought oxen and sheep destined to be slaughtered.

The boiled meat of the animals was distributed to all participants regardless of sex or age. Dances and plays, sometimes humorous, enlivened the festival.

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