Nordic, Greek and Roman mythologies are very well known and explored in literature – through science fiction and poetry writing, from anthropological, religious and ethnological point of view. Old Slavic mythology is lesser known and popular, yet very rich in folktales, rituals, mythological creatures. It was a part of the belief system that Old Slavs treasured and celebrated: a multi-theist system of Gods, spirits and “lower beings” that influenced each part of their lives. To old Slavs their Gods are the founts of life, power and happiness. Gods, worshiped for millennia gave the meaning to existence, and protective notion to old Slavs. They were celebrated through rituals and songs – similar to many indigenous traditions.
In some remote Balkan regions, these rituals and songs are still present. Probably due to the reason that when old Slavs adopted Christianity, many of the old, Pagan customs found their place in the new belief system, just disguised under another name and purpose. My father, for example used to tell me about the songs and customs that were performed in his village during spring and summer – because peasants believed that it will influence the yield of the harvest and that it will help them to ‘cheer up’ the will of the Gods (like God Perun, that governed thunders and fire). In order to invoke the rain villagers would perform ritual: a girl, called do-do-la wearing a skirt made of fresh green knitted vines and small branches, sings and dances through the streets of the village, stopping at every house, where the hosts sprinkle water on her.
Following and celebrating religious holidays actually still impacts agricultural activities in many Balkan regions.
This poem I wrote below “Raingirl” was inspired by the ‘dodola’ ritual:
The face of the Earth is crunched,
wrinkled in furrows
burrows, like mouths are widely open
towards the sky with prayer for dull clouds.
Bodies of trees are broken and bowed.
leafs curled in sears, in the color of hell.
Some of animals can be seen
soulless, crouching on their celebrity red carpets
dreaming of rain.
It’s time for a Raingirl.
You will recognize her as a young maid,
dressed in rugs, with wreath around her head
adorned with wheat, flowers and grass.
Barefoot she would walk across the village,
her long hair trotting after her. She dances
and sings dow-down-la, dow-down-la while
milking her heavenly cows.
An orphan, as such adored among hearths.
Sometimes she would fly over woods and fields,
to awaken blossoms and green parchments,
as messaged by the God of Thunder.
As first drops appear, tree hands, grass blades, uprooted sinews
unroll their palms, tongues,
tired of summer soberness
in hope to imbibe a little bit of milk.
Raingirl smiles and as she suddenly appeared
in same fashion she evanesces in the mist
with her downy flock.
When we will see a raingirl again?
Once the Sun becomes this angry, heavy. In pain.
Our ancestors, not only in Slavic traditions believed that songs and poems do have a tremendous power to help us sustain even the most difficult times – that type of strength we still can nourish inside ourselves.
If you liked this post and you are interested in getting more inspiration for your creativity, sign up for our free bimonthly newsletter.