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Library - Theology - Romuva

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Romuva (a word meaning "abode of inner peace" that was also the name of an important sanctuary that was destroyed by Christian crusaders in the 13th century CE) is an ancient polytheistic religion that may have originated as early as c. 1,000 BCE.  Romuva is a Lithuanian religion stretching geographically from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, encompassing what was later to become Russia.

Deities:   Supernatural agents:   Beliefs:   Traditions:
  • Dievas (supreme god)
  • Perkūnas (bishop god of all other deities; god of thunder, morality, weddings, and defense in war, and the creator of stars and moons)
  • Praamžius (god of the beginning of time)
  • Saulė ir Menulis (universal mother goddess combined with a divorced but inter-dependent young father god)
    • Saulė (the feminine portion who is also the sun; provides warmth and fertility)
    • Menulis (the divorced masculine portion who is also the moon; received prayers for healing)
  • Žemyna (god of planet Earth; son of Saulė ir Menulis)
  • Laima ir Giltinė (pair of goddesses)
    • Laima (goddess of destiny and luck, weaving, and pregnancy; Žemyna's sister)
    • Giltinė (goddess of death and wisdom; if she licks a person's face they will die instantly)
  • Gabija (goddess of hearth fire; only accepts offerings from women)
  • Velnias ir Velona (a pair of deities of the dead who watch over the spirits of ancestors)
    • Velnias (the devil, is somewhat naive and easy to fool, and doesn't get along well with Perkūnas)
    • Velona
  • Medeine ir Meiden (a pair of deities who look after the forests)
    • Medeine (goddess of rabbits and small forests; also known as "Lady of the Trees")
    • Meiden (god of all animals and large forests)
  • Zalciai (sacred serpents)
  • Vaidelutės (priestesses who worked in pairs and specialized in tending to sacred flames and cared for Zalciai; they were relieved of family duties because their work was regarded as highly important)
  • Žaltys (grass snake, and a symbol of good fortune)
  • Fire is sacred and must be put out with pure water (it cannot be let to die naturally in a hearth), or else Gabija may get hurt and will retaliate by burning down the house
  • Killing a snake brings bad luck
  • Dead people live in their graves (death is not feared) and are regarded as a part of the family with some of the same needs as the living
    • Dead people may be reincarnated into any form, including humans, animals, or vegetables, but only after climbing a high mountain in the afterlife (those who died with long fingernails were beileved to have an advantage in climbing this mountain)
    • Spirits of the dead can be trapped for eternity in Purgatory or Hell, which can be in the form of a rock, a tree, a bush, a vine, a flower, a hammer, or a farming tool, etc.
  • Annual events
    • January 25th:  Day of Serpents (the day of awakening of the snakes, who are beileved to leave the forests and enter houses; on this day people would also shake apple trees to make them more fruitful and knock on beehives to wake them from winter hibernation)
    • March 23rd:  Vernal Equinox (a well-attended feast is enjoyed to celebrate the onset of the Spring season)
    • June 22nd:  Summer Solstice (involves a human chain that carries a sacred fire around the country by passing it from one person to the next, starting from the spiritual centre of Lithuania)
    • September 21st:  Autumnal Equinox (the day of Perkūnas is celebrated to mark the day of Baltic solidarity)
    • December 20th:  Winter Solstice (the day of Praamžius is celebrated)
  • Saunas are used for birth
  • After birth, a hen is sacrificed to Laima, typically with a wooden ladle by the baby's grandmother
  • Wedding gifts of linen towles, woven belts, and spindle whorls are given to honour Laima

See also

 
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