Book to Explore Paganism in Early Modern Lithuania

The Samogitian Sanctuary, a reconstructed Pagan observatory and sacred place in Lithuania (Wikipedia).

I post a lot about old and new Pagan movements in the Baltic nations, a region that I have never visited, although some of my family members have.1)One of my older sisters lived the last couple of years of her life in Kaunas, Lithuania, but that had nothing to do with Paganism although I believe her choice had a strong “karmic” element. So here is an interview with the Britsh historian Francis Young about a forthcoming book, Pagans in the Early Modern Baltic.

On his own blog, Young writes,

The Baltic peoples of Prussia (Lithuania Minor, today’s Kaliningrad Oblast) and Lithuania were almost unique among European nations in retaining their ancestral pre-Christian religion until the late Middle Ages. While the conversion of the Prussians was the justification for the Baltic Crusades, which brought Prussia and Latvia under the rule of German military orders, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania not only remained officially pagan but also expanded into a vast Central European empire. Although Lithuania formally converted to Christianity between 1387 and 1413, according to some accounts the nation was not fully Christianised until the eighteenth century.

His work is previewed at The Thinker’s Garden blog in a post titled “Paganism in Early Modern Lithuania and Prussia.” where writer J. Locksley notes,

Paganism in Lithuania was curiously–and perhaps preternaturally– resilient. Notably, it persisted in the wilder regions of the Baltic state until the eighteenth century. For this reason, as Young has pointed out, descriptive texts by contemporary observers of its key rites and mores might be the “closest we can ever get to encountering an ancestral European paganism as an unbroken tradition”.

Read both posts to get a broader picture. And don’t forget to watch The Pagan King.

Notes   [ + ]

1. One of my older sisters lived the last couple of years of her life in Kaunas, Lithuania, but that had nothing to do with Paganism although I believe her choice had a strong “karmic” element.

2 thoughts on “Book to Explore Paganism in Early Modern Lithuania

  1. “The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland – was a country and bi-federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th- to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 1,000,000 square kilometres (400,000 sq mi) and as of 1618 sustained a multi-ethnic population of almost 12 million. Polish and Latin were the two co-official languages.” (from Wikipedia)

    “Although Lithuania formally converted to Christianity between 1387 and 1413, according to some accounts the nation was not fully Christianized until the eighteenth century.”

    My maternal grandmother was born in a village outside of Vilnius. She spoke a Polish/Lithuanian/Belarussian dialect, but there were Belarussians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Russians and Poles in the Commonwealth as well.

    My maternal grandfather was a Belarussian and even after he emigrated to the US in 1912, he still practiced “the ancient ways”. This infuriated my grandmother who told him it was “blasphemy” to do that. I do not think what my grandfather was doing was an isolated incident in the area.

    A lot of people think that “dvoeverie or double faith” was a thing of the past. Not in Eastern Europe then, and certainly there is still that going on now, and I’m not referring just to the modern revival of paganism.

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