Europe’s Oldest Paganism

At Forging the Sampo, a link to a short documentary video on the revived Pagan religion of the Mari people of the former Soviet Union. (Wikipedia entry on Mari-El.)

Massive sacrificial feasts, accordions, sacred oaks and groves, priests in tall woolen hats, even a sort of Bigfoot reference — what’s not to like?

I have been reading chapters from a forthcoming book on revived Paganism in Central and Eastern Europe, which includes a chapter on the Mari by Boris Knorre, who writes,

Even during the Soviet times, within the isolated rural population of the Mari, certain elements remained well preserved: local and family prayers, reverence for the sacred grove, and similar “private” practices of the tradition. In the 1990s, some urban intellectuals among the Mari initiated an active process of restoration of the native faith. The conduct of these Pagan rituals extended the boundaries of family tradition into public space, and at this time public communal sacrifices and prayers reemerged. In the Republic of Mari El, there are six hundred holy groves (kusoto), of which the majority have been taken under the protection of the state.

I look forward to being able to promote the entire volume when it is published.

4 thoughts on “Europe’s Oldest Paganism

  1. Medeine Ragana

    As a Balto-Slav I too will be looking forward to seeing this book published! Might give me the information I need to continue to attempt to “reconstruct” all the rituals my grandfather was prohibited from passing down to his children and grandchildren by my fanatical Christian grandmother.

  2. Very cool! And I’m thrilled to know about Forging the Sampo too. But it does go to illustrate the eternal truth that even in the world’s oldest religion, there’s no getting away from the pot lucks.

  3. Denis

    — bragging mode on
    My maternal great-grandfather was a postal officer before the revolution in an area with a sizable Mari population. He was so friendly with them that they even allowed him to visit their holy site, keremetishche, which was otherwise forbidden for non-Maris.
    — bragging mode off

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