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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Art of My Ancestors

Here's something you don't see everyday.

Svarog (similar to Jupiter)

I stumbled across this link to an article showcasing paintings of Slavic pagan gods and mythology by a fairly reknowned Russian artist named Boris Olshansky.

As someone who is of Slavic ancestry (Serbian on mom's side, Russian on my dad's side), I was particularly pleased about the content of these paintings. It was only within the last two years or so that I discovered Slavic paganism and have begun to learn about it as I go along. Due to its proximity, elements of Nordic and Greco-Roman religions left their mark on Slavic paganism with each of the respective religions' pantheons sharing deities of similar rank and characteristics.

Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom (mythology)

While I had some passing familiarity with Slavic mythology from my late grandmother, I was largely ignorant of my ancestors pre-Christian culture. I suppose, however, that was not deliberate. Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to my peoples and that led to the suppression of the old pagan ways (though not entirely, as some contemporary Christian customs still retain pagan origins like Serbian badnjace (oak Yule logs) and vencici (grass wreaths woven at Pentecost)). With suppression comes ignorance, and I honestly believe my family didn't know the old ways better because that sort of information wasn't available to them. Also, the stigma surrounding pagan beliefs would have prevented them from sharing what they knew as well.

While I am a Catholic, I feel like I would be doing myself a huge disservice if I didn't take the time to become familiar with my ancestors' pagan past. I have no intention of becoming a pagan, but it is important for me to know this part of my ancestral past. After all, you cannot know yourself unless you know where you've come from.

Latter-day interpretation of Jesus and the Moneychangers

All artwork on this entry is by Boris Olshansky and is from this link.

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