Preface: this is my attempt to answer the recurring questions about resources on the topics of the Polish mythology and ‘paganism’ available in the English language – general informations about the Slavic Native Faith from the territories of Poland. Below you can see a list of books, articles, research papers, etc. that I stumbled across the internet and read online, and also books released in English that I saw being frequently recommended as a good source (those are sadly not that easily available here in Poland for me to verify their content but I saw them being mentioned in many trustworthy sites/by many trustworthy people and hope that they might be helpful for you). Below them, you can see a few basic informations about the modern native Polish (Slavic) movement (Rodnovery, in Polish: Rodzimowierstwo).
I tried to make a list of sources where you can read a bit about the pre-Christian Polish faith (a difficult topic about which most of the informations and resources were lost on the course of Poland’s complicated history), but also focused strongly on topics like the remnants of the ‘paganism’ in the Polish folklore and the related elements of archaeology and history of the early Poland. The list focuses naturally on Poland, which is the main topic of my blog and of my own research, but I included there also a few links to sources about the other related West Slavic peoples, including the extinct tribes of Polabians and Pomeranians who, theoretically speaking, were the closest relatives and neighbours to the early Polish tribes not only geographically but more importantly in the matter of the old pre-Christian beliefs. A bit of an irony: the extinct culture of theirs has nowadays much more of the original resources in the form of the informations written down in the medieval chronicles than the proto-Polish tribes. In a way, the original pre-Christian Polish beliefs are among the most mysterious historical ‘pagan’ religions in Europe simply due to the scarcity of the written historical records.
For a start, I want to leave here a link to the quite good article about the Slavic mythology on Wikipedia, which is a great starter point as it comes to the most important names and terms for those who just started discovering the topic.
I’d be also happy to see more recommendations from you in order to keep this list growing and up to date. Please leave a message in the contact form at the bottom of this page, or contact me via lamusdworski [at] gmail.com in case you know of a good resource that’s not listed below yet!
For the Polish resources check my other list: Źródła i polecane książki.
- Asala, Joanne: Polish Folklore and Myth
- Buko, Andrzej: The Archaeology of Early Medieval Poland. Discoveries – Hypotheses – Interpretations [edit: available here in pdf]
- Chrypinski, Anna: Polish Customs
- Czekanowska, Anna: Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage – Polish Tradition – Contemporary Trends
- Gimbutas, Marija: The Slavs
- Hodorowicz-Knab, Sophie: Polish Traditions, Customs, and Folklore
- Hodorowicz-Knab, Sophie: Polish Herbs, Flowers & Folk Medicine
- Ostling, Michael: Between the Devil and the Host. Imagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland
- Słupecki, Leszek Paweł: Slavonic Pagan Sanctuaries [edit: available here in pdf]
- Znayenko Myroslava: The Gods Of The Ancient Slavs [book focuses primarily the Eastern Slavic sources but describes also informations from old Polish chronicles, available here online]
research papers AVAILABLE ONLINE:
- Banaszkiewicz, Jacek: Slavonic Origines Regni. Hero the Law-Giver and Founder of Monarchy (Introductory Survey of Problems)
- Brzozowska-Krajka, Anna: Coexistence or Conflict? The Problem of Dual Belief in Polish Folklore
- Buko, Andrzej: Medieval archaeology in Poland
- Bylina, Stanisław: The Church and Folk Culture in Late Medieval Poland
- Czop, Dominika: Structure of the universe in the Norse and Slavic beliefs
- Dalewski, Zbigniew: The Public Dimension of Religion in the Piast Monarchy during the Christianisation Period
- Dynda, Jiří: The Three-Headed One at the Crossroad. A Comparative Study of the Slavic God Triglav [PDF]
- Gardeła , Leszek: Face Down: The Phenomenon of Prone Burial in Early Medieval Poland
- Gardeła , Leszek: Ludicity among the Slavs. Games and pastimes in early medieval Poland
- Gardeła , Leszek: Vampire Burials in Medieval Poland. An Overview of Past Controversies and Recent Reevaluations
- Gardeła , Leszek & Půlpánová-Reszczyńska, Agnieszka: Cult and Ritual in Polish Archaeology. Past Research and New Perspectives
- Gąssowski, Jerzy: Late Pagan and Early Christian Poland
- Gąssowski, Jerzy: The Early Slavs: Nation or Religion?
- Hensel, Witold: The cultural unity of the Slavs in the Early Middle Ages
- Hensel, Witold: How the statue of the Arkona Svantevit looked like
- Kajkowski, Kamil: The Boar in the symbolic and religious system of Baltic Slavs in the Early Middle Ages [PDF]
- Kajkowski, Kamil: The Dog in Pagan Beliefs of Early Medieval North-Western Slavs
- Kajkowski, Kamil: Islands as symbolic centres of the Early Medieval settlement patterns in Middle Pomerania (Northern Poland) [PDF]
- Kajkowski, Kamil: Nourishment for the Soul – Nourishment for the Body: Animal Remains in Early Medieval Pomeranian Cemeteries
- Kajkowski, Kamil: Ritual Dance among Western Slavs in Early Middle Ages
- Kajkowski, Kamil: The Role of Alcoholic Beverages in the Rites of the Baltic Slavs
- Kajkowski, Kamil: Slavic Journeys to the Otherworld. Remarks on the Eschatology of Early Medieval Pomeranians [PDF]
- Kajkowski, Kamil: The Symbolism and Ritual Significance of the Human Head Among the Pomeranians in the Early Middle Ages
- Kajkowski, Kamil & Szczepanik, Paweł: The multi-faced so-called miniature idols from the Baltic Sea area [PDF]
- Kloczowski, Jerzy: A History of Polish Christianity; section 3: Pagan Beliefs
- Kurasiński, Tomasz: Burials with Buckets in Early Medieval Poland: A Pagan or Christian Custom?
- Lehr, Urszula: The transcendental side of life. Aquatic demons in Polish folklore [PDF]
- Litwin, Jerzy: Early medieval Slavic boats (in: Medieval Baltic Ships – Traditions and constructional aspects)
- Lubecka, Anna: Polish ritual year – a reflection of Polish cultural policy [PDF]
- Michałowski, Roman: Christianisation of the Piast Monarchy in the 10th and 11th Centuries
- Piątkowski, Włodzimierz & Majchrowska, Anita: Health, illness and dying in Polish folk medicine [PDF]
- Piątkowski, Włodzimierz & Majchrowska, Anita: Unconventional therapists and their patients in Polish traditional folk medicine
- Pilaszek, Małgorzata: Witch-Hunts in Poland, 16th-18th Centuries
- Salmonowicz, Stanisław: Witchcraft Trials in Old Poland
- Samsonowicz, Henryk: The Origin of Poland, or Images of Our Own Beginnings
- Sielicki, Stanisław: Saxo Grammaticus on Slavic Pre-Christian Religion (a new translation of the relevant fragments)
- Slevinski Sarah: Toward a Theory of Pre-industrial European Folk Ritual: The Case of Polish Wigilia [PDF]
- Słupecki, Leszek Paweł: The Krakus’ and Wanda’s Burial Mounds of Cracow [PDF]
- Szczepanik, Paweł: Masks in the culture of pagan Western Slavs: a ritual-ceremonial attribute or a religious fetish?
- Szczepanik, Paweł & Wadyl, Sławomir: A comparative analysis of early medieval North-West Slavonic and West Baltic sacred landscapes: an introduction to the roblems
- Trkanjec, Luka: Chthonic aspects of the Pomeranian deity Triglav and other tricephalic characters in Slavic mythology [PDF]
- Tymowski, Michał: Tribal Organizations in Pre-State Poland (9th and 10th Centuries) in the Light of Anthropological Theories of Segmentary System and Chiefdom
- Wawrzeniuk Joanna: Slavic protective magic in the early Middle Ages on Polish territories
- Wawrzeniuk Joanna: The Specificity of Slavic Folks Beliefs
- Wenska, Izabella: Sacrifices among the Slavs. Between archaeological evidence and 19th century folklore [PDF]
- Wijaczka, Jacek: Men Standing Trial for Witchcraft at the Łobżenica Court in the Second Half of the 17th Century
- Wiślicz, Tomasz: The Township of Kleczew and Its Neighbourhood Fighting the Devil (1624-1700) [topic: witch hunt]
- Wojciechowska Beata: The Remembrance of the Deceased in the Traditional Polish Culture of the Middle Ages [PDF]
- Zaroff, Roman: The Origins of Sventovit of Rügen [PDF]
articles ON VARIOUS POLISH WEBSITES:
- Traditional design of the Lublin region – popular motifs [an article prepared by organization Warsztaty Kultury for a project ‘Patterns of Europe’, available on the project’s website]
- Gliński, Mikołaj : What Is Known About Slavic Mythology [article on culture.pl]
- Gliński, Mikołaj : Polish Vampires: Bloody Truth behind Dark Myth [article on culture.pl]
- Kępa, Marek : Slavic Daemons: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly [article on culture.pl]
- Kępa, Marek : Kupala Night ‒ Mixing Pagan and Christian Traditions [article on culture.pl]
- Kępa, Marek : The Polish Halloween: All You Need to Know about Dziady [article on culture.pl]
- Kępa, Marek : The Daily Diet of Proto-Polish Slavic Tribes [article on culture.pl]
- Lech, Filip : Slavs Are Us [article on culture.pl]
- Warnke, Agnieszka : 9 Slavic Rituals & Customs of Ye Olden Days [article on culture.pl]
(to be supplemented…)
For general images of the clothing, jewellery, weapons, strongholds, etc. of the medieval West Slavic tribes (Poland and the related tribes and kingdoms located in the territory of the modern-day Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany) I invite you to my gallery west-slavs.tumblr.com where I try to collect various links and references (normally rather scattered around the internet).
POLISH NEOPAGANISM NOWADAYS
For the people who hear about it for the first time, I recommend to start by checking out the quite comprehensive article about the Slavic Neopaganism on Wikipedia which describes in short the roots and the modern approach to it in the various Slavic countries, and another one that describes the organization called Rodzimy Kościół Polski (Native Polish Church), one of a few officially registered Native religious organizations in Poland (sadly, I haven’t found any good articles in English about the other registered organizations yet).
The term used for the Slavic Natie Faith in the English language is usually Rodnovery (coming from the Russian language, where the movement is the largest in numbers), and the Polish term for it is Rodzimowierstwo or Rodzima Wiara, all meaning the ‘Native Faith’. The believers / practitioners are called Rodzimowiercy in Polish (Rodnovers in English, coming also from the term for it in the Russian language). The term Rodnovery / Rodzimowierstwo is used only to describe the modern Slavic ‘neopagan’ movement, and never in the context of the historical Slavic Faith (however some exceptions I don’t know of might be used around).
Currently, there aren’t many informations about the modern Polish neopagan movements and organization available in the English language for reading. Below’s what I managed to find (plus a few links to my old answers about that topic and to some Polish videos to watch).
- article published by Krakow Post in 2013 (quite dated but still applies today): ‘Resurgence of Pre-Christian Beliefs in Poland‘
- 2016 article ‘Paganism in Poland‘ that mentions Rodnovery among other neopagan movements, published on Wild Hunt website
- the statement of the organization Rodzima Wiara (Polish Native Faith) on the ECER (European Congress of Ethnic Religions) website
- Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson: Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe — book including chapters and sections dedicated to the case in Poland [preview available on google books]
- Scott Simpson: Strategies for Constructing Religious Practice in Polish Rodzimowierstwo
- Scott Simpson: Men Constructing Masculinity in Polish Rodzimowierstwo: Tradition and Nature
(to be supplemented…)
My old replies (FAQ):
- ‘What are the problems currently facing Rodnovery in Poland? What are the positive things?‘
- ‘Do you need to be 100% Slavic to practice Rodnovery?‘
What should you avoid
when researching the Slavic Native Faith in general:
- ‘Book of Veles’ is highly controversial in the terms of authenticity
- books by author Dmitriy Kushnir, who represents a New Age kind of approach, with too many unverified informations mixed with various non-Slavic (e.g. ethnic Asian) beliefs. His personal worldview and thesis in his books are also dangerously racist.
Videos to watch / to listen to:
A video promoting a project ‘Rodzimowiercy na swoim’ aiming to build the first Rodnovery temple on the Polish lands (+ read their statement ‘A Place to Call Home’ on the ECER website):
A video promoting a project ‘Rodzimowiercy na swoim’ aiming to build the first Rodnovery temple on the Polish lands (+ read their statement ‘A Place to Call Home’ on the ECER website)
(Video in Polish) An invitation to ‘Stado’ festival organized in Owidz, Poland. You can see there some Slavic games and ways of celebrations.
(Video in Polish) An attempt of 3d reconstruction of Svetovid’s temple in Arkona. You can see there how a Slavic temple might’ve looked like.
Interesting podcast in English about the major Slavic gods and goddesses, describing also what were the main problems with reconstruction of the pantheon and how did some of the traditions survive within the common culture and folklore.
Published: February 2017
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