Slavic tattoos by Polish artists

With the growth of the interest by the Polish people themselves in learning more about our pre-Christian Slavic mythology and faith, we can also observe a growing trend in exploration of the Slavic themes in various forms of art.

In Poland that trend is persistent but remains quite subtle. It’s entering mostly the personal spaces but more and more often also the ‘commercial’ spheres. Take the success of ‘The Witcher’ franchise as an example, the game that is drawing so much from the rich Slavic folklore and mythology, or the ongoing short film project ‘Legendy Polskie’ with modern interpretations of Polish legends by Allegro (the biggest Polish online auction website) that featured the name of Perun and vivid Rodnovery symbolism in one of their most recent videos dedicated to Jaga (Baba Yaga – you can watch the video here, and don’t forget to turn on English subtitles).

What I want to show you today is connected to the personal spaces – more precisely the human bodies. It’s the revival of the almost-forgotten traditions meeting the modern ways of self-expression.

In the recent years many more of Polish tattoo artists are getting requests to create an artwork inspired by the Slavic faith or mythology. We can also see such fascinations across the other Slavic countries where popular Rodnovery symbols are being tattooed. In Poland what’s been popular recently is beautiful and unique portraits of the Slavic gods or demons – unique personal intepretations of their appearance by the tattoo artists.

Below you can see only some examples that recently caught my eye (the artists’ pages are sourced respectfully under each picture):

Slavic god Veles by artist Aleksandra Dobra

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Kashubian mythology: Slavic mythology from northern Poland

The Slavic mythology comes in many local subbranches: over the past centuries it was passed down and evolved in many different ways within the various corners of the lands inhabitated by the Slavic people. An excellent example of the local Slavic mythology can be found in northern Poland among the legends of the Kashubian people.

Kashubians (Kaszëbi in their own language, or Kaszubi in Polish) belong to the branch of the West Slavic people. Many of them still speak the Kashubian language that is closely related to Polish, and both those languages belong to the group of the Lechitic languages. Kashubians are sometimes referred to as the last group representing the Baltic Slavs (Slavic people along the shores of the Baltic Sea) or Pomeranian Slavs (Pomerania, also: Pomerelia, was a Latin name for the region called ‘Pòmòrskô’ in Kashubian and ‘Pomorze’ in Polish, both coming from Slavic ‘po-more’ meaning an area ‘by the sea’).

In the Kashubian legends many curious informations about old gods and mythological creatures survived over the centuries. The ethnographers interested in the Kashubian culture managed to gather materials about c. 32 gods and c. 93 spirits, demons and other mythological creatures in which the rural Kashubians still believed around the turn of 19th/20th centuries. Sadly, due to the historical conditions when the Kashubian culture faced erasure over the past centuries (it’s the only fully surviving dialect of the group of Pomeranian Slavic languages) some informations come without important details like the names – a lot of the mythological gods and creatures are only nameless shadows of the old lore. However, there are still many names that can be properly described.

There are both good and bad gods and spirits in the Kashubian mythology. Just like in the case of the other Slavic mythologies, the majority of gods are ‘good’ ones, favorable to the people, while the majority of the spirits represent the dangers lurking in the dark. What’s characteristic for the Kashubian mythology, there are a few unique characters in their lore which reflect the geographical conditions of the Kashubians as the people inhabitating a strip of land on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea and working as sailors or fishermen.

As always in the cases of ‘local’ mythology, some surviving names might’ve been distorted over the long centuries, some might’ve been influenced by the centuries of Christianity, or might represent a worship of Slavic lesser gods of only a local character, not known in the other parts of the Slavic lands. These kinds of details remain a mystery to be unveiled. Some of those names might already ring a bell for those of you who know them from the other Slavic langaugesin a different spelling  (with a strong focus on the spelling of names from the related Polish mythology).

What’s also important to mention for me as the writer trying to translate the informations for you, I must stress out here that some of the names don’t have a ‘standardized’ form in the Kashubian language (which itself has a few dialects), and some of the names I’ve found only in a Polish spelling. There’s still much to research even for me.

Not to prolong my introduction further (feel free to ask questions below), here I’m presenting you a list of a selection of figures from the Kashubian mythology. The list is randomized, and I tried to show here only those figures that can be described with at least a few words about their traits. Some names are illustrated by various Kashubian and Polish artists which I’ve found online (see the respective credits under each of the pictures).

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Holy Mother of Gromnice (Thunder Candles), or the Divine Mother with Wolves

If you haven’t heard of the gromnice (thunder candles) yet, please read this article first.


In the Polish rural beliefs and legends connected to the wintertime the Holy Mother is often described as a ‘Maiden protecting from wolves‘. She’s also taking care of these animals so that they don’t attack the human settlements.

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