From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
Belbog and Chernobog
The next divinities from the “God Graveyard" list are the Slavic divinities Belbog and Chernobog. They interest me because I have Slovenian (Bohjon) ancestry. I’ve been a bit intimidated in researching these divinities because I want to get it right. Unlike many other pantheons there are no firsthand accounts for this pantheon. There is no irrefutable evidence that the Slavs had any system of writing so all their beliefs and traditions were passed down orally. This creates or enables many individual characteristics within that belief system (a fancy way of saying that there are as many differences as similarities in the details of their belief system). While there are many archeological remains, there is no contextual understanding to be had. The only time anything was written down was by Christian missionaries who were not always interested in accuracy in depicted Pagan beliefs. Fragments of the old beliefs are found in folk customs, songs and tales. This is not to say that this pantheon is not still honored, for it is, but I imagine Slavic rely heavily upon similarities in other belief systems and on unsubstantiated personal knosis (aka UPG).
The existences of both of these deities, Belbog especially, are heavily contested. So let me tell you what I have found out about them and then offer an interesting possible conclusion that I stumbled across. Belbog and Chernobog are twins and, one could say, the mirror images of the other. One website stated that they were honored by the priestly class.
Belbog (Belobog, Bylabog, Belun, Div) is the god of life. His name literally translates to good, white or bright god. He is the god of light, law and order. He is the god of luck and happiness. He is considered to be the source of all that is good. Belbog was especially sought during the harvest time. Belbog is described as a long-bearded old man, carrying a staff and dressed in the traditional white robes of the Slavic culture. He only appeared during the daylight, aiding peasants in the field or lost travelers.
Chernobog (Chrnbog, Crnobog, Zlita Boga, Zernebog) is everything that his twin is not. He is described as the god of evil who the ancient Slavs honored as a type of insurance against his anger. He is the god of the night, darkness and ruler over the dead in the Underworld. He is the source of all negative emotions and activities: fear, sorrow, grief, cold, famine, poverty, illness, etc. His name means dark or black god. Chernobog is depicted as a brutal warrior in black who carries a magical spear. Ancient Slavs sacrificed horses and captives to him.
Belbog is sometimes described as the god of the waxing year and a companion of Dazbog, personifying sunshine, warmth and life. He is honored on the Summer Solistice (or July 6th) While Chernobog is described as the god of the waning year and is honored on the Winter Solstice (or January 6th). It is said that the brothers fight twice a year for control of the year, at every equinox. The tale is that the world was created by the brothers through a joint effort. During that process, the gods came into conflict causing the duality of day and night, summer and winter.
Toward the end of my research, I started finding references to Dazbog (Dabog, Dazhdbog) in association with the twins. He was discussed as if he had a split personality, something like the literary Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During the day he was benevolent, carrying the sun across the sky. At night he was malevolent as he carried the sun through the underworld. Some pages out right said that Dazbog and Belbog were the same divinity instead of just companions. Other pages included Chernobog in that association. Is this a late association or a forgotten one? It is hard to say but it does make sense in accordance with the movement of the sun: Belgog/day/summer/benevolent and Chernobog/night/winter/malovenent. If this is the case, it makes me wonder if the only time that Dazbog is “sane” or complete is during the between times: equinoxes, dusk and dawn.
What do you think? If you honor the Slavic pantheon, do you have anything to add?
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