Lithuania religion

Lithuania Religion and Belief

Before their conversion to Christianity (14th century) the Lithuanians followed a naturist religion like that of all the Aryan peoples. The German and Polish missionaries who evangelized the people give us summary information of this religion: and many elements are drawn from narrative folklore, through which many data of Lithuanian mythology are reconstructed; which – in comparison with the Slavic one – has less developed the anthropomorphic element and therefore presents itself with characters of greater archaism.

At the top of the pantheon is Perk ū nas (v.), A true celestial Being, conceived under the meteorological aspect, that is, as a provocateur of thunder and lightning. He is given the epithets proper to the Supreme Being: father (t ė vas), ancestor (bo č ius), eternal (praam ž ius), tall (auk š tasis), donor (duojotas). Fire is the element that represents it in a particular way and therefore it is sometimes also called kuras (matter to be burned) in the sense of dispenser, of fire. He is depicted as a mature man, with flames on his head, a pale bearded face, curly and flowing hair.

Next to him there are two other divinities, Trimpas and Pikulis, to constitute a triad, without however giving this association a theological-philosophical meaning.

Trimpas (or Patrimpas) is the god of fecundity, especially of vegetation and livestock, to whom springs and rivers are therefore in special care. He is depicted as a young man, with a crown on his head and a horn of plenty in his hand, from which spikes come out. The snake (ž altis) is sacred to him, an animal also revered by Latvians and Estonians, which was kept in a large container and fed with milk. Trimpas was also known under the name of Iurgis, today precisely of St. George, a saint venerated throughout Christian Lithuania.

Pikulis (or Piklus) is instead an evil deity to whom all the evil that happens in the world is attributed. He is depicted as an old man with a dark face and an unkempt beard, with his head wrapped in a cloth; called by the people with fearful epithets. For Lithuania religion, please check

Below these the astral divinities were venerated: sun, moon, stars; the animistic deities of earth and trees now remained in folklore under the name of v ė l ė s ; the deities of good or bad destiny, respectively Laim ė and Laum ė ; the Fates (Indieves).

The priesthood had a leader (krivukrivaitis) who on solemn days interpreted the will of the gods to the people; the cult was essentially reduced to the adoration of fire, which was provided by a host of girls (vaidelut ė s), and to the veneration of sacred trees.

The places of worship were open enclosures within which was the sacred oak, an altar with perennial fire, nine meters high; the simulacra of the triad and an altar for sacrifices. The most important of these sanctuaries, almost the national center of all the Baltic peoples, was located in Romuva (East Prussia) and was destroyed in 1254.

Four main feasts marked the Lithuanian weekday: 1st the spring festival, originally dedicated to Trimpas, then to Perkūnas, a feast of propitiation for the coming harvest, in which the king drank from the horn filled with mead; 2 ° the feast of the crowns, which fell on the summer solstice and lasted 14 days, with preliminary purifications in the rivers, apotropaic rites against the evil influences of witches, etc .; 3 ° the harvest festival with grain offering and libations of mead to Perkūnas as giver of the harvest; 4 ° the feast of the dead, in autumn, of an expiatory character, with prayers and confession of sins, and funerary, with an offering to the dead of cakes, butter and mead on a laid table.

The belief in the future life was always deeply rooted among the Lithuanians, as evidenced by the care for the tombs and the rites with which they accompanied the passing away: funeral banquets, lamentations (raudos), use of steles, transformed by Christianity into crosses and tabernacles made of wood (see above: Folklore).

Lithuania religion

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