Rus Articles Journal

What was symbolized by water for our ancestors? Part 2

Ancient farmers prayed that the rain went and that it did not go, depending on a season, from this or that stage of an agricultural cycle.

at the beginning of May bread, and from the middle of May ascends, in the first half of June Slavs asked the highest forces about sending of rains. But as the normal growth of bread required alternation of dry and rainy weather, ancestors were able to allocate separate stages in this period. On one of calendars they are designated by vertical wavy lines. Regarding a calendar, the corresponding last third of July, these lines leave under the earth, turning into horizontal - there comes the time of prayer for dry weather. Harvesting is necessary, and rains can ruin results of all previous work.

How ancient these calendars, so both practical knowledge, and beliefs, in them reflected? Scientists managed to restore calendars of 2 - 5 centuries AD. with exact designations of stages of agrarian year. Sanctuaries in which found these artifacts is much more ancient.

On ancient calendars various symbols of water are distributed far not in a random way. Slavs (and the praslavena) were excellent farmers and precisely knew when it is necessary to pray for this or that natural phenomenon if you wish to receive a good harvest. On ancient calendars to within days approach of each significant stage in a year cycle of agricultural works was noted. Except prayers, these major stages were marked by ritual holidays. It is obvious that their greatest number falls on the summer period. In many of them the importance of water is anyway emphasized.

Perhaps, the best-known of summer festivals - Kupalskiye. It is the big subject deserving separate conversation until we are limited to a mention of large number of the kupalsky ceremonies connected with elements of fire and water.

The considerable part of ritual action was made on coast of reservoirs, including ritual of bathing in the dew irrigating the earing crops. It is possible also that our ancestors traced communication of dew with heavenly water, dew - water special, unusual, appearing without rain as if from nowhere. To alloy on the running water wreaths too not “just beautiful custom“. In ancient ceremonies there is nothing casual at all, each action is extremely concrete, filled with practical sense. But today it is necessary to understand this sense, to consider them not from the present “educated“ point of view, and from a carrier position of “archaic culture“ - in this case, the farmer who is down on to the natural environment.

Alloyage of wreaths was conjectural practice (conjectural ceremonies are characteristic of paganism in general and the Russian paganism in particular). But the wreaths which are started up on water are both the victim, and the message to otherworldly forces, and the magic act of linkng of plants with water, transfers to it (and to people) life-giving power of water. A culmination point of festival - drowning of an effigy of Kupala. Most likely, the effigy was the symbolical deputy of the human sacrifice made in the ancient time. To people of agrarian culture such victim, obviously, could not seem excessive. Too they depended on weather not to find it possible to offer certain people for the sake of a tribe survival.

Water along with fire was considered and as the clearing beginning. This its magic function (as well as ideas of its life-giving force) naturally follows from the nature of water, from ways of its daily use. At last, water was allocated with function of a delimiter of the worlds. Ceremonies of an agricultural cycle were carried out on coast of reservoirs, that is on border of the elements, major for the farmer, - lands and waters. Echoes of this perception of water can be tracked in fairy tales, let and in a camouflage, not obvious form. The athlete crosses the river then engages with “by a hostile force dark“, the kidnapped heroine is dragged off “for the seas“ - in all similar cases the myth which generated the fairy tale means the other world, the world of the dead. By the way, why water sources, keys were esteemed sacred? Just because water comes from underground sources, as well as heavenly water, from other world.

Generally to approach understanding of our far ancestors, their culture and beliefs, it is necessary to try to look at familiar things from a position of those people, to see a situation eyes of the primitive, in fact, farmer. It is obvious that “primitive“ and “primitive“ - only the terms which became habitual in this context. Certainly, it is not necessary to put any pejorative sense in them. These are just characteristics of attitude of people of antiquity which “primitiveness“ - only a consequence of backwardness of scientific knowledge substitutions by their religious representations.

However behind these representations the profound empirical knowledge and understanding of natural processes lies. And knowledge it, unlike ours, in large part abstract, - absolutely live, inseparable from practical experience and realities of life. People of that old era, unlike us, felt as harmonious part of the world what is clearly reflected, for example, in the ancient artifacts which reached us... But it is a subject of separate conversation.