Veles is the Slavic god of nature, associated with dragons, wolves, cattle, magic, musicians, wealth, and trickery. Merchants often sealed their agreements by swearing upon his name, and legal documents sometimes concluded with oaths to him (oath breakers were believed to be punished with disease). He is also the opponent of thunder-god Perun, and the battle between two of them constitutes one of the most important myths of Slavic mythology.
Veles is sad to be serpentine, with horns, and a long beard. However, the Slavs initially believed that Veles exclusively appears in the shape of a bear even though he is able to transform into various other animals that he protects. The image of Veles as a bear might have come from the Slav belief that the Bear is the king of the forest that protects and takes care of all other animals, plants and the forest itself. In later scriptures, like almost all major gods, Veles became a demon, lost his primary functions and was associated with the devil and the underworld, most likely due to his human form that looked like a strong, young man with horns.
Ancient Slavs viewed their world as a huge tree, with the treetop and branches representing the heavenly abode of gods and the world of mortals, whilst the roots represented the underworld. And while Perun, seen as a hawk or eagle sitting on a tallest branch of tree, was believed to be ruler of heaven and living world, Veles, seen as a huge serpent coiling around the roots, was ruling the world of dead. Veles regularly sent spirits of the dead into the living world as his heralds.
Festivals in honour of him were held near the end of the year, in winter, when time was coming to the very end of world order, chaos was growing stronger, the borders between worlds of living and dead were fading, and ancestral spirits would return amongst the living. This was the ancient pagan celebration of Velja Noć (Great Night), the relic of which still persists amongst many Slavic countries in folk customs of Koleda. Young men, known as koledari or vučari would dress long coats of sheep’s wool and grotesque masks, roaming around villages in groups and raising noise. They sang songs saying they travelled a long way, and they are all wet and muddy, an allusion of the wet underworld of Veles from which they came as ghosts of dead. The master of any house they visited would welcome them warmly and presented them with gifts. This is an example of Slavic shamanism, which also indicates Veles was a god of magic and wealth. The gifts given to koledari were probably believed to be passed onto him (which makes him very much like a dragon hoarding treasure), thus ensuring good fortune and wealth for the house and family through entire year.
Very accurate, just the picture on the top is questionable (for me). I’m in love with this.
Ok, thanks for the info! Great text, love it. :) Also, the text was in our queue so I didn’t reblog it today.
If you worship a deity, you might find yourself wondering about offerings. What kind of offerings does [deity] like? How often should I make offerings? Do I leave it on my altar? For how long? Wait, so I need an altar?
What is an offering?
An offering is something you give…