The Church of the Divine Earth

Romuva - A History - 02

The Lithuanian Indigenous Religion formed from the Baltic convergence of the Old European chthonic and the Indo-European heavenly religions. This union occurred on the shores of the Baltic Sea and is uniquely Baltic.

The Baltic languages include Old Prussian, Lithuanian, Lettish (Latvian), Curonian, Semigallian and Selian. The Old Prussian language disappeared around 1700 due to German colonization and Curonian, Semigallian and Selian became assimilated into the Lithuanian and Latvian language groups between 1400 and 1600.

Thus, Lithuanian and Latvian (and their respective dialects) remain as the last living languages of the Baltic family. This language family was also know as Aistian, since the Roman historian Tacitus described the peoples living on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea as the gentes Aestiorum or Aestii (people of the East) in 98 A.D.

The Balts are exceptional among Indo-European groups in that they have maintained their language, folklore, pagan beliefs and customs in a remarkable pure state for so long. A deliberate effort to convert the native population to Christianity was begun only after Grand Prince Jogaila accepted baptism in 1396, together with the royal crown of Poland. But for a long time the new religions retained only a superficial hold on the population, which remained "stubbornly pagan" in some regions even to this century.

Romuva is the name of the most important sanctuary of the Prussians, which was destroyed by crusaders in the XIII century. The symbol of Romuva is a stylized sacred oak tree with three pairs of branches, topped by a sacred flame. Underneath, the word romove ( a cognate of Romuva, meaning a group of people who would worship at the ancient Baltic sanctuary Romuva) is written in runic letters.

The Baltic faith does not negate other religions and Gods, but emphasizes the sacredness of nature first and foremost. The core of the faith is harmony (Darna). First, darna aspires to inner harmony: people at peace with themselves. Second, it endeavours to create harmony at home and in the community. Third, it pursues harmony with the ancestors. Finally, it quests for harmony with the universe, i.e. with life and with the divinities.

The fundamental of the Baltic faith is the morality known as Dora. Romuva resurrects the traditions of respecting Nature: Planting trees, maintaining natural historical landmarks called piliakalniai, alkai, etc. It restores natural sanctuaries and ignites sacred fires during rituals. Romuva organizes summer camps and other activities and co-operates closely with the Latvian Church Dievturiba and other pagan movements. Romuva is interested in contacts with persons and organizations with similar ideas and activities.