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Romuva is a
Baltic Pagan organization, reviving the religious practices of
the Lithuanian people before their Christianization. Romuva is a
folk religion community that claims to continue living Baltic Pagan
traditions which survived in folklore and customs.
adherents of Romuva all over the world, but the religion
primarily exists in Lithuania and the former Eastern Bloc
nations. Lithuanian ancestry is not a prerequisite to acceptance
by the Romuva religious community. Practicing the Romuva faith is
seen by many adherents as a form of cultural pride, along with
celebrating traditional forms of art, retelling Baltic folklore, practicing
traditional holidays, playing traditional Baltic
music, singing traditional dainas or hymns and songs as
well as ecological activism and stewarding sacred places.
Neregeta, Litwa (Neregeta,
The terms Romuva,
Romovė and Ruomuva came from medieval written
sources in East Prussia mentioning the Pagan Baltic temple Romowe.
The word may be derived from the Baltic root ram-/rām-,
meaning 'calm, serene, quiet', stemming from the
The Annals of
Quedlinburg mention a missionary Bruno of Querfurt, who was
killed along with 18 men by Yotvingians for violating The Holy
Forest and destroying statues of gods. This was the first time
Lithuania was mentioned in written sources. Lithuanians came to
history as very conservative representatives of ancient European Paganism. They preserved traditional religion until the 14th and
15th centuries as official state religion. They were the last
non-nomadic people in Europe practicing pristine Indo-European
In the 13th
century the pope Gregory IX declared crusades against Baltic
tribes. This led to the destruction of the Baltic faith. Grand
Duke Mindaugas was Christianized with his family and warriors in
1251 to get appreciation from Christian Europe. But Mindaugas
still worshiped Pagan deities as the Hypatian chronicle mentions.
He sacrificed to the Pagan Supreme God (*Andajus, later Dievas),
Perkūnas, *Teliavelis (god of smiths), and *Žvorūna
(goddess of forests and hunters).
baptism of Mindaugas, the whole of ethnic Lithuania was not
Christianized, so the crusades were not stopped. In 1387 the
whole of Aukštaitija was Christianized by Grand Duke Vytautas
and his cousin Jogaila. The old Pagan priests estate was
annihilated along with archaic Pagan Baltic culture. The same was
done in 1417 in Samogitia. After the Christianization of
Lithuania the real purpose of the Christian Teutonic order was
revealed. The Order was fighting against the Balts not to bring a
new faith, but to conquer new territories. Another consequence of
the Baltic Crusades was the extermination of Pagan Old Prussians.
Valerijonas Protasevičius invited the Jesuit order to
'fight' with idolaters. This was the last step to destroy the
ancient Baltic faith. Despite this Lithuanian peasants continued
to practice Paganism until the 18th century. Later Pagan traditions were adopted by the Christian church, old deities were
replaced by sainthood, but many elements of old religion, even
some cults had been preserved till the XXth century.
Litwa (Neregeta, Lietuva)
The Romantic epoch
started in the 19th century. This led Lithuanians to turn back to
their old roots. The national revival started and Lithuanian
intelligentsia idealized ancient Paganism and folklore. Some
historians wanted to prove the beauty of ancient polytheism and
even started creating new aspects of Lithuanian mythology. One of
the most famous of these was Theodor Narbutt who edited Ancient
Greek myths and created new Lithuanian ones. In the beginning of
20th century ancient Pagan traditions were still continued in
folklore and customs. People were celebrating ancient Pagan festivals mixed with Christian traditions. Such festivals include
Vėlinės (day of death souls, common with Celtic
Halloween), Užgavėnės (festival when winter ends and
spring begins. People in Samogitia burn an idol called Morė
(and wear masks) and Rasos or Joninės.
In 1900 Vydūnas
conceived Romuva in his drama 'Amžina ugnis' (The Eternal Fire).
Since the play was performed in 1912, Romuva has become a symbol
of Lithuanian (Pagan) nationalism. Domas Šidlauskas-Visuomis
(1878-1944) began to create Vaidevutybė (Baltic Paganism) in
1911. At the same time the Latvian folk religion movement
Dievturi was started by E.Brastinis. The main problem was that
the first movements were based on limited folklore sources and
influenced by Far Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and
Buddhism. Even so, the idea of Romuva didn't die during the
Soviet occupation of Lithuania.
suppression of Romuva
Pagan movement was stopped by Soviet occupation in 1940. The
Soviet Union forcefully annexed Lithuania in 1940 and renamed it
the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.
death the cultural life became more free. Due to the nationalist
nature of Romuva, the faith was suppressed during the Soviet
Occupation and many practitioners were executed or deported to
slave labor camps in Siberia. A clandestine Romuva group is known
to have existed within a labor camp in Inta, Russia. After the
members were released and returned to Lithuania around 1960,
Jonas Trinkūnas (born 1939) formed the Vilnius Ethnological
Ramuva and began organizing public celebrations of traditional
Lithuanian religious holidays in 1967 (the ancient Lithuanian
festival Rasos was made). In 1971 the Soviets expelled the
members from the university they attended and exiled the leaders.
During the Cold War most organized Romuva activity was largely
based in North America. However, by 1988 when the power of the
Soviet Union was waning and Lithuanian independence was on the
horizon, Romuva groups began reorganizing in the Baltic nations
and practicing their religion in the open.
Litwa (Neregeta, Lietuva)
recorded as an Ancient Baltic faith community in 1992 after
independence in 1990. Under the auspices of the Law on
Religious Communities and Associations which was passed in
Lithuania in 1995, Romuva gained recognition as a
"non-traditional" religion. Lithuanian law requires a
minimum of 25 years of existence before such a religion can
receive the state support reserved for "traditional"
religions. Romuvans argue against this, claiming that Romuva
dates back even farther than Christianity, not only in Lithuania
but in the world in general.
Litwa (Neregeta, Lietuva)
is a polytheistic Pagan faith which asserts the sanctity of
nature as well as the practice of ancestor veneration. Adherents
of Romuva believe that the souls of those who die continue to
exist in the afterlife and stay with the living family and
descendants, prior to reincarnation. Confession is based on
preserved Lithuanian Pagan customs and archaic pre-Christian
kriwi Jonas Trinkūnas at 2009 feast of ancient martial arts Apuolė
Romuva feasts are
based on traditional archaic Lithuanian customs preserved in authentic
form, folklore. All these feasts are based on rhythms
of nature and containing ancient agrarian rituals. Year is a
circle marked by two sun solstices and two equinoxes and in such
way divided into 4 periods. During these periods intermediate
feasts are celebrated.
(celebrated in January) is change of nature (cosmos) in
winter. All the hibernating creatures wake up and declare
about possible climatic conditions. Grass-snake is important
mythological creature which crawls on festive table and
hallows food. This means a good yield and luck coming new
year. Romuva officiates rites to thank Gods and dances
traditional grass-snake dance preserved in folklore.
February Romuva celebrates The day of Gabija (family and
household goddess), The day of Perkūnas (Thunder-god), Užgavėnės
and The day of Pilėnai.
is one of the most ancient Lithuanian folk feasts celebrated
since prehistoric times containing worship of totem animals and
of festive fat food and masquerade
of feminine or masculine kind of idol symbolizing bad winter
of two spirits Lašininis and Kanapinis symbolizing fight of
winter and spring. Kanapinis always wins.
of funeral and wedding.
folk magic practices
mythological figures in Užgavėnės are Bear, Heron,
mythical deities and spirits of underworld or connected with
death and spells: Ragana and Velnias (deities of underworld),
witches, demons, animals-spirits, ethnic minorities symbolizing
strangers from the other side.
The day of Pilėnai
symbolizes old Lithuanian faith against Christianity and
March Spring equinox is celebrated.
April Jorė is celebrated. Jore is festival of spring
Thundergod Perkūnas who awakes nature and fertility.
May Milda festival is celebrated. Milda is probably in 19th
century invented Lithuanian love goddess, anyway traditional
may feasts are connected with love, delight and youth. In
villages Gegužines are celebrated during the whole month.
Important mythological creature during May feasts and Milda is
Cuckoo. She is zoomorphic shape or symbol of Laima, goddess of
birth and destiny. She is one of the most important deities in
Lithuanian folklore, similar to ancient Greek Ananke
(mythology) and moirae when Laima appears in trinity.
June Summer solstice (Rasos, Kupolinės) is celebrated.
July The day of Mindaugas crown is celebrated.
August Žolinė (The day of Grass) is celebrated. This
feast was adopted in Christianity and marked as Mary
assumption. In Lithuanian tradition Žolinė was the day
of natural vegetation and Mother Earth - Žemyna.
September the autumn equinox and The day of Perkūnas is
celebrated. In Lithuania the autumn equinox is marked as day
of Baltic solidarity.
October the day of Krivis (Lithuanian Pagan supreme priest) is
November the Day of all souls is celebrated. Its ancient
Lithuanian winter feast containing worship of the ancestors'
December Kūčios and Kalėdos is celebrated, also
The day of Praamžius (God Of The Beginning) during the winter
Litwa (Neregeta, Lietuva)
The Baltic aukuras
or "fire altar" is a stone altar in which a fire is
ritually lit. Participants wash their hands and face before
approaching the aukuras, and then they sing dainas or ritual
hymns as the fire is lit. Food, drink, grasses and flowers are
offered to the flame as the group sings the dainas. After the
primary offering, participants offer their own verbal or silent
contributions which are carried to the Gods and ancestors with
the smoke and sparks of the flame. See also Rig Veda hymns to the
Most of ritual
hymns are preserved in Lithuanian folk tradition as folk calendar
ritual songs also Romuva reconstructed some hymns for rites of
gods worship. Reconstruction is based on ritual texts found in
written sources, like Matthäus Prätorius and traditional
archaic folk melodies. Some hymns of gods worship survived in
The Baltic aukuras or "fire altar"
Litwa (Neregeta, Lietuva)
This was originally planned to be rebuilt
on Birutė hill in Palanga but was not agreed by the mayor of
Palanga. Instead, it was built on a hill near Šventoji which also has
11 sculptures of Pagan Gods. There are four main festivals in a year:
23 – Vernal equinox
22 – Summer solstice
21 – Autumnal equinox
20 – Winter solstice
Jore Svente 2011