Slavic Heathen Revival
EASTERN SLAVIC RECLAMATION OF INDO-ARYAN HEATHEN TRADITIONS & FAITH
Ancient Russian Yngling Church
of Orthodox Old Believers:
Ynglings was founded in Omsk, Western Siberia. This movement was variously classified as a branch of Rodnoveriye, but often not recognized as such by mainstream Rodnover groups. The members of the movement call themselves Pravoslavs (Orthodox Christian in Russian), but maintain that the word is older than Christianity and originally referred to Russian who honored (slavit`) the truth (Pravda). Thanks to the efforts of Alexander Khinevich (b. in 1961), their charismatic leader—the Ancient Russian Yngling Church of Orthodox Old Believers-Ynglings, which has been known since the 1980s, was registered in Omsk in 1992, (In 2004 the church lost its official status, and in 2009 Aleksandr Khinevich and all the Ynglings groups were prosecuted at the Omsk court on charge of religious extremism (in particular, the use of the label “Slavic Indo-Aryan” and of the gammadion-like symbol Kolovrat) and the religion was temporarily banned. In 2011 the judges decided the dismissal of the charges. Although in 2004 it lost the official status of registered religious community, it has communities throughout Russia and professes massive selling of books and video material) although Ynglings themselves assert that their church has existed since time immemorial and was the first religion of the indigenous inhabitants and the “wise holy ancestors” of the Russian peoples. Ynglings teach that “Yngly” (Ynglia) is the primordial fiery force from which the universe is arisen. It is accurate to speak of Ynglings as a “new” religion or modern Heathen religion, even though the content of the religion is derived from very old sources. <http://derzhavarus.ru/ingliizm-vera-slavyan-ariev.html>
Alexander Khinevich (also known as Alexander, AY Khinevich, Pater Dii (Патер Дий), and Pater Dii Aleksandr Hinevich) did not get a systematic education but he was able to articulate the ideas of ancient religions, occultism and synthesize a wide array of historical, archaeological, and philosophical sources. Khinevich recognizes paranormal wisdoms and provides consulting services. His followers acknowledge Alexander Khinevich’s incredible ability to read peoples’ spiritual potential and guide them in empowering such. Among the adepts of his teaching is a scholar and well-known Ynglings writer Aleksei Trehlebov, who states that the tradition of Slavs gives three postulates for distinguishing truth: word (Slovo), Vedas (Vedy) and experience (opyt).
The community’s activity is financed by parishioners, sponsors, contributions and its own commercial organizations. Two of these—“Asgard” and “Iriy”—are involved in building and consulting. Teenagers and young people, especially under- and post-graduate students, are predominant among Omsk Ynglings. They are attracted with ancient rituals and special spiritual atmosphere. Their ethnocentric interest accompanied also by deep skepticism towards Christianity, which is perceived as not only culturally alien but dangerous. They choose names for themselves that they ethnically traditional and ascetically pleasing among like-minded persons. They are modern people with a great reverence for the spirituality of the past, making a new religion from the remnants of the old, which they interpret, adapt, and modify according to modern ways of thinking.
Stanislav (a Heathen): “If people come here for whatever reasons, that means the teaching has become attractive to them. Many say that it would be better if this hadn’t happened, that sectarians come. The truth is that we have a full cross-section of society here, from immature youth to bureaucrats, businessmen and military personnel. Normal, harmonious mutual relationships are being created.”
In point of view of the Ynglings, the most detailed, original doctrine was preserved by Slavs and the Iranians. Vedic Ariies mixed with the Dravidians that caused the doctrine’s misinterpretation (so Dravidic Ariies Asuru are considered not as blami but as corrupt spirits). According to Aleksander Khinevich, Ynglings respect sacred books of all religions, but the most important are considered the ancient Russian Vedic scriptures (Book of Veles, Perun book, Russian Vedas, etc.). Ynglings present them as an unquestionable historical source of Slavic antiquity, as well as books of prayers and hymns to ancient gods that could be “put into practice.” According to Ynglings, these books were written in a sacral “daar” language, which Khinevich is fluent in. Such texts (for example Slavyano-Ariyskie Vedy) are far from being marginal, as several hundred thousand copies are published, thus representing the basis for a certain kind of popular knowledge of ancient history. Besides the Vedas, Ynglings teach their adherents for example, “Arriiskaya arifmetika“ and ancient Slavic grammar. Khinevich dedicates himself to a scholarly study of the ancient text, folklore, archeology, and language, which is believed to contain reliable information about the past of Ynglings community.
The situation that has arisen in Omsk region among Ynglings presents an interesting example of the process of the “reclamation of a tradition” and the birth of a “resurgent mythology.” For Ynglings, the older the evidence is that gives information about their community of the past, the better. There is a deep historical connection to an original civilization or cultural complex that was a homeland of their ancestors and hence their Heathen religion as well. Thus, Ynglings characterize the territory of Omsk-Oblast as the cradle of the ancient super-civilization Arctiid, where the salvation of all of the spirit begins. The global and even cosmic aspect of this myth are perceived as having been in operation here for hundreds of millennia, and on a cosmic scale. There is the notion that in ancient times a scientific-spiritual Indo-Aryan center called Asgard the Great existed in the area of Omsk, while around 100,000-years-ago at the Okunevo site (in Omsk-Oblast) there was an Indo-Aryan palace (Vimanu) in the form of a temple, at the top of which a crystal-gem was installed, “intended to be used for holography,” through which the Indo-Aryans “imbued their consciousness.” The temple was destroyed as the result of a certain catastrophe (a flood), and the proto-Indo-Aryans abandoned this place, which led to the degradation of culture and religion. The Ynglings think that the intermixing of the proto-Indo-Aryans with the Dravidic-Aryans in India led to the distortion of the original teachings, which only the Ynglings preserved in their perfected form.
The theory of proto-Indo-Aryans origins provides Ynglings with a respectable academic basis for claiming an extremely ancient pedigree for their religious tradition. For this reason, Heathens pay a great deal of attention to parallels between Hindu myths, practices, and beliefs and those of their own particular regional traditions. For instance, the place, not far from Omsk, the so-called Yurt-Bergamak area is currently experiencing the spontaneous birth of a new sacral complex, “an ancient Slavic temple (Kapishche),” which local Heathens (“The Cultural Heritage and Creativity Commune”) view as a burial place of “priestesses” (zhritsy) with elongated skulls, and call it the Motherland of Rishа, or the Motherland of the White Sages” (Seleznev, 2011). Thus, another myth about the original peoples, of which the Russians would be the natural representatives.
In his interview, Khinevich stressed the centrality of strong ethnic ties for Russian identity and discussed the sinful foundation of interfaith marriages, which must be forbidden for native ethnicities. In Ynglings doctrine special emphasis is laid on “healthy way of life,” which includes such very common features as eating natural and pure food, living responsible and sober life. The understanding that people are designed to live for centuries, but because of the modern unhealthy and unnatural lifestyles & choices, people tend to die prematurely.
The next case focuses on the activity of the Heathen movement Svarozhichi (Official website of the movement Svarozhichi <http://www.svarozhich.net> in Ekaterinburg (Ural region). This movement is headed by the leader called himself Dobroslav and was founded in the beginning of 2000s. The head of the Svarozhichi, Dobroslav, is not the same person as the late Aleksei Dobrovolskii, another Heathen leader, who used the name Dobroslav. Svarozhichi are also highly interested in understanding Heathen traditions of the past like Aleksander Khinevich, they see the traditions as a gateway into deeper spiritual experience. This suggests Svarozhichi dedicate themselves to an intensive study or reconstruction of the past of Heathen tradition of many specific regions. The community exists as a secret order and many of members of community prefer not to advertise their affiliations with native belief.
The pantheon of Svarozhichi is honored (veneration of Vles, Perun, Dajbog or Khors), and special attention is paid to Svaroh (the god Svaroh contains elements of sky and solar deities known from other Indo-European-speaking peoples). Svarozhichi think that the Cyrillic alphabet, specifically the liturgical, ancient Slavonic, is endowed with a transcendent reality. Svarozhichi`s views are based on the idea of a trinity, whereby “Iav” (the visible world), “Nav” (the world of beyond), and “Prav” (the world of laws) represent different levels of reality. Eschatological patterns are predominant in their discourse, they think that mankind is on the road to ruin because it denies higher values for material benefit.
The texts and songs, which disseminated among Svarozhichi, assert that the national heritage–Slavonic—will be found in the preservation of an Indo-Aryan identity. They consider the Christianization of the Kievian Rus’ by Prince Vladimir in 988 as the beginning of decadence and decline. The subsequent millennium of Russian history, then, is presented as 1,000 years of slow domination of Judea-Christianity over the Native Faith of the Russian people, and the enslavement of Russia for the service of Marxist-Communist interests. Svarozhichi`s discourse, like the Slavophile discourses of the first half of the nineteenth century, historically present the Slavs as the native people of Central Eurasia, existing for several thousand, if not tens-of-thousands-of-years. According to Svarozhichi, the lack of knowledge of this reality within the realm of classical historiography can be explained by the eastern reign of Communism, the West has been unable to study the value of the Slavic civilization, and it has been dissimulated under a diverse terminology.
As an Internet forum of Svarozhichi shows, they argued that the first Indo-Aryans, and therefore future Russians, would have created powerful civilization in Siberia (considering this region as a geographical heart of Indo-Aryan continent) or in the steppe area stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The second place has the reference to the Scythians as the matrix element of Slavs ancient history. Another nativist use of place and archeological discovery was related with Arkaim in Chelyabinsk region. Many disciples of new religious movements characterized this place as the capital of the ancient Russo-Indo-Aryan civilization, theorizing that Zarathustra had lived there. Today some members of Svarozhichi community of different educational and social background play an important role in spreading such discourses. Featured on the Internet forums of Svarozhichi are teachings with Vedic references by the first doctrinarians, like Yuri Miroliubov or Sergey Lesnoi, as well as those of their contemporary disciples, presenting the Book of Vles manuscript and taking part in conversations about the prestigious Indo-Aryan past of the Russians.
Svarozhichi practice ancient Russian native traditions of the Earth mother and consider Slavs children of the forest rediscovering their original harmony with nature. They wear special clothes (Slavic tunics and head-bands) for religious feasts, replace foreign words with Slavic equivalents (svetopisi instead of fotografii; izvedy instead of interv’iu).
Rituals play a significant role in the involvement of participants, in the articulations of shared meanings and the formulation of new community ties (ritual practices connected to the sanctification of water, fire, and cereal grains). The anthropologist Sarah M. Pike stated: “Heathen identity is primarily expressed as festivals trough music and dance.” The festivals of Svarozhichi are generally linked with the annual cycle of seasons; the summer and winter solstices, as the longest and shortest days of the annual cycle, are widely celebrated holidays. These religious practices can be called reconstructionist because they incorporate old, traditional elements with ideas and practices found in other historical resources.
For example, the ritual Veneration of Ancient Russian Knights is organized May 9th in honor of the victory of Prince Svyatoslav in the battle with Hazars. The sense of this ritual is closely related with attracting to Slavic ideas of new-member and also whole generations of families. Svarozhichi regard these festivals as better established, more authoritative, and more authentic than those that are newly created or vaguely reconstructed. Such symbols as a trident and objects representing fire are prominent as is the repetitive refrain of “Glory to Svarog! Glory to Slavs!” Rituals of veneration are celebrated with traditional folk singing, bonfire jumping, and circle and spiral dancing. They pray also to the symbol of the swastika as a representation of the sun. They have also rehabilitated some warrior codes also found in the Cossack traditions.
The Heathen movements in Ural and Western Siberia fully correspond to the constructivist viewpoint of the development of religious consciousness in contemporary epoch. Heathenistic national visions are based on a unique interpretation of ethnic proto-history, a strong commitment to non-Christian, “ancient” roots of ethnic culture and a spiritual concept of the nation.
Heathen nativism strengthens religious aspects of nativism. The characteristic spiritual features (concepts of divine electivity, group beliefs of national peculiarity, norms of national unity, concepts of sacred history and sacred destiny) represent a complex frame for the political incorporation of contemporary spirituality. Heathen nativism in Russia advocates a conception of Slavic unity based on Indo-Aryan identity and the willingness to give up Christianity, which is deemed responsible for two thousand years of identity aberrations;
Rituals of Heathens play a significant role in the participants` involvement, in the articulations of shared meanings and the formulation of new community-ties. Native faith movements are not based merely on ideologies and mythical constructs; religious practice and spiritual experiences are not less significant;
Heathen movements are revival movements, which strive for the cultural purification of their national culture from non-native as well as western elements. Beliefs in a (National-and-Heathen) golden age, which existed before the political and spiritual corruption of the nation, before the age, when old mores were exterminated and substituted for “alien” ones, are salient among Heathen sympathizers today also;
Based upon these foundations a “alt-discourse” is being formulated. State identity in this context appears to be a “non-emotional” identity, political construction, which is juxtaposed with an ideological concept. As for Heathens, ethnic tradition, a strong emphasis on blood, and the reconstructed pre-Christian native faith, retains the emotional attachment of its adherents in constructing the collective identity of our time.