THE BALTIC STATES:
CULTURE, MYTH, LORE & BELIEFS
[Link transferred from the original '98-'99 Baltic page]: This is "Cultural Heritage," which looks at a culture dating back to 10,000 BCE. This section includes excellent (albeit brief) essays and overviews on archaeology, Yule traditions, history, language, folklore, architecture, folk art, ancient musical instruments (including mini-recordings, if your browser can handle these), and much more.http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/3503/
One essay, "Lithuanian Folk Art," looks at wood carving in some depth (it also includes several nice illustrations); one interesting fact here is that men carved beautifully decorated wooden spinning and weaving implements and gave them as gifts to women, a wonderful example of creative partnerships -- this arouses questions about ancient Greece, and other ancient cultures in which spinning and weaving were a purely feminine realm: as far as I know, no one ever asks who carved the looms and spinning wheels -- might these contributions also have been male gifts? -- is there any evidence, in literature or elsewhere, to support this possibility?); under "Textiles" in this same essay is the intriguing fact that white linen was believed to possess magical power. (Note: the Home Page for this site, "neris," will be found near the bottom of my page under "General Information.")
"Iron Crosses: Pre-Christian History and Beliefs" is the topic of this excellent page from Marija Kuncaitis. Marija has been an e-mail colleague of mine for several years and I have come to trust her fine and sensitive scholarship. Here is how she opens the page:http://www.angelfire.com/ut/Luthuanian/iw.htmlLithuania, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, has had a very intriguing role in European development, in various ways: militarily, economically, politically and religiously. It was the last country to accept Christianity, in 1387, as part of the marriage agreement between Grand Duke Jogaila and Jadwiga, Queen of Poland. The new faith lived in conjunction with the old nature-based beliefs; and well into the twentieth century in certain regions....If you click on "Contents" near the bottom of her page, you'll find that the rest of Marija's site has a number of excellent pages on Lithuanian culture, ancient beliefs, and folklore.
[Link transferred from the original '98-'99 Baltic page]: This is the origin myth for the founding of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It concerns Grand Duke Gediminas' dream (c. 1323) of an iron wolf, howling like thunder in the night around the site where Gediminas eventually built his mountaintop castle.http://www.balticsww.com/ghosts.htm
From The Baltics Worldwide: City Paper comes "Ghosts and Goblins of Vilnius," an intriguing little collection of tales dating from the 16th century.
A sacred Zaltys
(Colorized from black to blue)
Used with permission from Sacred Serpent: see directly below....
[Link transferred from the original '98-'99 Baltic page]: "Sacred Serpent": this lovely site is dedicated to Lithuanian paganism. It should be noted again that the Baltic region, and Lithuania in particular, was the last region of Europe to be converted to Christianity. Older ways are still powerful to this day, sometimes through direct transmission, sometimes through re-discovery. In the words of the authors of this engaging site:
http://www.elnet.lt/vartiklis/mitai/lietuva/elniai.htm"Sacred Serpent" is named after the zaltys or zalgtis: a revered [and harmless] grass snake, indigenous to the Baltic lands of East Prussia, Latvia and Lithuania. Zaltys is known as the sentinel or messenger of the ancient Baltic deities and plays a significant role in the mythology and lore of the region....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 site includes a fine series of mini-essays on such topics as rain-rituals involving a sacred rock (it might be remembered that Moses struck a rock and forced it to release water, so the relationship between rain and rock is also found elsewhere in the Old World); Baltico-pagan religion; Lithuanian goddesses; legends and tales; a calendar of feasts; and Baltic politics; there is also a moving Lithuanian prayer involving trees and other ecologically sensitive "beings." [Note: this site is double listed under Europe >> Earth-Based Ways (Wicca) and also under Dragons & Serpents.]
This is a page entirely in Lithuanian about ancient beliefs in deer. There are two fine petroglyphs of deer. My hope in posting it here is that someone fluent in Lithuanian will see it and be willing to translate it into English <smile>.http://www.lithuanian.net/resource/myths.htm
From Global Lithuanian Net comes this page of links to Lithuanian mythology sites -- the links are annotated, often at some length. I already have some of these sites listed but there are many more. Quality is uneven but it's a great place to browse.http://neris.mii.lt:80/heritage/traditions.html
This is a page called "Traditions" -- it's quite brief and makes one wish for more:Lithuania has retained not only of the most ancient languages in Europe but also its old folklore, customs and traditions. Different ethnographic regions of Lithuania have their own favourite traditional festivals and holidays....The page then looks at various regional specialities and celebrations.
By Lithuanian artist, Sigitas Mickevicius (1962 - )
(108x150, oil on canvas, 1996)
[Courtesy of Kukas Gallery,Vilnius, Lithuania.
Note: I also have this artist's work on my Grail and Serpent/Dragon pages.]
[Link transferred from the original '98-'99 Baltic page]: "The Basis of the Old Lithuanian Religion": this is a beautiful, wise little essay by Jonas Trinkunas of Vilnius on ancient non-dualistic beliefs. [Note: this site is also double listed under Europe >> Earth-Based Ways (Wicca).]http://www.litnet.lt/litinfo/religion.html
This is the abstract of a book by Prane Dunduliene: Senoves lietuviu mitologija ir religija, translated into English as Ancient Lithuanian Mythology and Religion. The author writes of three epochs: early matriarchal tribal system, late matriarchal tribal system, and patriarchal tribal system, leading to a class society. Most of her data, of course, dates from post-matriarchal times, but the argument is made (akin to the work of Gimbutas and others) that earlier layers can be recovered through folklore, art, ballads, and other sources. I found the data on goddesses and gods especially fascinating.http://www.culture.lt/crests/intro.html
"Crests & Sacral Arts in Lithuania" is the name of this handsome, high tech site with automatically scrolling text (it's duplicated as simple text further down on that page) and a running applet depicting roadside shrine-carvings found throughout Lithuania....Historical photos of Lithuanian crests and roadside poles (some with shrines) from 18th - beginning of 20th centuries show the authentic centuries-lasting Lithuanian sacral art traditions, the deep spiritual self-expression: restraint, deep and unique interpretation of folk traditions retaining some long-lasting elements of pagan customs of nature worship interconnected with later Christianity. As was deeply noticed by Prof.Marija Gimbutas again, there is more to folk art than ornamentation, expressiveness, color; there is the heritage of past ages conserved in symbolism. The motifs of folk art symbolism may be compared to other monuments of ancient design representing concepts which reach back into the preliterate period (p.3). "The duration of the symbolic tokens can be sensed by studying the prehistoric objects which, even for several thousands of years, exhibited symbols belonging to a single religious system. During the Christian era, peasants adopted new symbols but without forgetting the old ones…For instance, Lithuanian wooden poles with pyramidal roofs and crosses are very rich in pre-Christian symbols." A deeper folk intercultural analysis possibly would find more reliable answer to the suggestions on possible links between B a l t i c and S c a n d i n a v i a n sacral symbolism going thousands years' distance....I didn't have time to explore too deeply, but for those who do, here are a few tips: links to "Part 1" and "Part 2" at the TOP of the page work; at the bottom of the page, they don't. The link to |lietuviskai| at the top of the page will just take you to text in Lithuanian only; but at the BOTTOM of the page, the same link will stop the applet and let you view the frames (clickable) one by one. (Go figure!) But the page has a lot going for it & I enjoyed what I saw.
The Lithuanian town of Trakai surrounded by lakes
(located 27km west of Vilnius)
[Photo courtesy of Zenon Firkovich at Vacation in Lithuania]
This historical survey of Lithuania is from the "In Your Pocket" travel guide people. More than half the page looks briefly at events of the 20th century.http://www.lithuanian.net/resource/history.htm
From Global Lithuanian Net comes "Resources of Lithuanian History." This is a long page of lengthy annotations for websites on all periods of Lithuanian history and archaeology. I only had time to click on a few but found them excellent.http://neris.mii.lt/
[Link transferred from the original '98-'99 Baltic page]: This is the "Lithuanian Home Page," offering data on science and education; the arts (with various galleries offering photographs of artists' works); news, reports & events; tourism; and various categories of general information.http://goeasteurope.about.com/travel/goeasteurope/library/weekly/aa041700a.htm
From Bill Biega, the about.com guide to Eastern Europe, come two brief pages on Lithuania and its capital, Vilnius. There are fine photos and maps (clickable). If you want more details, Biega also provides hypertext that'll take you more in depth.http://neris.mii.lt:80/heritage/costume.html
This is a brief page on "Lithuanian National Costume" by Vida Kulikauskiene, Marija Miliuviene, and Ruta Lelyte:http://www.angelfire.com/ut/Luthuanian/index.htmlThe Lithuanian national costume was started be created [sic] at the end of the 19th - the beginning of the 20th centuries with the development of the national liberation movement and upon the formation of national self-consciousness. Peasant's holiday traditional garments served as the background for the creation of the national costume....If you click on the page's title, "Lithuanian National Costume," you'll go to a long series of very colorful illustrations of these costumes -- be patient -- the page is graphics-intensive and loads slowly.
This is a site of multi-category links from Lithuanian Global Resources. It's a good place for browsing.http://www.ciesin.ee/LITHUANIA/
This is another page of Lithuanian links from CIESIN Baltics Regional Node WWW. There is a wide range of subcategories but the page hasn't been updated since 1996 so expect some broken links.http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/lh.html
If you just want facts and nothing but facts (i.e., no culture or "soul"), this site from the CIA will work for you.
EASTERN EUROPE:Eastern Europe Menu:
Up to Europe's Opening PagePan-Slavic Traditions & Beliefs:
Russia:Fairy Tales & Folklore: ||| Sacred Ikons: ||| Music:The Balkans:(Note: here you'll find links to individual Balkan countries/states/kingdoms: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, once these have been activated.Other Slavic Lands
*** For Greece, see under "Western Europe"; for Hungary, see under "Eastern Europe: Finno-Ugric Peoples.")
Kosovo/Serbian Peace Invocation:
Baltic States:Estonia: ||| Latvia: ||| LithuaniaFinno-Ugric Peoples:Finland: || Hungary:Eurasia: The Caucasus & Beyond:
(Note: for Estonia, see "Baltic Sates"; for Sami and western Siberian peoples, see "INDIGENOUS: Circumpolar.")
Down to Western Europe
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