Slavic mythology: Rod, and the birth of a new universe

Museums around the world are filled with statues of gods and goddesses once worshipped by the ancient Greeks, Romans or Egyptians. But what about the Slavic mythology? We already learned about Perun, the thunder god, and Morena, the goddess of death, now let’s take a look at Slavic mythology’s very own creation myth. All cultures, across eras and geographies, have pondered the same eternal question – how was the world created? Who or what was the mysterious force brought about this planet and all the creatures that inhabit it? Ever since the dawn of humanity, spirituality and later religion and science have searched for the answer. But before the scientific theories, there were stories. Myths and legends that the people created, and used, to make sense of the complex world around them. The Old Slavs too had a creation myth…

The birth of a new universe In the beginning, there was darkness and chaos. Blackness enveloped a golden egg, the symbol of new life, in which Rod, the forefather of all Slavic gods and of all of creation, was sound asleep. Floating in the primordial chaos, Rod was resting and waiting for the moment to grow strong enough to create all that we know to be the world. So the forces of imbalance awoke Rod from his harmonious slumber. He started feeling hot, and suddenly, freezing cold. Up until then, consciousness was all there was. But, it was unknown to itself. In order to discover its great wholeness, it would have to break off into dual opposites.

Tasked with the mammoth task of helping consciousness discover itself, Rod decided to bring the world into all being. He created a system of opposites, but not before creating the greatest force that there has ever been – love as the means to unite opposing forces. It was only through love that harmony could be restored in the world.

So Rod gave life to love, represented by Lada, the goddess of love and the primordial mother of all beings. Rod and Lada were not a couple per se, as much as they were co-creators.

The fragile equilibrium

First, Rod gave form to his two avatars – light and darkness. This is how the night and day were born. The Slavs understood that in order for there to be light and life, there had to be darkness and death. This is the cycle of life and the very principle of wholeness. There is no beginning without an end and no night without a day. The light and the darkness are destined to be forever engaged in a struggle of good versus bad. It is not about winning or losing, but about maintaining the fragile equilibrium between the two.

Rod and Lada then gave life to six sons (some versions account for a seventh son) and three daughters. These were the primeval gods and goddesses. Each presided over a realm, a natural feature of the Earth such as the soil, water, fire and air. They ruled the skies, the Sun, the Moon and the stars.

As he looked upon his creation Rod was pleased. He had created the forces and the cycles that presided over all that ever existed. And the universe was now divided into three worlds. PRAV/RULE was the realm of the divine and supreme truth, JAV/REALITY, the tangible reality in which people live and the world in-between, and NAV/UNDERWORLD, as the home to the lower aspects of existence.

By Dr Gabriela Bereghazyova and Dr Zuzana Palovic

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