Old Slavic youth initiation

The problem of reconstruction of the Ancient youth initiation and related age-sex unions is very complex. Large time complexity is defined remoteness of these phenomena of our day. After all, direct information on the rituals and youth associations, as in all of the socio-normative culture and ritual life of ancient Slavs, we almost did not have. From time immemorial have survived only echoes of their deaf. Own Slavic annals, chronicles, news ancient, Byzantine and Oriental authors highlight the life of Slavs in the later period of their pre-state history. Moreover, the completeness of this reflection is far from desirable.

However, linguists note a large development going into the back thousands of Slavonic terminology relating to cultural realities and social life.1. Therefore reconstruct these and other phenomena of ancient Slavic archaic culture, scientists must under indirect and in addition very thoroughly "encrypted" time data scattered in different areas of the ancient cultural heritage.

And yet, despite all the difficulties, researchers can achieve some success in deciphering this evidence antiquity. The theme of the Ancient youth initiation and youth organizations devoted two publications and the author of this stati2. Now the challenge is to possibly deepen and concretize our knowledge of the age and sex of ancient Slavic organizations and related rituals, including the initiation and youth associations, to which the present article.

In "Initiation of the ancient Slavs (attempted reconstruction)" we were drawn schematically the initial stage of ancient Slavic youth initiation of community-driven selection and care of a special camp, where he was to perform the ritual. How exactly did this event took place?

Ethnographers study showed that the onset of adolescent age at initiation of primitive peoples obschestva3 associated with such young boys to a particular peer group (age group members varies somewhat). While often play an important role ridicule senior wearing a ritual. In order to withstand ridicule, mostly from the already undergone initiation boys and girls, young people about the same age gradually form a tightly knit group. In the end, after a few years, prepared by public opinion, which plays an important role for a long ritual podsmeivanie, they leave the village and go to a special lager4.

Something like this, obviously, there has been among the ancient Slavs. This can be judged by the materials related to traditional youth associations, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Czechs, Poles, and to a lesser extent, the Russian and Belarusian. These associations are archaic in nature and contain many features of the old age and gender organizatsii5. In the traditional graduation age and sex of Ukrainians and Western Slavs, the selection of particular teenage boys in the group began with a 6-8 years. Gradually, the old boys were closely knit group, which remained until 14-16 years of age. Next, passing rites, they became members of the association the big boys. Especially those clearly defined group of teenagers were in Ukrainian Polissya, where researchers say their great similarity with teenage groups archaic obschestv6.Bolshuyu role in uniting teenage bands played, as already noted, the ridicule from the girls and adult men. The latter is often not limited to words, but also the transition "to the point": teenager could throw his hat on the roof, take off his pants, hanging upside down, etc. The desire to resist these actions and eventually become adult members of the youth rallied teenagers one group.

In folklore, partly reflected the selection of old boys in a group of adolescent predinitsiantov. For example, of the so-called initiation skazok7 can learn about the boys leaving the house in seven years (tales of the "seven-year period," etc.). The hero of one of the most archaic epic Volh Vseslavevich left home "ten years", gathered squad (youth union of ancient times), "twelve years" and trained its military and hunting "tricks" to "fifteen years" 8. IVAs Konovchenko — seven Cossack hero, the hero of Ukrainian dumy9. It has its origins in antiquity and genetically related epics. It reflected, according to American scholar G. Grabowicz, rites of initiation.

Initiation site, as defined by the material tales Propp, was in the forest. This is confirmed by the mythological tales of werewolves, which reflect the ancient initsiatsii10. I should add that the "open field" in which, as in the forest, living turned into wolves in East Slavic folklore often acts as one of the options lesa11. Women's initiation of the ancient Slavs, as shown by R. Becker, also conducted in lesu12. Initiations in the woods confirmed by the related Slavic Aryan, German and other traditsiy13. Les same according to the beliefs of the Slavs traditionally equated to the other world, and as opposed to the territory of "alien" and "undeveloped" "his," "development" of the house. Materials tales suggest that teenagers sent to the camp initiation fathers, at least — brothers dyadya14. In the women's "initiation tales" girls of the house also sent ottsy15. Based on the folklore and ethnographic material, it can be assumed that a certain symbolic role in the initiation was assigned to the river as the border between "this" and "order" light. In fairy tales, the river is a line over which the hero must cross to get to the other realm. The latter acts equivalent afterlife which hosts ispytaniya16 initiation. This is also confirmed by linguists. They note that in the old Slavic names of the other world, and related phenomena river also serves as the boundary between mirami17. As the boundaries between the living and the world of the dead river (water, juice) and acts in the wedding, and a calendar of poetry Slavs.

Go through the water in the folklore is not only a symbol of the transition from one world to another, but also to change the social status, in particular, the transition from pre-marital status to marriage. Studies show that in ancient times the Slavs in the mating rituals of ritual acts committed by the river. She served as a symbolic transition of young people abroad to another status18. Remainder of this ceremony, I think, is a ritual "transfusion way" wedding procession returning from the church after the wedding. There is even now it among Ukrainians in Volhynia and Podolii19. Studies show that the marriage ritual — of stages later, compared with initiation rites included a number of elements poslednego20. We can therefore assume that the camp was really initiation of the river, which served as a symbolic boundary between the worlds.

In the forest camp initiated experienced ritual death. This is the main feature of the liminal phase of initiation. And there was a not only a ritual death, but the "swallowing" initiated by the mythical monster. Symbolic devouring monster followed them "spit" — part of the rites of passage for many young people of primitive society. The same was also characteristic of the European nations in the archaic era, especially in the Danube regione21. It was in the belly of the beast stay gave initiated magical knowledge and power over the surrounding world, the acquisition of which is one of the main points of initiation. Material tales showing the "devouring" the monster of the initiates of boys and our ancestors drevnosti22. In most cases, in the tale of the hero Snake swallows, sometimes it is replaced by a monstrous wolf (Iron Wolf, and so on).

News of this ritual act brought us not only a tale. Motive Serpent swallowing heroes and their subsequent "spit" is also found in Ukrainian legends kuzmodemyanovskogo tsikla23. There are stories that tell about how the hero, being swallowed and belched Serpent, to acquire the necessary knowledge and material blaga24. One might think that in reality initsianta thrown into the jaws of a stuffed snake Velez — the patron and the owner of the secret initiation znaniy25, as evidenced among the peoples of primitive society in historical times.

Proof of this can serve as a rite of passage into the union haymakers from the Poles, who arranged a special construction of the grass covered with braid and made initsianta get through there. In this case, the guy face smeared with black paint, (symbol of death), throwing his feet logs, through which he had to move. After the "birth" boy shaved and anoint a new name or a nickname, as if he was actually born vnov26. On the "devouring" young monster in the initiation showed bloody wounds received when climbing into the womb of stuffed monster that found on materials tales VY Propp27. As for the stuffed Veles, the initsiant, freed, "born" again, collects his esoteric knowledge. With that echoes the motif of the heroic epic of the birth of the werewolves and witches Colchians Vseslavevicha Serbian prince Vuk from the Snake, which is their ottsom28. In Serb mythical song is about how the serpent turned into a good young man, came into contact with devushkamii eventually born serpent-yunak (heroes) 29.

It can be assumed that the patron deity of initiation spoke during the initiation and in the role of the Iron Wolf as some related Slavic peoples, for example, irantsev30. About the wolf incarnation patron deity testify Slavic fairy tale, in which the Wolf replaces Snake. In this connection it should be noted that in the Indo-European mythology, including the Slavic peoples and a snake Wolf vzaimozamenyaemy31. Recall also the Serbian Snake Fire Wolf or epic hero — Snake Despot Vuk (ie Wolf).

Liminal state initsiantov when they were exposed to all kinds of indignities and trials (starvation, beatings, sleep deprivation, and etc), reflected in the language. Thus, linguists note the origin of some of the Slavic terms (* ogb * otrok * holr) of the words that were once held an initiation called teenagers. Word * holr a derivative of the verb suffix * xoliti to mean "cut very short," ie, points to the ritual tonsure posvyaschaemyh32.

One of the highlights of ancient Slavic youth initiation ritual rebirth was ordained to the wolves. However, some of the Slavic tribes or communities, apparently existed in parallel and ritual rebirth into bears, although it was less common. And the image of a wolf, in which "turns" initsiant, sometimes mixed with a "dog." It is known that among the Slavs were distributed mythological stories of transformation of people, not only wolves, but in sobak33. In some stories, the person turns into a wolf, the dog. In this regard, attention is drawn to the fact that wolves are called "dogs" Wolf Shepherd, and St.. Yuri (George) is the patron saint volkov34. Similar ideas existed and the neighbors of the Slavs. The ancient Germans called the Two Holy wolf-Odin satellite iota of his "dogs." Romanians called wolves "dogs" St. Peter and Estonians — "puppies" St. Yuri. In general, the mix of "dog" and "wolf" is typical of many, especially the Indo-European, mythological traditsiy35. In ancient times these peoples initsianty "regenerated" not only wolves, but in dogs, which is obviously due to the specifics of initiation in different nations. There has been a mix of images and the wolf and the dog, as it were, for example, the Scythians, who were considered initsianty and "dogs" and "wolves" odnovremenno36.

Turn man into a dog at the initiation is reflected in the legends of dog-(ukr pesigolovtsi). Researchers often explain the emergence of these subjects influence the apocryphal literature, where they, in turn, came from the works of ancient pisateley37. Said influence apocryphal literature on Slavic, especially in Ukrainian and Russian, the legends of dog-there is no doubt, and is expressed in a certain similarity between these plots with ancient. Together with foreign elements in the Slavic legends of dog-present, in our opinion, and the ancient folklore and mythological substrate belonging to the autochthonous ethnic tradition. All the more so here in the base and borrowed, and local motifs are typologically identical phenomena. After all, the basis of the Greco-Roman stories about kinokefalah to be contaminated with the subjects of the cyclone, and later came to the Christian apocryphal literature, formed the ancient associated with the initiation, the idea of people-Dogs. Perceptions of dog-similar Slavic, known by the Celts, and the Germans. And of them show not only the ancient myths and legends, and early medieval writers. In particular, Paul the Deacon wrote that Union troops tribes Lombards, who in 568, invaded Italy, were "dog-" voiny38. To this we must add that the Slavs worshiped psa39. In addition, they have spread fairy-tale motifs, in which the hero is often the "son of a dog" — Suchichem, Suchenkom, Sukevichem etc.

In addition to "human wolves" and "people-dogs" in some Indo-European peoples known "people-bears" whose images reveal link with archaic rituals of initiation. Especially characteristic of these representations for the ancient Germans, who initsianty "regenerated" not only wolves, but also bears. This so-called Barenhanter («wearing bearskins") from the Germans and Barserker («dressed in bearskins") from skandinavov40. TV Gamkrelidze and VV Ivanov noted that the linguistic material bears a large role in religious practices and mythology can be traced mainly to the Balto-Slavic and Germanic region and relatively poorly represented in other indoevropeytsev41.

Folk material confirms the conclusion of researchers on the Slavs. Thus, the cult of the bear is known in the White Russians and bolgar42. In Russian, especially in the northern regions, as was common cult of the bear as a host of animals. In Russian known belief that the bear was once a man. In some areas, for example in the Vologda province, believed that witches make people not only wolves, but in medvedey43. The Ukrainians also recorded legends, though relatively few in number to stop the bear man by God, whom the Lord wanted to frighten, wearing a coat inside-out tulup44 (similar animal skins).

VV Ivanov and V. Toporov, explaining the origin of the Slavic term used to refer to "human wolves" (starosl. vlkodlak, Rus. Werewolves, Czech. Vilkodlak, etc.), is generally regarded as their etymology from Proto-Slavic * volk (wolf) and * dolka (wool) folk. They take the second component of the Slavic * dlak-, akin Laltiyskomu * tlak-, which means "Bear" 45. All this suggests that some of the old Slavic tribes or communities initsianty ritually not degenerated into wolves, and bears.

The ritual of "transformation" in the human beast included donning animal skins, special dances ecstatic Tina and hallucinogen use, create, have initiated the effect of this transformation. The use of hallucinogens during youth initiation, possibly supported by the use of alcohol in the initiation of historical time. In particular, the alcohol used in the Zaporozhye Cossacks their posvyascheniyah46 and Poles who initsianta solder before losing soznaniya47.

In addition to the use of hallucinogenic drugs was probably initiated by and eating special ritual food, as it is generally accepted in many nations during the initiation. The ancient Germans initsianty who "transformed" into wolves and bears, ate their meat and drank their blood. It was believed in ancient times, gave initiates force, rage, and other data as hischnikov48. Mythological tales of werewolves also narrate that in some cases, "turned into wolves" eat the liver and heart of animals. These bodies, in accordance with the people's beliefs — place the focus of vitality. Possibly the use of blood and meat initsiantami wolf in antiquity is proved by the fact that in the above PV Shane ritual transformation of man into wolf turns into a wolf dripping krov49. Among the Polish hunters recorded special consecration in which the wolf ate initsianty liver and they face smeared with blood of the murdered first zverya50.

Passing ceremonies turn into wolves, dogs and bears, boys became members of the "animal" unions, which are discussed in detail in our article "Initiation of the ancient Slavs." These associations, being typical male youth leagues primitive age, indicate the existence of the ancient Slavs advanced age and gender organization and give an idea of one of its important structural parts. By staying youths treated as part of such unions as one of the stages of initiation. One may ask whether it is legitimate? Given the numerous tests that were boys, their behavior, characterized by a pronounced liminal, and the presence of the concluding ceremonies marked the end of stay of young people as their "animals" outside the social world and their return to the human world, I think that such an interpretation is permissible.

The main occupations of the members of "wolf" and "bear" Unions were robberies and the war against the enemies of his tribe, as well as hunting. He took the young soldiers "animals" to fight the leader of the Witch. Reminiscence of his way to some extent are the "birthmarks" werewolves of mythological stories about werewolves. These are divided into werewolves witches main occupation is just turning people into wolves (priests initiating reflection of what see in the above article), and sorcerers, whose core business — robbery. For the purpose of robbery, they turn themselves into wolves and sometimes they make others.

In the ancient myths of Indo-European peoples leaders also appears in the form of wolves, having the ability to such prevrascheniyu51. Japanese folklorist I. Ito, analyzing folklore and language material, came to the conclusion that the Slavs have such past leaders, "magicians" 52. This ability is proficient in one of the ancient chronicles and the "Lay" Prince Vseslav Polotsk. Sorcerers are epic 6ogatyri werewolves Volh Vseslavevich and Volga. In Novgorod book legend of the wolf-magician, which contains the roll between the mythological images Volha and the Wolf, the eldest son of legendary Volh word was "besougodny magician" 53. Like Vseslav, Volkhov and Volga in the Serbian epic tradition magician performs Grugrovich wook, and yunatskih songs — Serpent Vuk54 despot.

The same leaders, wolves, dogs, bears, possessing magical abilities are known in other Indo-European peoples — the Celts, Germans, irantsev55. Sorcerer, who knew how to turn into a dog and maybe a wolf stands in Ukrainian folklore known ataman Cossacks Ivan Sirko56. Itself the nickname "chieftain", prepared according to the Zaporozhye customs in Sich, a wolf-dog obvious etymology, because it is one of the most popular dog names in Ukraine. In general, "animal" names that are an echo of the ancient tradition, were quite common in Europe, including among the serving feudal aristocracy in the early Middle Ages, and even pozdnee57. And the names of the Wolf, a top, Beast back in XIV XV centuries. belonged to the so-called non-calendar names, are used in parallel with the Christian of the Ukrainian and Belarusian boyarstva58.

Balushok VG "Old Slavic youth leagues and initiation rites." Ethnographic Review. 1996. Number 3.


1. Trubachev ON Etnoginez and culture of ancient Slavs. Linguistic research. Moscow, 1991. S. 54, etc.
2. Balushok V. Initiation of ancient Slavs (attempted reconstruction) / / Ethnographic Review. 1993. № 4, see also the bibliography. Of papers published later may be mentioned: I. Ito "werewolves" and "wolf shepherd" — two common Slavic folk motifs associated with the cult of the wolf / / Comprative and contrastive studies in Slavic languages and literatures. Japanese Contributions the XI-th International Congress of Slavists. Bratislava. Aug. 31 — Sept. 7, 1993, Tokyo, 1993; Zaliznyak L. Draw starodavnoi istorii Ukrainy. Kiiv, 1994 Balushok B. Role in zhinki initsiatsiyah davnih slovyan / / Rodovid. 1994 № 9.
3. In the author's text was using the term "people of nature." As the term has never had a wide circulation and has now hopelessly out of date, the editors found it appropriate to replace it with a commonly used term "peoples of primitive society." — Note. Ed.
4. For more details see: Raum JW Die Junglingsweien der Sud-Sotho-Stamme. Der Versuch eines Vergleichs / / Wiener Volkerk undliche Mitteitungen. 1996/1970. Bd. XI — XII. S. 14.
5. On the relationship between the traditional youth associations Slavs XIX — early XX century. age and gender with the ancient organization, see: N. Sieber More about fraternities / / Word. 1881. № 1; Vovk XB. Studii s ukrainskoi etnografii that antropologii. Kiiv, 1995. Pp. 228 -229; Semenov Yu origin of marriage and family. Moscow, 1974. S. 185.
6. Zaglada N. Pobut selyanskoi ditini. Materiali monografii up with. Starosillya. Kiiv, 1929. Pp. 30, see also: B. Balushok Parubochi initsiatsii in ukrainskomu traditsiynomu seli / / Rodovid. 1994 № 7, on the western Slavs see Horvatova E. Traditional youth leagues and initiation rites at the western Slavs / / Slavic and Balkan folklore. M. 1989
7. The term German scholar R. Becker, see: Becker R. Die Weibliche initiation in ostslawischen Zaubermarchen. Der Figur der Baba-Jaga. B., 1990. S. 12f.
8. Epics / Comp., The author of the preface and introduction. text. V. Kalugin. Moscow, 1986. From 57 — 58.
9. Grabowicz O. Dumi yak simvolichny code perkazu CULTURAL tsinnostey / / Rodovid 1993. № 5, see also: Kirdan BP Ukrainian Folk Duma (XV — beginning of XVII century.). Moscow, 1962. Pp. 244 — 252.
10. On reflection of the mythological stories about werewolves and the initiation of the Ancient moldodednyh unions see also Ito I. Ordinance. Slave.; Ridley RA Wolf and Werewolf in Baltic and Slavic Tradition / / The Journal of Indo-European Studies. 1976 / V. 4.
11. VV Ivanov, Toporov VN Slavic language modeling simioticheskie system. M., 1965. Pp. 173, 175.
12. Becker R. Op. Cit. S. 71 — 72.
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14. VY Propp historical roots of the fairy tale. L., 1986. Pp. 82 — 85, Russian folk tales AN Afanasyev: In 3 t / Ed. Ge. LG Bahrag, NV Novikov. M., 1984 — 1985. № 162, 171,176,204,206, Kulish P. Notes on South Russia. SPb., 1857. T. 2. P. 49.
15. Becker R. Op. Cit. S. 101.
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29. Srpske Narodne pjesme, bought them from a distance and svijei Vuk Steph. Kapauuh. Beograd, 1977. Prince. 1 № 239.
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38. F. Cardini origins of medieval chivalry. Moscow, 1987. Pp. 119-120.
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40. Worterbuch der deutschen Volkskunde / Bergrundet von OA Erich und R. Beitl. Stuttgart, 1974 S. 60-61,79.
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