Articles/Essays From Pagans
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
October 10th. 2016 ...
Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
Magic in Sentences
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Europe's Oldest Religion
Article ID: 15097
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,535
Times Read: 2,981
RSS Views: 53,768
Posted: September 23rd. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,981
Deep in the heart of euro Russia, in the Idel Ural region, live the Mari, formerly known as the Chermis. This Finno Ugric people (who dwell in their own autonomous republic Mari El as well as in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and some Russian ethnic regions) have maintained an ancient Animist faith through years of Mongol, Tatar, czarist and communist repression. Chi Mari Yula is today one of three state religions in Mari El (Christianity and Islam being the others) . According to the high Kart (priest) Alex Tanygin, who attends official events, this is the oldest religion in Europe, going back 7000 years.
Before czarist oppression in 1887, Mari would gather to hold national prayer meetings. These were held yearly to honour a great Mari prince. These were stopped when the Russians destroyed the holy mountain of Nemda, which had been a national holy place for hundreds of years. After 1887, Mari maintained communal and family prayer meetings in several sacred groves. In communist times, the religion was also repressed, except in the Second World War when the soviet state found the Karts useful in the war effort.
With the end of communism, Animism has taken off in Mari El and in those more traditional Mari communities in Bashkordistan. There are over 360 holy groves in Mari El and about 120 Karts. Mari have some 20 festivals annually, which remain closely bound to the rural life that most Mari still live in their forest republic on the Volga River.
While some ritual slaughter of animals as sacrifice is still involved to some degree, Mari are slowly moving away from this form of worship, although a minority of Karts still maintain these rites. Mari believe that Osh Kughu Yumo, the Great White God, has a number of substances ranging from the life giving Yumo, birth Goddess Shochinava, Goddess of fertility Saksa, Goddess of fate Purysho the god of death Azyren and a large number of nature spirits like that of fog -Tutyra and the household spirit Surt.
In 1957, Mari in the village of Kupron sola managed to arrange a large prayer meeting and sacrifice, which was to be the last until the 1980s. Of some of those things that make up Chi Mari Yula, the cult of the dead play a large part as do ancient marriage ceremonies and a mythological spirit world.
During the spring plowing festival, an old man representing God sits high in a tree answering questions on health, the harvest and the weather. Graveyards are deep in the forest as are most holy groves. The lud is the clan and village prayer site and is mostly a wooden table under a birch close to the village. A Kuala- the clan sanctuary - is a log cabin in the woods outside the village but these are less common today.
A holy place will also be maintained inside the house. Here a basket made from elm bark is hung out of sight and reach in the roof and lead coins and small flat cakes are left for Surt. Another form of worship is the hammering of holy objects into the trunks of trees and the hanging of them from branches. The essence of the tree is then given the form of a holy pillar or shelf and is taken into the village.
It is believed that most Mari are Animist. Juhu Vkliaho, a Finnish Lutheran missionary who worked in Mari El, says, "In their hearts Mari are all Pagan." Those who have never been baptized are known as Chi Mari, while those who attend both church and Holy grove are known as Rushvera.
Next door to the Mari live the Urdmurt people who are also Finno Ugrics. They live in their own autonomous republic called Urdmurtia. They too have maintained the old religion, which is called Vattisen Yaly -the tradition of the old. History records two main anti Christian Urdmurt movements: the Vylepyrisi, who demanded no contact with the Russian invaders and the 1849 Lime Tree Sect, which arose to oppose not only the Russian Orthodox but also Tatar Islamists.
In 1892, Urdmurts from the village of Multan were charged with making human sacrifices to Pagan Gods. They were all found not guilty in what became known as the Multan Affair. Like the Mari, the most traditional Urdmurt villages are in Islamic Bashkortostan.
During the Russian Revolution, the region of Idel Ural tried to form an independent state. From the Nanet and Komi territories on the Arctic to the Buddhist Kalmyks on the Caspian (and taking in the Islamic Tatars and Bashkars, the Animist Mari, Urdmurt and Mansi along with the Christian Chuvash, Mordovians and the now dispersed Volga Germans) , this attempted state is still recognized by the U.S. Congress as a captive nation.
Like in Vodou, many in the Volga region practice some form of syncretic faith. This is strong among the Mordovians and Chuvash but also among Islamic Tatars and Bashkir who look to the pre Islamic Turkish culture and a form of Islamized Animism call Tengreism. Of all the Volga peoples, it is the largely Christian Chuvash who have maintained the carving of forest idols known as Keremets. These represent forest spirits. The Chuvash are also known for traditional Pagan forest graveyards.
Chuvash Neo Paganism also draws on traditions maintained in Chuvash villages in Bashkortostan that were only superficially Christianized. So while neo-paganism is going stronger every day in Chuvashia, Mordvinia and the Tatar and Bashkir republics, in Mari El and Urdmurtia, it remains an ongoing tradition to which the term ‘neo’ has no meaning and while it is true also that some Mordvinia in Bashkortostan remained pagan, the vast majority of Mordvinia became Christian unlike the bulk of Mari and Urdmurt who remained unbaptized .
Paganism in the Idel Ural is also a way of maintaining ethnic nationalism and, as such, has lately come under some pressure from Russian nationalists in government. As Mari only make up 45% of the Mari El population (Russians and Tatars being the rest) , these people have been trying to make stir up tensions between Mari and Russians. A leading Kart was recently charged with and convicted of debasing orthodox religion simply for saying it was a ‘false’ religion. The flip side of this law is that, as Chi Mari Yula is an official religion, Christians and others are also unable to debase Animism.
The Mari believe that there is a great richness in their ancient belief that allows direct communion with the cosmos or God .So here's to Europe’s only Animist faith, Chi Mari Yula!
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Author's Profile: To learn more about Kafir - Click HERE
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Kafir... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2016 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).