Baltic neopaganism

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Baltic neopaganism is a category of autochthonous religious movements which have revitalised within the Baltic people (primarily Lithuanians and Latvians). [1] [2] These movements trace their origins back to the 19th century and they were suppressed under the Soviet Union; after its fall they have witnessed a blossoming alongside the national and cultural identity reawakening of the Baltic peoples, both in their homelands and among expatriate Baltic communities. One of the first ideologues of the revival was the Prussian Lithuanian poet and philosopher Vydūnas. [1]

During the Pope Francis's visit to the Baltic states in 2018 Dievturi and Romuva sent a joint letter to Pope Francis calling him to urge fellow Christians "to respect our own religious choice and cease impeding our efforts to achieve national recognition of the ancient Baltic faith". [3]



Aerial view of Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi ruakusuteneShen She (Lokstenes svetnica).jpg
Aerial view of Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi

Dievturība (Latvian compound derived from Dievs "God", plus turēt "hold", "uphold", "behold", "keep"; literally "Godkeeping") [4] is a Latvian Pagan revival, [5] [6] [7] also present among Latvian Canadian and Latvian American expatriate communities. [8] It is characterised by a monistic theological approach [9] to Baltic paganism viewing all the gods and all nature as expression of the Dievs. [10] A common view is that the Dievs is at the same time the transcendent fountain of reality, the matter-energy substrate, and the law ordaining the universe. [10]

The movement was started in 1925 by Ernests Brastiņš with the publication of the book entitled Revival of Latvian Dievturība. [11] After the annexation of Latvia to the Soviet Union the Dievturi were repressed, but the movement continued to operate among exiles. Since the 1990s, Dievturi was re-introduced to Latvia and began to grow again; in 2011 there were about 663 official members. [12] The Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi was inaugurated in 2017. [13]


A Romuvan procession. Romuvans (1).png
A Romuvan procession.

Romuva is a modern revival of the traditional ethnic religion of the Baltic peoples, reviving the religious practices of the Lithuanians before their Christianization. Romuva claims to continue living Baltic pagan traditions which survived in folklore and customs. [14] [15] [16]

Romuva primarily exists in Lithuania but there are also congregations of adherents in Australia, Canada, the United States, [17] and England. [18] There are also Romuviai in Norway. [19] Practising the Romuva faith is seen by many adherents as a form of cultural pride, along with celebrating traditional forms of art, retelling Baltic folklore, practising traditional holidays, playing traditional Baltic music, singing traditional dainas or hymns and songs as well as ecological activism and stewarding sacred places. [20]


The re-enactment group Vilkatlakai, originally named Baltuva, formed in Lithuania in 1995 and is distinguished by its masculine vision of Baltic paganism. [21] The Kurono movement formed in 2003 as a split from Romuva, expressing dissatisfaction with the Romuva leadership's emphasis on ethnographical studies at the expense of theology. They were also critical of Romuva's openness to the media and other outsiders at religious events. [21]

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  2. Monika Hanley (October 28, 2010). Baltic diaspora and the rise of Neo-Paganism. The Baltic Times. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  3. "Baltic pagans ask pope for help over religious status battle". France 24. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
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  8. Strmiska, p. 20
  9. Strmiska, p. 21
  10. 1 2 Vilius Dundzila. The Ancient Latvian Religion - Dievturība . ¶ DIEVS. Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences, 1987.
  11. Latvian Encyclopedia of Religions: Neopagānisms / dievturi .
  12. "Tieslietu ministrijā iesniegtie reliģisko organizāciju pārskati par darbību 2011. gadā" (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  13. Stasulāne, Anita (14 March 2019). "A Reconstructed Indigenous Religious Tradition in Latvia". Religions . 10 (195). Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  14. Dundzila (2007), pp. 279, 296-298.
  15. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 247.
  16. Ignatow (2007), p. 104.
  17. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 278.
  18. "Saulėgrįža Londono Romuvoje". Archived from the original on 2016-05-01. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  19. "Baltų Krivule Kurtuvėnuose 2011.06. 5". Archived from the original on 2016-04-02. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  20. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 244.
  21. 1 2 Pranskevičiūtė and Aleknaitė (2014), p. 172.