Baltic neopaganism

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Baltic Religion

Baltic Cross.JPG

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]

Ethnic religion Religion defined by the ethnicity of its adherents

In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universal religions which claim to not be limited in ethnic or national scope, such as Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Ethnic religions are not only independent religions. Some localised denominations of global religions are practised solely by certain ethnic groups. For example, the Assyrians have a unique denominational structure of Christianity known as the Assyrian Church of the East.

Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Balts ethnic group

The Balts or Baltic people are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group who speak the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, originally spoken by tribes of central Eastern Europe in the west to the Moscow, Oka and Volga river basins in the east. The Baltic languages form a part of the wider group of Balto-Slavic languages.

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]

Pope Franciss visit to the Baltic states

Pope Francis visited the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—from 22 to 25 September 2018.



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] [12] 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. [13] The Lokstene Shrine of Dievturi was inaugurated in 2017. [14]


Druwi (Old Prussian word meaning "Faith", cognate to tree; [15] Samogitian: Druwē) is a Baltic Neopagan revival religion claiming Old Prussian origins, [16] and mostly present in Lithuania. Adherents uphold that it is distinct from Romuva, and that more carefully speaking Romuva could be considered as a specific form of Druwi. [16]

The religion is primarily represented institutionally by the "Kurono Academy of Baltic Priesthood" (Lithuanian: Baltųjų žynių mokykla Kurono) founded in 1995. [17] It trains morally mature men and women from the age of 18, into the Darna , as priests of the Baltic people. [17] Like the Romuviai, they recognise Vydūnas as their founding father. [16] The Druwi theory is monistic. [16]


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. [18] [19] [20]

Romuva primarily exists in Lithuania but there are also congregations of adherents in Australia, Canada, the United States, [21] and England. [22] There are also Romuviai in Norway. [23] 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. [24]

See also

Uralic religions
Caucasus religions

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 Wiench, 1995
  2. Monika Hanley (October 28, 2010). Baltic diaspora and the rise of Neo-Paganism. The Baltic Times.
  3. "Baltic pagans ask pope for help over religious status battle". France 24. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  4. С. И. Рыжакова. Латышское неоязычество: заметки этнографа
  5. J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann. Religions of the World, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. — Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2010. — 3200.
  6. Carole M. Cusack, Alex Norman. Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production. — Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL, 2012. — 820.
  7. S. I. Ryzhakova. Диевтурîба: латышское неоязычество и истоки национализма. — Moscow: Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 1999. - 35.
  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. "Dievturi presented Riga monument (Russian)". DELFI. Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  12. Latvian Encyclopedia of Religions: Neopagānisms / dievturi .
  13. "Tieslietu ministrijā iesniegtie reliģisko organizāciju pārskati par darbību 2011. gadā" (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  14. Uz salas Daugavā atklāta dievturu svētnīca. 11 May 2017. Skaties.
  15. Brian Cooper. Russian Words for Forest Trees: A Lexicological and Etymological Study . Australian Slavonic and East European Studies, Miskin Hill Academic Publishing (ABN 27 712 504 809). pp. 47-49
  16. 1 2 3 4 Pokalbio tema KETURIOS KILNIOSIOS DRUWIO TIESOS . Druwi Portal.
  17. 1 2 Kviečiame mokytis į baltų žynių “KURONO”. Druwi Portal.
  18. Dundzila (2007), pp. 279, 296-298.
  19. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 247.
  20. Ignatow (2007), p. 104.
  21. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 278.
  22. "Saulėgrįža Londono Romuvoje". Archived from the original on 2016-05-01. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  23. "Baltų Krivule Kurtuvėnuose 2011.06. 5". Archived from the original on 2016-04-02. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  24. Dundzila and Strmiska (2005), p. 244.