Dixon-Kennedy Mike - Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic Myth and Legend

Author : Dixon-Kennedy Mike
Title : Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic Myth and Legend
Year : 1998

Link download : Dixon-Kennedy_Mike_-_Encyclopedia_of_Russian_and_Slavic_Myth_and_Legend.zip

Having studied the amazingly complex subject of world mythology and legend for more than twenty years, I have found few stories more stirring than those of ancient Russia. Regrettably for us, at the end of the twentieth century very few Russian pre-Christian (pagan) beliefs remain. Those that have survived have been Christianized, their pagan roots now long forgotten. My introduction to Russian legend was the story of the witch Baba-Yaga, told me by someone whose identity I have since forgotten. Many years later, as I began to research world mythology and legend, Baba- Yaga resurfaced as I delved into the mysteries and delights of ancient Russian and Slavic folklore. This book is a general guide to the myths and legends of the Russian Empire at its greatest extent, along with those of countries and peoples that can be broadly defined as Slavic or that have influenced and been influenced by Slavic cultures. Today, at the end of the twentieth century, Russia or Rus is a huge country that occupies a large part of Europe and Asia.Yet it was once a land of modest size that subsequently underwent centuries of expansion and change. Populations came and went, and each migration added to the culture base of the country as it progressed from one incarnation to the next—from principality to empire. All this movement has left the rich legacy of mythology and legend detailed in this volume—a legacy inherited by a land that covers approximately one-sixth of the earth’s total landmass. This volume is not unique.A good number of books have been published about the myths and legends of the ancient Russians and Slavs. However, as a quick look at the Bibliography will show, many of these are available only in languages other than English.Thus this book presents, possibly for the first time, the myths and legends in their translated form. In addition, a great deal of historical, geographical, and biographical information related to the Slavs and their mythology has been included so that readers may gain the deepest possible understanding of the myths and legends against their cultural and geographical background. A detailed map of the area covered by this volume has been included to make this last task easier; for even though certain places or countries described might be familiar, there are a fair number that are not so well known. Russian and Slavic beliefs weave a rich tapestry between the real world and the world of pure fantasy. Here we have a culture that believed in a large number of supernatural and fantastical beings, from dragons to one-eyed or multiheaded monsters, from shape-changing wolves to soulless beings.We also find a curious mix of the pagan and the Christian; for even though Russia adopted Christianity as the state religion in A.D. 988, paganism remained popular until the end of the nineteenth century, and in more remote areas, even up to the present day. Thus we find Christian themes interwoven with pagan ideas: Dragons fight priests, saints encounter nymphs, and witches enter the kingdom of heaven. It is my hope that by preparing this volume in the format in which it is presented, I have brought the myths and legends of the Russian and other Slavic peoples to a much broader readership, and by so doing, have increased readers’ understanding of the cultures on which the volume touches. Obviously one such volume cannot begin to do justice to this subject. Although I have included as much information as possible within the physical constraints of the book, I hope readers will be inspired to undertake their own, further research and to carry it to new levels. Whenever one writes a book, one obviously owes thanks to many different people for their help.To list all those who over the years have provided me with information, guided me as to where to look, and corrected my countless mistakes and assumptions would need a volume all its own. Needless to say, they all know just who they are, and to each and every one of them I say a great big “thank you.” My final thanks have to go to my longsuffering wife, Gill, and to Christopher, Charlotte, Thomas, and Rebecca, my four often “fatherless” children. For long periods of time over many years they have lost me to my research, my passion. Very rarely have they complained, and I hope that now they will be able to enjoy the results of their solitude. Whoever thinks writing is a solitary occupation should think of the writers’ partners, for theirs is the true solitude. Mike Dixon-Kennedy. Lincolnshire. ...

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