The Mari Native Religion (Mari: Чимарий йӱла, Čimarii jüla), or Mari Paganism, is the ethnic religion of the Mari people, a Volga Finnic ethnic group based in the republic of Mari El, in Russia. The religion has undergone changes over time, particularly under the influence of neighbouring monotheisms. In the last few decades, while keeping its traditional features in the countryside, an organised Neopagan-kind revival has taken place.
The Mari religion is based on the worship of the forces of nature, which man must honour and respect. Before the spread of monotheistic teachings amongst the Mari, they worshipped many gods (the jumo, a word cognate to the Finnish Jumala), while recognising the primacy of a "Great God", Kugu Jumo. In the 19th century, influenced by monotheism, the Pagan beliefs altered and the image of a Osh Kugu Jumo, literally "Great God of Light", was strengthened.
Subject to persecution in the Soviet Union, the faith has been granted official status since the 1990s by the government of Mari El, where it is recognized as one of the three traditional faiths along with Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Some activists claim that the Mari native religion believers are subject to pressure by Russian authorities as part of a wider campaign to Russify Mari culture. Vitaly Tanakov, an adherent of the faith, was charged with inciting religious, national, social and linguistic hatred after publishing the book The Priest Speaks.
Followers of the Mari native religion perform public rituals and mass prayers and conduct charitable, cultural and educational activities. They train and educate the younger generation and publish and distribute religious literature. Currently, there are four regional Mari native religion organizations. Prayer meetings and mass prayers are held in accordance with the traditional calendar; it always takes into account the position of the Moon and Sun.
Public prayers are held, usually in the sacred groves (küsoto). Ceremonies are held by a rank of priests. There is a significant discrepancy between the pantheons of the Lowlands Mari, who worship roughly 140 gods, and Highlands Mari, who worship about 70 gods. However most of these deities are different forms of other gods. Nine deities are the most important ones, and these are often said to be hypostases of the high god Osh Kugu Jumo. The Mari native religion includes tree worship and animal sacrifices.
The religion is one of Europe's indigenous religions of unbroken lineage which have survived Christianisation, although it has co-existed with Russian Orthodoxy for generations. Many Mari today are baptized as Christians yet they attend traditional prayers rather than Church services. A sociological survey conducted in 2004 found that about 15 percent of the population of Mari El consider themselves adherents of the Mari native religion. Since Mari make up just 45 percent of the republic's population of 700,000, this figure means that probably more than a third claim to follow the old religion.
The percentage of pagans among the Mari of Bashkortostan and the eastern part of Tatarstan is even higher (up to 69% among women). Mari fled here from forced Christianization in the 17th to 19th centuries.
A similar number was claimed by Victor Schnirelmann, for whom between a quarter and a half of the Mari either worship the Pagan gods or are adherents of Neopagan groups. Mari intellectuals maintain that Mari ethnic believers should be classified in groups with varying degrees of Russian Orthodox influence, including syncretic followers who might even go to church at times, followers of the Mari native religion who are baptized, and nonbaptized Mari.
Many of these gods, specially those controlling natural phenomena, have female counterparts, with the name ending in ava ("mother"), like Tul-Ava, goddess of fire, Mlande-Ava, goddess of earth, Kudurcho-Ava, goddess of thunder, etc.
Богов у луговых черемиъ считается (с матерями, пїамбарами , виднезями, праздничными и поминальными божествами) приблизительно около 140, у горных 70 (Lowland Mari people have about 140 deities in total, while mountain Mari have 70. These include mothers, piambars, vidnezs, as well as festive and mourning deities)
Abkhaz neopaganism, or the Abkhaz native religion, is the contemporary re-emergence of the ethnic religion of the Abkhaz people in Abkhazia, a revitalisation which started in the 1980s. The most important holy sites of the religion are the Seven Shrines of Abkhazia, each one having its own priestly clan, where rituals and prayers began to be restored in the 1990s.
According to the 2003 census, 8% of the population of Abkhazia adheres to Abkhaz neopaganism. On 3 August 2012 the Council of Priests of Abkhazia was formally constituted in Sukhumi. The possibility of making the Abkhaz native religion one of the state religions was discussed in the following months.Absolute (philosophy)
In philosophy, the concept of The Absolute, also known as The (Unconditioned) Ultimate, The Wholly Other, The Supreme Being, The Absolute/Ultimate Reality, and other names, is the thing, being, entity, power, force, reality, presence, law, principle, etc. that possesses maximal ontological status, existential ranking, existential greatness, or existentiality. In layman's terms, this is the one that is, in one way or another, the greatest, truest, or most real being.
There are many conceptions of The Absolute in various fields and subjects, such as philosophy, religion, spiritual traditions, mathematics, and even natural science. The nature of these conceptions can range from "merely" encompassing all physical existence, nature, or reality, to being completely unconditioned existentially, transcending all concepts, notions, and types, kinds, and categories of being.
The Absolute is often thought of as causing to come into being manifestations that interact with lower or lesser forms of being. This is either done passively, through emanations, or actively, through avatars and incarnations. These existential manifestations, which themselves can possess transcendent attributes, only contain minuscule or infinitesimal portions of the true essence of The Absolute.
The term itself was not in use in ancient or medieval philosophy, but closely related to the description of God as Actus purus (Pure Actuality) in scholasticism. It was introduced in modern philosophy, notably by Hegel, for "the sum of all being, actual and potential".
The term has since also been adopted in perennial philosophy.Bashkortostan
The Republic of Bashkortostan (; Bashkir: Башҡортостан Республикаһы, Russian: Респу́блика Башкортоста́н, tr. Respublika Bashkortostan, IPA: [rʲɪsˈpublʲɪkə bəʂkərtɐˈstan]), also historically known as Bashkiria (Russian: Башки́рия, tr. Bashkiriya, IPA: [bɐʂˈkʲirʲɪjə]), is a federal subject of Russia (a republic (state)). It is located between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Its capital is the city of Ufa. With a population of 4,072,292 as of the 2010 Census, Bashkortostan is the most populous republic in Russia. According to census 2018, the population of Republic was 4,063,293. Bashkortostan, the first ethnic autonomy in Russia, was established on 28 November [O.S. 15 November] 1917. On 20 March 1919, it was transformed into the Bashkir ASSR, the first Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in RSFSR.In accordance with the Constitution of Bashkortostan and Russian Federation Constitution, Bashkortostan is a state, but has no sovereignty. On 11 October 1990 Bashkortostan adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty, but subsequently abandoned it. 11 October is Republic Day in Bashkortostan.List of Neopagan movements
Modern paganism, also known a "contemporary" or "neopagan", encompasses a wide range of religious groups and individuals. These may include old occult groups, those that follow a New Age approach, those that try to reconstruct old ethnic religions, and followers of the pagan religion of Wicca.List of religions and spiritual traditions
While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a
[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.Maavalla Koda
Maavalla Koda (literally House of the Native Land, short for Taarausuliste ja Maausuliste Maavalla Koda, Estonian House for Taaraist and Native Religion Followers) is a religious organisation uniting adherents of the two kinds of Estonian native religion or Estonian Neopaganism: Taaraism and Maausk.Maavalla Koda was registered as a union of religious associations (koguduste liit) in Estonia in 1995. The initial constituent members of the union were three local registered religious associations, Emujärve Koda (representing adherents from the south of Estonia), Härjapea Koda (with members from the north of the country), and Tartu Supilinna Koda (formed in the university town of Tartu). Later, Tartu Supilinna Koda has been renamed Emajõe Koda (after the river Emajõgi), and the newer association of Maausk adherents of the island Saaremaa, Maausuliste Saarepealne Koda, has been admitted to Maavalla Koda.
On the Estonian military NATO-standard dog tag (identifier), adherents of Taarausk and Maausk are identified with the abbreviation EST. A runic calendar noting festivals of the Estonian traditional religion is published annually by Maavalla Koda. The current focus of activity of Maavalla Koda is on traditional natural sacred sites in Estonia, with the aim of mapping and doing folkloristic research in order to preserve and perpetuate the local traditions relating to these. Along with the University of Tartu, Maavalla Koda co-operates in a government programme initiated to ensure the documentation and protection of natural sacred sites in Estonia.Mari El
The Mari El Republic (Russian: Респу́блика Мари́й Эл, Respublika Mariy El; Meadow Mari: Марий Эл Республик; Hill Mari: Мары Эл Республик) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). It is geographically located in the European Russia region of the country, along the northern bank of the Volga River, and is administratively part of the Volga Federal District. The Mari El Republic has a population of 696,459 (2010 Census).Yoshkar-Ola is the capital and the largest city of the Republic.
Mari El is one of Russia's ethnic republics, primarily representing the indigenous Mari people, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group who have traditionally lived along the Volga River and Kama River. The majority of the Republic's population are ethnic Russians (47.4%) and Mari (43.9%), with minority populations of Tatars and Chuvash. The official languages of Mari El are Russian and the Mari language. Mari El is bordered by Nizhny Novgorod Oblast to the west, Kirov Oblast to the north, Tatarstan to the east, and Chuvashia to the south.Mari mythology
Mari mythology is a collection of myths belonging to the Mari folk heritage. It has many similar features and motifs with Maris' neighbouring people, like the Komis, Udmurts and Mordvins. Many of their myths are also distantly related to the myths of other Uralic peoples.
The biggest literary work on Mari mythology is the Mari epic "Jugorno", written by the Russian Anatoli Spiridonov in 2002. The epic was originally written in Russian, despite Spiridonov being very knowledgeable on the Mari language and Mari folk poetry. However, a Mari translation by Anatoli Mokejev was provided alongside the publication of the original epic. In 2015, the epic was translated into Estonian by Arvo Valton.Mari people
The Mari (Mari: мари, Russian: марийцы) are a Finno-Ugric ethnic group, who have traditionally lived along the Volga and Kama rivers in Russia. Almost half of Maris today live in the Mari El republic, with significant populations in the Bashkortostan and Tatarstan republics. In the past, the Mari have also been known as the Cheremisa or the Cheremis people in Russian and the Çirmeş in Tatar.Modern Paganism
Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Although they do share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and no single set of beliefs, practices or texts are shared by them all. Most academics studying the phenomenon have treated it as a movement of different religions, whereas a minority instead characterise it as a single religion into which different Pagan faiths fit as denominations. Not all members of faiths or beliefs regarded as Neopagan self-identify as "Pagan".
Adherents rely on pre-Christian, folkloric and ethnographic sources to a variety of degrees; many follow a spirituality which they accept as being entirely modern, while others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Academic research has placed the Pagan movement along a spectrum, with Eclecticism on one end and Polytheistic Reconstructionism on the other. Polytheism, animism and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology. Rituals take place in both public and in private domestic settings.
The Pagan relationship with Christianity is often strained. Contemporary Paganism has sometimes been associated with the New Age movement, with scholars highlighting both similarities and differences. From the 1990s onwards, scholars studying the modern Pagan movement have established the academic field of Pagan studies.Mordvin Native Religion
Mordvin Neopaganism, or the Mordvin native religion or Erzyan native religion, is the modern revival of the ethnic religion of the Mordvins (Erzya and Moksha), peoples of Volga Finnic ethnic stock dwelling in the republic of Mordovia within Russia, or in bordering lands of Russia. The religion is often called Mastorava (Mordvin for: "Mother Earth"), from the homonymous epic poem or the mother goddess of the Mordvin pantheon. The name of the originating god according to the Mordvin tradition is Ineshkipaz.
The Mordvins have been almost fully Christianised since the times of Kievan Rus', although Pagan customs were preserved in the folklore and a few villages completely preserved the native faith at least until further missionary activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century and in the early 20th century. The Neopagan revival was started in 1990, alongside that of many other native religions in Russia, as the Soviet Union was on the brink of dissolution.
According to scholar Victor Schnirelmann, 2% of the Mordvins adhere to the Mordvin native faith, while more recent figures by the Evangelical database Joshua Project report 5%. Adherents of the Erzyan Mastor organisation organise the Rasken Ozks (Mordvin for: "Native Prayer"), a national Mordvin worship service held yearly, with participation also of members of the Mastorava organisation and other ones.Paganism
Paganism (from classical Latin pāgānus "rural, rustic", later "civilian"), is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi (soldiers of Christ). Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.Paganism was originally a pejorative and derogatory term for polytheism, implying its inferiority. Paganism has broadly connoted the "religion of the peasantry", During and after the Middle Ages, the term paganism was applied to any non-Abrahamic or unfamiliar religion, and the term presumed a belief in false god(s). Most modern pagan religions existing today - Modern Paganism, or Neopaganism -
express a world view that is pantheistic, polytheistic or animistic; but some are monotheistic.The origin of the application of the term pagan to polytheism is debated. In the 19th century, paganism was adopted as a self-descriptor by members of various artistic groups inspired by the ancient world. In the 20th century, it came to be applied as a self-descriptor by practitioners of Modern Paganism, Neopagan movements and Polytheistic reconstructionists. Modern pagan traditions often incorporate beliefs or practices, such as nature worship, that are different from those in the largest world religions.Contemporary knowledge of old pagan religions comes from several sources, including anthropological field research records, the evidence of archaeological artifacts, and the historical accounts of ancient writers regarding cultures known to Classical antiquity.Udmurt Vos
Udmurt Vos (Udmurt: Удмурт Вӧсь, literally "Udmurt Faith") is the ethnic religious revival of the Udmurts, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group inhabiting the republic of Udmurtia in Russia. Among the Udmurts, as in other Finno-Ugric republics in the Volga region, the revival of Paganism is inextricably intertwined with the revival of national-ethnic culture and awareness.The Udmurtian Pagan revival circles sprang out of the Demen (Udmurt for "Society") movement which was established in December 1989 for the protection and restoration of the Udmurt ethnic culture. Udmurt Vos as an institution was founded in 1994.According to 2012 statistics, 2% of the population of Udmurtia adheres to forms of Paganism. Victor Schnirelmann reported an adherence of 4% for the Udmurts alone.Uralic neopaganism
Uralic neopaganism encompasses contemporary movements which have been reviving or revitalising the ethnic religions of the Uralic peoples. The rebirth has taken place since the 1980s and 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and alongside the ethnonational and cultural reawakening of the Uralic peoples of Russia, the Estonians and the Finns. In fact, Neopagan movements in Finland and Estonia have much older roots, dating from the early 20th century.
Among the Uralic peoples of the Volga Federal District of Russia (the Volga Finns and Udmurts), scholar Victor Schnirelmann has observed two cooperating patterns of development of Neopaganism: the reactivation of authentic rituals and worship ceremonies in the countrysides, and the development of systematised doctrines amongst the urban intelligentsia rejecting Russian Orthodoxy as a foreign religion. The Uralic Communion, founded in 2001, is an organisation for the cooperation of different institutions promoting Uralic indigenous religions.Vattisen Yaly
Vattisen Yaly (Chuvash: Ваттисен йӑли, Tradition of the Old) is a contemporary revival of the ethnic religion of the Chuvash people, a Turkic ethnicity of uppermost Bulgar ancestry mostly settled in the republic of Chuvashia and surrounding federal subjects of Russia.
Vattisen Yaly could be categorised as a peculiar form of Tengrism, a related revivalist movement of Central Asian traditional religion, however it differs significantly from it: being the Chuvash a heavily Fennicised and Slavified ethnicity (they were also never fully Islamised, contrarywise to most of other Turks), and having had exchanges also with other Indo-European ethnicities,The Chuvash are not simply Finns Tatarized in language, but show evidence in face form, nose form, and in the scarcity of true blondism, that the Turkish influence did bring some mongoloid traits. Their religion shows many similarities with Finnic and Slavic Paganisms; moreover, the revival of "Vattisen Yaly" in recent decades has occurred following Neopagan patterns. Thus it should be more carefully categorised as a Neopagan religion. Today the followers of the Chuvash Traditional Religion are called "the true Chuvash". Their main god is Tura, a deity comparable to the Estonian Taara, the Germanic Thunraz and the pan-Turkic Tengri.The Chuvash Traditional Religion has an unbroken continuation, having been preserved in a few villages of the Chuvash diaspora outside Chuvashia until modern times. In the late 1980s and early 1990s together with the demise of the Soviet Union a cultural and national revival blossomed among the Chuvash, and its leaders gradually embraced the idea of a return to indigenous Paganism, also supported by Chuvash intellectuals. The identitary movement looked to movements in the Baltic states for inspiration.
The national movement, meanwhile embodied in a Chuvash National Congress, carried on its "national religion" idea during the 1990s. Intellectuals started to recover and codify ancient rituals and started practicing them among the population both in cities and countryside villages, declaring themselves the guardians of tradition and the descendants of elder priests.