Scythian religion

Scythian religion refers to the mythology, ritual practices and beliefs of the Scythians, an ancient Iranian people who dominated Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe throughout Classical Antiquity. What little is known of the religion is drawn from the work of the 5th century Greek historian and ethnographer Herodotus. Scythian religion is assumed to have been related to the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and to have influenced later Slavic, Hungarian and Turkic mythologies, as well as some contemporary Eastern Iranian and Ossetian traditions.

Scythian stelae 01
A collection of drawings of Scythian stelae of the 6th and 5th centuries BC.[1] Many of them depict warriors, apparently representing the deceased buried in the kurgan, holding a drinking horn in their right hand.

Archaeological context

The primary archaeological context of horse sacrifice are burials, notably chariot burials, but graves with horse remains reach from the Eneolithic well into historical times. Herodotus describes the execution of horses at the burial of a Scythian king, and Iron Age kurgan graves known to contain horses number in the hundreds.

The Scythians had some reverence for the stag, which is one of the most common motifs in their artwork, especially at funeral sites (see, for example, the Pazyryk burials).

Pantheon

According to Herodotus, the Scythians worshipped a pantheon of seven gods and goddesses (heptad), which he equates with Greek divinities of Classical Antiquity following the interpretatio graeca. He mentions eight deities in particular, the eighth being worshipped by the Royal Scythians, and gives the Scythian names for seven of them as follows:[2]

  • Tabiti (Ταβιτί) – Hestia (Tabiti is thought to be a hellenized version of a name similar to Hindu Tapati and related verb tapayati ("burns"/"is hot"), as well as Avestan tapaiti, Latin tepeo and several other Indo-European terms for heat.[3][4]) Tabiti was presented as "Queen of the gods" around 450 BCE by King Idanthyrsos, a political guardian,[5] she was considered the goddess of the home ensuring prosperity to a well-functioning household.[6]
  • Scythian Ares (Greek: Ἄρης) – Ares
  • Papaios (Παπαῖος) – Zeus
  • Api (Ἀπί) – Gaia
  • Oitosyros (Οἰτόσυρος) – Apollo
  • Argimpasa (Ἀργίμπασα) – Aphrodite Urania
  • Thagimasidas (Θαγιμασάδας) – Poseidon

Animal sacrifice

The mode of Scythian animal sacrifice was, in the opinion of Herodotus, relatively simple. Sacrificial animals included various kinds of livestock, though the most prestigious offering was considered to be the horse. The pig, on the other hand, was never offered in sacrifice, and apparently the Scythians were loath to keep swine within their lands.[7] Herodotus describes the Scythian manner of sacrifice as follows:

The victim stands with its fore-feet tied, and the sacrificing priest stands behind the victim, and by pulling the end of the cord he throws the beast down; and as the victim falls, he calls upon the god to whom he is sacrificing, and then at once throws a noose round its neck, and putting a small stick into it he turns it round and so strangles the animal, without either lighting a fire or making any first offering from the victim or pouring any libation over it: and when he has strangled it and flayed off the skin, he proceeds to boil it. [...] Then when the flesh is boiled, the sacrificer takes a first offering of the flesh and of the vital organs and casts it in front of him.[8]

Worship of "Scythian Ares"

Although Tabiti was apparently the most important deity in the Scythian pantheon, the worship accorded to the deity Herodotus refers to as "Ares" was unique. He notes that "it is not their custom [...] to make images, altars or temples to any except Ares, but to him it is their custom to make them".[8] He describes the construction of the altar and the subsequent sacrifice as follows:

In each district of the several governments they have a temple of Ares set up in this way: bundles of brushwood are heaped up for about three furlongs in length and in breadth, but less in height; and on the top of this there is a level square made, and three of the sides rise sheer but by the remaining one side the pile may be ascended. Every year they pile on a hundred and fifty wagon-loads of brushwood, for it is constantly settling down by reason of the weather. Upon this pile of which I speak each people has an ancient iron sword set up, and this is the sacred symbol of Ares. To this sword they bring yearly offerings of cattle and of horses; and they have the following sacrifice in addition, beyond what they make to the other gods, that is to say, of all the enemies whom they take captive in war they sacrifice one man in every hundred, not in the same manner as they sacrifice cattle, but in a different manner: for they first pour wine over their heads, and after that they cut the throats of the men, so that the blood runs into a bowl; and then they carry this up to the top of the pile of brushwood and pour the blood over the sword. This, I say, they carry up; and meanwhile below by the side of the temple they are doing thus: they cut off all the right arms of the slaughtered men with the hands and throw them up into the air, and then when they have finished offering the other victims, they go away; and the arm lies wheresoever it has chanced to fall, and the corpse apart from it.[7]

According to Tadeusz Sulimirski, this form of worship continued among the descendants of the Scythians, the Alans, through to the 4th century CE.[9]; this tradition may be reflected in Jordanes' assertion that Attila was able to assert his authority over the Scythians through his possession of the "Sword of Mars"[10].

Enarei

The Enarei were a privileged caste of hereditary priests which played an important political role in Scythian society as they were believed to have received the gift of prophesy directly from the goddess Argimpasa.[11] The method employed by the Enarei differed from that practised by traditional Scythian diviners: whereas the latter used a bundle of willow rods, the Enarei used strips cut from the bark of the linden tree (genus tilia) to tell the future. The Enarei were also noted for dressing themselves in the clothes of women, a custom which Herodotus understands as being reflected in the title ena-rei, glossing this as ἀνδρό-γυνοι or "man-women".[11]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ redrawn from B. A. Rybakov, Язычество древней Руси ("Paganism of Ancient Rus", 1987, fig. 7).
  2. ^ Macaulay (1904:314). Cf. also Rolle (1980:128–129); Hort (1827:188–190).
  3. ^ West, M. L. Indo-European Poetry and Myth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  4. ^ Cheung, Johnny (2007) Etymological Dictionary of the Iranian Verb (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 2), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, pages 378–379
  5. ^ MacLeod, Sharon (Dec 7, 2013). The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe: Goddesses, Sacred Women and the Origins of Western Culture. McFarland. p. 116-128.- Retrieved 2018-12-17
  6. ^ Auset, Brandi (2009). The Goddess Guide: Exploring the Attributes and Correspondences of the Divine Feminine. Llewellyn Publications. p. 72.- Retrieved 2018-12-17
  7. ^ a b Macaulay (1904:315).
  8. ^ a b Macaulay (1904:314).
  9. ^ Sulimirski (1985:158–159).
  10. ^ Geary (1994:63).
  11. ^ a b Macaulay (1904:317); Christian (1998:148).

References

  • Christian, David (1998). A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Volume I: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-18321-3. pg. 148.
  • Geary, Patrick J. (1994). "Chapter 3. Germanic Tradition and Royal Ideology in the Ninth Century: The Visio Karoli Magni". Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages. Cornell University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8014-8098-0.
  • Hort, W. Jillard (1827). The New Pantheon: An Introduction to the Mythology of the Ancients. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. pp. 188–190.
  • Macaulay, G. C. (1904). The History of Herodotus, Vol. I. London: Macmillan & Co. pp. 313–317.
  • Rolle, Renate (1980). The World of the Scythians. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06864-5. pp. 128–129.
  • Sulimirski, T. (1985). "The Scyths" in: Fisher, W. B. (Ed.) The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 2: The Median and Achaemenian Periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20091-1. pp. 158–159.
Absolute (philosophy)

The concept of the Absolute, also known as The (Unconditioned) Ultimate, The Wholly Other, The Supreme Being, The Absolute/Ultimate Reality, The Ground of Being, Urgrund, The Absolute Principle, The Source/Fountain/Well/Center/Foundation of Reality, The Ultimate Oneness/Whole, The Absolute God of The Universe, and other names, titles, aliases, and epithets, 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 entity that is the greatest, highest, or "truest" being, existence, or reality.

There are many conceptions of the Absolute in various fields and subjects, such as philosophy, religion, spiritual traditions, formal science (such as 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, objects, entities, and types, kinds, and categories of being.

The Absolute is often thought of as generating manifestations that interact with lower or lesser types, kinds, and categories 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 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.

Agin

Agin may refer to:

Ağın, a town in Turkey

Agin, alternative name of Aghin, a town in Armenia

Agin (surname), Russian last name

Agin, a deity in Scythian religion

Ancient Iranian religion

Ancient Iranian religion refers to the ancient beliefs and practices of the Iranian peoples before the rise of Zoroastrianism.

The Iranian peoples emerged as a separate branch of the Indo-Iranians in the 2nd-millennium BC, during which they came to dominate the Eurasian Steppe and the Iranian Plateau. Their religion is derived from Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and therefore shares many similarities with Vedic religion. Although the Iranian peoples left few written or material evidence of their religious practices, their religion is possible to reconstruct from scant Iranian, Babylonian and Greek accounts, similarities with Vedic and other Indo-European religions, and material evidence. Their religion was polytheistic and the chief god of their pantheon was Ahura Mazda, who was recognized as the creator of the world. They had a three-tiered division of the cosmos into the earth, the atmosphere and the heaven above. Dualism was strongly emphasized and human nature was considered essentially good. The chief ritual of the ancient Iranians was the yazna, in which the deities were praised and the mind-altering drug hauma was consumed. This ritual was performed by a highly trained priestly class. Fire was worshiped as the deity Atar. Politics and religion under the Persian Empires were strongly connected.

Beginning in the early 10th-century BC, the ancient Iranian religion was gradually displaced by Zoroastrianism, which contains many essential aspects of its predecessor.

Argimpasa

Argimpasa is a goddess in ancient Scythian religion. Of all deities of the Scythian pantheon, she is the most widely speculated upon in literature, and the most clear to have been a uniquely Scythian invention.

Bosporan Kingdom

The Bosporan Kingdom, also known as the Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus (Greek: Βασίλειον τοῦ Κιμμερικοῦ Βοσπόρου, Basileion tou Kimmerikou Bosporou), was an ancient Greco-Scythian state located in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus, the present-day Strait of Kerch (it was not named after the more famous Bosphorus beside Istanbul at the other end of the Black Sea). It was the first truly 'Hellenistic' state in the sense that a mixed population adopted the Greek language and civilization. The Bosporan Kingdom became the longest surviving Roman client kingdom. The 1st and 2nd centuries BC saw a period of renewed golden age of the Bosporan state. It was a Roman province from 63 to 68 AD, under Emperor Nero. At the end of the 2nd century AD, King Sauromates II inflicted a critical defeat on the Scythians and included all the territories of the Crimea in the structure of his state.

The prosperity of the Bosporan Kingdom was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The profit of the trade supported a class whose conspicuous wealth is still visible from newly discovered archaeological finds, excavated, often illegally, from numerous burial barrows known as kurgans. The once-thriving cities of the Bosporus left extensive architectural and sculptural remains, while the kurgans continue to yield spectacular Greco-Sarmatian objects, the best examples of which are now preserved in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. These include gold work, vases imported from Athens, coarse terracottas, textile fragments and specimens of carpentry and marquetry.

Germanic paganism

Germanic paganism refers to the ethnic religion practiced by the Germanic peoples from the Iron Age until Christianisation during the Middle Ages. From both archaeological remains and literary sources, it is possible to trace a number of common or closely related beliefs throughout the Germanic area into the Middle Ages, when the last pagan areas in Scandinavia were Christianized. Rooted in Proto-Indo-European religion, Proto-Germanic religion expanded during the Migration Period, yielding extensions such as Old Norse religion among the North Germanic peoples, the paganism practiced amid the continental Germanic peoples, and Anglo-Saxon paganism among the Old English-speaking peoples. Germanic religion is best documented in several texts from the 10th and 11th centuries, where they have been best preserved in Scandinavia and Iceland.

Iranian mythology

Iranian mythology or Iranic mythology may involve in the mythology of Iranian peoples, a branch of Indo-Europeans. Below is a list of some Iranian peoples.

Persian mythology

Kurdish mythology

Ossetian mythology and Ætsæg Din

Scythian religion

Iranian religions

Iranian religions or Iranic religions are the pre-Islamic (and pre-Christian) religions of the Iranic peoples of Central Asia and also those associated with Greater Iran.

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.

North Ossetia–Alania

The Republic of North Ossetia – Alania (Russian: Республика Северная Осетия — Алания, tr. Respublika Severnaya Osetiya — Alaniya, IPA: [rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə ˈsʲevʲɪrnəjə ɐˈsʲetʲɪjə ɐˈlanʲɪjə]; Ossetian: Республикӕ Цæгат Ирыстон — Алани, Respublikæ Cægat Iryston — Alani, Ossetian pronunciation: [resˈpublikə t͡səˈgät iɾɨˈʃton äˈläni] listen ) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). Its population according to the 2010 Census was 712,980. Its capital is the city of Vladikavkaz.

Slavic Native Faith

The Slavic Native Faith, also known as Rodnovery, is a modern Pagan religion. Classified as a new religious movement, its practitioners harken back to the historical belief systems of the Slavic peoples of Central and Eastern Europe. "Rodnovery" is a widely accepted self-descriptor within the community, although there are Rodnover organisations which further characterise the religion as Orthodoxy, Old Belief and Vedism.

Rodnovers typically regard their religion as a faithful continuation of ancient beliefs that survived as folk religion or as conscious "double belief" following the Christianisation of the Slavs in the Middle Ages. Rodnovery draws upon surviving historical and archaeological sources, folk religion and even non-Slavic sources such as Hinduism. Rodnover theology and cosmology may be described as pantheism and polytheism—worship of the supreme God of the universe and of the multiple gods, ancestors and spirits of nature identified through Slavic culture. Adherents usually meet together in groups to conduct religious ceremonies. These typically entail the invocation of gods, sacrifices and the pouring of libations, dances and a communal meal.

Rodnover ethical thinking emphasises the good of the collective over the rights of the individual. The religion is patriarchal, and attitudes towards sex and gender are generally conservative. Rodnovery has developed distinctive strains of political and identitary philosophy. Rodnover organisations often characterise themselves as ethnic religions, emphasising that the religion is bound to Slavic ethnicity. This often manifests as ethnic nationalism, opposition to miscegenation and the belief in the fundamental difference of racial groups. Rodnovers often glorify Slavic history, criticising the impact of Christianity in Slavic countries and arguing that these nations will play a central role in the world's future. Rodnovers share a strong feeling that their religion represents a paradigmatic shift which will overcome the mental constraints imposed through feudalism and the continuation of what they call "mono-ideologies".

The contemporary organised Rodnovery movement arose from a multiplicity of sources and charismatic leaders just at the brink of the collapse of the Soviet Union and spread rapidly by the mid-1990s and the 2000s. Antecedents are to be found in late 18th- and 19th-century Slavic Romanticism, which glorified the pre-Christian beliefs of Slavic societies. Active religious practitioners devoted to establishing Slavic Native Faith appeared in Poland and Ukraine in the 1930s and 1940s. Following the Second World War and the establishment of communist states throughout the Eastern Bloc, new variants were established by Slavic emigrants living in Western countries, being later introduced in Central and Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent times, the movement has been increasingly studied in academic scholarship.

Tabiti

Tabiti is the queen of the gods in Scythian religion. Equated by Herodotus with Hestia.

Uatsdin

Uatsdin (Ossetian: Уацдин), otherwise spelled Watsdin, also known as Assdin (Ассдин, "Ese-Faith"), or by the extended name Ætsæg Din (Æцæг Дин, literally "True Faith"; the same meaning of "Uatsdin", which is a word compound), and among Russians as Assianism (Russian: Ассианство, Assianstvo; alternative rendition of "Assdin"), is the modern neo-Pagan movement and religious organization of the same name founded in North Ossetia. Its followers consist primarily by the Ossetians (an Eastern Iranic, Alan-Samatian ethnic group inhabiting a homeland in the Caucasus that is split nowadays between two states: the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania within Russia, and the neighbouring state of South Ossetia). This religion has experienced an organised revival since the 1980s.In the Ossetian case, certain traditions of folk religion had survived with unbroken continuity, and were revived in rural areas. This contrasts, and interacts, with an urban and more intellectual movement which elaborated a systematic revival religion to overcome the crisis of identity of the Ossetian people, based in ethnic nationalism and opposition to both Russian and Georgian Orthodox Christianity, perceived as foreign, and opposed as well to the Islam professed by the neighboring Turkic and Caucasian ethnic groups and among a small minority of Ossetians. The major organisation among Ossetians is the Atsætæ organization (Ossetian: Ацæтæ; Russian: Асата, Asata) led by Daurbek Makeyev, based in North Ossetia–Alania.

The Uatsdin movement is active both in North and South Ossetia. Whilst there are no figures about religious demographics for South Ossetia, in North Ossetia–Alania about 29% of the population was practicing this ethnic folk-religion in 2012, according to a survey carried out in that year.

Historical polytheism
Myth and ritual
Christianization
Modern pagan movements

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