History: Pagans and Russians
The Summer Solstice
- During the solstice, the north pole is tipped more directly toward the sun, and the south pole is tipped more directly away from the sun. As a result, all locations north of the equator see days longer than 12 hours and all locations south see days shorter than 12 hours.
- Based on Earth’s current orbit, the summer solstice date rotates between June 20, 21 and 22 and is not fixed since it depends on the physics of our solar system and not on our calendar.
- Summer solstice is also referred to as Midsummer or First Day of Summer while Wiccans and other Neopagan groups call it Litha whereas some Christian churches recognise the summer solstice as St John’s Day to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist.
- The Vikings were said to have hung dead human and animal bodies from trees as an offering to the gods to practice ritual human sacrifice, especially at the solstice.
- Iceland is the only place outside of the Arctic Circle where we can experience the sun “not set” as in northern Iceland, the sun dips all the way down to the horizon, brushes the water then starts to rise again if one physically watches the sun from the top of a cliff overlooking the sea.
- According to pagan folklore, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers like “chase devil”, today referred to as St John’s Wort, to ward off evil spirits that were believed to appear on the summer solstice…
1. The Druid Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe
To the early Druid priests of Gaul and Britain, the oak tree held great significance in their rituals and was considered sacred. Likewise, mistletoe, which can grow on the oak, also had an important role in their religion. According to a Roman chronicler ‘Pliny the Elder’ writing in the 1st century AD, it was believed that when mistletoe fell from oak, it was a sign that the tree had been selected by their god.
Pliny states that on the 6th day of the moon, Druid priests dressed in white robes would prepare a banquet beneath the tree and bring up to it two white bulls. A priest would then climb the tree and cut down a branch of mistletoe with a golden sickle. The white bulls would be sacrificed while the attendants prayed to a god; the mistletoe was then given to livestock in a drink which, it was believed, was an antidote to all poisons and would make any barren animal fertile.
2. Anglo-Saxons and the Wild Boar
The boar was a very important symbol in many pagan societies and was associated with both warrior and fertility gods and goddesses. In the Anglo-Saxon midwinter feast, a wild boar would be sacrificed and vows made for the following year, giving us the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. According to the Roman commentator Tacitus, they would wear boar skin into combat instead of armour, believing it would give them the protection of ‘the Mother of the gods’ and guaranteeing the warrior would be fearless in the heat of the battle.
3. The Pagan Origins of Easter
The word ‘Easter’ was first proposed as the name for the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus by the 8th-century monk St Bede. He derived the word from an Anglo-Saxon mother goddess of the spring, dawn and new life and beginnings, called Easter.
On the day of the spring equinox, 21 March, the Anglo-Saxons held a festival in honour of Easter, during which a rabbit was used as a symbol of fertility and eggs were painted with bright colours to represent the sunlight brought by the coming of spring. The eggs were then given to friends and families as gifts or used in egg rolling contents.
4. Viking Blood Sacrifice (Blot)
The Viking blood sacrifice or Blot was practised at various times of year to give thanks to the gods or to try and please them. While the blot was usually performed with animal blood, one saga mentions the King of the Swedes being sacrificed to Odin.
The ritual would be performed out in the open and no violence was allowed at the meeting place. The animal would be sacrificed over an altar made of piled stones and the blood collected in a bowl. The priest would recite songs in honour of the god being worshipped then pass the bowl around a flame three times while reciting magic words. The same was done with the meat of the animal before finally, the priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed animal on himself and all attending and poured what was left on the altar.
5. The Wicker Man
Perhaps the weirdest and most notorious ritual of the ancient Pagans was human sacrifices. Historians debate whether Pagan cultures actually practised human sacrifice as most writing on the subject comes from their enemies. Tales of human sacrifice may be real or just Greek and Roman propaganda designed to encourage support for the war against Pagan cultures from the citizens back home.
In his ‘Commentaries on the Gallic War’, Julius Caesar talks about the unusual ritual practised, according to him, by the Gauls in the 1st century BC. Although admitting that he hadn’t seen the ritual with his own eyes, Caesar claimed that a large man-shaped effigy called a Wicker Man would be built out of sticks and set alight, with those to be sacrificed to the gods trapped inside. Usually, criminals would be used but if none could be found then innocent men would be burned alive instead.
There is no doubt that various cultures during the centuries believed in different magics, superstitions and similar. Even today, in the modern age, we still have people that believe in the magic and capability of people to cast spells, heal with a touch and deal with negative magic. As suggested by authenticmagicspells.com, if you think that someone cast a spell on you, you should definitely ask for help from a professional in this field and get your life back on track.
Also, check out 14 Fascinating Truths About Pagan Sex Rituals
The Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution took place in 1917, during the final phase of World War I. It removed Russia from the war and brought about the transformation of the Russian Empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), replacing Russia’s traditional monarchy with the world’s first Communist state. The revolution happened in stages through two separate coups, one in February and one in October. The new government, led by Vladimir Lenin, would solidify its power only after three years of civil war, which ended in 1920.
Although the events of the Russian Revolution happened abruptly, the causes may be traced back nearly a century. Prior to the revolution, the Russian monarchy had become progressively weaker and increasingly aware of its own vulnerability (and therefore more reactionary). Nicholas II—the tsar who led Russia in the years leading up to the revolution—had personally witnessed revolutionary terrorists assassinate his grandfather and, subsequently, his own father respond to the assassination through brutal oppression of the Russian people. When Nicholas II himself became tsar in 1894, he used similarly severe measures to subdue resistance movements, which were becoming bolder and more widespread every year. As Nicholas’s newly imposed oppressions in turn incited still more unrest, he was forced to make concessions after each incident: it was in this manner that Russia’s first constitution was created, as was its first parliament. These concessions continued gradually until Nicholas II’s grip on power became very tenuous.
As Nicholas II grew weaker, Vladimir Lenin rose to prominence as the most powerful figure in Russia. Although this famous leader of the October Revolution was not even in Russia for the February Revolution—he had lived in self-imposed exile in Europe since 1900 and returned to Russia only in April 1917—he nonetheless exerted tremendous influence. Whatever history’s judgement of him, few other Russian revolutionaries possessed Lenin’s decisiveness and strength of vision for Russia’s future. Born in 1870 in the provincial town of Simbirsk as Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, the young Lenin was profoundly affected by his older brother Alexander’s 1887 execution for being involved in a plot to assassinate the tsar. As a young adult, Vladimir joined the resistance movement himself and took the pseudonym Lenin but swore that he would never engage in the sort of “adventurism” that had ended his brother’s life. Nevertheless, his actions would one day become very adventurous indeed.
The revolution that Lenin led marked one of the most radical turning points in Russia’s 1,300-year history: it affected economics, social structure, culture, international relations, industrial development, and most any other benchmark by which one might measure a revolution. Although the new government would prove to be at least as repressive as the one it replaced, the country’s new rulers were drawn largely from the intellectual and working classes rather than from the aristocracy—which meant a considerable change in direction for Russia.
The revolution opened the door for Russia to fully enter the industrial age. Prior to 1917, Russia was a mostly agrarian nation that had dabbled in industrial development only to a limited degree. By 1917, Russia’s European neighbours had embraced industrialization for more than half a century, making technological advancements such as widespread electrification, which Russia had yet to achieve. After the revolution, new urban-industrial regions appeared quickly in Russia and became increasingly important to the country’s development. The population was drawn to the cities in huge numbers. Education also took a major upswing, and illiteracy was almost entirely eradicated.
The Russian Revolution also had considerable international consequences. Lenin’s government immediately pulled Russia out of World War I, changing the balance of forces for the remaining participants. During the ensuing civil war in Russia, several nations, including the United States, sent troops to Russia in hopes of keeping the chaos from spreading beyond Russia’s boundaries. Over the next several decades, the Soviet Union actively sponsored and assisted Communist movements and revolutions around the world in an effort to broaden its sphere of influence. The country also played a fundamental role in the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Threatened by the possibility of revolutions in their own lands, the governments of many Western nations viewed Communism as a spreading threat and moved to isolate the Soviet Union as much as possible. Following World War II and the advent of the nuclear age, a confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States took centre stage. As this Cold War got underway, the two countries emerged as superpowers with much of the rest of the world falling in behind one or the other. A protracted nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union would last until the USSR finally collapsed in 1991.