Thursday, January 7, 2010


Since the waning of the cold war, the West has had access to more information about Eastern European nations, their history, pre-history and mythology. Like many other areas of the world, Belarus has its own standing stones and associated folklore. Many of the sacred stones of Belarus were deposited by glacial action, which transported massive boulders from what is now Finland and Sweden to the Belarus countryside. Because they are obviously out of place in the associated landscape, myths sprang up to account for their presence. Along with myths, religious traditions also sprouted around these stone giants.

One of the pagan beliefs, dating back to the Paleolithic era, is tied to the cult of Volas. Volas was the pagan god of prosperity and of cattle. He was reportedly worshipped into the 20th century and may still be revered in the isolated rural areas of the country. Volas Stones are a direct link to this ancient religion. They are large recumbent stones, usually found in small clearings in forests. Cattle skulls would be placed in trees around the stone, where a priest would seek to see into the future and to cure diseases. Travelers would visit these stones in pilgrimage to offer sacrifices before and after certain ventures.

Other stones were dedicated to the god of agriculture, Dazhdzhbog who, like other gods of agriculture, was also the god of the sun and rain. Dazhdzhbog Stones were recumbent stones that served as altars. They are characterized with cup depressions that were used to mill sacral grain for the sacrificial bread which was made as an offering for the continuation of the crops. Many of the forest clearings used in these rituals were strewn with rock alignments, cairns and standing stones.

Like other sacred areas of Europe, stones in Belarus were also believed to be inhabited by an evil form of Little People, regarded as “devils.” Their stones are called Devil Stones, and they are located in swamps and other sinister places. These devils were known to try to confuse travelers so that they would lose their way.

Belarussian folklore also contains stories of men and beasts who were turned to stone for angering local pagan gods.

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