Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Kupala, Slavic Goddess of Water and Summer
Kupala is the Slavic goddess of water and is associated with springs and rivers. Her name translates to mean "to bathe" as her worshipers would honor her by bathing in rivers. Kupala was also associated with herbs, fertility and sorcery. Her sacred trees and flowers were ferns, birch wood and wildflowers.
Kupala was honored during the Summer Solstice where her worshipers would throw flowers in the rivers in her honor. They would then bathe in the rivers as a ritual of purification. Fire was also honored at this time as the two elements, fire and water, were both seen as purifying. Big bonfires were constructed in honor of Kupala and people would jump over them or dance around them in her celebration. Also at the Summer Solstice and effigy of the goddess was made from straw and was either burned in the fires or thrown in the rivers until next summer.
On the day of midsummer people would go out in the morning and walk amongst the morning dew in the grass while gathering herbs. Or it is said that they would leave a rag outside the night before to collect the morning dew and then would bathe in it. Women would gather wildflowers, herbs and ferns to make wreaths which they wore in their hair. Herbs in honor of Kupala were also used to help with magical visions on the night of the summer solstice.
The male aspect of Kupala is known as Kupalo and he was also honored around the Summer Solstice in the Christianized festival of St. John the Baptiste. This festival, known as Ivana Kupala, is still celebrated to this day in Russia. This modern celebration is still honored as it was in ancient times. Bonfires, song and dance, ritual to the deities of summer and and effigy of the goddess is constructed, burned and then buried. Garlands made from Kupala's sacred herbs are made, candles are put in the center and then they are put in the rivers to float downstream.
To honor this ancient goddess of purification, throw some flowers into a river or spring. Or throw some in your bathtub at home and then bathe in it to purify yourself in Kupala's magic. You may also put a rag outside at night and collect it in the early hours of the morning and bathe in the dew of Kupala. Fertility rites and summer magic can also be held in her honor. Gather wildflowers, ferns and herbs to make a wreath to wear in your hair.
Picture courtesy of Ivana Kupala Day
Posted by Tara at 8:40 AM