AD.LIB Department. Wheel of the Year. Pagan holiday Kupala.
A series of pagan holidays “Kupala”
20-23 of June.
This is the time of awakening of the last element – Fire. Starting from this moment all the four elements become alive, balanced and united like one family gathered after a long separation. The moment of arrival of Fire is the birth of the new young god, long-awaited firstborn of the mother-nature and her powerful spouse, her chosen one. The night before Kupala is considered to be the most powerful of all year – not from the point of view of magic but from the point of view of the people. Mother earth gives the most precious thing she has to this world – her child, her son. The whole of nature opens up simultaneously with her, giving away all the best and the most precious things it has, bringing gifts to her new Lord.
That is exactly why people were feeling the magical power of this night and hoping for a miracle, impossible on any other day and did things they would never do on any other day. Only on this day, even in times of Christianity, absolutely any deed was free of being considered a sin. Everything was permitted, everything was allowed. You could do whatever you wanted, love whoever you wanted, wish for anything without being afraid of anything – you only had to do it in an honest and sincere way. If there was no fear or desire to lie and break the sacred law of life, the law of loyalty to one’s word, then everything was possible.
This is how magicians of old times would teach their people – don’t lie, don’t be jealous, at least on this day! Not today, so you don’t dishonor the newly born world by being mean and being a coward. Don’t even put out an idea that it is possible in a world meant for our children. And that means you will be free from becoming slaves of the gods of your enemies for your debts of honor: a slave is the one who was abandoned by the power of the gods, unprotected in time of hardship.
Since ancient times the Slavs considered this day to be a very special one. In the same way as the Celts thoroughly developed their Beltane tradition, the Slavs fully invested themselves in Kupala mysteries. Kupala was the name they gave to the god that was born to the Mother-Earth.
A very beautiful Slavic tale tells us about the birth of the god Kupala. The god of fierce Fire Semargl Svarozych came to our distant ancestors in the form of a winged dog. Powerful and invincible, with a fiery sword in his hand, he tirelessly defended the Sun from the earthly evil, not leaving it even for a moment. But his cruel heart was not carved out of stone as the other gods assumed. Semargl was deeply and passionately in love with the night goddess Kupalnitsa and knew that his feelings were mutual. Everyday Kupalnitsa would call her beloved one to the shores of the beautiful Ra-river, although she understood that Semargl could not leave the sky. But one day his love blinded his feeling of duty. The god left his place in heaven and descended to the Ra-river to finally embrace his beloved one. After a period of time normal for the gods, Semargl and Kupalnitsa had children – Kupala and Kostroma. Thunder bearer Perun was very happy for his brother and presented the newborn children with an unusual gift. Perun put a tiny part of his power in a fern plant that had never bloomed before and gave a gorgeous flower to the children of Semargl and Kupalnitsa.
The god of the new Light, the god of the Fire itself and the son of the Fire – this is who Kulapa is. Life is not possible within the fiery nature of Semargl. His Fire is primordial, it is fierce. It is the Fire of the Titans and fiery giants. It is not for the people, but for the gods and magicians. People, nature, and life need a different kind of Fire – giving warmth, giving life. Night goddess Kupalnitsa – the dark, hidden power of the Mother – together with Semargl – son of Svarog and god of another world – gave the power of Light to the living people. This power doesn’t kill, doesn’t enslave, but, on the contrary, it gives them life, full freedom, and guides them.
Godly twins and gods of the Light were born on the day of the Summer Solstice not only in the Slavic tales. According to the legend, Apollo and Artemis, ancient Greek gods, were born to a goddess Leto also on a day of the Summer Solstice. The Celts – “karmic twins” of the Slavic people – also had a tale about the love of a god Dagda (whose name meant “the flame of the god”) for the river goddess Boann, the keeper of the ancient wisdom. This love gave birth to a god Aengus Óg – the “young god,” the god of love and light, the god of fertility and all living things.
The mystical power of Kupala night is the time of agreement and unification, the time of equality of all before the incessant power of life. Light is equal to Darkness and Order merges with Chaos. The border between the worlds disappears again, all things get mixed and the structured world of the people is fused with the magical essence of the spirits of nature: mermaids, forest spirits, necks – everyone feels the birth of the new power – the power of unification. This is what merges different realities and for several days, the new Fire, the new Light perceives this merging as natural. Later, the border will become more solid of course and the divided worlds will start living their own lives. But according to the magical law, everything that falls into the light takes shape and becomes manifested in the spirit world as well the world of the people. This night is the only night in a year when the following law applies: we can all live together, people and non-people.
This is why on Kupala night it was important to be sincere and strong, not only to dream but to follow your dream, not only to eagerly desire life but also not to be afraid of all its manifestations. Because any distortion in the purity of one’s freedom will inevitably affect the newborn power. But the law of equilibrium will still work: if a person is afraid and hates something that is slightly different from him, he will be treated in exactly the same way and nowhere in the world of nature will he find support and help from the other children of the Mother.
Fire transmits information. The more manifested the element of Fire within a person, the more capable of transmitting information this person is. Fire is expansion and passion, the heat and the power of the spirit. The strength of the Fire defines how everything meant to happen is manifested. But most importantly, it defines the freedom of a human being, his right not to be anyone’s slave.
In this time of transition, magicians and druids would center their rituals around awakening the right kind of Fire within themselves. It had to be no less powerful than that of the newborn god. Then Mother-Earth will consider man to be her son and give him her maternal protection, grant him an amazing destiny, only deserved by the gods and heroes. That is why the ritual was not only related to making fire and cleansing with Kupala flames. A person had to activate within himself all the elements that were already awake and make them as strong as possible, depending on the power of his consciousness. Then the strength of the Fire will also be powerful since there has to be enough of it to absorb the strength of the Earth, Air, and Water complimenting them and connecting them within oneself, and oneself within them. One is equal to the strength of the three. This is the kind of Fire needed on Kupala night.
Kupala mysteries need to take place in nature, near the water, in an open space. On this night, the night of union with the power of the elements, the new-born Fire-Kupala, the son of Semargl, showed his nature as fully as possible. It was the nature of unification and love, free acceptance of everything with no limitations or restrictions.
But the magic ritual performed by magicians and druids away from the public was a little different from the one done by the people. Magicians would aim their ritual at activating the power of the father of the young god, the winged Sеmargl. The power of Semargl, just like that of any Titan, was dangerous for the people, but not for the ones whose task was not only to protect but regulate the tribe, the clan, and the people (since any tribe is also a wilful union of people).
By awakening the power of the primordial fire of Semargl, the wizards obtained support and protection for the time when the young newborn god was growing and gaining strength and experience he needed. Having a fiery nature originally, Semargl can tame any kind of Fire, including the alien Fire. If it happens so that the young god Kupala doesn’t have enough strength to move away the black cloud covering the sun from the people, then Semargl, son of Svarog, has to take his son´s place, open up his source of Fire and not allow life to end. Semargl is a “reserved kind of energy” if we use the contemporary language. This is how magicians anticipated the future problems that the Winds of Imbolk told them about.
But at the moment, it is all about happiness and joy for the people. Experiencing Kupala night, people’s hearts should stay free from fear or doubt. But those responsible for people’s lives have to think ahead: what needs to be done today, so that the power of the gods doesn’t abandon the people, so that Kupala´s Fire spark doesn’t fade in people’s hearts, so that the blood of a young god doesn’t get cold in the veins of all living beings.
A person’s health that we talked about originally receives strength and recovery on the night of Kupala fires. People bathe, jump over the fire, praise the Earth that feeds them, the Air and the Water that give them their lifetime, and of course, they praise the Fire of the new god of the good time. He will definitely stand all the trials if the power of the Fire does not fade within the people. On this day you need to awaken in yourself a desire to live, such a strong desire that it will help you find the right purpose: why to be healthy, why to live.
The book of Veles also mentions this holiday: “Like a wanderer who walked through the woods at night and tore his clothes to pieces, we have our rags. So we, the Rusyns, wear our rags on our bodies and nonetheless, we only wish to glorify our gods in temples. They don’t accept our offerings for they are offended by our laziness. Only the Bird Mother-Sva predicted glory for us and called us to learn by example of our fathers´ glory. But we were not audacious enough to go to war with our swords and win back our land from the enemies.
We kept our sacredness for a thousand and three hundred years and now Kupala is approaching us. He tells us that we need to become proud and pure in our souls and body. We have kneeled at his feet so that he accompanies, protects, and leads us to a severe battle. And there we will stand in front of Svarog.
Going to war we would praise our gods before the fight just like in a time of peace. And Kupala predicted that we would wait until that hour comes and we would be honored for our glory and be a part of our fathers’ glory.”
Extract from Menshikova K.E book “Health through the Power of the Elements.”