East Slavic Paganism

The Old East Slavic Pagan Moral Values

The Old East Slavic moral values were determined by paganism. We may classify moral values in two groups: (1) social values; (2) personal values.

The most important Slavic pagan social values.

The major Slavic pagan social value was prav (Slavic word), which is also called pravda (East Slavic synonym). Slavs believed that the world is based on prav (pravda). It is strongly connected with the myth of world creation (you may read about it in the article The God).

The concept of pravda (prav) included justice, true, rule, law, vow, promise, oath, precept, reality. Pravda was the world law. People used to call pravda The Mother in order to point out the respectability and the creative beginning of it. If pravda left the word, the word would not exist.

All the sides of social life was determined by pravda. Fair organisation of a society, inviolability of another's property, equality of people, and fidelity to an oath are only some displays of pravda observance. These phenomenons explain absence of locks on doors, trust to oaths, absence of slavery, the democratic decision of problems, and clearing of war captives in few years after working off.

The important social value was an adherence to the stock – a community of relatives. Exile from a stock was considered to be the greatest punishment.

The most important Slavic pagan personal values.

Slavic people observed chastity in marriage. Fornication was considered to be a criminal offense and was punishable by death. The chastity of Slavic people always surprised foreigners. Here are some statements of contemporary historians about Slavs. Boniface: “Pagans observe the marriage unions, punish debauchees and fornicators”; Gardizi: “If soneone makes fornication, he or she would be killed, without accepting any apologies”; Ibn-Fadlan: “Men and women go to the river and bathe together naked … but they do not fornicate and if anyone would be guilty of it, no matter who is he and she … he and she would be pinked by pole-axe … then they hang out each part both of them on a tree”; Mauriki: “Their wives are chasty over any human nature”.

Moral value of a life in a certain status is very interesting. Slavs believed that they must live only if they have a certain status. If they lost it they have been obliged to commit a ritual suicide.

Instead of losing freedom to slavory, soldiers prefered to commit a ritual suicide. There are other reasons why a ritual suicide would be necessary, such as the loss of a husband or groom status and murder or attempted murder of a family member. The ritual of suicide for a man is impaling his body with a sword or spear. The ritual for a woman is done by simultaneously thrusting two knives into her breast.

P.S. I am not saying that most important values are connected with death. But such things like suicide and punishment by execution shows us the importance of these phenomenons.

L. Niederle. Slavic antiquities. 1934.
B. Rybakov. The Ancient Slavic Paganism. 1984.
A. Afanasyev. About the Meaning of Rod and Rojanicy.
L. Prozorov. The times of Russian heroes. 2006.

Mauriki, Strat.
Adam Bremen.