East Slavic Paganism

Veles (Vles, Volos)

Veles has several functions. He is the god of currency, riches and cattle, the deceased and inspiration for creative persons and thinkers. At first sight these functions are not connected in any way, but I’ll try to unite them logically in my story to present the outlook of the pagan Slavs.

Let us consider the etimology of the word Veles. he word Veles has evolved during 5 thousand years from words of the Proto Indo-European language. The word Veles has the Proto Indo-European root which means hairy. Its root transformed to various forms in various European languages. But even nowadays we see the similarity of them. The words Veles (in Slavic languages), Vieh (in German) and fee (in English) have similar sounds, and scientists say that these words have the same origin. Their meaning is connected with cattle: Veles is the god of cattle, Vieh is cattle and fee has occured from the old name of cattle. It is not surprising that fee came from the word cattle because cattle was used as currency in the archaic monetary systems. But it is surprising that the words Veles have saved its Proto Indo-European sense hairy in Slavic languages. Slavic people understand that the word means hairy without any translation. The image of Veles is that of a hairy anthropomorphic being.

Getting back to the subject of money, in this context it is the agreement to use something as a medium of exchange. So when it is stated that Veles is a god of money it means that he is the patron of the agreement to use something as a medium of exchange. In the archaic monetary system, which is also known as the demerange monetary system, people payed for the storage of money instead of charging percent for storage like we do in the modern world. So in other words, ancient people prefered to invest money, not to accumulate it. Money was invested in manufacture. Here you may think that manufacture resulted in goods which make people rich, so Veles must also be a god of riches. It is not so. Riches in Slavic is bogatstvo which occured from the word bog. Bog means god. So a wealthy person was the only one who knew the god. The monetary system helped people to learn of the god. How does it work? A famous finance specialist Bernar Lietar came to the conclusion that in the times of the demerange monetary system the ordinary person worked only four days in a week and he or she was provided by all the blessings. The rest contributed to reflections and were given opportunities to perticipate in religious ceremonies to teach them about the god.

To establish such a monetary system, it is necessary to possess wisdom. So it is time to consider the important characteristics of Veles – wisdom, knowledge, intuition, and magic talents. Therefore he inspires all people who are connected with intellectual and magic work, such as thinkers, musicians, artists, doctors, magicians, sorcerers and poets.

What is the source of wisdom, knowledge, inuition, and magic talents? All people are educated with the help of the experience of their elders and the people who came before them.hese people are connected with the world of the dead. So various pagan religions link wisdom, the gods of wisdom and the world of the dead together. Veles is the god of the world of the dead. As the god of the dead he is also called Vij, which has the same origins and is very similar to the German word Vieh. The link with the dead is a major characteristic of Veles, so as you see, his other functions are a result of it.

Some people identify Veles with the Dragon (snake) who is the enemy of Perun. This identity is not exact. There is no historical source that proves Veles is a dragon. On the contrary, in sources we see the association of Perun and Veles: in the contract of 971 Russians swore by the names of of Perun and Veles.

B. Rybakov.Ancient Slavic Paganism. Moscow, 1981
V. Sedov. East Slavs in VI-XIII cc. Moscow, 1982
Jakobson R.,The Slavic god Veles and his Indo-European cognates, 1969