(Kupala, Ligo, Yarilo, Yarilin Day)
June 20-23. Summer Solstice.
The Wheel of the Year continues to turn. Tha pagan holiday of Kupala, the Summer Solstice, is celebrated on June 20th-23rd. During this period, the Fire element is awakened. From this moment all four elements are awakened, balanced, and interconnected. Akin to a family that has been reunited after a long separation. The moment when Fire arrives, is the birth of a new young goc, the longed-for firstborn of Mother Mature and her powerful spouse, her choden partner. The night on Kupala is considered the strongest night of the whole year – not from a magical point of view, but from a human one. Mother Earth gives to this world the most precious thing she has – her child, her son. Mature opens itself up synchronously with it, also giving up all the best, the most precious, bringing gifts to the new Master.
That is why people while feeling the magical power of this night, hoping for a miracle that is impossible during any other day, did things they would never have done at any other time. Only on this day, even in the times of Christianity, any, absolutely any act could not be labeled as a “sin” – everything was allowed, everything was permitted. You could do whatever you wanted, love who you wanted, and wish without fear – the main thing was to be honest, and sincere. If a person had no fear, desire to deceive, to break the unwritten rule of holiness of any life, of faithfulness to a given word, then everything was possible. But if not, if the power of birth of the new god was defiled by deceit and fear, then such a “gift” turned against the liar and the thief himself – and his deed was returned to him but forty times worse.
This is how the old-time mages taught their folk: do not lie, do not get greedy at least on this day! Not now, so that you don’t desecrate a newly born world with despicability and cowardice, do not even get the idea that such a thing is possible in the world that is destined for our children. Therefore, you will be protected from the need to be enslaved for the debts of your honor to the gods of the invaders: for the slave is the one who was abandoned by the power of his gods, who has no one to protect him in the difficult time of trial.
Since ancient times the Slavs have attached particular importance to this day. Just as the Celts profoundly developed the traditions of Beltane, so the Slavs put their soul into the development of the Kupala sacraments. The God, born to Mother Earth, was called Kupala by the Slavs.
Legends of the fiery gods.
A very beautiful Slavic legend tells us about the birth of the god Kupalo: the God of furious Fire Simargl Svarozich appeared to our distant ancestors in the form of a winged dog. Mighty and irresistible, with a fiery sword in his hand, he defended the Sun inexorably from earthly evil, not leaving it even for a moment. But the stern heart of Simargl was not carved out of stone at all, as other gods believed. Simargl had a sincere, passionate love for the night goddess Kupalnitsa and knew that his feelings were mutual. Kupalnitsa daily called her lover to the banks of the beautiful Ra-river, although she understood that Simargl could not leave the sky.
But one day, Simargl’s sense of duty was overshadowed by the feeling of love. God left his heavenly post and came down to Ra-river to finally embrace his beloved. After the god’s due date, on the day of the summer solstice, Simargl and Kupalnitsa had children – Kupala and Kostroma. The thunder god Perun was very happy for his brother Simargl and gave the newborn an unusual gift. Perun put a particle of his power into a never-blooming fern and gave the children of Simargl and Kupalnitsa a flower of wondrous beauty.
The God of the new Light – the Fire himself and the son of Fire, this is who Kupalo is. Life is impossible in the fiery nature of Simargl: his fire is primordial, fierce. This is the fire of the Titans, of the fire giants, not for humans, but for gods, for mages. For humans, another fire is required for nature and life – a warming, animating one. Kupalnitsa-night is the dark, hidden power of the Mother – and Simargl, the son of Svarog, the god of the other world, has given the living such a power of Light that does not kill, does not enslave, but, instead, gives life, free will, provides guidance.
Slavic myths were not the only ones to depict the birth of the divine twins and the gods of Light on the day of the Summer Solstice. Apollo and Artemis, the gods of Hellas, according to the legend, were born to the goddess Leto also on the day of the Summer Solstice. The Slav’s “karmic twins’,” the Celts also told about the love of the god Dagda (whose name meant “the flame of the god”) to the goddess of the river Boann, the keeper of ancient wisdom. From this love the god Aengus Mac Og was born – “the young god,” the god of love and light, the god of fertility and all living things.
The mystical power of the Kupala night is the time of concord and unification, the time of equality of all in front of the endless power of life. The Light equals the Darkness, and the Order unites with Chaos. Once again, the boundary between the worlds disappears, everything is mixed up, and the magical essence of nature’s spirits,- mermaids, leshy, vodyanoy,- is poured into the structured world of humans. Everyone senses the birth of a new force – the force of unity. This is what mixes the realities with one another, and for a few days the new Fire, the new Light perceives this mixture as natural. Then, of course, the boundaries become denser, and the separated worlds will resume their own lives once again. But according to the Law of Magic, everything that falls into the spot of light acquires shape and becomes manifested in the spirit world as well as the one of humans. On this night, the only night of the year, the law applies: we can all live together, both human and non-human.
That is why it was important to be sincere and strong on the Kupala night, not only to dream but also to follow your dream; not only to yearn for life but also not to be afraid of all its manifestations. Because any distortion of the purity of one’s freedom will inevitably affect the newborn force. But the Law of Equilibrium will work adequately: if a person fears and hates what is different from him in any way, then he also will be treated in a mirror image, and nowhere in the world of nature will he find support and help from the other children of the Mother.
Fire is the carrier of information. The more the element of Fire is manifested within a person, the more ability he has in disseminating the information. Fire is the expansion and passion, the drive and power of the spirit, and the manifestation of all that is conceived and must be fulfilled depends on the power of Fire. But most importantly, it is the freedom of the individual, the right not to be anyone’s slave.
The ceremonial actions of people during this transitional period were directed by the volhvs and druids to awaken the right Fire within themselves – it should be no less than the force of Fire of the newborn god. Then Mother Earth will identify a person with her son and give him her motherly protection, an amazing destiny that only gods and heroes are worthy of. Therefore, the ritual itself was connected not only with having a bonfire and purification by Kupala flames. It was necessary to awaken all the elements that were already awake and make them as strong as possible within themselves, as far as the consciousness allows. Then the force of fire will also be strong because there must be enough fire to absorb into itself the power of Earth, Air, and Water, complimenting and connecting them within itself, and itself – within them. One equals the power of three – this is what Fire should be during the Kupala night.
The Kupala sacraments
The Kupala sacraments should be held outside in nature, by the water, in the open area. On this night of union with the force of the elements, the newborn Fire-Kupalo, the son of Simargl, manifested as brightly as possible his nature of union and love, free acceptance of everything – without restrictions, without prohibitions. But the magical ritual performed by the volhvs and druids without an audience was somewhat different from the ceremonial acts performed by people. Mages performed a ritual that was intended to activate the power of the young god’s father, the winged Simargl himself. For the people, the power of Simargl is as dangerous as the power of any Titan, but not for those whose task was not only to protect but also to govern the tribe, kin, and people (for any tribe is also the result of consent and voluntary association).
While awakening the power of Simargl’s primal fire, the mages gained support and protection to give a young newborn god time to grow, gain strength, and the necessary experience. Simargl, by having an original fiery nature, can handle any Fire, including s foreign one. If it happens that the power of the young god Kupala is not enough to deflect the dark cloud that keeps the sun away from people, then Simargl Svarozich himself must stand in his son’s place, reveal his source of Fire and not let life end. Simargl is akin to a “reserve” type of energy if speaking in a language of today’s era. Via this action the mages foreshadowed future problems, the ones the Winds of Imbolc told them about.
But for people for now – happiness and fun; at the moment of the Kupala night no fear or doubt should slip into their hearts. But those responsible for people’s lives must think ahead: what should be done right now for the power of the gods not to leave people tomorrow, for the spark of the fire of the god Kupala not to become extinguished in human hearts, for the blood of the young god not to become cold in the veins of every living. Human health rejuvenates and becomes stronger on the night of Kupala bonfires. Swim, jump over the fire, glorify Earth that feeds, Air and Water that gives life, and, of course, Fire, the new god of good time. He will surely endure all the trials if the power of Fire is not extinguished within people. On this day it is necessary to awaken the desire to live, such a tenacious desire that will help to find the true meaning behind the reasons for being healthy and the purpose of life.
Excerpt from the book “Health through the Power of the Elements” by Ksenia Menshikova.
Other pagan holidays of the Weel of the Year: