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from The Roots of Slavic Magic by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Chapter 12

Triglav (TRIG-lahv) - (Triglava, Triglavu, Triglov, Troglav, Triglaous, Triglaus, Trigelawus, Triglous, Trihlav, Tribogov, Trygław, Trygłow, Tryglav, Trdoglav, Trziglov, Troian, Troyan, Trajan)

Triglav means “three-headed.”   This deity is especially revered by the Western Slavs.  Triglav is supposed to have his throne on the top of the highest mountain named after him in Slovenia.  The mountain is located in Triglav National Park.  The medieval town of Shchechin  (Stetin), now known as Szczecin, Poland had a temple dedicated to him.(1)

Monika Kropej explains that one of the variations of this deity’s names came from the Roman emperor Trajan who died in 117 CE.  Since his name was so similar to that of Triglav, the South Slavs started to use the name Trajan.(2)

Radosavljevich has a rather confused explanation of Triglav being “the same as Svetovid… with Sviatovid [sic] on a nearer footing of equality than the other gods, Perun and Radegast - if, indeed, these three names do not merely denote different personifications or manifestations of the same power.”(3)  Radosavljevich also noticed the similarity in their powers.  What makes his description particularly confusing is that the temple of Svetovid is in the town of Radegast and the name Radegast is listed as a god in its own right (which could be the origins of the town’s name.)  He was right insofar as Triglav and Svetovid both incorporate aspects of the solar deity, Seibog and later, the Thunder god, Perun took on many of the aspects of the “sun god.”  (Radegast is a whole puzzle by himself.)

We can judge how old a tradition or the lore is by the symbols they use.  The earliest mentions of the God of the Radiant-Life-Giving Sun and his partner are connected with the white chamois goat with golden horns and hooves.  Later, in the early development of agriculture the ox was used to plow and to thresh the grain.  As the fertility god took on the duties of agriculture, the ox became one of his sacred animals and took on a connection with the sun.  The symbol of the radiant white horse comes along later.  The earliest mentions of a horse in Slavic agriculture (for threshing) was as early as the “late second or early third century” and that connection probably came from the Celts.(4)

Davies states, “the Pomeranian Slavs in what is now Poland were said to have large sanctuaries to a triple-headed god, Triglav, who, like Svantovit, was associated with horse-riding.  According to 12th-century chronicles, the internal walls of a temple to Triglav at Stettin (Szczecin) were covered with sculptures and paintings.  One-tenth of all battle spoils were consecrated to the god, so the temples were also filled with riches such as golden bowls and knives, and horn goblets decorated with precious stones.”(5)

In 1100 CE, the priest Otto planned with “one of his companions” Hermann, to infiltrate the secret sanctuary of Triglav.   Hermann lied that he had come there to thank Triglav for “rescuing him from the tempestuous sea.”  When left alone with the statue he spit on it to show his contempt and tried to steal it but it was wedged too tightly into a tree hollow.  When he couldn’t steal the golden statue, he stole the saddle instead.(6)  This shows that riding a sacred horse like all the other variations of the sun god was part of the lore of Triglav.  These are all the old conceptions of Triglav, a warrior god that wasn’t fully understood.

The reason you see the symbol of the horse with the three-headed Triglav and the four-headed Svetovid is because they both incorporate the solar fertility god, Seibog, into their polycephalic representations.  The horse and the wheel are the symbols of the radiant sun being pulled across the sky.

Now that you know about the agricultural trinity of the Earth Mother, the Goddess of the Waters of Life and the God of the Life-Bringing-Energy of the Sun, you can recognize the true roots of Triglav.  Supporting this idea is information recorded by Jožko Šavli.  He states the earliest mention of Triglav are “inscriptions found in the place Lagole di Calalzo on the upper Piave in northern Italy [near the border of Slovenia and Triglav National Park]… Discovered inscriptions are in Venetic script, and are dedicated to the holy triad. They portrayed the triad deity as a figure with three heads. They don’t name Triglav, but refer to the deity as "šajnatej" - the shining one, the ho...

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