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  from The Roots of Slavic Magic by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Chapter 13
Bialobog

Some researchers assert that there’s no proof of a white god, Bialobog, despite pairs of mountains being named after Bialobog and Czarnobog, the black god.  I agree with them to the extent that I believe Bialobog and Czarnobog were simply titles for the gods who presided over these two parts of the year.  

Bialobog (bee-AH-LOO-boog) - (Bialbog, Bialun, Biel-Bog, Bielobog, Bielboh, Bilobog, Belbog, Belobog, Belbuk, Belbog, Bel Bog, Belun, Belye Bogi, Beli Bog, Belibog, Belinecz, Belinez, Belinus, Bjelobog, Byalbog, Byelbog, Byelobog, Byeluie Bogi, Byelbozhsky, Byelun, Bylun, Dzied, Niebo)

There is a long tradition of not using the actual name of a powerful spiritual figure.  In Bulgaria, smallpox is called by flattering and diminutive names such as “the sweetest one” or “the dear guest” in the hopes that its visit will be minimal and short. (1) Byelorussian folk wouldn’t directly name the household spirits but would refer to the oven, their place of abode, when they talked about them.(2) The bear was considered so sacred that only the nicknames for a bear survive in the Slavic languages.  All their words for “bear” translate to “the brown one,” “the honey eater” or “the hairy one.”(3) Thus I believe Bialobog and Czarnobog are simply titles that became mistaken for two more gods in the Slavic Pantheon.

So let’s look at what they represent… in my research I had seen several examples where the older way to divide the year is just in half.  My observations were confirmed in the website, Old European Cultures, where the author points out that in both the Serbian and Celtic Calendars, the year is divided in half between the “white” time of the year which is  sunny and warm and the “black” time of the year which is dark and cold.  This bilateral division happens in the pre-agricultural times where they were primarily a herding culture.  The herds were taken to the fertile hilltops on May 6th and returned to the towns in the valleys on October 26 (or November 5th.)

The Christian writers associated “black” with “evil” and consequently the cleric Helmold in the Chronica Slavorum describes Chernobog as a “bad god” who was in charge of “adverse fortune” as opposed to the “good god”(4) (whom he neglects to name, but who is presumably Bialobog.)  Yes, the wintertime is going to be a harsher time of year, but it’s not “bad.” In the Pagan mindset the “black” and the “white” time of the year were simply part of a continuum.

When we look at these dates in modern times, we see a prime example in the Serbian festivals of Djurdjevdan which is St. George’s Day in the late spring and Mitrovdan which is St. Martin’s Day, also called St. Demetrius’ Day in the late fall.  Another good example is in Celtic lore where the spring festival of Beltaine honors Belenus (or Bel) the Bright Lord of Light and ...







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