Rožnik (June) & sacred Kresnik’s wedding

Kresnik summer solstice svarunica irena petrič

Maximum power of the sun. Warmth, love, passion, connection of human souls, devotion. The scent of medicinal herbs on vast meadows, flowers, gardens that give birth to crops. Life energy in full swing. An unfolding uninterrupted traditional song of girls in white. Expectation. Magic.

All this is marked by the festive time of the summer bonfire, which for us, the natives, is the biggest holiday of the year and it is when most people usually gather for this purpose; individuals, couples, families. The warm weather allows us to be together not only for the duration of the ceremony by the fire, but to extend our socializing to the whole day or even sleep over. We enjoy each other’s company and we also connect through the preparations for the time of lighting the bonfire in anticipation of a holy, divine wedding.

On its way through the year, the sun deity reaches its highest level when the day becomes the longest. And on this shortest night of the year, the old faith also celebrates the holy wedding between Jarilo and Mara, when we meet God in the summer as Kresnik. Rituals include both fire and water, a symbol of God’s union, heaven and earth.

Summer solstice is a holiday of love. Our ancestors imitated the gods sometimes, so they also got married on that eve and conceived children at that time. The children were born in the spring and therefore had a better chance of survival. Folk tradition says that this bonfire night is magical and that the medicinal plants harvested at that time have a special power.

But before the cult of the sun came to the fore, our ancestors worshiped the original deity of thunder and lightning, known in Slavic lands as Perun. We know that Perun fought with the underground Veles, among other things, because he took his son Jarilo to his underground and raised him as his own. The motif of a Perun soldier fighting a dragon or a snake (Veles) is a common motif in ancestral culture. Kresnik is also characterized by functions that would otherwise be attributed to the god of thunder. He fights his enemies with lightning and is transported across the sky. In the stories that have survived to this day, we often encounter him in battles with the she-dragon, the serpent queen.

Over time, however, kresniks (in plural with small capital) also became national heroes, committing important and heroic deeds.

They protected people and animals from evil forces. Kresniks in human form are easily compared to Siberian and other shamans. Especially since we know that they have the ability to leave the body. The transition of the soul, however, is a characteristic of shamanism.

Once upon a time in the west of our country, people called on the god Kres (transl. literally “bonfire”) and asked him not to come to their house with a special gesture at the summer solstice. Once again, we see Kres as a symbol of the sun at its highest power, and at the same time it throws lightning at the ground.

Bonfires in honor of Kresnik are today called Šentjanž’s bonfires (Saint John’s bonfires), and Kresnik’s role in Christianity was taken over by Janez (Ivan) Krstnik (John the Baptist), hence the name “Ivanje”. That is why in folk songs today we encounter the name “Ivo”, which hides the original, pre-Christian deity. Although the solstice is usually celebrated on June 21, the traditional bonfire has been in the people’s consciousness on June 23rd.
Old people lalso said, that at solstices the sun “hangs” for three days, so many times the celebration took as long.

Medicinal plants are harvested around midnight, when they have the greatest power. We hang bouquets and wreaths of St. John’s wort and other flowers on windows and doors to protect ourselves from evil spirits. Expectant mothers once threw them into the ritual fire to make this type of heating easier for them to give birth.

Among the bonfire plants, in addition to ferns, St. John’s wort stands out, which is considered to begin to bloom at the time of bonfire night.

While the cold time of the year is the time worlds open, time for deeper connection with oneself, purification of the subconscious, during the shortest night we focus mainly on thos world and people around us, work outside. It is a time of love, a time of strengthening mutual ties. This can, according to tradition, be strengthened by jumping over the ritual fire, which also brings us health, fertility and protection of animals.
Specially married couples and those in love, should definetely do it.

written by: Irena Petrič (maiden name Urankar)
slovenian version:

the artwork: © Irena Petrič
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