Prosinec / January, the time of Veles & wolf nights

Veles reigns during the cold part of the year.
 Veles is the god of the underworld, the guardian of souls, the god of magic, wisdom, the protector of craftsmen, artists, the god of wealth. He is the god of animals and abundance.
 His idols often stood near craft workshops.
 In the Old Slavic tradition, we meet him as an older sage, as a snake or later as a dragon.
 Veles is the opposite of the god Perun, who rules the sky, throwing lightning at the ground to punish bad people. The constant struggle between them illustrates the constant tendency to seek balance in nature. Perun brings justice, Veles wisdom. Perun punishes with lightning, Veles with disease.
 According to ancient Slavic views of the world, our cosmos consists of a world tree, where the canopy symbolizes the sky, the trunk – this world and the roots of the underworld ruled by Veles. The rainbow is a path to the afterlife, a bridge for souls.
 In spring and winter we meet Veles as t.i. Lord of the wolves. Usually also an old limping man who runs “Divja Jaga” – The wild hunt.
 “Wolf Nights” are celebrated from Christmas until January 6th. The darkness and desolation of this time, when the new sun is barely born and it is still extremely fragile and survival is questionable, has aroused fear and insecurity in people. Therefore, in different ways, they defended themselves against evil forces in the form of different types of witches, “pehtra baba”, wild man,…

 Throughout the twelve nights, fire, water, bread, and evergreens were of special importance. During this time, inside the homesteads was an altar decorated with conifer branches, where there was some grain and bread for fertility and well-being, water and the key to the homestead for protection.
 The peasant housewife stopped opening the chests in the granary, as she did at Christmas time, to invoke God’s blessing in the chest. After the holiday season was over, she sat down next to a box of grain and sorted it. She chose only the best grain for seed.
 The offering of bread to people and animals from St. Nicholas to the three kings is an ancient remnant of the cult of Veles during his reign, in order for people to ensure peace and protection of domestic animals.

Veles Day was dated very differently by the Slavic peoples, all in the period from St. Nicholas December 6th to St. Blaise (February 3rd). At that time, livestock was not allowed to work, and people were not supposed to eat meat. Giving a piece of festive bread to animals could easily be associated with the Veles cult.
 As the master of the underworld, the nave, the souls, the afterlife, Veles symbolically represents our subconscious. In the colder part of the year, when we are calmer and away from physical work outside, subconsciousness is more active and tells us many things that remain hidden from us during the warm part of the year. Veles represents the unconscious we sometimes fear but is the key to understanding the true self. There lies all the wisdom on how to make ourselves better because only in this way can we make the world better.

 The fact that people once associated wisdom with disease is no coincidence. Those of us who have ever had to overcome serious illnesses and have had conversations with death know through these life tests that these two qualities of this extraordinary deity are not far apart. Sometimes, precisely because of difficult experiences, we go deeper where we would never have gone otherwise. Because of this, we come to certain insights that can drastically change our lives.
 If we cultivate our gardens, orchards, pots, fields in accordance with certain biodynamic rules, we know that January and February are the months when we dedicate ourselves to meditation against pests. We try to achieve a deeply calm state and interact with the animals in our own way to spare us the harm. Although we are well aware that nature always takes its toll and we need to know how to accept it. Therefore, winter is a time when we can connect with Veles, the protector of animals, to keep some pests in the underground.

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

the artwork: © Irena Petrič
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