Vesne (plural)

vesnas fairies svarunica store irena petrič art

Certainly Vesna is one of the goddesses who is perhaps best known to Slovenes, but she lives only in the consciousness of people, but we do not have concrete oral or written local traditions about her and rituals. Of course, that doesn’t mean she was not worshipped, we only lack evidence of it. The root of the word itself suggests the meaning of “bright”, or “to shine,” so it is certainly associated with spring and new light. Especially among Russians and Serbs, the worship of this goddess is well known, so that girls with wreaths on their heads, dressed in white, poured water on them, sang songs. This custom is also strongly reminiscent of the South Slavic custom of “dodole”, where a central girl dressed only in greenery was watered with water in intercessions for rain during droughts. Vesna has already graced our 2012 calendar, namely the month of Sušec / March, and this time the month of (v) ečan is marked by the fairies / priestesses of Vesna – another old name for February is vesnar, and it is supposed to be named after these vilas/fairies. We, Slovenes, know “vesnas” in the plural, these are fairies from the western part of the country who do people both good and bad. Old, archaic names for months mark our works and events in nature, so the interpretation of ice candles is valid for February on the one hand, and the later Christian holiday of candlesticks on the other. However, some explain that this month is marked by cutting the trees (“sečnja”, month is also “sečan” and that is why the name can also be felled.

“Vesna lives only in the high mountains, the top of which has incredible beautiful palaces. There in the mountains they are chatting about how and what this year will be like, what the harvest will be like, who will die, and many other things. If a man born at that moment and is later climbing up this Vesna’s mountain, he must know all that will happen within the year; but he must beware, if they catch him! Around and around these palaces there is a large circle from which Vesnas are not allowed during the year, except in February. But because the carts are whole, the carts creak. Not everyone hears them, but only those who are born with this gift. Woe to him who rides him, he dies in a year and a day. Therefore, they are especially dangerous for drunks, who get entangled in the ground because a cart can get under them. Once upon a time, a man went to the mountain to listen to them. On all four, he crawled so close to them that he secretly heard everything. Then they saw him because he was standing upright. So they smoke on him with such force that they would move him when he didn’t escape. They would grind it like raspberry flour. But luckily he was already out of their circle, so they didn’t dare follow him. They just shouted, “You’re lucky you escaped us.” He knew then that year what he needed to do. (Ročinj.) People around Gorizia know about some things they call Paddles. They think of them as mares dragging a harrow from eleven to midnight. But they go just as fast and even faster than the wind and their dam sparks forge that can be seen from afar when they go. They can’t escape, and whoever they drive over, they kill everyone in such a way that there are no more living days for nothing. Vesna squeaks when they go at night. Someone knew when they were going, and he secretly waited for them to hear what they were going to say. But they knew of him, and said to him, “Put the ax in this spear.” He did and healed. My hands hurt that year. I tried all the medications because one can wonder if I wasn’t feeling better all year. But in the end – it felt like it was on a flight – it all passed me by. So I said, “What if it was Vesna?” During plowing, the farmer’s torch was torn off, but something came up on the bank and said: “Vij, vij trto dragovito, da ti bode stanovito.“[2]

[2] Kelemina J., Fairy tales and tales of the Slovenian people, 1997, p.85

written by: Irena Petrič (maiden name Urankar)

slovenian version:

the artwork: © Irena Petrič

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