Slavic Paganism Today: Between Ideas and Practice


SKU: Slavic


Selected Studies by Dr. Roman Shizhensky

Translated by Jafe Arnold

Edited by John Stachelski

321 pages / Released March 2021 / Available in hardcover and ebook.


Since the late years of the USSR, a new religious movement has gained momentum in Russia which seeks to return to the ancient faith of the Slavic peoples and to revive the pagan traditions that once embraced vast expanses of Eurasia. The Rodnoverie or “Native Faith” movement has emerged as a constellation of diverse religio-spiritual, philosophical, socio-cultural, and political currents whose identities and dynamics have continued to draw attention within the religious landscape of the post-Soviet space. At the same time, the Slavic pagan revival has figured as part of a larger global trend of concerns with cultural identity in the twenty-first century.

In this unprecedented collection of studies, translated into English for the first time, one of Russia’s leading scholars of Slavic paganism, Dr. Roman Shizhensky, explores the macrocosms and microcosms of contemporary Slavic pagan ideas, figures, practices, and trends from a diverse array of perspectives. From theoretical deliberations on key terminology to comparative studies of doctrines and movements, from sociological portraits and direct interviews with pagan figures to analyses of symbols and art, Shizhensky presents a colorful palette of approaches to paganism in contemporary Russia and Europe.


Table of Contents

From the Translator and Publisher

Author’s Preface


I. Conceptualizing Contemporary Slavic Paganism in Russia

Russian Paganism in the Twenty-First Century: Ideologists, Organizations, Trends


Contemporary Russian Paganism as an Example of “Imagined Community”


The Russian Pagan Diaspora: Definitions of Neo-Paganism in Contemporary Russia


On the Question of the Terminology of Slavic Variations of “Indigenous Religions”: The Case of the Term “Neo-Paganism”


The Periodization of Modern Slavic Paganism according to the Russian Pagan Diaspora


Aspects of the Codification of Contemporary Slavic Paganism: The Data of Field Studies


Particularities of Studying Contemporary Slavic Paganism: Historiographical Analysis of the Leader of the Koliada of the Vyatichi Community, Nikolai Speransky (Velimir)


II. Landmarks of Contemporary Pagan Faith

Yav’, Prav’, and Nav’ as Religio-Philosophical Foundations of Slavic Neo-Paganism


The Golden Age in the Works and Preachings of Slavic Neo-Pagans


A Comparative Analysis of the Texts of Alexey Dobrovolsky and Herman Wirth: Toward the Question of the Source Base of Russian Neo-Pagans


The Contemporary Russian Priestly-Volkhv “Caste” seen through the Prism of the Religious Concepts of Christopher Dawson


The Concept of Pagan Re-Mythologization: The Case of the ‘Signs’ of the Community of Nikolai Speransky


The Philosophy of Gender in Contemporary European Paganism


III. Symbols and Rituals

The Staff of the Volkhv: The Question of the Sacred Attribute of Twenty-First Century Russian Paganism


The Archetypes of Contemporary Slavic Paganism: The Case of the Fiction Film Guard Outpost


Christian Mystery and Neo-Pagan Ritual Practice: The Rites of “De-Baptizing” and “Naming” in Russian Native Faith Organizations


IV. The Pagan Alternative

Per Aspera ad Astra: The Beginning of the International Contacts of Twenty-First Century Russian Pagans


The Slavic Religious Alternative: The Slovenian Variant


The Term Rodina (Homeland) in the Conceptual Stock of the Contemporary Pagan Diaspora: The Data of Field Studies


Contemporary Pagan Ratings of Russian Historical Figures: The Data of Field Studies


Pagan Tolerance: The Experience of Questionnaire Surveying


Selected Bibliography


Roman Vitalyevich Shizhensky (b. 1980) is a research fellow at the Institute for the Humanities of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, where he is a participant in the Russian Academic Excellence Project 5-100. Shizhensky was formerly the founding head of the “New Religious Movements in Contemporary Russia and Europe” research laboratory of Kozma Minin State Pedagogical University of Nizhny Novgorod, where he acquired his doctorate in Historical Sciences and went on to become Associate Professor. The author of more than 50 academic studies and the editor-in-chief of the specialist journal on modern paganism, Colloquium Heptaplomeres, since 2008 he has led field studies among Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, and Slovenian pagans and has organized numerous conferences and publications devoted to the study of contemporary pagan currents. Shizhensky has served on the Council for Conducting State Religious-Studies Expert Analysis under the Russian Ministry of Justice for the Nizhny Novgorod region, and is now an expert of the Center for the Prevention of Religious and Ethnic Extremism in Educational Institutions of the Russian Federation. In addition, he is a contributing expert to the Foundation for Traditional Religions media resource.