BABA YAGA Goddess of death and regeneration. Baba Yaga can appear as either an old crone or a beautiful young woman. Baba Yaga lives in darkness and eats people, but she has the gift of prophecy as well.

BELOBOG Also BELBOG, BELUN The White God, the god of the day, the god of Heaven, the bringer of good luck, the god of heavenly light, the god of happiness and peace, the judge who rewards good and punishes evil. A wise old man with a long beard dressed in white, Belobog appears only during the day.

CHERNOBOG The Black God, the god of night, the god of Hell, the bringer of evil luck, the god of infernal darkness, the opposite of Belobog in every way. Chernobog and Belogbog are personifications of opposing principles of good and evil, light and dark, chaos and order.

DAZHBOG A personification of the sun. Each morning Dazhbog mounts a diamond chariot and drives forth from his golden palace in the east, starting the day as a young man and ending the day as a dying old man. His attendants are two virgins, the morning and evening stars; a wise old counsellor, the moon; seven judges, the planets; and seven messengers, the comets. Dazhbog ages with the year and takes on a different aspect with each season. Among other seasonal aspects, he was worshipped during the harvest as Sventovit, whose name means “Holy Light,” and in winter as Svarozhich, the newborn winter sun.

DOMOVOI The protector of the house. Every home had its own domovoe who dwelled behind the oven and who might abandon the house if he was not properly honoured. The Domovois protected not only the human inhabitants of the house but their herds and household animals as well. In some areas the Slavs believed that prosperity and well-being could not exist in a new house until the head of the family died and became its guardian spirit.

KUPULA A goddess of water, sorcery and herbal lore. Kuplula personifies the magical and spiritual power inherent in water, and Kupula’s devotees worshipped her with ritual baths and offerings of flowers cast upon water. Since fire as well as water has powers of purification, her worshippers also danced around and leaped over huge bonfires. Frequently her effigy was burned or cast into pools of water. Kupula’s cult preserved an extensive lore of magical plants and herbs which gave men the power to read minds, control evil spirits, find hidden treasures, and win the love of beautiful women.

MATI SYRA ZEMLIA Not a name, but a title, which means Moist Mother Earth. An earth goddess. The most ancient and possibly the most important of the Slavic gods. Ever fruitful and powerful, Mati Syra Zemlia was worshipped well into the twentieth century. Mother Earth was an oracle whom anyone could consult without any need for a priest or shaman as a go-between. The Slavs felt the profoundest respect for Mother Earth. Peasants settled property disputes by appealing to Mother Earth to witness the truth of their claims, and oaths were sworn in her name.

MOKOSH Also MOKYSHA, MOKUSH The goddess who both gives and takes life, the spinner of the thread of life, the giver of the water of life. Mokosh later became PARASKEVA-PIATNITSA, a goddess of spinning, water, fertility, health with marriage.

PERUN Also PIORUN, PYERUN, PERON “Lord of the Whole World.” God of thunder, justice, and war, chief adversary of the Black God. Perun’s weapons are thunderbolts. The Slavs made sacrifices of goats and bulls to Perun in a grove with an oak tree. With the coming of Christianity, Perun merged with St. Elijah, who is portrayed in icons flying across the sky in a chariot.

VED’MA A demon goddess who flies over the clouds and mountains on a broom or rake. Ved’ma causes storms, keeps the water of life and death, and knows the magical properties of plants. Ved’ma can be young and beautiful or old and ugly as she pleases.

VELES Also VOLOS Veles was worshipped in two aspects. As Veles he is god of death and the underworld, god of music, and a sorcerer. As Volos he is god of cattle wealth and commerce. The worship of Veles vanished with the coming of Christianity, but the worship of Volos survived as late as the eighteenth century.

ZORIA Also ZARIA The heavenly bride, goddess of beauty and morning. At down her worshippers greeted her as “the brightest maiden, pure, sublime, honourable.”