Slavic mythology is varied and during different periods, different gods and goddesses had more prominent places in human consciousness. The Slavs are a large group of people that lived in present day Eastern, Central, Southeast Europe as well as North and Central Asia. As you can imagine, there are some variations on the mythology of these people. Unfortunately, there are many missing pieces in the Slavic mythology puzzle. This is mainly due to the lack of writing traditions prior to Christianization. Adoption of Christianity also meant a want to purge the people of pagan traditions. Fortunately, the people were not so quick to give up their ways, there are some surviving written documents, and some of the rituals and beliefs were absorbed into the new monotheistic religion.
Read on about the Rodzanice, who are considered demons or goddesses, depending on the source.
The name Rodzanice comes from the Slavic word roditi, which means to give birth. Rodzanice are typically represented as three women of different ages: a young woman, a mother, and a hag. They are associated with the Slavic god, Rod, who was the god of human fate and the protector of the hearth.
Rodzanice arrived at the home exactly at midnight, three days after a child’s birth to determine her fate, the length of her life, and type of death. They stood at the head of the cradle, spun the thread of her life, and marked the child with an invisible mark on the forehead. To ensure the thread was long, bright and happy, the family made offerings to these demons and welcomed them appropriately into the home.
In the evening, the family set the table as for a feast; various sources mention food offerings of buckwheat groats, bread, milk, honey, cheese, and sometimes wine. The infant was bathed, dressed in white, and placed into her cradle. The family also set a table for themselves, feasted and waited for dawn. The Rodzanice left before the second crowing of the rooster.
They also arrived at the ritual of hair cutting and naming of boys at the age of seven, which was a symbolic ritual of a boy becoming a full member of the family leaving his mother’s side to be under the tutelage of the father. The cut hair and food was offered to the Rodzanice. Offerings were also made at other important life events, such as weddings.
Rodzanice can be likened to the Greek Moirai (Fates) and the Roman Parcae. In fact, Brother Rudolf, an 18th century French Cistercian monk living in a monastery in Rudy, Poland, wrote about the pagan rituals practiced by the locals in his Catalog of Magic. There, he mentions that the people made offerings to three sisters, whom they call Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. These are the names given to the Greek Fates. We can speculate that the myth must have made its way from Greece and was adopted for local use.
What makes the Rodzanice interesting is the fear and reverence the Slavic people had for them. Their myth represented the belief that our fate is given to us and we cannot do anything about it. If someone had bad luck in life, that was his fate and it was accepted as such. It seems so different from the way we see life today, don’t you think?
Book: Zych, Paweł and Witold Vargas. Bestiariusz Słowiański. Olszanica: Bosz, 2012. Print.
Rodzanice (in Polish)
Rod i Rodzanice (in Polish)