Monday, November 27, 2006

About a grove

For me, there is not much story about that grove. I've just been there for once. Though, what I know about it - there were records of the grove in folklore archives, but nobody actually knew where it was situated (because about it has never been a custom for our folklorists to ask for a grove's location, but only ask for stories and thoughts of groves...)

So, but in the village nearby there was a lady who was interested in that place and talked to old people, until she found somebody who told her where the grove was (or maybe even showed it, but it often happens that old people are not in a condition to come out of home and show anything).

--> that is because the groves are usually situated in woods / forest and there are no car roads leading to the place =) you know, Estonia is a wild wild country ;) So you always have to walk a bit on your own feet.

This particular photo (or one of that kind) ended up on the poster of Estonian folk metal band concert tour in protection of sacred groves. Well, on the poster it doesn't look like trees very much, because it's been Adobe-photoshopped quite a lot :)

But i like the picture, the way you look at treetops... while being asif inside the tree at the same time. I think this linden circle is one tree, because lindens grow like that - one linden gives children and they form a circle. Thus, with many trees having grown the for ages, this circle might be really old :)

What is special to me about groves, is the knowing that my ancestors have visited them on the very same reasons as i do, for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. They have stood there under the trees and admired their beauty; perhaps asked for something -help- from the gods or nature spirits...

In general there should be at least 500 groves in Estonia (on that about 45 000 square kilometres we have here) - or they must have been during the late history, but... i'm afraid many of them have been destroyed. But there are also many groves which have not been recorded and we keep finding them.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

egg holidays

In spring we have the fabulous egg-holidays with lots of customs and eggs coloured with onionskins. (The holiday takes place on April 8th next year).

Later, we have the so-called "second egg-holiday" SUVISTED on May 26-27. It is common for us to gather to a sacred grove in North-Eastern Estonia every year this time.

Both holidays are moving every year, so sometimes they happen to be in April/May, sometimes in May/June. The dates given are for the year 2007. (10 220 according to our calendar)

Why two egg-holidays? Eggs and those holidays represent the coming spring/summer. The winter season is over; it is time to swing. In south Estonia the summer season is a bit earlier - on the first egg holiday it is proper in south to go and spend some time outside. But in the north it is yet too cold for that. The weather goes warmer after a month or so, when the other holiday takes place. Of course both of them are celebrated all over Estonia, but the customs are a bit different depending on where you are located :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

some features of maausk

* It is Souls' time in November. An old custom of our people is to ask ancestors' souls to come to dinner with us. It is not very common nowadays, but some of our people practice it.

It is also traditional to visit the graveyard at this time. If you go to an Estonian graveyard during souls' time, you can see lots and lots of candles burning everywhere. This is how contemporary people celebrate an ancient custom.

* Another custom very common to our people is sauna. Maybe you have heard of it. The Finnish people have sauna, too. Traditionally it is smoke sauna, a separate building. Traditionally sauna was a sacred place. There are lots of customs and taboos connected with it. One cannot swear in sauna or split... etc. Sauna is used for healing. And of course it is a washing place. The traditional sauna day is Saturday and if a family has their own sauna, they usually heat it every week.

Also when there is a holiday coming, like Christmas (jõulud), spring holiday / easter (munapüha) etc, it is necessary to go to sauna before the holiday arrives - to clean up your body and soul.

* On June 23th there are lots of bonfires all over Estonia. People celebrate St-John's Eve (jaanipäev) - a holiday with a Christian name but ancient customs. To us, it is a family holiday...

* The sacred places of our people. You can read about them on the webpage of Maavalla Koda. The sacred groves, stones, springs - many of them are forgotten, but many are used nowadays. Currently it is a big problem in Estonia that those places, part of our culture and history, are not protected by the laws. So it happens that a businessman or someone wants to build a house, hotel or ski centre on a sacred spot and we have to use every possibility to stop such behaviour. One of such hotspots is Palukyla hiiemägi.


This blog is intended for english-speakers who have interest in Estonian indigenous religion - maausk. As I have received many questions upon that matter I decided to do something about all the answers hidden into my mailbox. I'll post them here from now on - in order to give people a chance to get information :)

Hence, this place can become a dashboard for questions-answers.