Gabriela Sarna Wiraszka 2024


LECTURE: Between the Serpent and the Bird –  The Wheel of the Year and Harvest Ceremonies in Polish Slavic Traditions

The wheel of the year as it is observed through the various celebrations in Poland and other Slavic countries offers a well rounded perspective of how important it was for people to honor the seasons and the sacred dance of the sun and earth. Farmers would petition for the return of abundant crops to both the Nature Spirits and the Ancestors by creating elaborate celebrations throughout the year. By no coincidence the Catholic Liturgical calendar aligns with these pre-Christian ceremonies seamlessly and also observes seasonal Feast Days and the veneration of Saints who stand in for previous Deities and Spirits who would guard, bless and open the doors to each time and season.

In this lecture we will discuss the Polish Slavic wheel of the year as it moves through the eight recognized seasonal Sabbats as well as the Catholic Feast Days that accompany them. With an emphasis on autumnal harvest celebrations and the importance of grain and bread in its connection to Ancestral veneration we will look at the path that corresponds with the travel of the sun into the dark seasons and back again. Inevitably this observation will connect us to the journey of the souls of the dead that travel through both the lower and upper realms of the Slavic afterlife where they meet the blessings of the mysteries that help nourish the living and grant the return of life through the agricultural cycle.

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