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jarovitGod of war, whose name means – ‘youth’ and ‘springtime’. The historian, Herbord, equated him with Mars. His Latin name is Gerovitus. His sacred symbol is believed to be a shield. He is the son of Perun.
When his temple at Wolgast was destroyed in 1128, those entering it in search of idols found only a gigantic shield. Afraid of the crowds gathering outside, Bishop Otto’s men took the shield to hide behind as they exited. On sight of moving shield the people threw themselves upon the ground thinking that it was the god himself.
Jarovit is thought to be one of four seasonal aspects of Svetovid, the aspect ruling Springtime and looking toward the West. Priests of Jarovit would proclaim, “I am your god who covers the plains with grass and the forests with leaves. The produce of the fields and woods, the young of the cattle and all things that serve man’s needs are in my power.”
He was especially worshipped in Pomerania (Pomorze, Poland). Jarilo became identified with St. George after the arrival of Christianity, possibly because of mild similarities in their names.
Radoslav Katičić and Vitomir Belaj attempted to reconstruct the mythology surrounding Jarilo. According to these authors, he was a fairly typical life-death-rebirth deity, believed to be (re)born and killed every year. His mythical life cycle followed the yearly life of various wheat plants, from seeding through vegetation to harvest.
Jarovit was a son of the supreme Slavic god of thunder, Perun, his lost, missing, tenth son, born on the last night of February, the festival of Velja Noć (Great Night), the pagan Slavic celebration of the New Year. On the same night, however, Jarovit was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, where he was adopted and raised by Veles, Perun’s enemy, Slavic god of the underworld and cattle. The Slavs believed the underworld to be an evergreen world of eternal spring and wet, grassy plains, where Jarovit grew up guarding the cattle of his stepfather. In the mythical geography of ancient Slavs, the land of the dead was assumed to lie across the sea, where migrating birds would fly every winter.
With the advent of spring, Jarovit returned from the underworld, bringing spring and fertility to the land. Spring festivals of Jurjevo/Jarilo that survived in later folklore celebrated his return.
The first of the gods to notice Jarovit’s return to the living world was Morana, a goddess of death and nature, and also a daughter of Perun and Jarovit’s twin-sister. The two of them would fall in love and court each other through a series of traditional, established rituals, imitated in various Slavic courting or wedding customs. The divine wedding between brother and sister, two children of the supreme god, was celebrated in a festival of summer solstice, today variously known as Ivanje or Ivan Kupala in the various Slavic countries. This sacred union of Jarovit and Morana, deities of vegetation and of nature, assured abundance, fertility and blessing to the earth, and also brought temporary peace between two major Slavic gods, Perun and Veles, signifying heaven and underworld. Thus, all mythical prerequisites were met for a bountiful and blessed harvest that would come in late summer.
However, since Jarovit’s life was ultimately tied to the vegetative cycle of the cereals, after the harvest (which was ritually seen as a murder of crops), Jarovit also met his death. The myth explained this by the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife, and so she (or her father Perun, or his other nine sons, her brothers) kills him in retribution. This rather gruesome death is in fact a ritual sacrifice, and Morana uses parts of Jarovit’s body to build herself a new house. This is a mythical metaphor, which alludes to rejuvenation of the entire cosmos, a concept fairly similar to that of Scandinavian myth of Ymir, a giant from whose body the gods created the world.
Without her husband, however, Morana turns into a frustrated old hag, a terrible and dangerous goddess of death, frost and upcoming winter, and eventually dies by the end of the year. At the beginning of the next year, both she and Jarovit are born again, and the entire myth starts anew.

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