Perun, the Slavic god of thunder, resembles in some respects Zeus or Thor. He has dark hair with a long, golden beard, and is sometimes portrayed with three heads with fiery-red faces surrounded by flames. His name comes from the root “to strike.” and he carries an ax or mace, his sacred animal is the bull, his sacred tree is the oak.
His warlike aspect is well-known, and armies of petitioners guard his Outland realm, near the Dwarven Mountain. Perun is fearsome when angry, but tolerable when placated, and is not at all evil, but merely ill-tempered. His elemental realm appears as a huge storm cloud with a castle of black stone on the top.
A perpetual fire was maintained in his honor; if it went out, it was rekindled by the use of a stone. Worshippers laid arms at his idol’s feet, and stuck arrows around oak trees in his honor. His idol was thrown into the Volkhv River when Christianity came to Russia. A six-petalled rose within a circle was carved on roofs to protect houses from thunder and lightning, and the symbol may have been associated with Perun. Perun became Ilya of Murom in epic tales, and St. Elijah in the church, because the saint’s chariot rolled like thunder and his arrow was lightning. Perun was also associated with St. George, since he slays a dragon (Volos). St. George is the patron of wild and domestic animals.
Gromoviti znaci or thunder marks such as these are ancient symbols of Perun, which are often engraved upon roof beams of village houses, particularly in Eastern Slavic populations, to protect them from lightning bolts. It is conjectured their circular shape symbolizes ball lightning.
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