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Iarilo

by John McCannon
One of several deities associated with Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian sun worship. Iarilo was also a god of masculine passion and power; G. P. Fedotov suggests that the Russians may have viewed him as the bridegroom of the earth goddess (Mokos). His distinct maleness is reflected in his name, which derives from the Iranian root jaro and has a dual meaning of "strength" (also "youth") and "spring." As a result, Iarilo became most prominent as a seasonal deity, worshipped during the late spring and early summer. Rituals dedicated to Iarilo tended to be orgiastic; they were rumored to include phallic worship, riotous dancing, and the destruction of effigies. Although composer Igor Stravinsky famously made the sacrifice of a young maiden to Iarilo the centerpiece of his renowned ballet The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), there is no ethnographic or archaeological evidence to suggest that human sacrifice was involved in Slavic solar worship.

Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Jarilo
    Yarilo
    Jarylo (Polish)

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