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Wasterzhi

by John McCannon
The most popular deity in the pagan pantheon of the Ossetians, an ethnic group claiming descent from the Indo-Iranian Sarmatians and living on the border between Russia and Georgia. A warrior god (also linked with sun worship), Wasterzhi is generally portrayed as a horseman with a long beard, riding a white horse. The site most sacred to him is Hetag's Grove, a wooded area in the mountains near the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz.

When the Ossetians adopted Christianity, they identified Wasterzhi with the figure of St. George the Dragon-Slayer. Since the collapse of Soviet power in the Caucasus, there has been something of a revival of Wasterzhi's cult in North and South Ossetia.


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