Buyan – the story of a mythical invisible island

anvel (CC0), Pixabay

Have you heard about an Island of Buyan? Do you know where it is? No? Me neither, because no one has ever seen this place. It can be said that Buyan is Slavic Atlantis. This invisible fortunate island located somewhere in the ocean has ability to appear and disappear using the tides. For the ancient Slavs island of Buyan was a sacred concept, because it was the first earth which popped up among the waves of the primeval ocean. In Russian traditional stories Buyan is a magic island, mentioned in incantations and spells. The Sun, according to some sources, lived on the island with its attendants – Eastern, Northern and Western wind Dagoda. Seed of all living things are stored here. Powerful forces made the island the source of all-weather which is created there and sent forth into the world by the god Perun.

Magic stone

In the center of Buyan, there is a brilliant white stone alatyr, stone of all the stones. According to legend, alatyr is magical stone with healing rivers flow from beneath it. It marks the center of the universe and if found, will grant you happiness for all the time. Guardians of alatyr are the miraculous bird with an iron beak and copper claws Gagana and the snake Garafena . This snake is called upon in incantations against snake bites.

Goddesses Zorja Utrennjaja (the Morning Star) and Zorja Vechernjaja (the Evening Star) are said to live on Buyan. In the early morning, the Morning Star sails in a golden canoe with silver paddles. Rest of a day she is sitting on altyr.

Unicorn – beast

The Indrik is a fabulous beast, the king of all animals. It was also known for sending out earthquakes moving around its large body under the mountain at the island. This creature was mentioned in the Golubinaya book (a collection of Eastern Slavic folk spiritual poems and psalms of the XV and XVI century). Indrik has bull’s body, head of a horse, legs of the deer and a large horn. It was name after Russian word for unicorn единорог. Indrik takes care of all groundwater and underground troves and protects animals. According to folklore, sometimes Indrik can help the hero to find treasure and get rid of the enemies.

Sacred oak tree found its place at the island too. According to legend, it’s a place where the Koschei the Deathless hid his soul. He is described as abducting the hero’s wife and he is a very old and ugly-looking man. Koschei cannot be killed unless somebody find its soul. Where his soul is, we can see from the Russian tale “The Frog Tsarevna”: Koschei’s death is on the point of a needle, which is in an egg, inside a duck, which is in a hare, contained in a chest buried underneath a large oak tree at Island of Buyan.

ird with a human face Gamayun was born together with our planet, so it knows everything and could presage the future. Her voice is difficult to understand and decipher, but the few humans who can understand her words can have their future foretold and opulence as a gift. Gamayun lives near island of Buyan. When she flies across the sky, the earth is rising storm.

Buyan was mentioned in several works of arts. Aleksandr Pushkin wrote poem “The Tale of Tsar saltan” which story is located on Buyan. Nikolai RimskyKorsakov was a Russian composer of opera based on this poem.

Buyan today

Today, this mythological island is assumed to be a Slavic name for a real island Rügen. From the 7th to the 12th  century Rügen was a cult site for the West Slavic tribe Rani. In 1168, Danish destroyed the Svetovid’s temple and set up their reign. On the north of the island, on a small peninsula Vitov, the remains of the sanctuary Svetovid, public and residential buildings were found. At Cape Arkona there are still visible remains of the ancient fortress of the Baltic Slavs.

Do you believe in magic of Buyan?

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