Slavic Mythology – Dabog (Dajbog, Dažbog, Daždbog) is a Slavic God who gives life to the earth, because he was also the god of the sun (solar heat) and rain, which are the most important conditions for human survival. He was also the god of the underworld and the founder of Slavs. In history he was commonly mentioned in various manuscripts and as such there is evidence of Dažbog worship among all Slavic nations making him one of the prominent gods in Slavic mythology.
Earliest mention of Dažbog is in ‘Primary Chronicle’ of early Kievan Rus’ and as such he was one of the seven statues erected by Prince Vladimir in front of Kiev back in 980.
Etymology of the name “Dažbog”
The Proto-Slavic reconstruction of name *dadjьbogъ, is made of *dadjь ( verb *dati “to give”, and the noun *bogъ “god”). In turn his name would mean ( according to Dubenskij, Ognovskij and Niderle) as the “giving god”.
The name is mentioned in the ‘Hypatian Codex’, ‘Primary Chronicle’ and in the medieval Russian epic ‘The Tale of Igor’s Campaign’.
Translated literally “Dažbog” would be the “giver of fortune” or “giver of life”. There are similar mythological formations in Slavic mythology like Belobog and Chernobog that show us the existence of Iranian (probably Scytho-Sarmatian in origin) dualism in Proto-Slavic mythology.
Dažbog: Son of Fire and Rain
Dabog was a patron of the house fire and the fire itself, the most essential human resource to survive the winter, and help in many other jobs. However, the fire was also cruel and it could turn against the man and take him to the underworld or destroy his property. The kindness of the fire was crucial to survival, and many rituals are, because of that, linked to the fire.
Dabog was also the god of rain. One of his names is Daždbog and “dažd” in many Slovenian languages (Slovak, Czech, Russian, and Polish) means rain. Rain was significant because the harvest depended on it. People practiced all kinds of rituals to provoke the rain.
History of Dažbog
It is known that Slavs addressed the gods as an equal and they considered themselves to be descendants of the gods. In fact, they considered themselves as the grandchildren of the Dabog, that is, his direct descendants. At that time it was unusual for the grandson to know his grandfather, because of the short life span.
Dabog is one of Svarog’s sons. It is not certain how Svarog had two sons, but it’s pretty certain that Dabog was one of them. Dabog rode on a white horse every morning or in a carriage towards the sky, while in the evening he died or went to the underworld, and then in the morning he would rise again. In this ritual is visible the cyclicality of death and resurrection, which was otherwise very common in many pagan religions, as well as the Slavic paganism.
Dažbog in South Slavic Tradition
Serbs mentioned Dabog and in the folklore they called him lame Daba, who was almost always mentioned as an evil demon, which probably speaks of Dabog’s nature while he was in the underworld or the world of the dead. Dabog was among the Serbs showed as a lame old man, dressed in the skin, usually of a bear, who follows the wolf. The wolf actually represents the animal incarnation. The wolf is the symbol of the Dabog, and because the Serbs are regarded as his descendants, this animal has become their sacred animal.
With the arrival of Christianity, Dabog has been demonized. He became the most powerful demon and the biggest rival of the Christian God. It is possible that it was because he looked like a lame old man with one eye, dressed in a dark bearskin. There is also a fact that, according to pagan beliefs, he was in the underground world very often. However, there is the possibility that it was the Dabog’s strong cult, which by all means had to be eradicated. St. Sava took over traits of Dabog later in Christianity, and he was also presented in folktales as a shepherd who follows the wolf.