Góra Ślęża - place of Slavic cult

Góra Ślęża - place of Slavic cult

Góra Ślęża (Ślęża mountain) is located in Lower Silesian voivodeship in Poland. The text below is a translation of the text to which link is on the bottom, images come from same source. The text about Ślęża on Wikipedia is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ślęża

As world is long and wide we can see a lot of sacred places everywhere. Every religion, every nation, had and will have their centres of religious cult. Although there are cultural differences between old, historical tribes and modern ones, and between monotheistic and polytheistic religions, resulted in different appearance and form of practise, they have one thing in common - everyone was assure that in these places normal mortals can experience the divine presence. Today in whole Poland we can notice a lot of churches, in the past Slavs had their sacred groves, or mounts that were respected.
Although we can't say much about pre-Christian centres of the cult, we still gain the knowledge about the mysterious hills thanks to archaeology. Actually there are not many written sources which would tell us about places, where Pagans were worshipping their gods. With introduction of national religion, which became Catholicism, the times of monotheism in Poland started, and erasing pagan identity with it. The preachers of Christian faith were destroying everything that was Pagan: sacred groves burned, while statues called "bałwan" [bałwany in plural] were demolished in various ways. The hills however were not easy to get rid off, and thanks to this nowadays they can be a maginificent relict of Pagan spiritualism. One of such relicts is Ślęża mount - a place of ancient Pagan solar cult.

The mount often disappears in a dense fog. There are two smaller mountains located nearby it: Radunia and Góra Kościuszki [Kościuszko mount]. According to the experts on Slavic culture, this triad if often called as Silesian or Slavic Olympus. Of all currently known to us religious cult centres, this one is surely the oldest. The scientists date its beginning in late Iron Age, and that is circa 600 BCE. The history of Ślęża are undisputedly connected with Protoslavic and Slavic popularions. It is also believed that people from the west - mainly Celts - were acquainted with the mount. The importance of the centre did not came to an end when Christianity was introduced. For some time there was also a Christian centre built in the same place, with a purpose of erasing former influences of Ślęża.

On the top of the mountain there is an oval bank made of small black rocks, which were placed vertically. Between the two walls there is an interior, which was filled with small stones, gravel and sand. Currently the bank is partially ruined. Below, more or less in the half of mount's height, there was another bank in shape of crescent, long for 400 m and high for about 2 m.

On the neighbouring Redunia is preserved another similar stony bank in shape of irregular oval, which has 2 km of perimeter, is wide for 3-5 m and high on 0,5 m. In 1955, the archaeologists have discovered a similar bank to the one from Redunia, on Góra Kościuszki. The scientinsts say that these banks had no defensive function. As Helena Cehak-Hołubowiczowa suggested, most likely in Slavic and Protoslavic reality this object was so sacred, that no one from local tribes bothered to attack. There is one specific place of cult, a sacred circle on top of Ślęża. The second circle surrounds the area, on which stone statue are preserved, it is a figure with a fish and a boar. Near a thing that most likely was a container for rain water, a plenty of bronze items and pieces of pottery were found - which were planted there on purpose as part of sacrifice. Probably Ślęża was not only a place of cult, but also could have been an agricultural centre - around it the relics of settelements and cemeteries were found. Possibly on the bottom the markets were organised.

The statue of a bear, sometimes called a boar, was located in Strzegomiany nearby, until the 20th century when was moved on top of Ślęża. Below its stomach the sign X is visible. What is interesting, it is not the only statue with such symbol. Another statue, also considered a bear or a boar (depends on the researcher's opinion) is located in the northern slope of Ślęża and has a sign of diagonal cross on its back. Between the villages of Garncarskie, Maniowo Wielkie, Florianowo and Wojnarowice, there is a statue known as Mnich [Monk] or Kręgiel [(bowling) pin], which is sometimes believed to be a phallic sign. Its shape indeed reminds of a bowling pin. Previous statue stood on a circular base which was ruined. On the top and on the bottom two signs X were visible. Near the statue of a bear, and the statue of a monk, there were casts of small stones, which were thrown at a statue. The fourth statue is a human figure which wears a long robe, and carries a big fish in hand. The fish has a sign X on its chine. It was digged near St. Anne church in a town Sobótka located near the mount. In neighbouring Stary Zamek [Old Castle], in a little church, there was a corner build in a stone block with the outline of human leg, also marked with diagonal cross. In the Górka abbey, at the feet of Ślęża, a rock in shape of cylinder was found - also with X. Similar one was found in Będkowice nearby, and a granitic prism - also with an X - on the southern slope of Ślęża mount.

If it would be proven to be truth, that Ślęża's rank is credited to the Celts, the mysterious riddle of X sign can be explained. The X is also visible on a pottery and stone axes that were discovered during archaeological excavations. Bogusław Gierlach explains, that usually this symbol should be connected with a Celtic god named Dagdy, sometimes in literature called Smertios, which means death. There is also no compromise on whether the found statues depict a bear or a boar. Possible presence of the Celts would suggest the boar hypothesis. Among the people who came from the north, the boar was a personification of the powers of nature, was a martial emblem, and later became a symbol of knightry. White boar however, was a symbol of the druid class, and meat of this animal was consumed during the ritual feasts devoted to the great mother. On the other hand, the interpretation of the fish is unclear - it was known as a symbol of fertility. We do not know who made these statue. We know that the centre existed since early Iron Age, so it should be connected with the population that inhabited the region before the Slavs.

Analysing the historical data leads to the conclusion, that Ślęża had a role of main sanctuary, uniting local Silesian tribes. We still do not know much about it, as most of informations are guesses and hypotheses. Maybe with time the archeologists will give us more information about this mount, important for Pagan culture, but since then we can only assume. Without any doubt we can consider it as one of the most important relics of Pagan spiritualism - regardless which tribe was the most connected to the mount. Who was on top for sure felt how it is to be closer to the sky.


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