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A brief history of the unregistered modern Pagan movements in Slovakia

The story of contemporary pagan movements in Slovakia started after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Contrary to what happened in Great Britain and the United States, Wicca or other forms of pagan religious revival did not spread during the fifties and sixties due to strict state control of religious life in former Czechoslovakia.

Religious freedom, declared by the Czechoslovak federation, created a fertile ground for the spread of alternative religious ideas since 1990. After some time, some individuals started to recreate the old Slovak pre-Christian religion as an alternative to all imported spiritual ties and traditional Christianity. Miroslav Švicky (later known as Žiarislav), Olga Dubovská (later known as Weleslawa) with some other sympathisers formed a Neopagan group "Spoločnosť vedomeckého učenia - Rodný kruh" in Trnava in 1997. They were inspired by a) traditional Slovak folklore magic, religious tradition, culture, music, dressing style, and way of life; b) literature about old Slavic religion; c) ecology mixed with d) spirit of the Slovak national renascence of the 19th century. They also took inspiration from euroindianism and Indian religions.

Švický’s first book, Návrat Slovenov (1997), helped promote his religious ideas, and generated interest in Slovak Neopaganism among spiritual seekers. Žiarislav and Weleslawa organised public lectures, music concerts, and religious celebrations of a wheel of years as solstice meetings in Little Carpathians.

Other smaller Slovak Slavic Neopagan communities emerged during the late nineties. Paromova Dúbrava, Svätoháj Rodnej Viery and most notably Perúnov Kruh were a less “New Agey” and more historically precise alternative to Žiarislav’s Rodný kruh. Small groups of individuals interested in Germanic or Celtic Neopaganism were in touch with similar-minded Neopagans in the Czech Republic. The Slavic forms of Neopaganism known as Native Faith dominate Slovakia.

Miroslav Švický, now known as Žiarislav, is still active on the Neopagan religious scene. He writes blogs and books, plays music concerts, records albums and occasionally broadcasts the radio show Rodná cesta on independent internet radio Slobodný vysielač. Olga Dubovská – Weleslawa split up with Žiarislav because of different opinions on Slovak Neopaganism’s future. She and her partner Duchoslav moved to a remote place in White Carpathians, teaching Slavic Slovak Neopaganism.

The latest decade saw the rise of prominence of Slavic-Aryan Vedas. This form of Slavic Neopaganism found a number of sympathisers in Slovakia thanks to Vladimír Laubert, who promoted the teachings of the Russian Ynglingims. The adherents of Slavic-Aryan Vedas are very visible on the Slovak internet ( and promote their unique mix of Matrix theories and conspiracy theories: Slavic supremacy, Russophilia, alternative theories of Slavic history, Slavic Neopaganism, messianism, and New Age spirituality. One small group of Wicca sympathisers emerged in Bratislava in the last ten years.

The precise number of Slovak Neopagans is a mystery to social scientists. Slovak Neopagans do not possess a collective "Pagan" identity, and they divide into many smaller groups with labels as “vedomci”, “rodnoverci”, “staroverci” or simply “Slavs”. Therefore, it is impossible to get their numbers from the official census. The educated guess oscillates between 500 and 1500. However, the number of people from alternative religious scenes influenced by Slovak Neopaganism can be ten times higher due to the public activities of Žiarislav, Weleslawa, and Vladimír Laubert. There is no official state-registered Slovak Neopagan movement in Slovakia, because of stringent laws requiring 50 000 signs of religious group members.

The relationship of Slovak Neopagans and majoritarian society can be described as primarily non-problematic, with some reservations. Most Slovak do not know about the existence of local Neopagan communities because their number is small. Nevertheless, there were some attacks on ritual places of Perún’s kruh during which vandals destroyed their wooden idols. Sometimes, local Christians see Neopagans as worshippers of the devil and badmouth them. Slovak Neopagans are not very keen of Slovak Christians either, as a result of the so-called "violent" Christianisation of Slovakia. Some Slovak Neopagans also have a tendency to isolate themselves from majoritarian society: they believe in the "evil" character of capitalism and wish to change it into a better society under a more holistic Neopagan philosophy.

D 17 May 2021    AMichal Puchovský

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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