“Uruz (Strength)” – 4″x6″ mixed media collage by Patricia Robin Woodruff
The prehistoric auroch was a symbol of wild strength and is tied to the symbology of the Norse rune Uruz which means strength and virility. The auroch was almost as tall as an elephant, had huge horns that could span four feet across and roamed wild. Amazingly enough, this animal existed until 1627, when the last one died in Poland. I believe this to be the reason there’s a bit of confusion on which Slavic god is associated with cattle, since both Veles (Lord of the Underworld and the Wild Wood) and Perun (Lord of Thunder and Sky) have them as sacred animals.
Part of the problem lies in the association of Perun with Jehovah and the thought of him as a “supreme god” ruler over the others. This is a mistake. Perun is simply the god of lightning, holding no more supremacy than any other deity of the Slavic pantheon. He is the balance of Veles, like the right and left brain, logic and emotion, summer and winter, yin and yang.
Perun’s animal is usually listed as an “ox,” which is a domesticated, castrated bull, as opposed to the wild auroch that lived roaming in the woods and was the symbol of primitive instinct. I believe Veles’ animal was the wild auroch. When that animal became extinct, the domesticated cattle were substituted. So Veles is the Lord of the Wild Wood, but also is appealed to to watch over the domesticated herds.
In researching this I came across an article that talks about bringing back the huge auroch. Since they have the DNA sequence, they can back-breed the traces that have been left in modern cattle to reconstruct this extinct animal. Is that cool or what?!
The work continues on the three-volume set of Slavic Magic, which will cover The Gods & Spirits, The Wheel of the Year, & The Tools of Magic. Aiming for a release date of Spring 2018. For a sneak peek: The Roots of Slavic Magic: Finding Our Way Back to Balance
- Patricia Robin Woodruff