Romuva. Sacred Spirit of ancient Baltic.

Many centuries ago the huge oak grew in the town of Rikoyto or Romova. The name of the settlement has happened after Prussians have returne...

Many centuries ago the huge oak grew in the town of Rikoyto or Romova. The name of the settlement has happened after Prussians have returned from a campaign to Rome (Rom) and in memory of this event have founded the city, having called it Rome (Rom or Romahoon). The huge oak grew in Romova. This oak-sanctuary was width in six elbows, the krone was so dense that didn't pass either a rain, or snow. Leaves didn't fall down even in the winter. The here were three niches in a stem in which there were images of three main gods. Possibly, there were three branches which grew together in one. It is supposed, for example, that the name «Romov» comes from the word «ruomot» that in translation from old-Prussian designates «to grow together». 
According to legend the sanctuary in Romov has been based by legendary prussian governors Videvut and Bruten. It is definitely not known when it has occurred. But one thing for sure, in the eighth century it already existed and played a large role in life of local balto-Slavonic tribes as it appears from «The Prussian chronicle». Later evidence tell us that the population of east Baltic — first of all, the balto-Slavonic population — perceived Romova as the main sanctuary (And actually Romova's communication with the Belarusian lands is confirmed by numerous Lithuanian-Belarusian toponyms — names like «Romava», «Ramanava», etc. usually were the sacred centers in Belarus) and historical evidences. Besides, if prussian«Ramawa» means «Romov», then «ramawan» has meaning — «the sacred wood in general») that puts it at least on the level of great sanctuaries of Europe — such as Arkona, Uppsala, or Rethra. However, Romovais distinguished from other great sanctuaries by location: this sanctuary is situated in the center of Europe and so, it is not simply main sanctuary of one or several people, but — the«main» pagan temple of Europe. 

Historically authentic data on Romova's early years are very poor. We know that the powerful priestly and military organization has been connected with this sanctuary as in Arkona. As V.I.Kulakov, the head of the Baltic archaeological expedition writes: «all power shown by a Prussian warriors in fight with Avars began to be attributed to protection of gods, the victims have replaced with it a tribute which army received from the surrounding defeated tribes». 

The Supreme priest, Kriwe-Krivaitis who was actually the head of state was at the head of this sacral organization, i.e. pagan ancient Prussia was the theocratic state, before arrival to Prussia of the Teutonic Order. It is curious that the title (or more likely a «sacral name») of the Supreme priests of Romova — Kriwe — matches with the self-name of the closest Slavonic neighbors of Balts — Krivichi (i.e. «descendants to Kriwe»). Moreover, this word — krive — still means «Russian» in the baltic languages. In particular in Latvian word for «Russia» will be «Kriviya». 

According to descriptions of chroniclers, in the first niche of a sacred Oak of Romova there was an image of god of death Pikols (Patols) — he looked frowningly, his pale face was framed by a long gray-haired beard, his head was crowned by twisted white scarf. To him bloody sacrifices have been made. It is belief that Pikols came to houses of the rich people at night if those, after death of one of family members, were stingy on sacrificial gifts. If he came for the third time, it was necessary to sacrifice human blood. Then «Waidelotte» (magician) slashed his hand. If after a ceremony grumble reached from an oak, it was perceived as a sign of the fact that god is satisfied with the victim. 

Perkunas's image, god of a thunder, was in the second niche. His look caused sacred horror – a black curly-headed beard, face, that is red as fire, tongues of flame instead of head hair. His terrible look has been directed towards god Potrimps. Before Perkunas'simage it was necessary to support fire on which burned sacrificial gifts by dry oak branches. If fire died away, «Waidelotte», supporting it, had to die on a fire. 
In the third niche of this oak there was an image of god Potrimps. It was young beardless man who joyfully smiled. There was a wreath made of wheats on his head . In front of Potrimps'simage there was a big pot with a snake to whom vaydelota had to give milk. The pot has been covered with wheat. Wax and incense were sacrificed to god. 

In three steps from an oak, between poles, height in seven elbows, beautiful panels have been stretched. Nobody, except priests, had the rights to approach an oak. If someone came with sacrificial gifts, Kriwe-Krivaitis (the Supreme priest) follows him to panels. The curtain slightly rose that it was only possible to glance for it. Krive-Krivaytis's and «Waidelotte’s» dwelling were situated near an oak, around him. 

Romova is the last European great sanctuary. Uppsala has fallen at the beginning of the 11th century,Arkona and Rethra — in the middle of the 12th century, Romova kept until the end of the 13th century and Romova's hieratic priesthood functioned on the new place - in Vilno - within two more centuries after capture of Prussia by crusaders. According to some legends, sacred fire from the Arkonahas been postponed for Romova's pagan temple after plunder of Rügen by the king Voldemar and crusaders. 

Romova was long time the capital of ancient Prussia. In 1015 Boleslav the Brave, the king of Poland, has entered with army on the territory of Prussia and has ruined Romova. He has burned images of gods and shrines, but after retreat of Polesprussians recovered everything. 

The oak remained still long time on this place. Even after prussian pagans have been converted by crusaders to Christianity, they secretly prayed at sacred oak. People trusted that piece of bark or oak's leaf can protect people or animal from misfortune. To put an end to so non-Christian customs, the bishop Ermlanda has ordered to the master VinrikhKniproda to cut down a sacred oak. Petrus von Szohr has built the St. Trinity monasteryon his place. 

In spite of the fact that the oak has been destroyed, the place on which it once grew, was considered as damned for a long time. Probably because of fact that here blood of many loss of human life has been shed. Sometimes people heard a rustle of leaves and whistle of the branches dissecting air as if the oak still was here. On this place strong thunders often burst.In addition different terrible beings have been seen in form of wood goblins, dragons, snakes or fiery spheres. It is known from the legends that Satan raged in the monastery from time to time. From Germany the exorcist has been invited. He has made a cross of pure gold, in a finger length, and a triangular ring on which he did write mysterious words. He has buried both of these things under an angular stone of church. Since then "Satan" has left the district and has left the monastery alone. 

Later the monastery has been destroyed. In 1708 the baron von Kilitz became the owner of these lands and he ordered to remove wall's remains. The cross and ring also have been found under ruins. The nobleman has presented both subjects to the city of Konigsberg. Nobody could decipher the letters traced on a ring. On it the history of this place comes to an end. 

However memory of sanctuary in Romova has preserved till nowadays. In 1929 Lithuanian DomasShchidlauskas has based a new sanctuary Romuva on the northwest of Lithuania, and now the word "Romuva" designates the union of adherents of old Baltic faith operating in Lithuania. 

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