The Story of God Yarilo or how was the sun born and what happens to in autumn
As the golden autumn days and falling are coming they awaken ancient myths and legends, echo of the old Bulgarians and numerous ancient Slavs. Since antiquity Slavs knew autumn fire in the sky as the dying Hurs or Radogost – “black sun”. They believed that after the autumnal equinox sun begins to age as a decrepit old man to go out completely during the longest night of the year. Ever since Bulgarians call December “kolozheg” – fiery wheel that after a full circle in the skies stills to be able to start again its annual journey in the spring.
But how was the sun born and what happens to it before it goes out this autumn? Ancient Slavs used to say that in the longest winter night from the dust of the darkened solar disk the new sun is reborn like a phoenix – in the night in which today we celebrate sacred Christmas Nativity. Golden faced newborn grew day after day upby a millet seed, with a cock’s step only to blossom in the spring as handsome teenager Yarilo. His hair was of pure gold, on his head he wore a floral wreath and riding his white steed roamed the world from end to end to make it warm after the long winter sleep. In the evening he would return to his sunny palace on top of the “cosmic tree” at the “end of the world” where heaven and earth touched. In the night he would get on his boat, sailingthe underground sea to rise again in the morning from east. With his magic ursting light he would awake life, love and courage. Yarilo could miraculously inflame passion both in animals and humans and fills them up with love desire to procreate all over the world.
Slavs used to tell that once the underground god Veles decided to kidnap Yarilo to have him look after his numerous herds in the deep land Nav. Down there the sun never shone and it was inhabited only by the thick shadows of the deceased. With his long, snake like body Veles could at a glance vaporize every hope and every bit of warmth. After he kidnapped Yarilo, the Earth was covered with ice, the water froze, crops withered, everything petrified with cold. In an epic battle Yarilo defeated dragon Veles, emerged on the upper land and spring warmth bathed the world anew. Since then people began to call it DAZHBOG – “God who gives,” and to this day we celebrate the victory of “colorful and dear” St. George over the dragon.
Once summer was in, the Sun decided to marry. Some Slavs would say that it brought with him from the underworld Morana – the goddess of fertility. On their wedding day, the whole world got covered with flowers and trees with heavy fruit. According to others it would wander all over the Earth, but still could not find a bride and began to fade. Once the Sun Mother saw him she became sad and sent him to bathe in the river so he become handsome again and return the smile on his face. Since then midsummer sun “flickers and plays” because it bathes and dew drops turn into “living water” that can cure any disease. That is why in Midsummer and during the Mermaid’s Week Bulgarians rolled on dewy meadows and gathered herbs touched by the “live” sun.
As soon as the sun bathed and its curls began to glow joyfully, it then lowered them to the ground to dry. A teenage girl was passing by with her girlfriends. She was not an ordinary girl, but a starlet named Denitsa, a startling beauty. As soon as she was born, fairies had predicted that if she go out, great evil will befall the world. She grew up confined at home longing to play with her pals. One day her parents took pity on her and let her out to play. When Denitsa saw the sun curls, she decided that they were swing and sat on them to swing. The sun stopped on its way through the sky dome, rapt by her beauty and forgot to return in the evening. The Earth became red hot, crops burned out. Sun could not resist and took Denitsa to make her his bride.
People started moaning what to do, how to save themselves, for were the Sun and the star girl to give birth to one hundred suns the world would burn out completely! Only the hedgehog with his thick skin could show outdoors without being burned. So they sent him off to set Denitsa free.
The Sun became angry that they took his bride and flushed with anger, harnessed its fiery horses and rode with his chariot across the sky. Wherever the horsesset footsparks flied, wherever their hooves hit the earth а thunder storm was raging. To this day on St. Elias Day people hide and do not go to work, as to not make the sun angry, which still searches in wood and stone for the old urchin. In order to appease the sun people gave him gifts every spring. Old Slavs built shrines on top of the hills, in order to be closer to him, erected idols with a white stone put in front and worshiped God with songs and dances. Echoing this sunny cult is Bulgarian custom German (or Jerman, Dragancho, Skaloyan), essentially prayer for fertile rain. They would put German made of clay in a boat or coffin and lay it in the ground after a funeral procession near a crossroad or a river. With a lit candle he had to beg nature for life-giving rain. In the fall, propitiated and tired sun god would return exhausted to his palace to take a rest. Its rays were shut offand turn into ash to be reborn in mid-winter as the young Yarilo.
Author: Mihaela Videnova