Ridnavira followers in Kamianets-Podilsky, Ukraine. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Ridnavira followers in Kamianets-Podilsky, Ukraine. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Peer-reviewed articles Re-imagining the Ukrainian Ancestral Land The Vedic and Aryan influence of Ridnovir geopoetics

Ukrainian Neo-pagan groups, known as Ridnoviry, since the 1950s, sought to develop an archaic cosmic piety around nature and primordial traditions, to providing an alternative to the disillusions of Soviet materialist atheism and give meaning to an uprooted nation, Mainly influenced by an environmentalist and Hinduist imaginary, the landscape constitutes the main element of inertia structuring this belief. Indeed, the emotions embedded in the Brahmin knowledge and the aesthetic permanence of territory are the foundations of what could be called a pagan “geopoetics”. This concept, based on environmentalism and poetry, was part of the deployment of a new understanding of nature, and the claim of a Ukrainian ascendance linked with the Vedic and Aryan origins myth. Focusing on the main Neo-pagan groups Ridna Ukrayins’ka Natsional’na Víra (RUN-Vira) and Ob’iednannia Ridnoviriv Ukraïny (ORU), I propose in this article to return to the genealogy of this belief and show the role of geopoetics in the construction of Ukrainian Neo-paganism.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds Bw 2021:4, pp 68-80
Published on balticworlds.com on January 24, 2022

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Ukrainian Neo-pagan groups, known as Ridnoviry, since the 1950s, sought to develop an archaic cosmic piety around nature and primordial traditions, to providing an alternative to the disillusions of Soviet materialist atheism and give meaning to an uprooted nation. Mainly influenced by an environmentalist and Hinduist imaginary, the landscape constitutes the main element of inertia structuring this belief. Indeed, the emotions embedded in the Brahmin knowledge and the aesthetic permanence of territory are the foundations of what could be called a pagan “geopoetics”. This concept, based on environmentalism and poetry, was part of the deployment of a new understanding of nature, and the claim of a Ukrainian ascendance linked with the Vedic and Aryan origins myth. Focusing on the main Neo-pagan groups Ridna Ukrayins’ka Natsional’na Víra (RUN-Vira) and Ob’iednannia Ridnoviriv Ukraïny (ORU), I propose in this article to return to the genealogy of this belief and show the role of geopoetics in the construction of Ukrainian Neo-paganism.

Key words: Ukraine, ecology, geopolitics, Paganism, Vedism, New Age.

Considered a mystical axiom, nature and its veneration constitute the primary characteristic of contemporary alternative religions and spiritualities. This metaphysics appeared at the very end of the 19th century and covers various cultural and political sensibilities, ranging from deep ecology to progressive environmentalism. Nevertheless, it is the result of a single ontological interpretation of monotheisms. Considered to be anthropocentric, the latter would have made human beings depositaries of the environment offered by God for the purposes of exploitation. Cut off from his deep roots, which were once anchored in the soil and in the living, man would fall prey to a form of alienation that prevented him from taking into account the fragility of his environment. In view of the damage inflicted on the biosphere by modern societies, some individuals have tried to find philosophical substrates outside the field of monotheistic traditions that would allow the reconciliation of Man and nature around a “biophilia”, in other words, a love of the living. Spiritual ecology suggests that spiritualities linked to nature can offer higher standards than the secular approaches of ecologism. Beyond this holistic transcendence, which is intended to replace the temptations of contemporary materialism in order to safeguard the environment, Neo-paganism has been able to follow much more complex paths, combining the search for this primary harmony with the quest for origins.

An historical outline of Ukrainian Neo-paganism and Vedic tradition

The environmental question is a corollary of Neo-paganism, as well as New Age. However, it cannot serve as a sufficient criterion to establish a strict distinction between the two. Indeed, if these belief systems advocate a return to nature and its cosmic essence in order to provide existential answers in an increasingly materialistic and individualistic world, their traditions and inspirations largely differ from each other, particularly when it comes to identity. While New Age claims to be universal in seeking “self-realization” through a set of invented mythologies that involve different religions and spiritualities, such as Buddhism or Witchcraft which, are often mixed with scientific or pseudo-scientific works tinged with esotericism and occult elucubrations, Neo-paganism is foremost a resurgence of pre-Christian native polytheistic cults. Closely linked to the Romantics’ legacy, which idealized antic and traditional societies, unlike New Age, Neo-paganism underpins the idea of indigenous tradition passed on from generation to generation throughout history. Thus, Neo-paganism is not the result of some revelations, and is even less based on beliefs that disregard origins. Although part of a millenarian approach, the environment in Neo-pagan faith is mostly considered to be the topos of a rehabilitation of sacred natural places, but also as the cradle of national identity. In doing so, self-realization through nature worship is more ethnic than ethical. By proposing to re-enchant the world through the “return of ancestral gods” and local mythologies, it is not surprising to see that Neo-paganism has found an outlet in contemporary societies in need of reference points. This observation is even more relevant when it comes to the case of Ukraine: A residual construction of former Soviet colonialism in which the national community has painfully tried to rebuild itself and maintain its traditions.

Above all, the history of Neo-paganism in Ukraine has been implicit and hidden. Officially disappearing at the very end of the 10th century, a period of the evangelization of Slavic peoples marked by the conversion of Rurikid Prince Volodymyr in 988 to the Byzantine rite and the establishment in 991 of a Metropolitan bishop in Kyiv, former Pagan practices and beliefs persisted through the folklore of rural communities, most often far away from religious centers of power. Although Christianity became the official religion of Kyivian Rus’, it was actually only an additional rite to the existing Pagan customs. Far from having disappeared, Ukrainian Paganism like other Slavonic cults would therefore have been subject to syncretic assimilation rather than a replacement imposed without consensus. This unofficial co-existence would then have resulted in a “dualist belief system”. It was not until the 20th century that the ancient Slavonic faith reappeared. If this renewed interest is mainly due to the will of the Soviet regime to rekindle the flame of patriotism in a context of ideological confrontation with the West, through the rediscovery and valorization of ancient Slavic beliefs, it is also used in Ukrainian dissident movements as an obvious cultural-political alternative to reconnect with an oppressed national identity. Born in the post-1945 Ukrainian diaspora, which mainly established itself in the United States and Canada, the resurgence of Ukrainian native beliefs was mainly due to two individuals: Volodymyr Shaian (1908—1974), a philosopher and Sanskritist, and the writer Lev Sylenko (1921—2008), a disciple of the latter, according to some sources. Volodymyr Shaian was the first person to set about restoring a “Ukrainian native faith”. Having initially founded the Order of the Knights of the Sun God, a Neo-pagan paramilitary organization integrated into the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists that fought the Germans and Soviets during the Second World War, Volodymyr Shaian was forced to flee to Germany in 1944, then to London, where he completed his academic training and participated in the creation of several Neo-pagan journals such as Orden or Svitannia with the help of Lev Sylenko. Although they were driven by the same cause, the collaboration between the two men quickly ended at the beginning of the 1950s, giving rise to the first schism in the Ukrainian Neo-pagan faith. Emigrating in 1954 to the New World, Lev Sylenko founded the first branch of a reformed Ukrainian native faith (RUN-Vira) 12 years later in Chicago on December 3, 1966. Initially located in the United States, between 1970 and 1980, RUN-Vira extended its ramifications to the various Ukrainian diasporas that had been established in Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and even in Oceania. Volodymyr Shaian also founded his own communities in Toronto and Hamilton in Canada. He did continuing his work in London, where he died at the age of 74. The liberalization of the Soviet Union during Gorbachev’s reforms in the mid 80s and finally the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 allowed the gradual return of these cults to Ukraine. While RUN-Vira established itself permanently in Ukraine from 1992, Shaian’s movement owes its popularization in Ukraine to the philologist and ethnographer Halyna Lozko (b. 1952). A disciple of Shaian’s precepts, she founded her own movement in Lviv in 1993, called Pravoslavia [The True Faith] and later became General Director of Shaian’s movement, which she led under the name Volkhvynia Zoreslava [High Priestess Zoreslava]. Through her activism and numerous scientific publications for the academic world, Halyna Lozko gradually succeeded in gathering most of the groups belonging to Shaian’s movement. In 1998, she founded Obiednannia Ridnoviriv Ukrayiny [Association of Ukrainians of the Native Faith], a federation of Pagan families established in almost entire Ukrainian territory. Although Ukrainian Neo-paganism now numbers arounds 10,000 people, each belonging to organizations, as diverse as they are in terms of dogma and ritual, owes much of its worldview to the Shaian and Sylenko movements.

As part of a growing subculture, Neo-pagans in Ukraine have indeed sought to develop an archaic cosmic piety based on former Slavic beliefs. Presented as a “traditional” religion, i.e., “of societies that have never broken the link, never having been converted to monotheism, it is based on respect for traditions and on the conformist reproduction of the religious practices of ancestors”. This singular desire to reconnect with an indigenous Ukrainian belief that must be considered — to quote Volodymyr Shaian — “not only as poetry, but as a living and creative religion”, is mainly reflected in the terminology used by its followers to designate themselves. Although Ukrainian Neo-paganism might be considered by historians as mythologizing (re)construction fabricated a posteriori on the basis of a rediscovered local rural folklore, rather than the faithful practice of an ancestral religion due to a lack of original sources, the term “Pagan” or pohanstvo is perceived by followers as pejorative insofar as it would encompass unrelated beliefs (e.g., New Age) or would refer to attacks by the Orthodox Church. Because of their pronounced ethnicism and the so-called primordial nature of their religion, Ukrainian Neo-pagans prefer to use the term Ridnavira, or “native faith/truth” to designate their religion. However, it is also widely decried; the term “Neo-pagan” is still accepted as they consider themselves worthy inheritors of an ancestral faith.

Like other Neo-pagan beliefs, Ridnavira is present in Central and Eastern Europe, polytheistic and holistic taking benefits from post-Soviet cultural recomposition. Built around the cosmogonical concept of the “World Tree” on which the existing world exists as its essential foundations, Ridnavira has the sacralization and personification of nature and elements in a pantheon of 17 deities, of which Rod god of fertility, Perun god of thunder and rain and Dazhboh father of gods were the main ones. The rich and complex formulations of this cosmology are complemented by a series of ritual practices that organize human life around the rhythm of nature. Thus, perceived as the exclusive receptacle of the divine, nature and its veneration among Ridnoviry implies the idea of a holism, a cosmic “Whole”, formulated around tripartism: Nav the Spiritual, Invisible or “Other World”’; Yav the “Manifested World”; and Prav the “World of the Higher Law”. As an intrinsic part of the second world Yav, nature, enchanted by Paganism, commanded respect, reverence, and reciprocity in the human mind. In this sense, Ridnavira proceeds from a form of hedonistic and vitalistic fulfilment that is opposed to any form of modern materialism that is conducive to individualism and egoism. However, despite these elements, the Ridnavira is divided. Inspired as much by New Age as by evangelicalism, RUN-Vira is distinguished by the veneration of one and the same god named Dazhboh, the God who gives or the Sun God, whose sacred words are transcribed in the book Maha Vira, written in 1979. In contrast to Sylenko, who was considered a “false prophet”, Volodymyr Shaian emphasizes the polytheistic dimension of the Ukrainian Faith. Thus, the latter takes up the great canons of Slavic Paganism of Kyivian Ru’s, compiled in the book Vira predkhiv nashyx [Our Ancestors’ Faith], written by Shaian in 1987, but also those canons recognized in  folk studies [narodozniavstvo], which Halyna Lozko observed in the journal Svaroh and her own publications.

While the Ridnavira is largely based on Slavic rural folklore and traditions, its mythological essence also features Vedic heritage. Initially born in Russia in the 20th century, Vedism can be considered as the Eastern quest of the Slavic tradition. This philosophical current was developed with the help of the ancient works of white emigration scientific cenacles and proposes a Russian rereading of the history of the Slavic peoples and their spiritualities. Wishing to place themselves in an immemorial religious lineage, the proponents of Vedism link Pagan Slavic religions to ancient traditions that came from the Indian peninsula and the Persian world. Originally part of the Rig Veda, the main manuscript  allegedly containing a collection of Vedic hymns and mystical teachings, this Eastern tradition would then have gradually spread to the West during the various waves of migration that have occurred throughout Antiquity. Having disappeared due to changes in population, Vedism would nevertheless have survived had it been assimilated into the Slavic Pagan beliefs originating from the Volga and the Pontic region. Original as it is in many ways, this interpretation of history makes sense to many Neo-pagans according to their reading of the Book of Veles, a so-called proto-Slavic work discovered during the Civil War of 1917 which, since 1960, has constituted their main source, an irrefutable proof of this legacy.  Having been subject to various interpretations, ranging from esoterism to Gnosticism the Vedic question is deeply political. It units the many narratives of Slavic Neo-paganism that justify racial superiority insofar as it refers first of all to a celebration of spiritual heritage symbolized by the figure of the Indo-European and his mythical avatar: the Aryan. As the presumed repositories of Vedism, Russians would be direct descendants of the Aryans and the main garants of ”White World”. Nevertheless, this version of history is contested in Ukraine by Ridnoviry. Both influenced by oriental religions and in particular Hinduism, Volodymyr Shaian and Lev Sylenko were convinced that the Vedic knowledge present in the north of India would have been transmitted by Aryan people, making Ukraine the true cradle of this civilization, although their interpretations differ. Lev Sylenko’s mythology is part of a theosophist perspective, an occult current born at the beginning of the 20th century under the pen of Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891). It largely takes up the idea of ”root peoples” who, in turn, have been vectors of civilizations throughout ancient history, each of which developed characteristics according to their environment. Identified in the Maha Vira through the word ”Oriana”, wrongly derived from the word ”Aryan”.  For Lev Sylenko, Ukraine is the last resort for this people that have been at the origin of the Brahmin knowledge contained in the Rig Vedas. Making the Ukrainian nation the first white one among the other. In contrast to Sylenko, in the ideology of Volodymyr Shaian and Halyna Lozko, the Aryan myth espouses an ethno-differencialist and anti-Christian vision. Thus, the identitarian component is very present in the ORU. Just like its Russian side, antisemitism and anti-Zionism can collide with the desire to create a religion specific to white populations that are assimilated to Indo-European peoples (understood as Aryan). Although Volodymyr Shaian was able to introduce this approach in his 1937 conference entitled “Renaissance of pan-Aryan thought”, it owes also to various rightist and fascist intellectuals, such as the Italian neo-fascist philosopher Julius Evola, who used the Indo-European Pagan ”Primordial Tradition” to distinguish the ”noble-minded” races that were the guardians of ”wisdom” and ”gnosis” over the millennia. Like other authors who praised traditional societies and Indo-European Europe, such as Alain de Benoist and Pierre Krebs, Julius Evola and his work have thus been disseminated and conceptually assimilated within Ukrainian Neo-paganism under Halyna Lozko’s patronage.

A Pagan “geopoetics”? Toward a new reading of Ridnavira environmentalism 

In his article “Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?” Adrian Ivakhiv argues that the ecological representations built around the Ridnavira faith are above all to a worldview that should embrace the Ukrainian specificity in terms of religious tradition and relationship to nature. This idea of a ”continuum” between the human being and nature originates from an idealization of traditional religions considered as cosmic. It is about recognizing the absolute character of nature by conferring on it a sacred as well as a living dimension. This idealization would force people to enter into harmony with the world and return to the primary stage of their existence in contact with nature. In this non-anthropocentric perspective, nature is seen more as a partner than as a place to live. If this representation of nature is mostly based on romantic ecological arguments, Adrian Ivakhiv’s article points out that nature can also be understood in Ridnavira as radical ideas expressing the idea that ethnic communities are above all biological communities rooted in a specific natural territory. This radical approach has not been without effects, albeit appendicular, in the theoretical corpus of Ukrainian Neo-paganism. Indeed, if the environmental conservation of most Neo-pagans corresponds to a ‘”cultural ecology” seeking to rebalance interactions between human activities and the living, it is also used as a means to oppose globalism and monotheisms. Presented as an external aggression, for most movements the environmental crisis in Ukraine is attributable to Christianity. This anti-Christian dimension is a major point of convergence between radical deep ecology and ethno-nationalism. By conquering and appropriating new virgin territories throughout history, Christianity would have made possible the trivialization of the cosmos and the questioning of indigenous beliefs. The process of technical arrest resulting from modern Western civilization would be the indirect result of the replacement of the Pagan pantheistic myth by that of Christian anthropocentrism. Also, ecology among Ridnoviry goes hand in hand, as Adrian Ivakhiv points out, with the preservation of people’s identity. For some believers, the environment defence it is first and foremost that of the people. To be an ecologist and to venerate nature would consist in wanting to preserve the natural environment of living species, of which Man is a part. Thinking that each people is associated with a specific biome, the Pagan supporters of this identity-based ecology are thus opposed to any form of mixing. Introduced with the Vedic and Aryan hypothetical cradle, Ridnoviry therefore considers Ukrainian nature to be the last bastion in the world to protect from such so-called threats.

Identity is indeed essential from the point of view of Ukrainian Neo-paganism. Through ecology, Neo-paganism intends to establish a new ethic of the future based on a natural order inspired by the pristine purity of ancient peoples who struggled for their survival, as well as that of their environment. It is therefore appropriate to approach this theme with as much distance as necessary, and even more so when it comes to the Vedic and Aryan issue. However, in her book on Aryan myth in Russia, Marlène Laruelle reminds us that this imaginary represents, under its mythical and ideological aspect, a research itinerary that, at the very least, is heuristic. While most scholars such as Adrian Ivakhiv have focused on the identitarian and political dimensions underlying Ridnavira spiritual ecology, it is important to remember that before being an ideology, Neo-paganism is first and foremost a system of moral values closely related to enhancement of the environment. Indeed, through their mythical dimension, Neo-pagan religions participate in the transformation of the view of immediate universe. It is no longer a question of considering the environment as simple physical inertia, but as a “mirror of the soul”, a new metaphysical horizon on which man projects himself in a transcendental way in order to find there the language of the inanimate through which he can express his feelings, passions and lyrical impulses through the Vedic tradition. Indeed, the sense of the sacred in the Rig-Veda is distinguished by the ability to see the world in its complexity in the light of the divine. The Homo Vedicus, which can be described by Halyna Lozko as “a person whose goal in life is spiritual perfection” lives in symbiosis with his environment. He would be connected to nature through his soul by a holistic feeling that would allow him to acquire a global wisdom capable of perceiving all the powers gravitating around him. Because they were governed by these holistic principles emphasizing the functional, spiritual and moral unity that links human beings with nature and the supernatural, indigenous Ukrainian societies would have maintained a dynamic balance within and between ecological and social systems through their beliefs and traditions. This exaltation of human solidarity with life and nature is visible in the worship of ‘Mother Earth’, similar to Aryan practices, which Ridnoviry claims to be. Because of their Aryan roots originated from the Vedic tradition, Ridnoviry could be able to decode the world in order to better perceive the multiple manifestations of the divine.

Based on this principle, for this study I propose to look at Ridnavira by using the notion of ”geopoetics” developed by the Scottish poet Kenneth White. This multidisciplinary field of study aims to bring together science, philosophy and literature for a better understanding of ”global space” as it is perceived. By a careful study of the literary and geographical material presented in the poems and by travelers, geopoetics aims to faithfully retrace the author’s actual emotional perception. It is no longer a matter of simply understanding the environment described, but of grasping the aesthetic permanence that structure it and link it to the human being. This approach is all the more interesting as it is partly based on the notion of ecology. Kenneth White’s geopoetics, with its vocation to show and tell the world in a new way, actually has a total admiration for nature and the writing of the emotions felt in contact with it. The etymology of the word “geopoetics” reflects this transcendental process: geo (the Earth) and ”poetics” a conversion of this experience into Art. Thus, not only does geopoetics recall ecology (as a ”discourse on the earth”) to this concern for beauty, it doubly exceeds it through the aesthetics of the narrative and the elements. Geopoetics is by no means foreign to Neo-paganism. In his time, the Russian Neo-pagan priest Alexey ‘Dobroslav’ Dobrovolsky (1938—2014) had formulated this aesthetic and emotional dimension:

The mere possibility of contemplation, perception, contemplation of the ‘Beauty’ of ‘Nature’ fills the soul with quiet reverence and purges all secondary and useless thoughts. You are joyful because you feel Nature, the Universe, and not just able to think about them […] Nature gives us a great gift: that of childlike joy, without artifice, which puts you on the path to health, to mental enlightenment. It also brings mystical experiences, which are usually identified as religious ecstasy.

With its own myths and ritual practices intimately linked to nature and the territory of which it is a part, Neo-paganism indeed gives rise to a reconfiguration of space. Through the intensity of the process experienced, the believer projects himself beyond space but transmutes it into emotion. Thus, the indigenous rite constitutes a pietas through which eternal gratitude to the living is expressed. By relying on the very specific knowledge (historical, anthropological, geographical etc.) that makes it up, I intend to show that Ridnavira faith is a form of geopoetics designed to enhance the Vedic and Aryan heritage in Ukraine. However, it should be noted that the geopoetical approach that I favor is intimately linked to geopolitics, understood here as the study of power rivalries in a territory. Indeed, in geography and in Ridnavira, nature intrinsically refers to territories that are claimed and delimited by borders. Considered as a physical geographical space used for strategic and defense purposes, nature, as geographer Michel Foucher notes, could participate in the formation of a territory: this would not be based on ”human limits”, but on ”natural” limits and this, ”in a period of upheaval of the foundations”. Such a formulation echoes that of Jacques Lévy and Michel Lussaut who, in their Dictionnaire de l’espace et des sociétés, define territory, according to its etymology, as a space with a local specificity that is characterized by the identity of the individuals and societies that occupy it; a ”lived space”, to quote Armant Fremont. The idea of a ”lived space” in geopoetics is in fact not so far from the notion of ethnoscape first formulated by Arjun Appaduraï and then Katarina S.Z. Schwartz to describe the forms of space that can be found in the world. Schwartz to describe the forms of existence that allow uprooted people, rejected people, fractions in struggle to repeat, to live in their daily life, certain cultural habits in an ‘other space’ which, in the Ukrainian case, could be that of nature. The ‘ethnoscape’, as a form of meta-national existence, allows for a progressive approach to the ‘Other’ and preserves the uprooted and travelers from too much stressful contact with it. This idea is all the more relevant when confronted with the problem of post-Soviet Ukraine: a state whose borders were born out of the collapse of the USSR (the Other), and where the newly-born national community is still struggling to build itself on the basis of the fundamental criteria of the so-called ‘Western’ nation-state: language, culture, history, and which is also challenged by foreign powers like Russia. Thus, while the geopoetics promoted by the Vedic tradition of Ukrainian Neo-paganism is downstream of the ecological crisis, it is also used as part of an identity politics that has turned against Ukraine’s enemies. Thus, Ukrainian Neo-pagan geopoetics needs to be qualified here as it is more what I can call a “national valorization through the aesthetics of the territory” than an emotional and poetic approach to the environment.

Ukraine’s representation in Ridnovir geopoetics

As briefly outlined above, the development of Ukrainian Neo-paganism is said to have clear links with the spiritual re-enchantment of the natural world proposed by deep ecology. Emerging in the 1970s from theories developed by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (1912—2009), the concepts of interactivity, referentiality and valorization of the living in this discourse very early on involved the problem of territory. Indeed, the preservation of the biosphere or, more generally, of nature would imply the establishment of closed regions, so that humanity cannot disrupt biodiversity through its interference. Put inside a shelter like a precious artefact, nature in this radical discourse takes the form of a boundary delimiting a primary domain purged of all human markers from a secondary human domain, most often considered “unnatural”, for it is by considering nature as outside of identity that human beings have often dominated and exploited it. This will to preserve the environment, which we can consider to be marginal, is not simply a matter of taking a radical militant stand. Indeed, an examination of the indigenous Ukrainian faith shows that, more than a fantasized attachment to nature, there is a desire among Ridnavira followers to establish, through the Vedic rite, a new territory aesthetic that would be specific to them and, above all, would allow them to reconnect with their Aryan roots. It is a question of putting this idea into practice, by giving it consistency through geopoetics.

Determining precisely what might hypothetically fall under Ridnovir geopoetics is a delicate task, as there are so many unknowns regarding the processes by which such an environmental imaginary is created. The complexity of this approach stems from the different perceptions and ways of inhabiting space, each of which is individually determined socially, culturally and geographically. This observation is further reinforced by the fact that Ukraine has a very wide diversity of landscapes and constructions of identity at the local level. However, belonging to a Pagan religion that constitutes foremost an organic and communitarian environment offers the possibility of sharing and standardizing geographical knowledge and relationship to space according to distant Vedic and Aryan origins. This element seems essential to understanding the mental structuring of Ridnovir geopoetics: the ethnic, collective and quasi-holistic perception of space. In Ukraine, the predominantly peasant identity reflects a key assumption of a close relationship with nature and provides the basis for this idea. According to most Ridnoviry, this unique sensibility toward nature is due to the legacy of the Trypillian culture. Heir to the Neolithic migrations from south-western Europe, this culture, according to historians, developed a culture that was particularly ahead of its time, notably by establishing the first human settlements from 4500 BC. Rather egalitarian, Trypillian society would have built a religion centered around the cults of fertility and nature. Based on this singular episode in human history, the first Ukrainian Neo-pagans, such as Lev Sylenko, simply projected their fantasies onto this civilization, seeing them as the people who introduced the Vedic tradition in Ukraine. In an article dated 2004, Halyna Lozko does not hesitate to list the similarities between the Trypillian culture and the Ukrainian peasant customs highlighted in the Neo-paganism of the ORU. Far from appearing as simple theories specific to Ukrainian Neo-pagan movements, the idea of a geopoetics inherited from ancient peoples has already been formulated by some Ukrainian or Russian geopoliticians that have been rebounded by Ridnavira leaders such as Shaian or Lozko. In addition to Eurasian geographer Lev Gumiliev and his ‘ethnicist ecology’, in which the landscape “necessarily influences ethnic processes”, the same is true for Yuriy Lypa (1900—1944), a doctor by training but recognized as the founding father of Ukrainian geopolitics during the interwar period. Indeed, there are very specific references to this notion of the ”geopoetic” feeling of Ukrainian people, such as his book Pryznachennia Ukraïny (The destination of Ukraine), published in 1938. For Yuriy Lypa, Ukrainian identity is based on three substrata: Trypillan, Hellenic and Gothic, of which the first two are central. If the Hellenic substratum, resulting from the colonization of the Crimea in the 6th century BC, implies that Ukrainians have always been commercially oriented and creative, the Trypillian substratum would explain why they are gifted at singing songs, decorating their properties, cultivating orchards and, in general, demonstrating their love of nature, from which they draw inspiration to express their national grandeur and their quasi-poetic admiration of nature. This idea is further substantiated by the fact that the author quotes Western travelers who have been subjected by Ukrainian ”geopoetics” — according to Kenneth White’s terminology–– by being impressed by the cleanliness and beauty of Ukrainian landscapes and way of life. Thus, Ridnovir geopoetics in Ukraine seems to initially equate the phenomenological dimension with the social and cultural dimension of nationalism and its ethnic side. If the notion of geopoetics is first expressed by the Aryan or Vedic essence (and its heirs) of the Ukrainian ethnos, it owes its difference to the introduction of a requirement to want to define itself by specific territories.

Indeed, when using geopoetics as an angle of approach to the Ridnavira faith, it is difficult to ignore the notion of landscape. Being interested in the relationship between man and the space he occupies, the Ridnavira faith pays considerable attention to the poly-sensoriality of landscapes in the Vedic narratives and hymns for which it is the repository, since they translate a presence in the world, an awareness of the instantaneousness of perceptions and of the intimate factors conditioning the experience of the group. Thus, the reconfiguration of territory through geopoetics is based on privileged spatial figures. The choice of territories revered in the Pagan faith is not a matter of chance or invention. While Max Weber prophesied the “disenchantment of the world” through the increased rationalism of existence —  the inevitable outcome of which would be the morbidity of everything —  geopoetics, developed in the writings of Shaian and Sylenko, proposes to provide more than for veneration. If the ethnologist Mariya Lesiv rightly reminds us, Neo-pagans work from historical sources, most often from ill-informed ancient historians such as the Greek Herodotus or the critical commentaries of the Orthodox Church Fathers. They all try to seek in ‘aryanity’ of the Ukrainian national territory and its sacredness “what the human soul strives for, embodied in the bodily human body”. Ukraine has a large number of sacred places for this purpose, ranging from the Dniepro river, the main Aryans and Rigveda codex cradle, to the sacred stones of Mirobog in Vinnitsychyna, which are said to be endowed with mystical energies that appease and strengthen the soul, or the Black Sea, which would indeed be the original cradle of the Aryan race, called Hyperborea. Associated with an ”ancestral homeland” in which the soul and emotions of the Ukraino-Aryan identity lie, these natural territories lead the individual to reflect on their own presence in the world and their heritage. Through these ceremonies, most often punctuated by songs and solemn moments calling for meditation and reflection, the adept seems to lose himself in his own thoughts, which are guided by the narrative and the prayers. Apart from these elements that make Ridnovir geopoetics a search for collective filiation thanks to natural spaces that are invested with a mythical dimension, it should be understood that, above all, the geopoetic approach to Pagan narratives through the Veda myth is motivated by seeking inner exaltation and harmony which, in contact with the landscapes, turns into aesthetic and existential enjoyment in which the call of the cosmos grows bigger and bigger, going so far as to vibrate the links that unite the believer in the world. The stories from Lev Sylenko’s own experience show this change of perception in relation to the environment. During his many walks in American forests, where he had his revelation, Sylenko was not only confronted with landscapes; he was put in the presence of an intimate language, that of the solar god Dazhboh and of the Orians who shaped all civilizations throughout history. Building on this revealed mythology, his intimate geography unfolded along a new itinerary shaped in a quasi-mystical way by the rediscovery of the Vedic traditions and language from this physical environment. The Vedic linguistic dimension is therefore equally important to grasp this poetics of landscape. Although incomplete, and being somewhat compensated by new archaeological and linguistic discoveries linking the Indo-Iranian and Ukrainian languages, has opened up new explanatory schemes for the ”Aryanity” of the Ukrainian national territory nurturing, to use Kenneth White’s expression, a ”topoetics” which unites aesthetics with space. Thus, the toponym takes on a poetic utility through language, stimulating the imagination and giving access to the believer to a certain representation of space and myth. We find this same dimension in Shaian and Lozko. Their translations of the Book of Veles or The Dream of Prince Igor, a Slavic epic text, can be read as a series of paintings in which the central object is, of course, Ukrainian space. These texts oscillate between scenes experienced among various emblematic Slavo-Aryan figures and representations of the Eastern space through which they travelled. In other words, “the writing alternates between various sensory foci in order to unfold itself”. Thus, the Ridnovir geopoetic reading strives to give as much importance to landscapes as to epic scenes, as these suggest a space not only contemplated, but also practiced and experienced. On the scale of Ridnovir geopoetics, Ukraine or ”Aryan world” can be seen as a marginal space, one of wilderness, magical spaces and ancestral legacies in which a poetic and sensory experience of reality is lived. By re-imagining the ancestral land around a natural ”primitive territory”, Ukrainian Neo-pagans reorganize, to quote Katarina Schwartz, “collective perceptions, encoded in myths and symbols, of the ethnic meanings of certain parts of the territory, in order to provide ‘maps’ of the community, its history, its destiny, and its place among nations”. This is all the more necessary as ridnoviry are convinced that natural landscapes are the physical embodiment of the deep roots of Ukrainian identity. In this representation, the central geographical position of Ukraine and the dominant characteristics of its landscapes are given priority. While world disenchantment seems to be on the march through the increased rationalism of existence — the ineluctable outcome of which would be the morbidity of everything —  nature, through the ancestral myths of Ukrainian Neo-paganism, finds a certain poetry. More than an attachment to wild landscapes that have long been domesticated, it is a real re-enchantment of the territory.

If geopoetics in Ukrainian Neo-paganism refers above all to the creation of a mental space, one could also speak of a kind of promotion of a new stage within global Neo-pagan thought. Geopoetics corresponds to an even more intimate representation of ‘primitive’ territory and ecology. It is not a question of forcing a line, but of recognizing that, paradoxical as it may seem, Neo-pagan thought moves all the more easily because it chooses the local level to express itself in its globality.

If this re-enchantment of the world by means of the poetic approaches contained in the Vedic tradition was initially thought to promote a return to the country, this aesthetic vision of the territory would also be the vector of a new ”geographical imaginary”, thus reshuffling the cards of the current Ukraine and its geopolitics. Beyond appearances, it is important to remind that the ”Aryan myth” of Ukraine origins present in Neo-pagan ”geopoetics” is the bearer of a Weltanschauung and therefore of the ultimate goals to be achieved. To quote the religion sociologist Peter L. Berger, it is the collective ideology par excellence which can only find its origin in a powerful need to belong to a group. Purely a product of identity and social needs, allowing answers to be provided in a precarious post-communist national context, this ecologist ethic of territory does not escape geopolitical considerations. As the 2014 and ongoing war in Donbass increase the religious rivalry between the Patriarchates of Kyiv and Moscow and globalization increases environmental degradation, this new geographical perception, based on the Aryan myth and the Vedic tradition, is presented by Ukrainian Neo-pagans as an authentic identity and spiritual refuge. This is all the more necessary as the Vedic legacy, as I have said, can be subjected to some rivalries between Ukrainian and Russian Neo-pagans. But nature as inertia of the territory is not synonymous with neutrality in Ridnovir geopoetics. The geopolitologist Olivier Zajec speaks of a “magic land” in which identity and cultural constructions are at the heart of representations of the territory that give a large part to feelings, impressions and imagination. They can therefore be the baptismal font of the nature-nationalism couple. Thus, nature can be seen in Ridnavira geopoetic as a real border elaborated with both Slavophilia and primary anti-Communism.

In their desire to reappropriate the habitable territory from an ecological and community perspective, Ridnoviry hope to use geopoetics to create a national ”ethnoscape” to face the geopolitical and ecological challenges of the present day. This is no longer a mere perception, but an affirmation. In a country in which ecological political forces are on the verge of exhaustion, in which the Ukrainian nation-state is being challenged at the local level by autonomy and ethno-linguistic separatism, such a shift in the scale of representations can only give more meaning to the claims of Ukrainian Neo-pagans who favor an ethnicist vision of the nation. Unlike some Neo-pagan movements in which the Aryan question is fundamentally incompatible with the glorification of the single and indivisible nation-state, Vedic geopoetics in the Ukrainian case would allow some movements, such as the ORU, to promote national reconciliation on the basis of a new perception of the country as fundamentally hostile to the outside world. For Ridnoviry, Ukraine would be a border between Russia and the ‘West’ due to its vast natural domain. This is all the more logical for the followers, since the same territory coincides with the Eurasian steppe in the east and the impenetrable forest massifs in the north and west in present-day Polesia, Galicia and Trans-Carpathia. As a territory straddling two biomes with few impassable natural barriers, very early in its history, Ukraine was subjected to all sorts of invasions and conquests from the East, notably by the Kurgan populations that were considered barbaric, non-Aryan and not very close to nature. This natural civilizational barrier between Eurasia and Ukraine is a challenge but is rich in meaning for grasping the political dimension of contemporary geopoetics. This contrast in values concerning the perception of nature would lead to two opposing sets of values. On the one hand, Ukraine is idealized as a perfect region; a natural space that would be the place of expression for a rooted and authentic peasant culture, of which the Aryan and Trypillian peoples would be the main legacies. In contrast, the Russia and Ukrainian regions such as the Donbass would be excluded from this sacred geography induced by geopoetics. Because of their Turko-Mongol and then their communist past, these regions and their inhabitants would simply be closed to any notion of the environment and nature protection. Once the land of the mythical Zaporoguian Cossacks and the Varangians, Donbas would have seen its Aryan-Ukrainian identity disappear through its progressive systemic and economic integration into Russia and then the USSR, along with its primary harmony with nature, if only through the introduction of the Russian language and the exaltation of the worker and his productive qualities.


Initially marginal and developed in a historical context in which it could only be limited to a quest for emancipation from foreign tutelage in terms of spirituality, the Ukrainian Neo-paganism I have been discussing is a conceptual “tinkering” which is, to say the least, particular. Through their belief systems and philosophies, Ridnoviry generally claim a direct lineage, or even heritage, to the Aryan tradition established over fifteen centuries before our era. In opposition to rigid monotheism, it is through this spirituality that they wish to re-establish an archaic ethic based on natural harmony inspired by the transcendence of the landscape and the emotional purity of the ancient Vedic people. It was obvious to take an interest in this area, particularly in view of the diversity of the ideological fabric of Paganism in its modern sense. Thus, my approach to Ukrainian Neo-paganism through geopoetics aimed to give another interpretation of the links that can unite this religion with nature. By primarily focusing on the inner space subjected to the emotions induced by the Vedic vision of nature and landscapes, rather than on their strict ethnic dimension, I sought to make palpable the consciousness and exotic ontology of this religion. By proposing a new way of looking at the world and nature, the Ridnavira religion offers a space of analysis that is conducive to a geopoetic approach. As in the Rig Vedas, this approach could be interested in the multiple ways in which this sense of being in the world can be captured and described. If Vedic and Aryan geopoetics seem to offer a new world vision in which mankind is substituted from the modern world for nature contemplation, this philosophy is not limited to deep ecology. In classical geography, nature has always corresponded to a physical inertia intimately linked to space in order to characterize it. However, if these inertias induce directly or indirectly in Ukrainian Neo-pagan doctrine well-established moral power factors, they foremost include also ethnic ones, suggested by the notion of an “Aryan primitive territory”.

While it may seem sufficiently credible in the light of the many scientifical research to which it has been subjected to be legitimized, the Vedic and Aryan myths in Ukrainian Paganism are above all an Orientalist fantasy more commonly known as ‘Indomania’. Indeed, both Shaian and Sylenko are first and foremost religious specialists of India, each having made a career in the twentieth century, a period of particularly intense emulation for this field of study. In addition to this, let’s add the no less problematic constitution of the Ukrainian nation at the same time. Deeply marked by their respective exiles in the West, the latter tried through Neo-paganism to federate the Ukrainian nation around a moral attachment to ancestral traditions other than those of the former imperial Russia and the USSR. Contrary to Russian Vedism and Aryan myth, the objection was not to create a new nation-state, but to reconstruct the original country. Thus, the mobilization of “geopoetics” can be seen as what Benedict Anderson calls a “nation-state building project developed in exile”. It is a question of reappearing in the collective imagination and nostalgia a territory of reference to which to relate: the ‘homeland’. Finally, because it represents one of the last great civilizations founded on a quasi-temporal polytheism around which a perfectly hierarchical society was built, ordered according to a set of ethics such as honor, transmission and the preservation of identity. These are all references to be followed by Ukrainian Neo-pagans in order to halt the process of national fragmentation.

Note: This article is part of Baltic Worlds 2021:4 Special section: New Age and alternative beliefs in socialist Eastern Europe.

Read all articles in the issue here>> 


  1. Arne Næss, Une écosophie pour la vie: Introduction à l’écologie profonde [An Ecosophy for Life: An Introduction to Deep Ecology], (Paris: Seuil, 2017).

  2. Massimo Introvigne,
    Le New Age des origines à nos jours [The New Age from Its Origins to the Present Day], (Paris: Dervy, 2005).

  3. Michael York, “The New Age and Neo Pagan Movements”, Religion Today 2 (1991): 1—3.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Kaarina Aitamurto,
    Paganism, Traditionnalism, Nationalism, (London: Routledge, 2016).

  6. Stéphane François, Le retour de Pan [Pan’s return], (Milan: Arché, 2016).

  7. Mariya Lesiv,
    The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism as an Alternative Vision for a Nation (Kingstone: Queen’s University Press, 2013), 64.

  8. Other rites were songs, handicrafts and the rite of the Storm God Perun. His idol dominated Prince Volodymyr’s palace in Kyiv and was considered by many to be the protector of the city. According to the ORU followers, after his conversion, Volodymyr had thrown the god’s idol into the Dniepro river to prove his loyalty to the new faith he had embraced. However, the myth of Perun continued to exist in other guises, such as the prophet Ilia, who was called back to heaven by a whirlwind of storms and fire, or the Archangel Michael, great master of the heavens and Saint of Kyiv, who was said by the Church to be Perun in the form of an angel.

  9. Mariya Lesiv, “Ukrainian Paganism and Syncretism: This is Indeed Ours“ in
    Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe, eds. Kaarina Aitamurto and Scott Simpson (London: Routledge, 2013), 198—219. Vitaly Proshak, “Paganism in Ukraine: Its Beliefs, Encounter with Christianity and Survival,” Bogoslovskie Razmyshleniia 7 (2006):140—147.

  10. Victor Shnirelman, “Perun vs Jesus Christ: Communism and the Emergence of Neo-paganism in the USSR” in
    Atheist Secularism and its Discontents. A Comparative Study of Religion and Communism in Eurasia, eds. Tam Ngo et al. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 173—189.

  11. Mariya Lesiv, “Blood Brothers or Blood Enemies: Ukrainian Pagans’ Beliefs and Responses to the Ukraine-Russia Crisis” in
    Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Modern Paganism, ed. Kathryn Rountree (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 133—155.

  12. Halyna Lozko, “Volodmyr Shaian —  Osnovopolozhnik vidpozhennia ridnoï viry. Do 90-richchia z dnia narodzhennia” [Volodymyr Shaian —  The Founder of the Revival of the Native Faith. On the 90th Anniversary of His Birth],
    Journal Svaroh 9 (1990): 5—8.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Lev Sylenko,
    Uchytel’ Sylenko ioho rodoviv, zhyttia i vira v Dazhbog [Spiritual Teacher Sylenko: His Genealogy, Biography, Belief in Dazhboh] (Springlen: RUNVira, 1996).

  15. Lev Sylenko,
    Uchytel’ Sylenko ioho rodoviv, zhyttia i vira v Dazhbog [Spiritual Teacher Sylenko: His Genealogy, Biography, Belief in Dazhboh], (Springlen: RUNVira, 1996), 255—256.

  16. Religion Information Service of Ukraine, “Religiini orhanizatsiï v Ukraïni (stanom na 1 sitchna 2016 r.)” [Religious organizations in Ukraine (as of 1 January 2016)], Religion Information Service of Ukraine website, 11 April 2016, https://risu.ua/religiyni-organizaciji-v-ukrajini-stanom-na-1-sichnya-2016-r_n79084

  17. Stéphane Francois, “Le néo-paganisme et la politique: une tentative de compréhension” [Neo-paganism and Politics: An Attempt to Understand],
    Raisons Politiques 25 (2007), 128.

  18. Halyna Lozko, “Volodymyr Shaian- Zasnovnyk Rukhu Vidrodzhennia Ridnoï Viry” [Volodymyr Shaian — The Founder of the Revivalist Movement  of Native Faith] in
    Probudzhena Eneia [Aeneas is awakened], (Kharkiv: Dyv, 2006), 356—371.

  19. Adrian Ivakhiv, “In search of Deeper Identities. Neopaganism and ‘Native Faith’ in Contemporary Ukraine”,
    Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 8 (2005): 7—38.

  20. In this article the term Neo-pagan” is used as the pbject of study. This choice is primarily motivated by the chronological limits of the subject, which focuses on a religion recreated several centuries after the supposed disappearance of traditional Slavic religions. However, in order to fit  the geographical frame, I will also use the terms Ridnavira for religion and Ridnoviry for its followers.

  21. Lev Sylenko,
    Maha Vira (Springlen: RUNVira, 1979).

  22. Evgueni Moroz, ”Le ‘védisme’, version païenne de l’idée russe” [”Vedism”: A Pagan Version of the Russian Idea],
    Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest 24 (1993): 183—197.

  23. Marlène Laruelle, ”The Rodnoverie Movement: The Search for Pre-Christian Ancestry and the Occult” in
    The New Age of Russia: Occult and Esoteric Dimensions, eds. Brigit Menzel; Michael Hagemeister and Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal (Munich: Kubon & Sagner, 2012 ), 293—310.

  24. Victor Shnirelman, ”Obsessed with Culture: The Cultural Impetus of Russian Neo-Pagans” in
    Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Modern Paganism, ed. Kathryn Rountree (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 87—108.
  25. Victor Shnirelman,Ariiskii mif v sovremennom mire [The Aryan Myth in the Modern World] (Moscow: NLO, 2015).

  26. Adrian Ivakhiv, “In the search for deeper identities: Neopaganism and ‘Native faith’ in Contemporary Ukraine”,
    Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 8 (2005): 7—38; Lev Sylenko, Maha Vira (Springlen: RUNVira, 1979), 101.

  27. Victor Shnirelman, Les nouveaux Aryens et l’antisémitisme” [New Aryans and Antisemitism] in Le rouge et le noir. Extrême droite et nationalisme en Russie [Red and Black. Far-Right and nationalism in Russia], Marlène Laruelle, (Paris: CNRS éditions, 2007), 189—224.

  28. Volodymyr Shaian,
    Vira predkhiv nashyx [The Faith of Our Ancestors] (Hamilton: Society of the Ukrainian Native Faith, 1967), 70.

  29. Julius Evola,
    Imperialismo pagano [The Pagan Imperialism] (Roma: Atanòr, 1928).

  30. Halyna Lozko, Antolohiia Khrystyianstva [Christian Anthology] (Ternopil: Mandrivets’, 2013).

  31. See for example Julius Evola’s Ukrainian translation “Ariys’ka doktryna borot’by I peremohy” [The Aryan Doctrine of Struggle and Victory],
    Journal Svaroh 22 (2010): 23—29 and “Taemnytsia zanepadu” [The Secret of Decline] in ed. Halyna Lozko, Antolohiia Khrystyianstva [Anthology of Christianity] (Ternopil: Mandrivets’, 2013), 354—357.

  32. Adrian Ivakhiv, ”Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?”, The Pomerangranate 8 (2005): 194—225.

  33. Ibid. op.cit 195.

  34. Stéphane François, Le retour de Pan [Pan’s return], (Milan: Arché, 2016).

  35. Catherine Rousselet, ”Écologie et religion en Russie: crainte de la fin des temps et profusion utopique” [Ecology and Religion in Russia: Fear of the End of Time and Utopian Profusion], Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie 96 (1994): 145—163.

  36. Adrian Ivakhiv, ”Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?”, The Pomerangranate 8 (2005): 194—225.

  37. Adrian Ivakhiv, “In Search of Deeper Identities. Neopaganism and ‘Native Faith’ in Contemporary Ukraine”,
    Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 8 (2005): 7—38.

    Katarina Schwartz,
    Nature and National Identity after Communism: Globalizing Ethnoscape (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2006).

  39. Halyna Lozko, “Hlobalizatsiia i osvitniy prostir Ukrayiny” [Globalization and Educational Space of Ukraine], Svaroh 22 (2010): 3—6.

  40. Stéphane François, ”Antichristisme et écologie radicale” [Anti-Christian and Radical Ecology], Revue d’éthique et de théologie morale 4 (2012): 79—88.

  41. Halyna Lozko, Khrystyianizatsiia slov’ian iaj etnotsyd” [Christianization as Ethnocide], in Mul’tyversum 59 (2006): 158—169.

  42. Marlène Laruelle, Mythe aryen et rêve imperial dans la Russie du XIXème siècle, [Aryan Myth and Imperial Dream in 19th Century Russia], (Paris: CNRS éditions, 2005), 15—16.

  43. Louise Sponsel,
    L’écologie spirituelle: histoire d’une révolution tranquille [Spiritual Ecology: The Story of a Quiet Revolution] (Lachapelle-sous-Aubenas: Hozhoni, 2017).

  44. David Knipe,
     Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

  45. Halyna Lozko, “Ariys’ka superetnitchna spil’nota” [Aryan Supernative Community], in Etnolohiia Ukraïny [Ukraine’s Ethnology], (Kyiv: ArtEK, 2001), 116—123. Halyna Lozko, ”Ariys’ka Dykhovna Spadshyna v obriadobiy praktytsi Indiï” [Aryan Spiritual Heritage in the Ritual Practice of India] (paper presented at the annual meeting of ”Urgent Problems of Native Religion and Slavism” dedicated to the IX Slavic Tribal Council, Slobotka, Poland, 16—18 July 2012).

  46. Lev Sylenko, Maha Vira (Springlen: RUNVira, 1979), 118.

  47. Mircea Eliade, La Nostalgie des origines. Méthodologie et histoire des religions [The Nostalgia of Origins. Methodology and History of Religions], (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), 112.

  48. Lev Sylenko,
    Maha Vira (Springlen: RUNVira, 1979), 64.

  49. Kenneth White, “Texte inaugural” [Inaugural Speech], Institut international de géopoétique 1989, http://www.geopoetique.net/archipel_fr/institut/texte_inaugural/index.html, viewed on 20 July 2021.

  50. Kenneth White. Le Plateau de l’albatros. Introduction à la géopoétique [The Albatross Plateau. Introduction to Geopoetics], (Paris: Grasset, 1994).

  51. Ibid.

  52. Poupon Frédéric, “Géopoétique et écologie dans l’oeuvre poétique de Kenneth White”, Essais 13 (2018): 51—64.

  53. Volkh Dobroslav,Pryrodoliubyvaja relygyja budushcheho [Nature-loving Religion of the Future.] (Kyrov:OAO Dom Pechaty-Viatka, 2004): 96.

  54. Michel Foucher, Fronts et frontières: un tour du monde géopolitique [Fronts and Borders: A Geopolitical World Tour], (Paris:Fayard,1991): 94

  55. Jacques Levy and Michel Lussault (dir.), Dictionnaire de la géographie et de l’espace des sociétés [Geography and Space of Societies Dictionary] (Paris: Belin, 2013).

  56. Arjun Appaduraï, Modernity at large: Cultural dimension of Globalization, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991); Katarina S.Z. Schwartz, Nature and National identity after Communism: Globalizing Ethnoscape, Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2006).

  57. Arne Næss,
    Freedom, Emotion and Self-subsistence: The Structure of a Central Part of Spinoza Ethics (Oslo: Universitetsforl, 1975).

  58. Stéphane François,
    L’écologie politique: une vision du monde réactionnaire? [Political Ecology: A Reactionary Worldview?] (Paris: Éditions du Serf, 2012).

  59. Mariya Lesiv, “We allowed Nature to Live in Our Holy Place” in
    The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism as an Alternative Vision for a Nation, Mariya Lesiv (Kingstone: Queen’s University Press, 2013), 286—312.

  60. Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood. The Pagan Revival and White Separatism (London: Durham, Duke University Press, 2003).

  61. Iaroslav Lebedynsky,
    Ukraine, une histoire en questions [Ukraine, a History in Question] (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008)

  62. Marija Gimbutas,
    The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, 7,000 to 3,500 BC: Myths, Legends and Cult Images (London: Thames and Hudson), 1974; Halyna Lozko, “Trypil’s’ka doba” [Trypillian Era] in Ukraïns’ke Narodznavstvo [Ukrainian Ethnostudies] Halyna Lozko, (Ternopil: Mandrivets’, 2014), 12—15.

  63. Halyna Lozko, “Trypi’ls’ka Religia” [The Trypillian Religion],
    Journal Svaroh 15—16 (2004): 33—35.

  64. Marc Bassin, “Ethno-paysages et ethno-parasistes: l’écologie de l’ethnicité chez Lev Gumiliev” [Ethno-landscapes and Ethno-parasites: the Ecology of Ethnicity in Lev Gumiliev], Slavica Occitana 46 (2018): 221—239.

  65. Halyna Lozko, Ukraïns’ke Narodznavstvo, [Ukrainian Ethnostudies] (Ternopil: Mandrivets’, 2014), 15.

  66. Yury Lypa,
    Pryznachennia Ukraïny [The Destination of Ukraine], (Lviv: Khortistia, 1938).

  67. Kenneth White, “Introduction à la géopoétique” [Introduction to Geopoetics],
    l’Atelier du héron 1 (1995): 9—38.

  68. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, (London: Routledge, 2001).

  69. Halyna Lozko, “Vediis’ki Vytoky Davn’oruskoï Religiï” [Vedic Origins Of Ancient Religion] in
    Ukraïns’ke Narodznavstvo, [Ukrainian Ethnostudies] Halyna Lozko, (Ternopil: Mandrivets’, 2014) 249.

  70. For more details I refer the reader to Chapter 7 “Where Else is There Such a People? Vision for a “Nation” in Mariya Lesiv’s book The Return of Ancestral Gods, 97—104.

  71. Lev Sylenko, Maha Vira, (Springlen: RUNVira, 1979).

  72. Sviatoslav Lysenko,
    Spiritual Teacher Lev Sylenko. The Founder of the Society of Ukraine Native Monotheistic Faith (RUNVira) His genealogy, biography, belief in Dazhboh, (Springlen: RUNVira, 1996).

  73. Halyna Lozko, ”Do pytannia periodyzatsiï ta rekonstruktsiï ukraïn’skoï etnoreligiï” [On the Issue of Periodization and Reconstruction of the Ukrainian Ethno-religion], Personal, 1 (2007): 42—49.

  74. Poupon Frédéric, “Géopoétique et écologie dans l’oeuvre poétique de Kenneth White”, Essais 13 (2018): 58.

  75. Victor Shnirelman, “Les nouveaux Aryens et l’antisémitisme” [New Aryans and Antisemitism] in Le rouge et le noir. Extrême droite et nationalisme en Russie [Red and Black. Far-Right and Nationalism in Russia], Marlène Laruelle, (Paris: CNRS éditions, 2007), 189—224.

  76. Rachel Bouvet, R. & Myrian Marcil-Bergeron, “Pour une approche géopoétique du récit de voyage”,
    Arborescences 3 (2013): 19.

  77. Katarina Schwartz, “The occupation of Beauty: imagining Nation and Nature in Latvia,”
    East European Politics and Societies, 21 (2007): 272.

  78. Halyna Lozko,
    Ukraïn’ske iazytchytsvo [Ukrainian paganism] (Kyiv: Ukraïnskyy tsentr dykhovnoï kul’tury, 1994).

  79. Michel Lacroix, Idéologie du New Age [New Age Ideology], (Paris: Flammarion, 1996).

  80. Leon Poliakov,
    The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalistic Ideas In Europe (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996).

  81. Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York: Doubleday, 1967), 11—12.

  82. Olivier Zajec, Introduction à la géopolitique [An Introduction to Geopoetics], (Paris: Argos, Paris, 2013).

  83. Halyna Lozko, “Metodolohidchni zasady antyhlobal’noï filosoqiï”
    Методологічні засади антиглобальної філософії [Methodological Principles of Anti-global Philosophy], Filsofs’kyi chsopis: zb.nauk.pr 1/2 (2011): 6—10.

  84. Halyna Lozko, “Etnoreligiia iak priroda al’terntyvna total’nym ideolohiiam” [Ethno-religion as a Natural Alternative to Total Ideologies] (paper presented at the conference “Problems of National Security in the Conditions of Modern Development of Ukraine: Materials All-Ukrainian. Scientific-practical, Kyiv, Ukraine, 15 September 2006).

  85. Iaroslav Lebedynsky, Les Indo-européens. Faits, débats, solutions [Indo-Europeans. Facts, Debates, Solutions] (Paris: Errances, 2014).

  86. Interview with Halyna Lozko, Kyiv, 17 January 2018.

  87. Ibid.

  88. Claude Lévi-Strauss, La Pensée sauvage [The Savage Mind: tinkerer and engineer], (Paris: Plon, 1962), 32.

  89. Marlène Laruelle, “Alternative Identity, Alternative Religion? Neo-paganism and the Aryan mMyth in Contemporary Russia,”
    Nation and Nationalism, 14 (2008): 283—301.

  90. Benedict Anderson, The Spectre of Comparisons Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998), 58—74.

  91. Stéphane François, La Nouvelle Droite et la ‘Tradition’ [The New Right and ‘Tradition’] (Milan: Arché, 2012).

  92. I would like to thank Anna Tessmann and Ninna Mörner for offering me the opportunity to publish this paper in
    Baltic Worlds. I also address my warmest thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on various elements of the paper.
  • by Adrien Nonjon

    PhD-candidate in History at the Research Center Europe(s) Eurasia at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris. Research focus: the Ukrainian far right and the different political and cultural dynamics. His PhD-project is devoted to the concept of Intermarium in its different incarnations.

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