Veles (3.5e Deity)
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|Symbol:||Bear, Wolf, Snake, Bull|
|Home Plane:||Underworld and The Wild|
|Portfolio:||Autumn, Underworld, Earth, Waters, Fertility, Cattle, Pasture, Snakes, Wolves, Medicine and Magic|
|Domains:||Earth, Water, Magic, Animals|
Veles is one of few Slavic gods for which evidence of offerings can be found in all Slavic nations. The Primary Chronicle, a historical record of the early Eastern Slavic state, is the earliest and most important record, mentioning a god named Volos several times. He is the opposite of Perun who is described as a ruling god of war who punishes by death in battle. It is interesting that Veles' statue apparently did not usually stand next to others, on the hill where the castles would be, but lower in the city, on the marketplace. Not only does this indicate that Veles was connected with commerce, but it also shows that worship of Perun and Veles had to be kept separate: while it was proper for Perun's shrines to be built high, on the top of the hill, Veles' place was down, in the lowlands. He may have been imagined as (at least partially) serpentine, with horns (of a bull, ram or some other domesticated herbivore), and a long beard or as an old shepherd with a flute.
Ancient Slavs viewed their world as a huge tree, with the treetop and branches representing the heavenly abode of gods and the world of mortals, whilst the roots represented the underworld. And while Perun, seen as a hawk or eagle sitting on a tallest branch of tree, was believed to be ruler of heaven and living world, Veles, seen as a huge serpent coiling around the roots, was ruling the world of dead. This was actually quite a lovely place, described in folk tales as a green and wet world of grassy plains and eternal spring, where various fantastic creatures dwell and the spirits of deceased watch over Veles' herds of cattle. In more geographical terms, the world of Veles was located, the Slavs believed, "across the sea", and it was there the migrating birds would fly to every winter. In folk tales this land is called Virey or Iriy. Veles also regularly sent spirits of the dead into the living world as his heralds. Festivals in honour of him are held near the end of the year, in winter, when time is coming to the very end of world order, chaos grows stronger, the borders between worlds of living and dead fade, and ancestral spirits return amongst the living. This is the ancient pagan celebration of Velja noc (Great Night), which can happen anywhere from Christmas up to end of February. Young men, known as koledari or vucari dress long coats of sheep's wool and don grotesque masks, roaming around villages in groups and raising a lot of noise. They sang songs saying they travelled a long way, and they are all wet and muddy, an allusion of the wet underworld of Veles from which they came as ghosts of dead. The master of any house they visited would welcome them warmly and presented them with gifts. This is an example of Slavic shamanism, which also indicates Veles was a god of magic and wealth. The gifts given to koledari were probably believed to be passed onto him (which makes him very much like a dragon hoarding treasure), thus ensuring good fortune and wealth for the house and family through entire year. As seen in descriptions from the Primary Chronicle, by angering Veles one would be stricken by diseases. Since magic was and is closely linked to music in primitive societies, Veles was also believed to be protector of travelling musicians. Veles' main practical function was protecting the cattle of Slavic tribes. Often he was referred to as skotji bog, meaning "cattle-god". One of his attributes, as mentioned, were horns of bull or a ram, and probably also sheep's wool. As stated already, Veles was a god of magic, and in some folk accounts, the expression presti vunu (weaving wool) or, particularly, crnu vunu presti (weaving of black wool) stands as allusion to magical crafts. In some of surviving Koledo songs, Koledari sing they are coming along and "weaving black wool". Thus, being a "wooly" god, Veles was considered to be a protector of shepherds, which reveals one additional trait of his enemity with Perun, who, as a giver of rain, would be god of farmers.
Clergy and Temples
Veles has no priests, but rather those who praise him and offer sacrifice according to his sacred book. There are no temples either, since all the fields and forests are his sanctum, from which his sanctimony is praised. There are ,however, wooden statues near villages and towns where the offerings could be made in Veles' honour.