Veligrad?

This last Sunday, I went off to the Morava valley in search of Veligrad – the old capital of the Slavic princedom of Great Moravia that appears to have existed between 800-1000 or thereabouts. The name is probably derived from the words Big or Great (Velky) and Castle (Hrad) and descriptions of the place – though few and far between – suggest the place had massive walls and was impregnable. The issue is that the Slavs didn’t write much down….

According to many archeologists, the most likely site is Stary Mesto next to Uherske Hradiste on the River Morava. In fact, the entire river valley seems to have been dominated by a number of settlements in that era. Prior to leaving on my trip, I had done quite a bit of research online. The first part of the trip was to just outside of Kyjov in search of a ‘mountain’ called Naklo. This is an alternate site for Velegrad that hasn’t much support but…. this area was a smoking set of mud volcanoes often with natural fires burning as hydrocarbons escaped. To the east was a desert that existed until 150 or so years ago and was said to be like the Sahara – dunes and all! To the west of it were iron works and iron mines. Combined with a story of dragons about a Naklo, this seemed to me to be an interesting area. It was but more on it in another post!

From there, we drove another 55km to Stare Mesto. 55km! So this area inhabited by Slavic tribes was actually rather large! On arrival, we first went to visit the ruins of a Slavic church on the hillside overlooking Uherske Hradiste. Notes in English helped me understand what we were seeing. A little bit of dowsing established that an energy line appeared to run East-West straight down the length of the church!

In some descriptions of the city of Veligrad, reference is made to three distinctive hills in the background and from here, these could clearly be seen. We then visited a cemetery in Stare Mesto where another building was to be viewed and close by to that a series of posters informed as to the city of Velegrad including reference to those walls!

There is also a museum but of course, at the moment, that is firmly closed.

We then drove a little further to Modra – a town close to the current Velehrad. Here, there is an open air museum showing how life in a Slavic settlement of that era might have looked. Surprisingly, it was open – perhaps unofficially – but we explored the place and I was struck by the standard of workmanship. It truly is worth a visit. I cannot image that the Slavs were clean people though…..

By the museum, I had also heard that another church had been unearthed and we quickly found this and the modern mock up of how that church may have looked.

The three hills could also be clearly seen in the distance.

Today’s Velehad and its basilica were built a tad later and the site has become a place of pilgrimage and for me, a place of Earth energies always worthy of a visit. Today, however, we made a quick drive past Modra to revisit the King’s Table…. a stone circle that was referenced in the 11th Century and certainly is older than that. In the neauty, peace and atmosphere of the King’s Table I spent some moments in quiet meditation remembering a special person who I know would have loved to have visited it… and perhaps she was there in spirit?

Of course, I had used this image for the cover of my book Chasing Dragons in Moravia which, together with Chasing the Shaman, form an account of how I got interested in connecting with the land and how magic is to be found in Moravia.

Vesna and a Slavic Spring

Vesna is the Slavic goddess of spring and she is currently busy making her presence felt with signs of her arrival all around. Yet, Morana, the winter goddess is proving more difficult to dispel this year it seems.

For the three winter moons, I meditated on and invoked Morana. I called her the snow queen for that is how I saw her. On the spring equinox, I too an efficgy I had made of Morana at the beginning of winter and burned and drowned her in the Slavic tradition. Now, for the 3 spring moons, I meditate and invoke Vesna.

While Morana was an ice cold bringer of withdrawal, sleep and death, Vesna is the warm bringer of renewal, rebirth and vitality. She constantly gives me a feeling of pushing out – the pushing out of life and energy. I cannot help but think of breathing when I think of these two polar goddesses – breathe in, breathe out. Vesna also brings a little eroticism lacking in Morana (for me anyway) – she is fertility and fecundity. She is the spark of potential that brings forth life. She is often depicted Venus-like, naked or clothed in the valleys and flora of the land. She is usually shown heavily breasted rather like the very ancient goddess forms found in Moravia. Not only is she potential but also she provides the succulence for life to get started. But she is also shown as a younger woman.

The 23,000 year old Moravian Venus figure found in Slovakia

Vesna and Živa are often said to be synonymous along with other Slavic goddesses but I have a sense that Živa is more representative of summer. She is to me life itself (indeed Živa means life) and represented by a more mature woman. It is tempting to see a trio of goddesses here – Vesna, Živa and Morana and Maiden, Mother and Crone. However, I do not find anything described like that in the literature. But, the funny thing about the Slavic pagan hierarchy is that it is not well described. The Slavs didn’t record anything and worshipped outdoors so much is word of mouth, myth, legend and plain stories.

Velehrad and the 7 Chakras

There is a story that, despite my best efforts, I cannot source yet it is all over the internet particularly as in articles about Earth energies in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland. The myth or legend states that “many moons ago, Lord Shiva threw seven magic stones towards seven parts of the world, one of which landed in Krakow, in the Wawel Castle. The places that had been hit were instantly imbued with the God’s energy, and remain so to this day. The seven places, known as the world’s chakras, are: Delhi, Delphi, Jerusalem, Krakow, Mecca, Rome and Velehrad.”

Now I can’t be certain that this isn’t some invention made recently to promote Wawel Castle. What I can say is that dowsers and sensitives flock to the place to experience the energy, which is said to be very, very strong. Apparently, the place was even visited by famous theosophists. According to Wikipedia, “the origins of the tale have been traced to a newspaper story published in the mid-1930s. It reported that two mysterious gentlemen from India visited the Wawel Castle and were overly interested in an empty corner of the courtyard, which prompted guesswork. The story resurfaced in the 1980s.”

Velehrad is a small Czech town famous for its Basilica of Assumption of Mary, and Saints Cyril and Methodius. This is a place of significant pilgrimage and also healing energies. Saints Cyril and Methodius are two Greek brothers that led the conversion of the Slavs back in the late 800’s to christianity. I also note that it was in fact these two and five disciples – known as the seven saints (7 Chakras, 7 Saints…), who brought their form of christianity to Moravia. Again, according to wikipedia “in 862, the brothers began the work which would give them their historical importance. That year Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia requested that Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch Photius send missionaries to evangelize his Slavic subjects. His motives in doing so were probably more political than religious.”The capital city of Moravia was a place called Velegrad. The location of Velegrad is still uncertain but the area around Velehrad is a strong candidate.

But back to these seven stones…. apparently, the chakra located in Velehrad is the sixth chakra. It is said to characterized by the union of opposites, intuition, wisdom, clairvoyance, visualizing, fantasizing, concentration, determination, self-initiation, the power of projection, and understanding your purpose. The shadow side of the Sixth Chakra is confusion, depression, rejection of spirituality, and over-intellectuaIizing. At this point, I would point out that, for me anyway, shadow side appears manifest in the Czech social culture quite often as does the idea of determination. I would also see something interesting here in that personally my spiritual interest appears to be in reconciling the opposites – as best seen in the book The Mystical Hexagram. But I digress….

In the Basilica at Velehrad, the energies are palpable. For the pilgrims and the Church, it is a healing energy associated with Mary. For me, it is Earth energies and they are very strong. I found them either side of the main alter where they become incredibly strong. I too see these energies as being associated with a receptive energy (The Goddess). I strongly believe that the site is more ancient than the founding of the basilica in 1205 and its inauguration in 1228. Strangely enough, one of the founders of the basilica was Robert of England, who served as Bishop of Olomouc at the time.

The first time I visited Velehrad and the basilica, I was with a Czech friend who was raised in the area. He didn’t feel the energies but as we walked out of the church and around its side, I was busy explaining how earth energies was often associated with dragons. As we walked by the side of the basilica looking up, two dragons revealed themselves each overhead the area I had sensed the energy. Hidden in plain site said I. My friend was even more amazed when during a visit to the crypt and foundations of the original basilica beneath the current one, we came across an information board. Central on that was an article about how the recent archeological excavation had unearthed a very rare tile depicting a dragon.

I will be visiting the Velehrad area many more times in 2021 as soon as allowed. I believe there are many important things to discover in this area some of which I will write about shortly…. but it is not only the center of the Slavic Moravian kingdom but one, which we shall see, has an affinity for dragons and dragon slayers.

Morana and Spring Equinox

Way back at the start of winter, I engaged in an old Slavic tradition and collected materials from around my neighborhood to construct an effigy of Morana, Goddess of Winter. I used natural materials gathered from the forest and a couple of rubber bands to hold it together. Morana has sat in the room close to my desk since then.

Then yesterday, on the Spring Equinox, I continued that tradition. After meditating and invoking Morana over the three winter moons, it was time to say goodbye. I chose a beautiful spot in nature outside of Brno by Hrad Veveri to conduct this simple ritual that many Slavs would also have been conducting throughout history.

Fittingly, it had snowed overnight and the days was dull with snow flurries. Winter was still evident, yet spring was also with the rushing meltwaters in the stream, the birds singing and the odd crocus peeking through the snow.

In time honored fashion, I set Morana alight. As she burned I thought of the things I desired to rid myself of in life. To help Morana burn, these were also written down on papers attached to the effigy. Then, I tossed her out into the water. Spring has arrived. Winter is done.

It was interesting to conduct this little Slavic tradition that has been performed for centuries across the region. The act of burning away the dross or the unwanted and then tossing that into the waters of consciousness is a strong act of natural magic as well.

I now move on to meditation and invocation of the Goddess of Spring – Vesna – through the three Moons of Spring.

Is the Shaman Back?

Last year as winter moved into spring, I disturbed a local shaman mid practice just around the corner from where I live under the castle in Brno. I followed his activities capturing photographs of his intricate designs on full display to anyone who might stop for a moment and notice them. I really wanted to meet this man and ask him a bit about what he was doing but the activities ceased suddenly in late spring. The encounter with this shaman, resulted in the book – Chasing the Shaman and its follow up Chasing Dragon’s in Moravia.

Since then, I have kept my eyes open for any further sign of his activities. March 1st is traditionally the day that Vesna, the goddess of Spring, is first welcomed. At the Spring Equinox, her arrival is complete and Morana, goddess of winter, is defeated. So, on March 2nd, in the same spot, I came across a number of things that I think may be down to the shaman celebrating the arrival of Vesna.

Earth Energies and the Castle

I have been mapping these energy lines around the castle and way out into the city of Brno. Me and my dowsing rods. Hours of walking, checking and mapping. I’m still no where near like finished. But as these lines emerge and as I discover them passing through churches – directly down their aisles – and then find memorial crosses and children’s playgrounds decorated with carved Slavic designs on these lines, I have to ask…… how?

One line I am mapping passes directly through three churches. All the churches are modern! Built in the last 80 years or so. So how did they site these churches on these energy lines that I dowse? I do not yet know.

Me dowsing on the Castle

Do the lines even exist? Are they real? Am I imagining the dowsing rods crossing?

So last weekend, I took a friend and we walked around the Castle. Periodically, I had him dowse and area with his rods and every single time, he found the same line I had – broader and wider even than I had.

Lenny checking my work

And so I will continue mapping the lines in Brno….

Won’t you join me?

A Trip to Holštejn

The area north and east of Brno is formed by the Moravia karst – a limestone landscape and natural park of considerable beauty and natural Earth energies. Last weekend, I went to the tiny hamlet of Holštejn – a remote village at the end of a dead end road in the middle of nowhere about 35km outside of Brno (see map).

There on top of a limestone hill with two sheer sides, are the ruins of Holštejn Castle. Built in or around 1278 by Hartman, the son of Crha of Ceblovice. Sometime around 1320, it was purchased by Vok of Sovinec and just four generations later, it was owned by Hynek from Valdštejn, Půta from Sovince and Dobeš Černohorský from Boskovice. In 1493, Holštejn bought Hynek from Popůvek, after his death in 1528, the estate was inherited by his daughter Markéta. In 1531, the castle is listed as desolate.  The Castle ruins are directly above a large limestone cave called the Hladomorna cave (famine Cave). It was bricked up in the middle ages but was connected to the castle.

The Cave

As with many locations in these lands, the cave is associated with some interesting tales. One revolves around a buried treasure guarded by a black man who lives in the cave. There is also another legend that one of the Vok’s (IV) fell for the charms of a nearby maiden and not able to win her over with gifts, took her and her Mother by force of arms. He imprisoned the Mother in the cave and would only release her if Agnes would marry him. Unfortunately, Agnes’ Mother died of starvation and Vok had to go off to war. Agnes was rescued and Vok met a nasty end in battle. Interesting, a local historian of an earlier era states that the black man is actually a red woman! Perhaps the ghost of the poor lady who was starved there? Indeed, the Vok’s were not very nice people it seems and they routinely held travelers for ransom and imprisoned them in the walled up cave.

Whatever the history and legends, I felt an energy there and next time I visit, I will take my dowsing rods. It seemed to me to be an idyllic place for meditation and working with the Goddess Živa (due to the stream) and I sensed no evil presence in the cave or area of the Castle. Behind the limestone hill on which the Castle stands is a beautiful stream that when I was there was full of water due to melting snow. It bends around and eventually disappears underground. The area is full of underground rivers, stream and caves of course and I believe the water comes back to the surface again at the nearby Macocha cave. The Macocha cave area is reputedly the site of a dragon and therefore I believe strong Earth energies. The area behind the Castle and to one side of the stream seemed to me to be a very peaceful and strong energy area.