Ukraine Vinok (вінок) Seasonal Wreaths and their Symbolism

Sbu Zapobihla Kontrabandi by the border of cultural values of Kiev Rusy. A unique complex starovynnykh jewellery with gold and silver stayed in Ukraine.
Kyev Rus, Folk Ukraine, this is our story, this is our treasure.

All Slavic traditions and folk traditions include flowers especially during Kupala and Noc Kupala, but Ukraine exceeds them all in the abundant uses of flowers and symbolic flowers. The Ukrainian Wreath Vinok (вінок) is a crown made of wild flowers and herbs which is collected in the traditional ways.

There are different types of wreaths: a wedding wreath, a wreaths of love, monastic wreath, wreath of hope, wreath of devotion and kupala wreaths. The wreath of love was not only for marriage ceremonies but also divorce ceremonies. In Ukrainian culture the wreath was traditionally worn worn by maidens (unmarried) as a pagan tradition. 

ukraine crown
Ukraine “Summer” Vinok Wreath

In the more prominent neopaganism groups today during Kupala, more and more wreaths are returning back before religious influences and are worn by women of all ages. The wreath dates back to the old East Slavic customs that predates Christianization of Rus which still remains a valued part of Ukrainian national creative attire, worn on festive occasions and on holy days.

Flowers are a part of all their celebrations, traditional folklore, craft embroidery, women and their ceremonies, and even painted interior and exterior home decorations. They mark the seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The pagans honor Lada and her daughter Lely and the wreaths are in their honor. Midsummer is the time to gather flowers and herbs to not only make wreaths but for healing herbs and for prosperity.

ukraine ribbons
Ukraine “Spring” Vinok Wreath

Some of the most common are the crown for summer solstice called Kupala and are made with cornflower, marigold, saffron, parsley, parsnip, Corollas mint, lovage, marjoram, cornflower and sage, which are all protections against shadows.

In the full traditional Ukrainian wreaths, there should be 12 flowers: Wormwood, immortal, lynx, cornflower, chamomile, cherry blossom, apple, gooseberries, mallow, peonies, cornflower and baptismal bells. Wormwood is a symbol of inertia and immortal, a symbol of the immortality of the human soul. The cherry blossoms are a symbol of maternal love.

The wreath varies in many of the regions as young women throughout the country wore various headdresses made with yarn, ribbon, coins, feathers and grasses, but these all had the same symbolic meaning. In parts of central and eastern Ukraine, the flowers were raised in the center front and multicolored ribbons were attached to the back.

Ukraine wedding crown
Ukraine “Bridal” Vinok Wreath

Custom weaved wreaths denote the seasons as the customs came to Ukraine from prehistoric times and garlands with flowers and herbs are one of the oldest Ukrainian symbols. In ancient Goddess images of women, she wore headdress of flowers, grasses, herbs and branches in her shamanic beginnings.

large flower crown, ukaine
Ukraine “Bridal” Vinok Wreath

Putting your wreaths into water is to tell your future and personal guidance but putting a wreath in the Sea and it will tell the fortune of your soul. Setting wreaths on the water usually accompanies folk songs, because that was the first honoring of the first goddess.

Its more popular today to wear the casual versions of the vinok. It is not uncommon to see women in Kiev wearing a headband embellished with flowers during the summer as a fashion statement or Ukrainian pride. Additionally, the growing popularity of the vinok has contributed to the increase of vinok specialists, as well as the demand of local florists

Ukraine flowers , herbs, color of ribbon and their symbolic meanings…
Braided wreath – Symbol of prosperity and fertility.

autumn ukraine wreath
Ukraine “Autumn” Vinok Wreath

Clover – Symbol of fidelity;
has the magical power to reconnect.

Elecampane – Root of nine forces,
strengthens and returns health.

Fern (Rozmai herb) – Attracts love.
Garlic – Protection, also weaved into
braids on the bride crown before the wedding.

Hatchets – Field grass is a symbol of healthy fields, cornfields and abundance.
Iris – Peace and vitality.

King-flower – Vastness.
Krinov (lily) – Magical symbol of the feminine because she is essentially moist energy. The ancient name of the flower Krinov means “well” as it treats heart ailments.
Kalina (raspberry, rose) – Three sisters, acrimony as a form of magical contact, when there is a prick of blood. Overcoming obstacles, after which comes the miracle and magical dream as the likeness of eternity.

ukraine autumn vinok
Ukraine “Autumn” Vinok Wreath

Loboda – Symbol of misery and poverty.
Lyubka – a symbol of beauty and youth doable.
Lovage – Love, harmony. Bathe in lovage.
Lions (sunflower) – Symbol of fertility, growth and fruiting, and, hence, yield.
Marigold – Mans beauty.
Narcissus – Protects ones health.
Nechuy-wind – Boundaries
Oregano – Symbol of maternal
love and care of children.

Pansies – Symbol of love of family.
Parsley (wormwood) – Spring
Pauline – Bitterness of life, is protection agai
nst shadows.

 

ukraine.jpgPeppermint – Guardian of children and their health.
Peonies – Flowering of maturity.
Poppies (red)- Beauty, purity and magical forces of protection.

Rozsa (Rose) – Symbol of goodwill, prosperity, and swarming bees.
Red mug – Beauty and cleanliness.
Roman Herb Forest (chamomile) – Love.
Rouget (Rose hips, mallow, rue) – Glory.

Ruta – Sadness and a bitter life.

Vasylko (marigolds) – Ceremonies.
Violets – Joy.
Voloshky (blue cornflower) – Symbol of beauty and goodness, modesty and tenderness.
White Lilac – Family life.
Wreath of Roses -Symbol of health

Colors of Ribbons

ukraine baba
Ukraine Grandmother Vinok

A wreath of flowers and ribbons protects she who wears that halo on her head, it has a magic. Our grandmothers knew and still know this magic well, lot of different secrets of when and how to weave a wreath passed down from her grandmother.

Colorful Wreaths of Magic which is the union of Mother Earth with the Spirit Sky (Sun) as the divine marriage of the powerful belief of immortality – the way of Love. A corolla of intertwined ribbons of different colors, each have meaning:

Light brown: Mother Earth
Yellow: Sun, Blue: Water
Orange: Bread, Purple: Wisdom
Crimson: Sincerity
Pink: Abundance.

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On the left side of the white ribbon is gold thread as the sun, and on the right, silver, as the moon (month).

Red Colors (ribbons and mug, carnation, rowan, viburnum) – Divination and charms, blood and fire. On the one hand it symbolizes beauty, joy and love of life, the other, vengefulness and destruction. Red is used for charms, tends to counteract evil spell.

Popular color in Pysanky eggs and also using red thread, beads and flowers in divination embroidery. The best way to protect children from evil spirits and evil souls in dreams, is to tie the hands of a child something red.

winter ukraine wreath
Ukraine Winter Vinok Wreath

Green – Spring, beauty of nature, transformation, envy.
Purple & Green – Wisdom and caution.
Red & Blue – Fidelity and love.
White & red – Reward and respect.

White (ribbons and flowers) – Purity, innocence, joy. White is associated with daylight and life. Our ancestors believed in the relationship with the divine worlds. White robes are worn women in circles and by ancient priests or magicians. During the first crop of our ancestors wore a clean white shirt. White is also associated with death. Our parents, grandparents deceased wore white clothes and covered with a white shroud. White robes and ghosts are dead people.

Black – Night, Powerful Ancient moon women. Yellow – Sun, gold. In ancient times perceived as sunlight. Blue – Water, eternity. It unearthly secrets of the world. Symbolizes honesty, good reputation and loyalty. In mermaids cold and recalls the shade.

Ukraine neopaganism-folk Vinok (вінок)
Ukraine Neopagan Folk Vinok (вінок).

Sources: http://1vib.co.ua

Healing Rites of the Archaic Solstice: Water Rites & Magical Flower Crowns

Fern Eyes Russian woman by Elsa Mora

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain
– This weekend we did ceremony of our ancestral Polish Midsummer (Kupala) Flower “Crowns” and “Water Rites.” We started off by gathering the local wildflowers on our hike and bringing them to life with a sacred ritual. I have a great love for water & fire rituals and doing them in the ancient dreaming ways. The day of the “solstice and equinox” each year, are the strongest energy releases of the seasonal year, because they are nature’s season of change… and ours!

Summer Solstice Ceremony of Flower Crowns and Water Rites…

Brandi, Lulu and myself, headed to Lake Emigrant to make our crowns, as the month of the Summer Solstice soon approaches. The where we live, is surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains, the coastal mountain range of the Klamath basin in northwestern California and the southwestern parts of Oregon. Most people around the world are familiar with this area because of the famous Pacific Crest Trail.

We started our journey late in the morning taking our hike around the lake to collect wild roses for Brandi, who was to make her Rose-Hydrosol. I began the Kupala flower “Crown” ceremony (in Polish we call it the Wianki Feast of Wreaths). I explained what each part of the gathering of the flowers meant, what each round of tying the flowers in a circle meant, adding our sacred intention. 

We enjoyed the beautiful day and after we were finished partially with the crowns, we hiked further and gathered different flowers to add to the crown. Once we finished, and had enough wild rose petals gathered, we headed back to Elder Mountain.

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I really wanted for all three of us to jump into the lake to submerge ourselves into the healing waters but we didn’t have our towels but next year we will! We finished and headed back and once back, Brandi started making her rose-hydrosol, as we ate lunch and had a good long healing conversation around everyday issue. I brought counsel with wisdom and some practices and solutions, and were finished by dusk.

When twilight arrived, it was time to go to the magical pond, where our sacred Marzanna sits for three months and we burn her effigy on the spring equinox. Now there months later in the cyclical or progressional seasonal rites, we offered our sacred wreaths (crown of flowers) to the pond to receive (not love or marriage proposals as in traditional Kupala festivals which is the Dionysus cult tradition of the post 12th century) but a more ancient tradition.

A ceremony of something positive from our intentions weaving ten thousand years of flower circles connected to not just maidens like Kupala, but the shamanic rites of maidens, mothers, adult women, grandmother, spiritual elder women and our millions of years of ancestors. This ceremony on its healing side is to face and work with a personal fear (struggle)

The tossing of the flower crown into the life giving waters is the action to then receive when we begin to do the healing work, a summer blessing for the entire three moons of summer. A small manifestation for emotional health, interpersonal peace and expressing our true nature with the importance of sharing our truth in real and personal ways. We honored our journey as maidens, adult and elder women of our life in the ceremony – which honors our ancestors who came before us.

Since my work as a shaman (mol’farka, folk healer and whisperer) involves ancient dreaming rites with sacred ceremony only on the solstices and equinoxes, it was time to end our day and go to the sacred dream, as sometimes I lead a shamanic magical journey for the night parts of Kupala (Noc Kupala, non plant/drug shamanism of course). I asked Brandi and Lulu to set a sacred intention for their dream that night, of something they needed to know to be brought forth from their inner dreamer (once they got to the yurt). Each one did have a significant dream, and we discussed it in the morning and went over the symbolism for its fortune telling or oracular wisdom. We chatted over breakfast and I gave counsel on the symbolism and this completed our ceremony as the twilight of dawn had returned.

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From left to right: Brandi, Lulu and Phoenix, 3 Polish Spiritual Sisters.

Healing Waters & Fire, Solstices & Equinoxes…

When I speak of healing in any equinox or solstice ceremony that I lead, which are four times a year in ceremony, I mean the dedication to the self to overcome one’s struggles connected to our unconscious shadows. These are our obstacles (through the practices of self respect, self love, emotional compassion, boundaries, etc) and the rituals that are focused with intent for that accomplishment with the seasons of mother earth.

When I speak of spiritual healing, I mean the dedicated actions of spiritual practices, disciplines and holistic healing (energy work, rebirthing, energy movement releases, inner child work for the forty and older, spiritual martial arts, meditation, vision quests, etc) that support our real healing journey.

Combing these two of healing and spiritual healing, helps us grown in a very slow and steady each moon cycle to build a solid foundation. These are what the origins of Kupala were, now they are more social gathering (celebration or festival) and their seeds of pagan origins are of marriage. As a baba, I help others work with the increased self awareness which brings much consciousness into the healing (of our fears and shadows, our self sabotage, our guilt. anxiety, drama etc.)

The Slavic celebration of Kupala is both a fire and water ceremony, but it wasn’t always that way in the pre-pagan indigenous traditions of summer, it was only the sacred water ceremony. Since fire and water elements are the eternal, the mystical and the cyclical, “water rites” are moon mysteries of moisture, mother and memories from our pre-pagan grandmothers rituals and their shamanic indigenous rites.

Mother energy rules the summer solstice, but pagan rites of the Dionysus cult gave summer to the Maidens along with the Church father to marry her off, for a single woman has already been established by the church, that they are nothing but trouble without a husband. Grandmother, is the last part of the sacred trinity of the seasonal rites, and rules Autumn and Winter rites.

Fern Eyes Russian woman by Elsa Mora 2The World River is very different than the World Tree symbolism. It clearly points out in women’s mysteries weaving in the water symbolism of her emotional life and the soul’s journey of all humanity of ocean proportions. These includes the myths and folk stories of the mermaid, the moisture of fertility with the earths fertility, the nymphs, the cloud mothers or rain goddesses, thunder and lightning goddess and fire’s relationship to water… all pouring down from the sacred mountain. Desert peoples have their own high plateaus and water rites as well, just like more moist areas of fertile mountains and rivers.

Water is the emotional element needed in the Season of Fire (Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice) and Fire is the warmth and purification element needed in the Season of Night (Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice). These were the balanced “elements” of an older origin rituals of grandmother. Water as a symbol, is the life force of emotional complexity, not the life blood, but the blood of the menses, and the awareness to be in awareness with our hidden souls. Water is also the soothing and nurturing element, which has been used in healing rites, folk healing, and dreaming rites of summer solstice times since before time.

Water rites are born from moon medicines and the lunar rites which are nature’s principles and enter the realms of the giant rivers and oceans, rain and thunderstorms. In regular ceremony, its the intention, actions and symbolism that is most important that connects us emotionally and setting that tone. The emotional connections, release of sharing emotional pain and tears and the support of her moisture for releases, her watery life force and even her powerful storms all apart of the water rites.

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Fire elements when working in shaman’s rituals of purification are much more dangerous as a purification rite, then celebratory paganism or pagans festivals. In the Slavic tradition they use the pagan festival cults of maidens and add the Fire element, called Sobótki in Polish meaning the feast of bonfires. “Fire Rites” in this sense is for ambiance and enacting old rites without their purification.

Originally or pre-pagan rites of grandmothers and shaman grandmothers, fire was only used in the winter solstice ceremonies because of the nature of the winter and the underworld (not the dead) but dead aspects of the self for purification in the act. Very rare Slavs and Balkans use fire in this way, and they can only be done in small circles, not large party events or gathering festivals. The physical fires are included in winter solstice rites, but also the non-physical aspects of fire, call our relationship to spirit (and I am not speaking of human) but the relationship to the mystery of nature. Fire acts as a bridge.

Most Slavic and even Polish celebrations like Kupala (summer) or Marzanna (winter) are devoid of such kinds of healing rites and are “social” or more “gathering celebrations.” When I work with the power of the energy of earth in my rituals, its the strongest during the solstice and equinox, the healing is the strongest and without a healing rite or ceremony the years and decades even are lost to tap into that magical energy of “healing or soul rituals.”

When I speak in terms of the solstice and equinox rites of the archaic, I am speaking of global changes that influenced cultures and much of the old pre-pagan cultural rites were destroyed by the Dionysus Cult, as these were the Soul rites. The Spirit rites rites are the elemental aspects of the bonds of the mystical connection (fire) with the soul (water) and the ethereal dreaming (non physical reality) into memory, remembrance and memories which surrounds us.

The healing rites when in a sacred circle creates the movement or action of energy of the wind spirits, which starts at the time of the ritual, will carry into an entire three moon cycle (one season) after a ceremony such as Kupala done this way. During those cycles (three months) our life force of fire (spirit) will appear in some small way, but one must pay attention very closely for the medicine. 

My beautiful home
Emigrant Lake where we collected our flowers and made our Crowns (right side of the lake).

Why we do the folk healing work this way at Elder Mountain…

8e2b1365af7fb801b109886be3c99d05The guardian spirits have showed me many things in the sacred imagery and lineages of soul visuals projections called dreaming awake, and its nature I speak of (not human guardians). We set intention, we accept personal responsibility for our health and we practice purity and if all three are present together in the ceremony, real magic and healing happens.

The legendary Magical Fern is a pagan legend of Poland, of the flower of immortality but the older aspects of this magical rite, is called the Vesta which is an initiation process for the ancient or current shamans (folk healers to varying degrees) of the Slavic peoples. It is a quest and initiation but it cannot be found in a real sense as a flower until one has penetrated the veils into the expanded consciousness in order to access it. The journey is fated, and the finding of it comes with great tests for women, a great struggle and pain.

All healing occurs with the balance of purification and that is painful, to try to subdue that pain, emotional pain, mental or relationship pain only prolongs a crisis situation to burst forth. So small healing ceremonies were set up by the pre-pagan grandmothers to work on them in small pieces at a time so no crisis would end in despair, great loss and all the other things people must suffer in modern times (post 10th century). 

I work with the Season of Night and the Season of Fire (earth’s natural release of energy)  and focus on folk healing rites and those way of ceremony which is smaller, more personal and intimate of the archaic shamanism past. The purpose is to focus on healing and keeping water in summer traditions and keeping fire in the winter traditions to maintain intuitive health, dreaming vitality and visionary powers at much higher levels along with nature. Fire in summer dries and scorches the land and water in winter ceremonies becomes frozen and not applicable. I chose to learn from nature and the nature guardians rather than human traditions, but that is why I am a dreamer (shaman). 

When we align with oppositions of elements and add sacred ceremony of purity (fire), the fullness of the ceremony can bloom forth, both the celebratory with the healing rites in  emotional work (water) is the summer seasons, for all women, maiden and some soul-filled men, not just maidens. Kupala is a fun and a celebratory community gather and that is beautiful for fun and connection for what is left of the original medicines.

Blessings on the …

Summer Solstice on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm
First New Moon of SummerFriday, June 23, 2017 at 7:32 pm.
(pacific time)

To be on our once a month Lunar work-study email, send us an email:
ElderMountainDreaming@gmail.com

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Daughters of the Earth!

To read more about the Traditional Kupala of Poland (post 12th century modern pagan rites) go to Lamus Dworski article on her wordpress @ https://lamusdworski.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/midsummer

Illustration: “Fern Eyes” by Elsa Mora; photos by Brandi!