List of Lithuanian mythological figures
The list of Lithuanian gods is reconstructed based on scarce written sources and late folklore. Lithuania converted to Christianity in 1387, but elements of the Lithuanian mythology survived into the 19th century. Earliest written sources, authored by foreigners and Christians, only briefly mention the Lithuanian gods. Beginning in the 16th century, the pagan religion received more attention from authors, but often their accounts were confused, contradictory, and heavily influenced by various religious agendas. Collection and recording of folklore began in the 19th century. By that time the pagan mythology became fragmented and mixed with Christian traditions. The cults of old deities transformed into folklore (individual tales, myths, songs, etc.) without associated rituals. Because of such difficulties obtaining data, there is no accepted list of Lithuanian gods. Different authors present wildly contradictory reconstructions of Lithuanian pantheon.
Names from folklore myths and legends 1
- Gods 1.1
- Heroes and heroines 1.2
- Local and nature spirits 1.3
- Various lower beings 1.4
- Demonic beings 1.5
- Holy places and things 1.6
Names by written sources 2
- Earliest Russian chronicles 2.1
- Martynas Mažvydas 2.2
- Maciej Stryjkowski 2.3
- Jan Łasicki 2.4
- Matthäus Prätorius 2.5
Theodor Narbutt 2.6
- Male deities 2.6.1
- Female deities 2.6.2
- Other written sources 2.7
- Other names 2.8
- See also 3
- References 4
- Further reading 5
Names from folklore myths and legends
This section includes the names of gods, divine or demonic beings, and other personages from Lithuanian myths, legends, folklore, and fairy-tales.
- Dievas, the supreme or leader of the gods.
- Dievas Senelis ("Good Old Man") he is a teacher of people and judge of their morality. He looks like an old traveling beggar. Dievas Senelis is proficient at magic and medicine. Epithet of Dievas.
- Praamžius, Pramšans, Pramžimas, Praamžimas, an epithet of Dievas (the chief god); probably of later literary origin.
- Aušrinė, the Morning Star, a goddess, a daughter of the Dievas ("dievaitė"). She was the goddess of the morning. Alternatively her name is given as Aušra ("dawn").
- Dalia, goddess of fate and weaving.
- Gabija, the foster of the Holy Fire, a goddess, a daughter of Dievas ("dievaitė").
- Laima, goddess of Fate and pregnant women.
- Mėnuo, the Moon, a son of Dievas ("dievaitis").
- Perkūnas, the Thunder, a son of Dievas ("dievaitis") (Parjanya in Vedic religion).
- Saulė, the Sun Goddess (Surya in Vedic religion).
- Ašvieniai, the divine twins who pulled the chariot of the Sun (the Vedic Ashwins or the Greek Dioskouri).
- Vakarinė, goddess of the Evening Star.
- Žemyna, goddess, the deified soil (Zamin in Persian and Hindi for "land").
- Deivės Valdytojos (Lithuanian: Governing Goddesses), were the goddesses who made garments from human's lives. They were seven sisters: Verpiančioji (who spun the threads of life), Metančioji (who threw rims of life), Audėja (the weaver), Gadintoja (who broke the thread), Sergėtoja (who scolded Gadintoja, and instigated war between people), Nukirpėja (who cut the cloth of life), and Išskalbėja (the laundress). They have similarities with the Greek Fates and the Norse Norns. Deivės Valdytojos were associated with Dalia and Laima.
- Žvaigždės (singular: žvaigždė), stars.Saulė (the sun) is their mother and sometimes with the Moon as their father. One of the most important stars is Aušrinė. Other stars, Aušrinė's sisters, are less important, but they sometimes appear in mythic stories too. Especially notable ones are Vakarinė or Vakarė (the evening Venus, who makes the bed for Saulė), Indraja, Sėlija, Žiezdrė, and Vaivora.
Heroes and heroines
- Pajauta, the legendary princess of Kernavė
- Jūratė and Kastytis are heroes of a Lithuanian legend, which subsequently became popular, mostly because of its modern poetic interpretation by Maironis. The queen of the amber palace Jūratė may be considered a manifestation of the goddess of Sea in this legend.
Local and nature spirits
- Ežerinis, a spirit of lakes
- Upinis, a spirit of rivers
- Auštaras (Auštra), the god of the northeast wind, who stands at the gates of paradise and lights the way for those going to paradise. His function of shining this beacon makes him similar to Aušrinė; some consider him to be her cousin.
- Bangpūtys, the god of the seas and storms ––he is two-faced like the Roman god Janus.
- Javinė, a household god who protects grain in barns.
- Jievaras, a household spirit who protects grain. Sacrifices to Jievaras are made after the rye harvest. While cutting grain, women would leave a few grain tufts uncut, which would later be braided into plaits. They would also leave some bread and salt under the plait, and would say: Davei manei, Žemele, duodame ir tau ([You] gave for us, Mother Earth, we are giving for you too), a request for the land to continue to be fruitful.
- Kupolė, the spirit of springtime vegetation and flowers. The Festival of Kupolė (Kupolinės) was associated with Feast of St. John the Baptist (Joninės). In this festival, women picked sacral herbs, danced and sang songs. Kupolinės is also known as Rasos. Compare this with Ziedu māte in Latvian mythology, Kupala in Polish mythology and Ivan Kupala in Russian mythology
- Laukų dvasios (spirits of fields), spirits, who were running through the fields. When crops in the fields waved in the wind, people saw them as being the actions of spirits. Laukų dvasios include Nuogalis, Kiškis (hare), Meška (bear), Lapė (fox), Katinas (tomcat), Bubis, Bubas, Bubė, Baubas, Babaužis, Bobas, Maumas (bugaboo), Raudongalvis (red-headed), Raudongerklis (red-throated), Žaliaakis (green-eyed), Paplėštakis, Guda, Dizikas, Smauglys (boa), Ruginis (spirit of rye), Papiokė, Pypalas, Žebris, Arklys (horse), Vilkas (wolf).
Various lower beings
- Kaukas, spirits similar to leprechauns.
- Laumė, a fairy-like female creature (pixies). Described as white and blue as the sky itself. Good spirit, very friendly with the Earth and Nature gods. However, if anyone tried to use them, the punishment was grave.
- Nykštukas, gnomes.
- Vėlės, spirits of dead human beings.
- Aitvaras, a household spirit bringing both good and bad luck
- Baubas, an evil spirit with long lean arms, wrinkly fingers and red eyes. He harasses people and tears their hair or stifles them. To children, he is the equivalent of the boogeyman of the English-speaking countries. A misbehaving child could be told by the parents: "Behave, or baubas will come and get you". Also it could be described as a black and dark creature living under the carpet or in some dark spot of the house.
- Giltinė – goddess of death, also The Reaper. Other names include Kaulinyčia, Maras (black death or the Plague), Maro mergos, Kolera, Pavietrė, Kapinių žmogus. Her sacral bird is the owl. Sometimes she was considered to be a sister of Laima (luck).
- Ragana is an old-looking female or witch. Mostly has dark intentions and powers to control forces of nature. They probably were old ladies living by the forest, having a good knowledge of plants and their use for medical and other purposes.
- Slogutis means pain, misery or nightmare. Also can mean fear or bad feelings.
- Pinčiukas, devil, not the pure evil being of Christianity, but a trickster. Earlier - dweller or even god of bogs and marshes.
- Žiburinis, a scary forest spirit that appears as a phosphorescent skeleton.
Holy places and things
- Dausos or Dangus, the home of good souls. Dausos is on a high mountain (Latvian Debeskalns, or Norse Valhalla), between two rivers. There are golden apple-trees in the Dausos garden. Day in the garden is perpetual but outside its confines is perpetual night. Master of Dausos is Vėjopatis (Lord of the wind) or Vėjas (Wind) who is also one of the oldest gods in Lithuanian mythology. Vėjas is identical to Vayu of Hinduism. Auštaras and Vėjopatis are keepers of Dausos’s gates (Dausų Vartai). While Auštaras shows the way for good souls, Vėjas (Vėjopatis) blows bad souls into oblivion.
Names by written sources
Earliest Russian chronicles
Some names from Lithuanian mythology are also found in Russian chronicles of the 13th century. These deities were supposedly worshiped by King of Lithuania Mindaugas secretly after baptizing. Russian chronicles are considered the best source of information about ancient Lithuanian pantheon worshiped by feodals and military.
- Sovijus in 13th-century Russian chronicles was a person who introduced the pagan custom of burning bodies after death, according to studies by Gintaras Beresnevičius. The mediaeval chronicles tells that this custom is very old and was called Sovica. Sovica was practicated not only by Lithuanians but also by other pagan tribes (Livonians, Estonians and others).
- Žvoruna(Zvoruna) was a euphemism of the hunting and forest goddess like Roman Diana. Her name is connected with wild animals. There was mentioned in chronicle that she is a bitch, it means that her zoomorphic shape is female dog.
- Medeina (Medeinė) is another euphemism of the hunting and forest goddess. Medeina also was mentioned in the 16th century by J. Lasicki. She was worshiped by King Mindaugas and represented military interest of warriors.
- Teliavelis (Televelis) was a powerful smith who made the sun and threw it to the sky. This myth survived in folk tales in the beginning of the 20th century. Some scholars, like K. Būga tried to prove that Televelis is incorrectly written Kalvelis (smith diminutive in Lithuanian). Teliavelis has connections with Finnish Ilmarinen.
- Andajus (Andajas, Andojas, etc.) was mentioned in medieval chronicles as supreme deity. It may be euphemism of Dievas. There was mentioned in chronicle that warriors invoke Andajus in battle.
- Nonadievis (Nunadievis, by some scholars etimologized as Numadievis) is incorrectly written name of supreme god or just another euphemism.
- Perkūnas was the god of thunder, one of the most powerful deities. Perkūnas survived in people faith and folk tales till the 20th century.
- Diviriks is thought to be one of Perkūnas euphemisms, meaning leader of gods.
Martynas Mažvydas in his Latin introduction to Catechismusa Prasty Szadei (1547) urged the people to abandon their pagan ways and mentioned the following gods:
- Perkūnas (Percuno) – god of thunder
- Laukosargas (Laucosargus) – god of grains and other agricultural plants
- Žemėpatis (Semepates) – god of cattle and other farm animals
- Aitvaras and kaukas (Eithuaros and Caucos) – evil spirits
Maciej Stryjkowski (1547–1593) was a Polish–Lithuanian historian and author of Chronicle of Poland, Lithuania, Samogitia and all Russia. In this work, Stryjkowski provided two lists of gods, one Old Prussian and another Lithuanian. He listed 16 Lithuanian gods:
- Prakorimas (Prokorimos) – the supreme deity. Stryjkowski elaborated that people used to sacrifice white cocks to Prakorimas. The flesh would be dividing into three pieces: one for peasants, another for pagan priests (Lithuanian: žynys), and third for burning. Stryjkowski pointed out that Prakorimas was similar to Prussian supreme god Okopirmas.
- Rūgutis (Ruguczis) – god of fermentation and fermented foods
- Žemininkas (Ziemennik) – god of land and agriculture. The cult of žaltys (grass snake) is associated with the cult of Žemininkas.
- Krūminė (Kruminie Pradziu Warpu) – deity of ears, provider of crops
- Lietuvonis (Lituwanis) – god of rain
- Kauriraris (Chaurirari) – deity of war and war-horses. The name etymology is unclear. Vladimir Toporov suggested that it is derived from Lithuanian word kaurai (fur), while Wilhelm Mannhardt argued it stems from karas (war).
- Sutvaras (Sotwaros) – god of all cattle
- Šeimos dievas (Seimi Dewos) – god of family
- Upinis dievas (Upinis Dewos) – god of rivers
- Bubilas – god of honey and bees
- Didis Lado (Dzidzis Lado) – the great god. Festivities, songs, and dances in his honor lasted from May 25 to June 25. There are doubts whether it was an actual god.
- Gulbis (Gulbi Dzievos) – the good spirit of every human, guardian angel
- Ganiklis (Goniglis Dziewos) – god of herds and shepherds
- Šventpaukštinis (Swieczpunscynis) – god of all domesticated and wild birds. People did not offer sacrifices to him as he was a free spirit.
- Kelių dievas (Kielu Dziewos) – god of roads, trade and travel
- Pušaitis or Puškaitis (Puszajtis) – deity of land, living in bushes of sambucus and commanding chthonic dwarfs barstukas
Jan Łasicki (Lasicius) was a Polish Protestant activist. He wrote a treatise on idolatry About gods of Samogitians, other Sarmatians, and false Christians (De diis Samagitarum caeterorumque Sarmatarum et falsorum Christianorum, written ca. 1582 and published in 1615). This 18-page treatise contained a lists of 76 Lithuanian gods with brief description of their functions. Łasicki obtained most of his information from Łaszkowski, a Polish lesser noble who worked as a royal land surveyor. The list contained very minor deities, representing everyday household items. Łasicki was also not intimately familiar with Lithuanian culture or language. Therefore, the academic opinion on the list ranges from a valuable resource to a practical joke designed to poke fun of Christian saints through an inverted mirror. Deities mentioned by Jan Łasicki were:
- Aukštėjas (Auxtheias Vissagistis) – an euphemism of the supreme god. Derived from Lithuanian word aukštas (high).
- Žemėpatis (Zemopacios)
- Perkūnas (Percunos) – god of thunder god
- Audros – god of storm
- Aušra (Ausca) – the morning star (Venus). Her other name was Aušrinė.
- Bežlėja (Bezlea)
- Brėkšta (Breksta) – goddess of twilight. Also it could be a euphemism of Vakarė.
- Ligyčius (Ligiczus)
- Kirnis (Kirnus) – local god of cherries
- Kremata – god of hogs
- Pyzius (Pizio) – god of spouses
- Medeina (Modeina et Ragaina) – goddess of forest and hunting
- Kerpyčius and Šilinytis (Kierpiczus and Siliniczus) – gods of forest, mosses and lichens
- Tavalas (Tavvals) – deity of physical strength. Gintaras Beresnevičius noted that this deity could be the same medieval Teliavelis.
- Ežerinis (Ezernim) – spirit or deity of lakes. Derived from ežeras (lake).
- Sidžius, Simonaitis and Ventis Rekičionis (Simonaitem, Sidzium, Ventis Rekicziouum) – spirits worshiped by individual noble families
- Karvaitis Ėraitinis (Kurvvaiczin Eraiczin) – deity of calves and lambs
- Gardūnytis (Gardunithis) – protector of newly-born lambs
- Prigirstytis (Prigirstitis) – can hear whispers
- Derintojas (Derfintos)
- Priparšis (Priparscis)
- Ratainyčia (Ratainicza) – god of horses
- Valgina (Walgina) – god of cattle
- Krikštas (Kriksthos) – protector of tombstones
- Apydėmė (Apidome) – deity of changed residence. The name is also known from hand-written collection of sermons from 1573.
- Kriukis (Krukis) – deity of pigs
- Lazdona (Lasdona) – goddess of hazelnuts
- Bubilas (Babilos) – household god of bees, husband of Austėja
- Žemyna (Zemina) – goddess of land and agriculture
- Austėja (Austheia) – household goddess of bees, often presented as wife of Bubilas
- Guboi and Tvverticos
- Veliuona (Vielona) – goddess of death
- Salaus – no function recorded by Łasicki.
- Šluotražis (Szlotrazis) – no function recorded by Łasicki. The name is derived from šluota (broom).
- Tiklis – no function recorded by Łasicki.
- Beržulis (Birzulis) – no function recorded by Łasicki. Based on etymology, it could be a god of birches and birch sap.
- Šeryčius (Siriczus) – no function recorded by Łasicki. The name is possibly derived from šerti (feed).
- Dvargantis (Dvvargonth) – no function recorded by Łasicki.
- Klamals – no function recorded by Łasicki.
- Atlaibas (Atlaibos) – no function recorded by Łasicki.
- Ublanyčia (Vblanicza) – patron of beggars
- Dugnai – spirit of flour
- Trotytojas kibirkščių (Tratitas Kirbixtu) – deity of spark, fire
- Užpelenė (Aspelenie)
- Budintojas (Budintaia)
- Raugo Žemėpatis (Rauguzemapati) – deity of sourdough, leaven and fermentation
- Vaižgantas (Waizganthos) – a god of flax
- Gabija (Gabie) – goddess of household fire
- Smik smik per velėną (Smik Smik Perleuenu) – a phrase rather than a being
- Ežiagalis (Ezagulis) – god of death
- Aitvaras (Aitvvaros)
- Kaukas (Kaukie)
- Gyvatė (Giuoitos) – black snake (see also žaltys)
- Srutis and Miechutele – deities of paint and color
Deities mentioned by Matthäus Prätorius (1635–1704) were:
- Žalius (Zallus) – god of disagreement
- Žėlius (Zelus) – god of grass
- Šulininis (Szullinnijs) – god of wells
- Bangpūtys, Vėjopatis, Bičbirbis, Giltinė, Gota, Jaučių Baubis, Karvaitis, Ėraitis, Skalsa, Biržulis / Beržulis, Prigirstytis / Girystis, Ligyčius / Lygėjus, Kelio dievas / Kelukis
- Drebkulis and Magyla - Prussian Lithuanian
- Gabjauja (Gabvartas)
Polish historian Theodor Narbutt wrote the ten-volume work History of the Lithuanian Nation (Dzieje starożytne narodu litewskiego) between 1835 and 1841. The first volume contained a description of Lithuanian mythology. However, modern historians have accused Narbutt of falsifying historical facts and reporting speculations. Thus, some gods mentioned only by Narbutt and unknown from other sources are usually treated as a figure of author's imagination.
- Praamžius (Pramżimas) – highest god, determines the fate of people, world, and other gods
- Ukapirmas (Okkapirmas) – preceded time, his feast is celebrated on December 25
- Viršaitis (Wirszajtos) – protected household, domestic animals. Narbutt claimed that he was equivalent to Auxtejas Wissagistis mentioned by Łasicki and to Roman Saturn
- Perkūnas (Perkunas) – thunder god
- Kovas (Kawas) – god of war
- Ragutis – god of beer, vodka, mead
- Santvaras or Sotvaras (Sotwaros) – god of daylight, poets, doctors
- Atrimpas (Atrimpos) – god of sea and water
- Gardaitis (Gardeoldiis) – god of wind, storm, protector of ships
- Poklius (Poklus) – god of death and underworld
- Kriukis (Krugis) – god of smiths
- Žiemininkas (Ziemienikas) – god of earth, harvest, and darkness
- Patelas (Patelo) – flying god of air, similar to an angel
- Šneibratas (Sznejbrato) – god of birds and hunting
- Kibirai (Kabiry) – a trinity
- Praurimė (Praurime) – goddess of sacred fire, she was served by vaidilutės
- Lada (Lado) – the great goddess, Rasos festival is dedicated to her
- Budtė (Budte) – goddess of wisdom
- Laima (Lajma) – goddess of fate
- Pelenų Gabija (Polengabia) – goddess of fireplaces
- Moterų Gabija (Matergabia) – goddess of bread and bakery
- Perkūnaitėlė (Perkunatele) – wife of Perkūnas
- Pilvytė (Pilwite) – goddess of money, riches, and good luck
- Lietuva (Liethua) – goddess of freedom, pleasure, joy
- Veliuona (Wellona) – goddess of eternity, afterlife
- Pergrubė (Pergrubie) – goddess of spring, flowers, gardens
- Milda – goddess of love, courtship
- Krūminė (Krumine) – goddess of grain, agriculture
- Nijolė (Nijola) – mistress of the underworld, wife of Poklius
- Alabatis – goddess of flax
- Aušra (Ausssra) – morning goddess
- Bezelea – evening goddess
- Brėkšta (Brekszta) – goddess of darkness and dreams
- Kruonis (Kronis) – goddess of time
- Užsparinė (Usparinia) – goddess of land borders
- Verpėja (Werpeja) – weaver of the thread of life
- Gondu – goddess of weddings
- Upinė (Upine) – goddess of rivers, springs
- Ratainyčia (Ratajniczu) – goddess protecting horses
- Valginė (Walgina) – goddess protecting domestic animals
- Luobo gelda (Lajbegelda) – goddess of knowledge and rumors
- Mėšlų boba (Mahslu baba) – goddess of garbage
- Budintoja – spirit that wakes sleeping people
- Austėja (Austheja) – goddess of bees
- Ragutiene Pati (Ragutenapati) – wife of Ragutis
- Žemės Motina (Zemmes mahti) – goddess of underground, responsible for lost items
- Gaila (Gajla) – spirit torturing people and animals
- Neris – nymph of Neris River
- Dugnė (Dugna) – nymph of rivers
- Ragana – goddess of trees
- Lazdona – goddess of hazelnut
- Medziojna – goddess of forests
- Pajauta – worshiped woman, daughter of Duke Kernius, wife of Živinbudas
- Birutė (Biruta) – worshiped woman, wife of Kęstutis
Other written sources
This section contains those names of Lithuanian and Prussian gods or other mythical beings that are mentioned in old treatises on history or philosophy, sometimes accompanied by brief descriptions, and which are known from a few independent sources or from their counterparts under different names in later collections of myths and tales.
- Dimstipatis (mentioned by Jokūbas Lavinskis), is a masculine deity (genius loci). It is a household god, the guardian of houses and caretaker of the hearth. People sacrificed roosters and black hens to the deity. The birds were boiled; later people would gather around the kettle and eat the birds. The bones were burned. Sometimes Dimstipatis is reconstructed as a god of housewives, to whom pigs were sacrificed. Dimstipatis was also seen as a power protecting from fires.
- Dirvolika, Nosolus (Jesuit reports from 1605)
- Pagirnis (Jesuit reports from 1605)
- Baukuris (Kraziu kolegijos)
- Velinas (mentioned by Konstantinas Sirvydas)
- Javinė (Jawinne by Jacob Brodowski)
- Laima (Daniel Klein in 1666)
The names, that were more marginal in Lithuanian mythology or less known from existing sources are put here. In fact they denote some spirits or local deities, that don't play a main role in the mythology of Lithuanians.
- Blizgulis, a god of snow. His name means "that who glitters."
- Junda, Goddess of War
- Baubis, a household god of meat and cattle.
- Divytis, a god-like hero of fishermen legends. Fishermen at sea sang songs about Divytis.
- Gardaitis, a god (a spirit?) of ships and sailors.
- Jagaubis, a household spirit of fire and the furnace.
- Rasa, Kupolė's and Kaupolis' daughter. She is the goddess of summer's greenage and flowers.
- Mokas, a stone with an ability to teach people, sometimes they are found in families - with wife Mokienė and children Mokiukas
- "Praamžius". Mitologijos enciklopedija, vol. 2. Vilnius. Vaga. 1999. 291 p.
- Lithuanian Religion and Mythology by Gintaras Beresnevičius
- Gintaras Beresnevičius on periodisation and Gods in Lithuanian mythology.
- Algirdas Julien Greimas, "Of Gods and Men: Studies in Lithuanian Mythology", Indiana Univ. Press (November 1992)