Pagan Religious Motifs

Язичницькі Мотиви


Religious symbols are quite common on pysanky.  In ancient times, symbols were drawn to the old gods, including Perun, Dazhboh, the Serpent and the  Berehynia.

The Berehynia and the Serpent are seen frequently on folk pysanky particularly those of Podillya. They are the most ancient of our gods, the mother goddess and the god of water.  Later Slavs expanded on their pantheon and organized it in a more patriarchal manner, mirroring the pantheon of their trading partners, the Greeks. Dazhboh, the god of the sun (and Yarylo, one of his aspects) was particularly important for a largely agricultural society.  

In those prechristian times, the sun god (Dazhboh) was the most important of all the deities; birds were the sun god's chosen creations, for they were the only ones who could get near him. Humans could not catch the birds, but they did manage to obtain the eggs the birds laid. Thus, the eggs were magical objects, a source of life. The egg was also honored during rite-of-Spring festivals – it represented the rebirth of the earth. The long, hard winter was over; the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, was believed to have special powers.  (For a better understanding of the old religion, look here.)

Below are brief descriptions of many Pagan religious motifs and symbols.  For more detailed information and examples of pysanky with these motifs, go to the corresponding pages in the Pagan Religious Motifs Gallery.

Pagan Symbols

Pysanky often depict an eight-sided star, which is a symbol of the sun god Dazhboh.




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