Chernobog Standard


Picture by Vsevolod Ivanov
After writing about Fantasia, in which the Devil character in the Bald Mountain segment is called Chernabog, I thought it would be appropriate to research the origins of this name. Chernobog was actually a Slavic deity, with a name meaning “black god.” In truth, there is very little evidence as to what this deity was actually like. A twelfth-century German priest wrote a book on Slavic mythology that includes a mention of Chernobog, but most of the rest of what we think we know about him is very speculative. The reference in the Chronica Slavorum claims that the Slavic pagans had a dualistic belief system, much like the Zoroastrians, in which a good and an evil god were locked in eternal conflict. It’s been proposed that, if Chernobog is the evil god, then his good counterpart would be Belobog, meaning “white god.” There are apparently no reliable sources attesting to this name, however. In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, the black and white gods are both aspects of the same individual. In addition to Disney and Gaiman, I’ve seen the name used other places, usually as that of a demon.

I think this is a case where more recent writing has very much overwhelmed the traditions of people who actually believed in the god. I guess you could say much the same about Eostre/Ostara, who is quite relevant at this time of year.

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