A Berehynia or Bereginia ( _ru. Берегиня) is a female spirit ("Vila") in Slavic mythology, which notably came to be regarded as a "Slavic goddess" with a function of "hearth mother, protectoress of the home" [ [ Берегиня] ] in late 20th century Ukrainian romantic nationalism centered on matriarchal myth. [ [ In Search of a Model: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness in Ukraine and Russia] ]

The word originates in the pre-Christian Slavic mythology but in the modern usage it has two meanings. The confusion in the name's etymology owes to the fact that a Slavic word "bereg" (берег) may mean either a "river bank" or "to protect".

Originally, obscure shadowy ghost-like fairies similar to Rusalkas, Berehynias lived along the rivers, lakes and ponds and were considered ill-tempered and dangerous. A water-bank where they thought to be found were to be avoided by young men and women, especially in the dark.

Early 20th century fakeloristic scholarship speculated that the Bereginyas continued a prehistoric Scythian earth-goddess. [so V. A. Gorodtsov (1860–1845), who identified this goddess with figures in traditional Russian embroidery according to Gyula László, "Steppenvölker und Germanen: Kunst der Völkerwanderungszeit" (1970), p. 140.]

Since Ukrainian independence in 1991, she has undergone yet another metamorphosis, and today is identified as the "hearth-mother" associated with the guardianship of the nation itself.This metamorphosis has its roots in the late 1980s, as several Ukrainian writers sought to personify their vision of an ideal Ukrainian woman. Consequently, Berehynia today also has a place in Ukrainian nationalism, [ [ Berehynia] ] feminism, [ [ In Search of a Model: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness in Ukraine and Russia] ] and neopaganism. [The hypothesis that Berehynia is a historical Slavic goddess is argued by Halyna Lozko, Chairwoman of Ukrainian Native Faith (founded 1998, formerly Pravoslavya, founded 1993) [] ]

In 2001, a column with a monument to Berehynia on top, as a protector of Kiev (pictured), has been erected at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in the center of the city, on the site of the former Lenin monument, despite the fact that Kiev has a historic protector Archangel Michael pictured at the Coat of Arms of Kiev and whose older monument is located just across at the same square.


External references

* [ Goddess of the Orange Revolution] by Marian J. Rubchak (2005), compares Berehynia with Yulia Tymoshenko.
*Oksana Kis' "Who is protected by Berehynia, or Matriarchy as a men's invention", "Zerkalo Nedeli" (the Mirror Weekly), April 26 - May 6, 2005. [ ru icon] , [ uk icon]

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